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I'm a former corporate employee who decided to ditch the 9-5 and start my own business.
Now, with a lukewarm cup of coffee in one hand and a toddler on my hip, I'm sharing all my best business, branding and website tips.
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Can I tell you why I really started this blog?
I was bored and unfulfilled at my 9-5 job. I needed another creative outlet to tell the world who I really was.
Blogging was an outlet where I could write about anything I wanted.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog while working a 9-5, I’ve got the best tips for you!
If you plan to be good at blogging, you’ll be writing a lot of posts about the same topic for a long time. Maybe you’re passionate about food, fashion, shopping, motherhood, decorating, business or spirituality. Pick a topic or two that you are passionate about and stick with that as the basis for your blog.
Putting off that blog you’ve been dreaming of will only set you back. Think about how many blog posts you could have already written if you just started already! If you feel like you can’t think of a single blog post to start with, don’t worry. Just write about anything that’s on your mind and hit publish. You can make changes to your post later or even delete it.
Create a list of domain names that you like (try to stick ones that end with .com) and see what’s available before you get your heart set on one. Try to pick a name that isn’t overly long, hyphenated or hard to spell. Next, you’ll need to find a host that supports WordPress blogs. The most popular options are SiteGround, GoDaddy and BlueHost.
WordPress is the premier blogging platform that all serious bloggers use. It’s a learning curve for some people so you’ll want to take advantage of as many tutorials as you can to learn about what you can do with WordPress. Follow my board on Pinterest filled with tons of WordPress tutorials.
You’ll need to add a theme, or a design, to your WordPress blog. There are tons of free themes and premium themes that you can use. You can also hire a designer to help you install and setup the theme or ever customize the theme to be unique to you. Get in touch with me if you’d like to see how I can help you start your blog.
Creating a Google spreadsheet is a great way to plan out your blog posts. I plan out my schedule three months in advance. You should think about how often you can realistically post – at least two times a month is good. I also create a tab in my sheet with ideas on future posts.
Before you write anything, you should plan out your blog categories. Categories are meant for broad grouping of your posts. This is how users will sort through your content in your navigation and possibly your sidebar. Think of categories as chapters and your blog is a book.
You’ll want to include some essential plugins for SEO, marketing and social media sharing. Your theme will most likely already come with some plugins that are required for the theme to work but you can also add additional plugins found on WordPress.org.
It’s common for a lot of new bloggers to get stage fright with their very first post. They hold off for so long until posting because they are afraid their first post won’t be good enough, or maybe they don’t even know what to write about. My advice is to keep your very first post simple. You can edit it later if it’s not to your liking. Give a simple introduction about who you are and what you are planning to write about.
Back in the day when blogs first started, they were intended to be journal style entries about your life. The blogosphere has completely evolved and readers now go to blogs for information, tips, resources, how to’s and DIYs. Think about how your blog is going to help solve a problem for your readers. You can still infuse your personality and details about your personal life into your blog while offering solutions.
Our readers are visual and a little too easily distracted, so every post should have an image. If they see a huge chunk of text and no image that gives them a clue as to what the post is about they’ll get overwhelmed and leave your blog (your analytics will prove it). You can either take your own photos, buy stock photos or use free stock photos that related to your article. If you’re having trouble finding an image that relates to your post, use something abstract. Any image is better than none!
A lot of bloggers rely on creating their own graphics in the beginning until they can afford to hire a professional designer. Canva is a great resource for designing graphics for your posts, photo collages, pinnable graphics and social media graphics.
So many blogs don’t get noticed because they aren’t utilizing the right SEO practices. You can start by installing the Yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress blog and make sure that you have a sitemap created. There are a lot of factors that go into achieving high ranking SEO like keyword density, post titles, how frequently you update your blog, SSL certificates, having a mobile responsive blog, and tons of other things. One tool I love to use is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, which helps you with choosing the perfect headline for your posts.
Before you even publish any of your blog posts, you should be creating social media accounts using your blog name. Doing this as soon as possible ensures that you reserve an account with your business name before someone else snaps it up. Even if you don’t plan to use them all, you should set up accounts with Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, SnapChat, Periscope and Bloglovin’.
Getting some support is essential when starting a new blog. You will have a ton of questions and you’ll also want to bounce some ideas off of other bloggers. Checkout a group I belong to, Blogging 101.
Seriously, Pinterest is like a bible for blogging resources. There are tons of articles, tips and ideas for new bloggers. Follow my board on Pinterest where I share tons of useful tips and articles for new bloggers.
Remember your day job is your priority. So don’t get caught working on your own blog while at your 9-5 or you may risk getting in some serious trouble. Find out the rules for what websites you’re allowed to look at (discreetly of course) and if necessary use Chrome’s Incognito Window so there’s no history of your activity.
Create a blogging schedule that you feel you can commit to. If you overdo it at first you may burn yourself out and then stop blogging all together. If you blog too inconsistently, Google will see your site as not relevant which won’t do anything to help your SEO.
So many bloggers expect a flood of traffic after just three blog posts. Did you know it takes most bloggers 6 months to a year to start seeing results? Take advantage of this time and consider it practice and time to find your groove. After a year if things aren’t improving, consider hiring an expert to review your blog and see what improvements you can make.
Finding the time to work on your blog is the biggest struggle nine to fivers have. By the time you get home from work, you’re exhausted and you need time to unwind. When I started my blog while working 9-5 I got up really early in the morning and put in a couple of hours of work. I found this to be the time when I had the most energy and got all of my best creative work done.
Putting in some extra time in on your blog will only make you better at blogging and help your blog grow. We all need a break sometimes but putting in just a couple of hours of blogging over the weekend will pay off.
Sometimes blogging can feel like you are working inside a bubble. It’s important to hear what other people think of your blog when they first see it. Be open to criticism and making changes to your blog by showing it to friends, family, Facebook groups and your readers.
A blog with no style isn’t memorable. You want to create an impression by communicating your style through the design of the blog and the types of posts you publish. Once you establish a style, be consistent with that style on your blog and all of your social media accounts. Consider each post before you hit publish – does this align with my brand and my blog’s style?
Start immersing yourself in the blogging world by leaving comments on other blog posts that you think align with your blog. You might receive traffic to your site from your comment (be sure to leave a link to your blog).
Remember that you’re going to learn a lot through this process. The very best bloggers out there make mistakes too and struggled in the beginning. You can go back and make improvements to your older posts when you learn something new.
What do you think of this article? Do you have any questions for me? Ask me in the comments box below!
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