Monday, 7 September 2020

5 years of blogging: What I've learnt along the way

Blogging tips for beginners from someone that has been blogging for five years - from using social media and Pinterest to beating writers block and finding inspiration and content ideas

Back in September 2015, after much deliberation I decided to go for it and launch a blog. I'd been enjoying posting photos over on Instagram, and wanted a space of my own to share more about what I was up to in our first home. 

Writing has always been an escape for me, and as soon as I hit publish on my first post (you can have a read here, but remember this was at the height of my shabby chic craze!) I was hooked. I'd found a new hobby, that not only gave me an outlet when I was struggling with anxiety, but helped me to fall in love with all things crafting and DIY. I've absolutely loved creating and sharing projects for you over the years - keeping my hands busy has always been my go-to when times get hard, and if I've inspired just one person to try a crafty project when they're feeling low, then I'm happy. 

In the past five years I've achieved things I could never have imagined through my blog - I've worked with some of my favourite brands, appeared in national press, and been nominated for awards. But this post isn't about bragging - its to prove that if I can do this, whilst juggling a full-time job and a messy toddler, then anyone can! We don't live in a big, beautiful 'forever home', I'm not an expert photographer, and all my writing and creating is done on the side of everything else. But more than anything, this blog has become my safe space to escape to when times get hard. It was never intended to be anything more than that, so the fact that people like you come back to hear from me every week is honestly the best thing ever. 

Blogging tips for beginners from someone that has been blogging for five years - from using social media and Pinterest to beating writers block and finding inspiration and content ideas

So if you're thinking you'd like to create your own space, then I promise that its never too late to start. There’s room for everyone in the blogging world, and there are people out there that would love to hear from you. 

What I've learnt about blogging

Don't worry about others 

It can be tough to avoid comparing yourself to others in your niche (trust me, I’m the biggest one for imposter syndrome) But try to focus solely on what you’re doing. Your readers are coming to your site for you and your expertise, so concentrate on that and not for what someone else is doing. You’ve got your own strengths that others don’t have, so play on those rather than letting our old friend comparison-itis get to you - my next point will definitely help with this.  

Nailing a niche

Once you work out a specific niche for your site, you’ll be flying. Readers should know what they’re getting when they come to you, which is what will keep coming back. Nothing is too specific either. Whilst you might think a topic such as 'interiors' is your niche, that's actually really broad. Get even more specific than that ('styling your home with budget high-street interiors', for example) and you'll be positioning yourself as an expert in a particular area. I've definitely found it tough to nail down just one niche, but I like to think mine are £10 decor DIYs and quick fixes for 'homes for now'. 

Blogging tips for beginners from someone that has been blogging for five years - from using social media and Pinterest to beating writers block and finding inspiration and content ideas

Harness the power or social media

I'm ashamed to admit this took me FAR too long to work out, but if you're struggling with getting eyes on your content, then sharing your posts on Pinterest is definitely worth a shot. There's millions of people looking for inspiration over there, and they'd love your content so share away! Create your own 'pins' on sites such as Canva (an example of one of mine is below), and share complete with links to your posts. Since getting serious on Pinterest about a year ago I've seen my hits increase by over 2000%, which is not to be sniffed at is it?! 

Blogging tips for beginners from someone that has been blogging for five years - from using social media and Pinterest to beating writers block and finding inspiration and content ideas

Set a realistic schedule 

Whilst you should definitely set a posting schedule, don't go too unrealistic. Lets face it, publishing ten new posts a week is never going to work is it?! Readers like to know when they can expect a post from you, even if its only once a month. My aim is to post twice a week - one advice/design post on a Monday, and one DIY tutorial on a Friday. I've struggled recently to keep this up (working from home whilst juggling a toddler has not been kind to me!), but still try to post at least once a week without fail. Batch creating will be your friend with this - I find putting aside a certain number of hours a week to get all my blogging done ahead of time is a lifesaver. 

Tackling bloggers block

Something we all deal with, and a hard one to shake off. When I find myself in a rut (which has been quite regularly lately), I give myself a few days off even thinking about it, as feeling pressured to write or create just makes things even harder. 

Thinking seasonal is always a great idea. Once a new season rolls round I always feel a spark of creativity. Plan your content around the changing months, and think about what your readers might be searching for at that particular time of year. You can find my free downloadable content calendar here (its a couple of years old now, but the ideas are still topics I return to throughout the year) 

Blogging tips for beginners from someone that has been blogging for five years - from using social media and Pinterest to beating writers block and finding inspiration and content ideas

Try to use your own photos

This might just be my preference, and something that probably applies just to interior bloggers, but I much prefer to see someones real home rather than a stock image. Obviously there's always some posts that have a call for a beautiful Pinterest image, but generally I'd much rather see the realistic images a blogger has created themselves. I always liken it to seeing an outfit on a model vs. a real person - it feels much more achievable and relatable to see real life. If photography isn't your thing, there's loads you can create armed with just your phone - I shared my top tips for taking photos of your own home here

Blogging tips for beginners from someone that has been blogging for five years - from using social media and Pinterest to beating writers block and finding inspiration and content ideas

Be yourself

And finally, the most important one - its YOU that your readers want to hear from, so don't shy away from who you are. Posting about my mental health and how I'm feeling has been cathartic, and I hope has made my posts feel relatable too. I also don't try to hide the fact that my home isn't anything special, and share tips and advice for people in a similar situation and with a similar budget to me. What can you do to provide inspiration or guidance for others? I'm sure there's something you can write about that people would enjoy reading. 

Is launching a blog something you've always wanted to do? I'd love to hear from you if you do feel inspired to go ahead and press publish for the first time! 

Thanks for reading, 
Sam Xx
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