When I started this little blog back in late May of 2015, I really had no idea or plan as to how to get the blog ball rolling. Oh hey two year blogiversary! You came and went and I totally forgot about you. Anyway, I was clueless when I started Hello Honey- the only thing I knew was that I wanted to have a fashion blog that touched on other lifestyle aspects such as recipes, travel, and of course, Bear. It took months for me to feel like I actually had a grasp on things and to this day, I still don't have it all down! Far from it. I'm constantly learning, trying to come up with new ideas to keep things interesting, and evolving my own style which changes the aesthetic of Hello Honey.
Since I'm speaking at the Thrive pop-up this weekend, I've been doing some reflecting on the past two years and everything I've learned thus far. I mostly have my friends and fellow bloggers to thank for that, as they've inspired and motivated me to keep pushing even when I didn't feel like I could. And of course a HUGE thank you goes out to each and every one of you who read this blog! Without you and your comments, emails, and stops by this little corner of the internet, Hello Honey wouldn't exist. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I still have a long way to go and am by no means an expert, but I thought I'd share 10 things I wish I'd known prior to blogging in case there are any of you out there wanting to start a blog yourself. And if that's you, I hope so much that you'll go for it! It won't be easy, especially in the beginning, but if you're passionate enough about what you do, you'll be surprised and how everything falls into place.
10 things I wish I'd known prior to starting a blog:
1. Expect to sink some money into the cause.
There are some up-front costs for blogging, such as domain registration, web hosting, a logo/site design, etc. My advice on this is to go ahead and bite the bullet on these costs- you'll be glad you did later. I could've designed my own logo/site for Hello Honey initally but A- it would've totally sucked because I'm the furthest thing from a graphic designer and B- I wanted people to take my blog seriously right off the bat, so I knew I needed a professional design. My friend Sarah brought my dream to life and I highly recommend her for any graphic design work you might need!
2. Set a posting schedule.
The most successful bloggers mention often that it's crucial to set a blogging schedule and stick with it. Bloggers like Emily Ann Gemma and Caitlin Coving post 5 times a week pretty much without fail, with their posts going live at the same exact time every morning. This has been proven to be a highly successful method as readers like knowing when to expect a new post, even if it's not as frequently as 5 days a week. Even if you can only post once a week, do your best to find a posting schedule that works for you and stick with it (I need to work on this myself, obvi).
3. Posting more isn't always the answer.
For about a year, I thought I had to be posting 5 days a week and really pushed myself to constantly come up with new content. Turns out my posts ended up being watered down and my content suffered a little in the process. I figured out over time that I could produce better content when I posted less, more like 3 times a week, and I didn't burn myself out in the process, either.
4. When in doubt, poll the audience.
What's so great about running a blog is that you can enlist the help of your readers anytime! Whether you're wondering what type of content they prefer, how often you should post, or really anything at all, you should frequently utilize "polling the audience". Putting together a survey using a tool like Polldaddy is easy and free, and your readers will appreciate that you value their opinion. They are, after all, the most important part of your blog!
5. Pinterest is key.
When it comes to social media and outlets for blog promotion, many influencers will tell you that Instagram is your best friend. And in a lot of ways, this is true. However, I've found my highest traffic source (by far!) to be Pinterest. I took a workshop taught by Megan last year and learned so much about the importance of Pinterest in blogging. Since then, my blog traffic has more than doubled and I've had pins take off with 15k+ repins in 2-3 weeks. Never underestimate the power of Pinterest and the best part of all? It's the only outlet that allows your content to live on forever. Recipes I posted two years ago are still getting just as many page views as posts I published last week, which is both fulfilling and great for blog success!
6. Master your own productivity.
There are many ways to accomplish this and every person works differently, so I can't give direct advice on this topic but I do know that it's so very important in blogging! I used to write all my posts late at night, often around 1am, squinting at the screen and fighting sleep as I tried to throw my thoughts together. Even though I'm not at all a morning person, I've found that I work best in the morning and feel so much better getting my blog post done first thing. I also have a blogging calendar that lists out all of my posts for the month, ideas I have for upcoming collaborations, when payment is due, etc. This helps me stay organized and my mind is so much more at ease than it was prior to getting "blog organized". If you struggle with personal productivity, Asana is a great tool to use!
7. The work doesn't stop when you hit publish.
This came as a big shock to me- I thought that once the post was done, the work was, too. Boy was I wrong. That's really only the half of it. What a shame it would be to work for hours on a post, only to have no-one read it. That's why it's so important to go beyond just publishing your content! This is also where Pinterest comes into play- get that post put out there right away! Promote on all your social media channels and establish a method of this that works best and most efficiently for you. Trial and error is key here as you'll see over time what promotion yields the best results; once you find it, keep this method in tact after each and every post goes live.
8. You should actually show your face in real life, too.
Networking is key when it comes to blogging, as this is the best way to establish and build relationships in the community. I had no idea when I started blogging what a tight-knit and amazing community of bloggers there are! Not only will going to events, workshops, and conventions allow you to meet new friends and fellow bloggers, but this will also put you in touch with brands and lead to potential partnerships. This is how I started monetizing my blog- by attending a convention and getting face-to-face time with a company that later contacted me to work together. I can't stress enough how important it is to get out from behind the computer screen sometimes and make connections that will help grow your business.
9. Writing is not your only necessary skill.
It's only the tip of the iceberg. You'll need lots of marketing, editing, photography, social media, optimization, and planning skills just to name a few. Be prepared to wear many hats and don't hesitate to enlist help when you need it!
10. Stay true to yourself.
This is so important, especially when opportunities start presenting themselves tenfold. Not long ago I had a company reach out to me wanting me to promote their shoes and were willing to pay higher than my normal fee for a blog post. I thought about it long and hard because the dollar amount was tempting but in the end I politely declined because the shoes weren't at all my style and I want to stay true to my brand at all costs. I want my audience, you guys!, to trust me and by promoting products I don't love, I lose a little bit of that trust. No dollar amount is worth that to me. I know that in the end, staying true to myself will reap the greatest reward.
Thank you so much for reading and if you have any questions that I didn't cover, feel free to ask in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm more than happy to help in any way I can!
p.s. My top & skirt are both on major sale!! Shop the look by clicking the items below :)