So you want to start a blog…

If I had a rand for every person who asked me what they had to do to start a blog, I’d be able to buy an apartment in Bantry Bay. The answer, fortunately, is pretty simple. Sign in to WordPress and get writing. Ta da, you’re a blogger.blogger catThing is, what most people are really asking is this: how do I get onto the guest list for swanky parties and have tons of free shizz sent to my door? And that kind of blunt question deserves a pretty point blank answer. Thus, here’s a list of my top tips. Or at least what ended up working for me:

Phone up the PRs for the brands you’re interested in and beg them to e-mail you their press releases.

Do loads of self-initiated posts for things you love despite getting zero assistance from the PR.

Make business cards and network like a fiend. Moo.com is a goodie.

Attend a zillion crap events with no glamour, goodie bags or booze simply to network.

Sit up until 1am with burning eyes to make sure your posts go up the very next day.

Set your alarm for 6am if you haven’t finished the aforementioned.

Find creative, interesting ways to highlight what you think would be interesting or of value to your readers from the odd totally meh press release or event. This does not mean you’re to ever ‘lie’ about something and make it sounds awesome when it is not. Read the sentence properly.

Accept that you may ‘have’ to attend the odd event that’s relevant to your trajectory with a blinding
migraine/ovaries that want to burst/feet that want to spray blood.

Mail the links to whatever you’ve done to the PR once the post goes live.

Take it on the chin when they totally ignore you.

Update every day if you can or pre-load posts so that one goes live every morning. Blogs that go dead for long periods of time will lose their readers.

Cutting and pasting a press release will only delight the stupid PRs who don’t understand social media. It will also piss off your readers. They want to hear your opinion, not read an ‘ad’.

Open a Twitter account to promote blog posts but don’t bombard people with them.

Retweeting any compliments you get from your readers makes you look like a douche.

Accept that there will be occasions where you’ll have to schmooze and schmingle with people you don’t like.

Always keep your reader in mind. You want to write about the things they’ll care about as opposed to what the PR cares about. This isn’t always easy, however. Often, it’s a careful balancing act.

If you bullshit your readers you will lose them. Accept that remaining honest might mean saying no to expensive freebies based on the simple fact that you couldn’t recommend them to a friend. I mean come on; how on Earth are you going to convince someone they simply have to own a R300 nail polish?

Learn to down the odd shot glass of pooh in order to attain a greater good.

If you end up on the party circuit, be it for food blogging, fashion blogging or beauty blogging, remember that your circle’s a very small one so keep your nose clean and play nice. It does help, however, to form a group of genuine friends to buffer you from a sea of those with ulterior motives.

Develop a thick skin. For every person who goes ‘oooh, I love your blog’ there’s someone else who thinks it’s a ball of self-indulgent crap. Either way, don’t ever play to your haters; you write for yourself and those who like your stuff.

Realise that it’s not all champagne showers and pretty PR packages arriving on your door step. A lot of hard work that goes on behind the scene’s to create something that looks effortless and fun.

All the above will go a long way towards helping you take your blog from a pass time to something more ‘commercial’. Still, you’ll need to back it all up with things like decent writing skills, a good eye, personality and interesting/useful content.

I hope this helps but I’m quite sure I’ve left a zillion other pointers out so feel free to drop them into the comments section.

Love, love

Leigh

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Editor of South African beauty blog Lipgloss is my Life.

23 thoughts on “So you want to start a blog…

  1. If you want to work with brands (which is what most people ask me about), be prepared to show the goods (i.e your stats). And if it’s 150 views per day, keep at it, but don’t quite expect the invites/collaborations/product drops to overwhelm you quite yet, and don’t be offended if your requests are declined – remember PR is a business too. Also, have a theme/direction for your blog. It can change as you grow, but don’t try to be everything to everybody.

    1. Agreed. Blogs that have a specialized theme are easier to ‘sell’. I.e. ‘Restaurant Review Girl’ as opposed to ‘Just Me: a girl and her thoughts on everything’.

      1. But even if you’re Restaurant Review Girl, explain why – because your dad had a restaurant when you grew up/you studied food tech/whatever. We all eat/use face cream/wear clothes, it doesn’t automatically mean we know what we’re talking about x

  2. To be honest, from a fellow blogger, the worst reason to start blogging is to expect 1. to make money from it and 2. receive free goodies. Of course it’s nice to have these things, but I feel if that is your main reason for starting blogging, you’re in the wrong business and should probably re-think your idea. Blogging takes effort, time, honesty and commitment. And it’ll be a long time before you actually reap any benefits from it. Loved this post btw πŸ™‚

  3. I love this article. It is as true as it ever will be. I have 3 “niche” blogs and people who know me think it is all glitz and glamour, but they don’t see me sitting at my laptop until late at night and every Sunday afternoon while my hubby is out playing soccer or watching tv. It’s hard work, and the biggest reward needs to be the joy of working and seeing your work online and read. But aside of all the hard work, it is worth it for me in the end – to write about what I love and to learn more about what I write about day by day!

    1. Thank you. Ja, a blog (or promoting it and ensuring you maintain healthy relationships with PR companies to ‘feed it’) is a lot of hard work and people don’t realise it. So many people want the seemingly glitzy bit that comes with it but the moment they get a sniff of the energy it requires to get that, they abandon the idea like a hot potato. And that’s totally fine with me.

  4. Thanks for the awesome post! It had me in stitches πŸ˜€ The truth is ugly but it needs to be said. I shall keep all this info in mind and shall ref your post anytime I forget πŸ™‚ Well done!

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