Starting a blog and what to blog about
Recently I posted on my Instagram Stories about what industry folk (and people who just followed me privately away from @weddingsparrow) wanted to see on this part of the blog. You see, this side of the blog is a kind of secret, squirrelled away part of my working life and I kind of like it. But you guys spoke, and I listened. You want to know about blogging, and erm... me.
That last part is still confusing to me but I promise to try my best at sharing the most exciting parts (plus the daily boring stuff...) over on Stories and keep the lengthy musings and tales for here.
You can read all about how I started the blog in the Founders Story but I thought I'd go into a little more detail about blogging and making it a career/business. I fell into this business by complete accident so I'ver certainly learnt some tricks and what not to do along the way. The biggest lesson learned? Blog about something you LOVE. Like REALLY love because you'll be writing about it all day every day. The passion needs to remain otherwise the blog will fail. Perfection is overrated so don't worry about coming across that way. Readers can see through fake people. They want to see real people with real problems. Even aspirational people - we all want to be able to relate to them in some way. Blog about your life - don't make your life about the blog. Of course, no one wants to be seeing the piles of dirty laundry piling up in the corner but don't forget to be relatable.
I have been blogging since 2011 and whilst I still find it strange when I have to explain what I actually do for a living (I'm pretty sure some people think I'm an international arms dealer or something completely illegal that involves online work and traveling!), I have become relatively successful through doing this. Awards and profit aside, I find it very cathartic to blog sometimes - especially here or on Insta. Blogging has changed quite a lot since I started though and like most things that operate online, it will continue to shift as the audience decides where/when they want to see content.
The rise of the influencer
Something I struggle with as I'm not a natural oversharer. You see, people are inspired by people and aspire to be like them. Bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers, whatever you call us, it's the next level of reality television. We're naturally nosey about what's going on in others' lives and if we can do it voyeuristically by checking out what you had for breakfast this morning on Insta, where you're going on your vacay this Summer, what you wore to dinner last night and where you can buy it - be prepared to SHARE.
The first thing you need is an idea. And not just any old idea about you blogging your life online. It needs to be niche. Different from those around you. What's your USP? What makes you interesting? We've all got it. You just need to find out what it is. For me it was my love for film photography in the wedding world with a fine art feel. At the time (2012), there was no other blog out there at the time that did what I wanted to do, and that helped me - a lot. Your idea doesn't necessarily have to be original (is anything online anymore?) all it needs is you. Whether it's fashion, home interiors, food, florals, weddings or something else, your Instagram account should be treated as a mini-website to curate your content. It enables your audience to 'get' you and see what you're all about. A one second look at your first 9 squares and they'll decide whether you're interesting enough to follow - cutthroat I know...
Get yourself a handle (read about how I came up with the name Wedding Sparrow here) and buy the URL. Start small with a Squarespace blog or Wordpress etc. Easy to set up and there are lots of tutorials online to show you how to make them look pro.
Get a good camera. Even the latest iPhone is the bomb! But if you'd like to invest, I like this Olympus PEN which is a great point-and-shoot.
Get organized. I use a Google calendar (it's great to share with the rest of my staff too) but I can color coordinate different calendars (red for social media, green for submissions etc) and invite different people to different ones should I need to. I can also set reminders. It's amazing how you can forget to post at your most popular times (make your Insta account a Business Account for the analytics or sign up to Iconosquare) so reminders are key.
Now just let everyone know! Post regularly (once a day is fine to keep an audience engaged) and post on Stories. Stories is the only way currently that Instagram will let your account be seen chronologically. Sad but true so utilize this! And you don't have to create video content if you're not keen on this - posting images with text is just as popular (I use a free app called Over to create clean looking text over images and create lots of bespoke templates).
So, the big question is - How do I become popular and start reaping the (financial) rewards?? That's all set for another post ;) But in the meantime, build your audience. Get in front of them. Know who they are. Where do they shop? Where do they go? What do they read? Head to these Instagram accounts (brands, other influencers, celebrities etc) and comment. Engage with them and get to know them. They will follow...