I started my blog after writing my book, The Organized Cook. Unlike many of my fellow bloggers, I didn’t just wake up and decide to start a blog one day. Rather, the branding agent for my book urged me to do so.
“I’ve never even read a blog!” I protested. But he assured me that writing a blog was the best place to start in promoting my book. “But I wouldn’t know what to write about.” I continued.
I guess he knew better. Come to find out, I had lots to write about. In fact, I had more to write about than I had time for… even now. After I set up my website, I kept a journal close by for me to jot down blog ideas. That journal became a magnet drawing ideas from my brain when it was close to me. It must have had a really strong pull, because even when it wasn’t close by, I stopped what I was doing often to go running for my journal before the idea left my brain. Sometimes I would jot down ideas on the back of receipts or torn pieces of paper to later tape into my journal. Before long, my journal was full of thousands of ideas. I still have that “little journal that could” and love to revisit often for inspiration.
According to Forbes Magazine, there are over 40 million bloggers in the U.S. right now, and the power of the “mommy blogger” cannot be denied. However, I’ve witnessed some bizarre trends recently in blogging where people looking to jump on the blogosphere space shuttle forgot to stop and ask themselves if they should start a blog, instead of just asking if they could.
So here’s my advice to anyone wondering if they should start a blog.
3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting A Blog
1. Will You Write Your Own Content?
Without content, your blog doesn’t actually qualify as a blog. I know this may sound like, “duh”, but an alarming number of “blogs” out there in blogosphere actually have no original content.
So the first thing you must figure out is what you will write about. Is there one particular topic you want to explore and share, or are you wanting to build a relationship with your readers by sharing intimate details of your life?
For example, one blogger decided to start a small blog about school cafeteria food and wrote daily about eating in the cafeteria. She shared details, suggestions and the irony of feeding our children unhealthy lunches while many other options are just a brain cell away. Her blog became an internet sensation much to her surprise.
Another famous blogger is the Pioneer Woman who decided to share all aspects of her life including home schooling, cooking and parenting while living on a ranch.
2. Will You Take Your Own Photos?
The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is even more true on your blog. Photos lure and inspire your readers. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take alluring photos.
Before I began blogging, my photography skills didn’t surpass anything beyond what a “point and shoot” camera could produce.
I quickly learned that I needed to quickly learn how to be my own photographer. Food was my main subject so I purchased a DSLR camera and macro lens. It didn’t take long for me to begin creating photos with a lot of taste appeal. My family soon began my next subject and photography is now one of my biggest hobbies.
3. Will Blogging Be My Source of Revenue?
If you’re looking to make money blogging right away, prepare yourself for a disappointment. While blogging has many perks, it takes a lot of hard work and persistence to turn your hobby into an actual business. Believe me- I know.
DON’T START A BLOG IF:
A. If You Don’t Have Anything To Write About
If you plan to copy and past content from other websites, don’t start a blog. Again, ‘duh’. You would be surprised at how many bloggers have copied content from my website and claimed it as their own. Last year a blogger tweeted out, “check out my recipe for Sparkling Cranberry Punch“. The only problem was, the recipe was not hers- it was mine. My Sparkling Cranberry Punch was a recipe that took me days to create, write and photograph while another blogger took five seconds to hit “Ctrl+C”… “Ctrl+V” to copy and paste my photos and recipe onto her website.
On the same token, it’s absolutely okay- fabulous even- to feature content from other bloggers on your blog, so long as you have original content of your own. For example, a blogger I met at BlogHer in San Diego writes mostly about being a new parent. Since she’s not a recipe creator, she often shares my dinner recipes with her readers each Wednesday for her “What’s For Dinner Wednesday” feature. I’m helping this blogger by providing recipe content for her parenting blog, while she helps me gain exposure for my food blog. Win. Win.
First Comes Loyalty, Then Comes Product Reviews
Writing product reviews with no other original content on your blog is a gray area for some. There are so many blogs out there that post nothing but product reviews and giveaways. “I like this cheese.” “My kids love that toy.” “Enter to win this cookbook.” These opinions don’t mean a lot when there’s no relationship or loyalty established with your readers. These bloggers may have a large social media following because of the giveaways, however they’re not there to read any content on the website. And the fact is, brands and businesses are catching onto this.
So how do you establish a relationship with your readers? Loyalty is built through the very thing that has made bloggers so successful, and that is through your writing. Any product review you do should be set against a content-rich backdrop where you’ve established a trust with your readers by sharing something real.
A product review from a blogger who has created a loyalty and trust with her readers is far more meaningful than a review from a blogger whose relationship with their readers is based solely on giveaways. Those readers are not really readers- they’re simply visiting the website to enter a contest and then leave. That’s not blogging in my opinion.
B. If You Don’t Take Your Own Photos
Pinterest is a wonderful creation. I’ve been a Pinterest fan from the beginning and love pinning photos from my blog and other websites onto my boards. If I pin a photo onto my Pinterest board I’m helping that blogger because anyone who clicks on the photo to find out more about it will be directed back to that blogger’s website.
Followers can click on food and craft photos to visit my blog if they want to download a recipe or find out more about the photo. It drives me bananas when I see an image on Pinterest that I want to find out more about, but when I click on it I’m directed to someone’s “blog” where the photo has been copied (stolen) from Pinterest and pinned onto a page that has nothing to do with the photo. It’s intentionally deceiving.
Stock photography will ruin your blog. Your readers don’t want to see photography taken by a professional that you paid $2.99 for at Big Stock Photography. They want to see real photos from the person they feel like they’ve come to know.
Soon, your creative tank will be overflowing with artistic imagery and you’ll find that you look at the world and your daily life differently. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the kitchen or somewhere else doing something mundane and realized how beautiful the composition and lighting were before running for my camera. Even smart phones can produce aesthetic imagery for your blog. Last weekend I was making a breakfast frittata for my friends and snapped these beauties with Instagram.
C. If Blogging Will Be Your Main Source of Revenue
Yes, it’s true. There are many bloggers in the industry who have taken their hobby and evolved it into a successfully financial venture. And I believe in the saying, “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow“. The only question is…. how long until that money follows.
It take years to truly learn how to turn blogging into a business. Many bloggers worked a paying job and then later quit when their hobby took off as a paying venture.
If you truly stick do enjoying blogging as a hobby, the money will eventually follow, but don’t put you and your family in severe financial risk at the promise of making money right out of the gate.
DO START A BLOG IF:
A. If You Want To Share Your Story
Everyone has a story to tell. Before starting your blog, decide what you will share and how often.
Don’t worry about marketing your blog initially. Rather, keep the content flowing and consistent.
Once you’ve started gathering a following and established a relationship and loyalty with your readers, set your guidelines on how you will do product reviews and how often. Keep the trust with your readers by disclosing any free product or compensation you received from doing the product review.
If writing and sharing your story brings you personal spiritual growth, that’s even better. It took years before I decided to start writing about my experiences with my son, Connor, and then another year before I decided to begin sharing that story. Writing my blog, Because of Connor, has been so therapeutic for me and helped me reconcile, organize and heal a lot of those open wounds that I just covered up for years.
The reason bloggers have been able to successfully change the landscape of product marketing is because of the loyalty they bring. So find joy and inspiration in your writing and photography because your readers will find that same joy and inspiration by reading it.
B. If You Take Your Own Photos
The reasons your blog will be successful include that bond you share with your readers.
Blogging is sharing. So taking and sharing your own photos is in itself a form of blogging. In fact, there are many fabulous photo blogs out there like my favorite New York Through The Lens.
It may seem intimidating at first. When my Canon T2i showed up, I didn’t even know how to change the lens. Of course you could take a photography class, but I’ve found that YouTube is a wonderful creation for learning how to do just about anything. Simply search for “how to change Canon lens” and you’ll be amazed at how many fabulous visual tutorials you will find.
Ignite your creative side by becoming your own photographer. Join Clickin Moms to connect with other bloggers who’ve turned photography into a career by visually inspiring others.
You don’t have to drop a thousand dollars on camera equipment initially, just work with what you’ve got. This photo came from Instagram through my iPhone and graces my blog now:
C. If You’re Not Taking A Large Financial Risk
Stick to enjoying blogging as a hobby. Share your inspiration with others and the money will indeed eventually follow.
Ready to start a blog, but don’t know where to start?
RECESS and the ladies of Sandbox Revolution and our Many Moms Money Club can help. Download our “The ABC’s of Blogging” E-Book here as a free gift!
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