8 simple tips for starting a blog, smashing self-doubt, and getting. it. done.
I’ve always found writing to be cathartic, both an emotional purge of pent-up anxiety and an exercise in creativity. Even writing papers in college came easily to me – so easy that I’d procrastinate until the deadline was mere hours away.
So when I needed a way to stay in touch with distant friends and family – and an outlet to release the aforementioned anxiety – starting a blog felt like a natural solve.
I wrote about my dad’s cancer, my job, mothering… you name it. I even tried beauty blogging for a hot second. And you know what? It’s as cathartic today as it was on day one.
I’m not a famous blogger, by any means. While I have yet to land a million dollar deal, I have landed some really fun partnerships, both through blogging and my Instagram account (@mamakateknowsbest).
My advice to you? Well first, if you’re in it for a quick buck, look elsewhere, my friend. A) blogging only works if you have good content, B) people only follow you if you’re authentic, and C) no brand’s going to pay you to blog without a strong following and good content.
In other words, you'd better have the right motivation, because this is going to take a lot of hard work. You'll need to invest a lot of hours into content creation before you can deposit a single dime into your bank account. You’d better love that work, otherwise you’ll burn out.
But you're here, aren't you? You're ready to put in the work.
I get asked nearly daily about my blog. People think – she did it, why can’t I? And they couldn’t be more right!
The funny thing is, starting a blog is so easy. There are so many user-friendly site templates, and buying a domain is as simple as shopping on Amazon. Use Google for your domain, where your privacy is free. Use Wix for your design, they have the prettiest templates. Done and done.
The hardest part? Winning the mental game. For that, I present to you:
8 simple tips for starting a blog, smashing self-doubt, and getting. it. done.
1. DO make a habit of it. Habitual writing has the dual benefit of producing valuable content and making you a better writer.
As with any new habit, consistency in time and place matters. Pick a time of day that works best for you and do your best to stick to it. My golden hour is first thing in the morning, before the kids wake up, so I typically write between 6-7am, give or take an hour.
Another key in habit-forming: make it enjoyable. My literal happy place is my basement office that I painted and decorated to my liking, where the cool color scheme and comfortable decor instantly soothe my soul and get my creative juices flowing.
2. DO pick your flavor. Just like picking out an ice cream flavor, deciding your genre can be the hardest part about blogging. For this I have two recommended approaches that can be simplified into two general ideas – wing it or filter it.
To wing it: just start writing, each and every day, for 10-15 minutes. Write down everything that comes to your mind, even if it doesn't make sense. Once your mind releases the clutter, ideas will start forming and topics will emerge. You'll start to notice trends – where does your mind naturally wander? What topics are you writing about consistently? Boom, there's your content.
Option two, filter it, aka my favorite approach to shopping. You start with a broad selection and apply your filters until you have a curated set of options. First, make a list of all your interests, from fashion to beauty to old cars or toy train sets. Then employ process of elimination to cull down your list to the ideas that make you the most excited.
Here are some idea-starters:
Work: write about finding work, surviving Mondays, tips for maintaining work relationships, etc. If you work full time, you have 40 hours every week of material. How do you squeeze in exercise when you’re sitting at your desk all day? How do you pack your lunch everyday? What are some tips you’ve learned to hire the right team?
Hobbies: do you collect anything? Love old movies? Cook? Build birdhouses? Let’s say you’re a painter. Write about how the first stroke on the canvas is so intimidating, or describe that feeling you get when your vision comes to life.
Sports: are you a girly-girl who can locker-room talk any guy under the table? BOOM. Write about it. Sports are year-round, so your content source is never ending.
Fantasy: are you often bored with work or your day-to-day routine? Use that! Escape reality and write a story. It doesn’t have to be good. Remember, blogging doesn’t have to be about how many readers you get; it’s an outlet for your energy that you may or may not choose to share with your friends and family.
Now, go make your list. Then come back and finish reading.
* * w a i t i n g p a t i e n t l y * *
Okay, are you ready? Look at your list and pick the topic you’re most excited by and start writing. Write in a Word document if you’re good with a keyboard. My writing method of choice is a real pen in a good old-fashioned notebook. Something about the way you can’t backspace in a notebook makes me fearless, my thoughts flowing much better.
There's only one rule here: just write.
3. DO stay consistent. The most successful blogs are the ones that are focused and have a very specific aesthetic. You can't one minute be a cursing free-range liberal parent then flip sides and board the stuck-up judgemental train.
Stay authentic to your topic and become a resource for your audience. Think of who your reader is and help her with your tips, inspire him with your ideas, or make them giggle with your goofiness.
If this one makes you nervous, as it did me, then start in the broad "lifestyle" category. Test and learn what you and your audience like and make subtle changes along the way. Your audience will grow up - feel free to let your blog grow right along with them.
4. DO give yourself space to make mistakes, and, even more importantly, be kind to yourself when you do. You cannot grow – in work, in blogging, in anything, really – without making mistakes and learning from them. The key is not to wallow in said mistakes. Dust yourself off and get back out there.
You'll be surprised, too, when your followers notice and embrace you even harder after you commit honest mistakes. Don't be afraid to show your humanness.
5. DON’T be swayed by the peanut gallery. By far and away the most important tip, you must have thick skin in this industry... there will be judges coming out of the woodwork when you tell people you’re working on a blog. Suit up and prepare yourself for the worst, because your closest friends very well may draw the sharpest daggers. Forgive them, they really do mean well.
The most common criticism I've heard? That the blog market is over-saturated.
“There are so many bloggers out there now… you’re not going to make any money. Nobody wants to follow another blogger”
Ha! Nonsense. Sure, there are thousands of bloggers, but there are BILLIONS of potential readers. Like 3.2 billion. I'll take those odds.
What's more? Every day, profitable businesses, retailers, speakers, healers, teachers, etc., turn to the internet seeking relevant influencers to help share their story. While mainstream media isn't super popular these days, influencers have the unique opportunity to garner trust with their own audiences in a truly personal and authentic way.
People! There is a plethora of market share left to be had. Where there’s a will – and an audience – there’s a way.
“Don’t you want a real job? With benefits?”
Oh, the infamous "real job" argument. The one that defines "benefits" as three weeks of vacation. Per year. For the company that gives you eight measly weeks of maternity leave. Yes, a job, that awesome thing where I spend 60 hours of EVERY week to pad the pockets of yet another wealthy businessman. Why wouldn't I want that?!
Newsflash, Becky. You can work and blog at the same time; the two are not mutually exclusive. You really can have it all.
“Aren’t you afraid of putting yourself out there?”
Why, though? Isn't that the point?
Do. Not. Listen. You will hear it all, and you must master the art of ignoring your critics. In one ear, out the other.
Shut it, Becky.
6. DON’T obsess, no matter how much of a perfectionist you are.
If you’re anything like me, you’re desperately short on time. You might have half an hour a day, if that, to work on your blog, so efficiency is key. Re-read your posts two or three times if you must, but don’t pour over every alliteration in agonizing detail… that’s not the point of blogging.
IF you must obsess over your grammar and your prose, consider writing a novel, instead. You might be better suited for long-form authorship vs. a daily blog.
7. DO or DON’T share your blog. You read that right. Sharing is completely up to you and not at all necessary to be successful. In fact, I’d almost recommend not sharing... at first, anyway. It’s almost easier to blog and let yourself make all those necessary mistakes when you don’t feel like everybody you know is watching.
Think about this: 95% of my blog traffic comes from people I don’t know. So while sharing with your network is great and a really fun step, it’s by no means required. It’s more like the sprinkles on your sundae.
On the other hand, DO share your blog if you’re the type who needs that accountability to keep going. If you have already done the valuable work of surrounding yourself with a network who has your back, no matter what, share away!
The good news: it’s totally your call! One of the many, many benefits of #bloglife.
8. DO just keep swimming. Yes, that’s a Finding Nemo reference, and a damn good one. With a whole ocean of opportunity in front of you, you'll only get to your destination if you just. keep. swimming. The world is your oyster. Be the best fish in the sea. Etc., etc...
That’s it. Go forth, my friends – blog your little hearts out. And just remember, I’m right here, happy to help whenever you need a little extra motivation. Believe me, if I can do it - anyone can. Even you, Becky.
Go you, go!