In this past week I've been asked over five times something that goes like this, "Emma! How do I start a blog? Can you help me? I love your blog!" In an effort to be more present with my daughter and clients, I started compiling a list of questions that I'm commonly asked so that I can publish blog posts to answer them. So when I'm asked the same question I can direct those inquiries right here to my blog where they will get their question answered and hopefully be able to browse around and find even more helpful posts! I'm jumping in toady with how one can start a blog for their own creative business and why it is extremely important to blog if you are trying to grow your business. Trust me, friend, I had no idea about blogging and the importance it would serve to grow my online business. The minute I started figuring it out, everything changed for my business.
Your blog plays an important role in growing your creative business.
When I'm asked how to start a blog, I think people expect a simple and easy answer but the truth is that it is more complex than a simple response. First, we need to talk a little bit about you and your business. Who are you? What do you do? Who do you serve? Who is your target market? That just brushes the surface. Before you can start a blog you have to figure out what you're doing. Let's take a trip down memory lane when I opened an Etsy shop called "Filtered Art" where I made anything and everything from cute coffee filter flowers to baby onesies. At that time I can honestly admit now that I was completely clueless on all levels when it came to running an online business (successfully). At that time I didn't have a focus, I was just making stuff and hoping to sell it on my shop. Don't get me wrong, at the time I loved what I was doing but reflecting back on it all I just didn't have the knowledge yet on what it took to run a business, or a blog. Once my life took a shift and I found my passion with photography and graphic design, the rest fell into place. I figured out who my target market was and I made it my priority to reach them through social media. This meant that I had to get my website up and running and start blogging consistently. So I'm going to break it down for you how I started my blog, step by step. I don't have all the answers but I can tell you that my blog drives more traffic than ever before and clients are finding me on Google now. Alright, let's get to it.
1. Step One - Find Your Niche.
Like I said above, you have to figure out what you want to say. The more focused you can get, the better. I'm going to give you a scenario. You're scrolling through Pinterest and find a beautiful graphic that says "PALEO CHICKEN WITH ROSEMARY RECIPE TO HELP KICKSTART YOUR 2017 WEIGHT LOSS GOALS". So you click. You're taken to Blog A. The recipe is awesome so you browse around the rest of the blog. That's when things get a little confusing because you find posts about crafting, yoga, some recipes, and personal pictures of her children. You quickly leave because you're confused, and probably a little annoyed because you really wanted more recipes!
So let's replay this situation but with a different scenario. You click on that gorgeous graphic about the rosemary chicken paleo recipe. You love the recipe and say to yourself, "Awesome! I want to see what other recipes this blog has!" So you start browsing around the blog only to be wowed by all the amazing recipes and tips on how to eat cleaner! You love it! So you stay on the site and keep browsing. You might leave, but you come back. You see that they even have a cookbook... um, sold!
So what happened here? You saw the same beautiful graphic and clicked to read more. You love the recipe and wanted more. In Blog A you were quickly turned off because there was just too much going on and you weren't able to find what you were looking for. However, in Blog B you not only love the original post you read, but you find that every single blog post relates to eating clean/paleo and promoting healthy living. Instantly you become a fan and eventually you purchase a product from that site, a cookbook.
In order to have a successful blog for your creative business, you have to find your purpose.
In order for potential clients to trust you, they need to trust your content and what you put out there. If this is a blog to keep people in the loop about your family adventures by all means - share whatever you want! However, if you're a serious business owner looking to leverage yourself in the market, you need to narrow your focus. While you may want to share all those cute pictures of your recent trip to the beach, your ideal client may not be interested in that.
2. Step Two - Purchase Your Domain/Website
Choose a platform. As many of my readers know, I'm an avid Squarespace promoter and what I use to develop websites for my clients. You can purchase a domain through Squarespace, here is a tutorial on how to do that. A custom domain is just one little way to legitimize your business. Even if you aren't ready to start your blog, I strongly urge you to purchase the domain as soon as you know your business name.
3. Step Four - Design Your Blog
You want your blog to be visually appealing. There are blogs I click into and quickly leave because they just don't interest me, aesthetically. Before you open your business or start blogging, you should have an established direction you want to go with your brand. It might change, I'm a testament to that, but it's important to have something set up before you start blogging if you want to grow and monetize your blog. I strongly urge those of you ready to take the leap to invest in a designer. If you find the right fit for you and your niche, they will help you develop a branding foundation that will allow you to grow and thrive as you continue to blog and gain steam with your business.
4. Step Four - Utilize Social Media
If you're part of my Dream Chasers Facebook Community or follow me on IG you know that I am constantly talking about my love affair with Pinterest. Why Pinterest? I try to think of Pinterest as one big search engine (because it is). You type in keywords and related posts show up in the feed. I strongly urge those I work with to develop strong pinnable graphics to incorporate within each blog post. Tips for a strong pinnable graphic:
- Large and easy-to-read text: keep it easy to read. I've played with the script on my graphics but have ultimately decided to leave it off all together as it just makes the graphic more difficult to read, even if it's super cute. :)
- Vertical Images: Vertical images are more likely to be re-pinned. You want those repins because that means more traffic to your website!
- Keeping it on brand: Colors, fonts, textures... keep it on brand. It's my goal with everything I post that whoever looks at an image before seeing my name will know that it's mine.
- Include your business information: Give your readers somewhere to go. I push traffic to my website because that's where I want people to go.
- Keyword optimization for SEO: Title every single image within your post. Every graphic, every picture, everything! All your images need to be titled with strong keywords. For example, my keywords are "Seattle wedding photographer, graphic designer for creative entrepreneurs..." plus a few more.
- Opt in (if applicable): Freebies/opt-ins are an awesome way to drive traffic to your website and to grow your email list (that's an entirely different subject!) One of my opt ins is my Wedding Day Shot list or my Resource Library.
- Evergreen content (won't go out of style): Evergreen content basically means that when someone reads a blog post a year from when you post, it will still be relevant.
5. Keep Blogging and don't give up!
I'm not perfect and it's a goal of mine to blog a lot more BUT I try to blog as much as possible. Consistency is important with blogging and continuing to put relevant information out there to your readers. If you aren't sure what to talk about on your blog, keep writing, keep drafting! Eventually you will get an idea and that idea will turn into several other ideas. When I have a blog post idea I immediately add it to my notepad in my phone and when I'm back at my computer and have time, I will add that topic as a draft so it's on my list and ready to be written! Don't give up. Blogging is hard, but once you get in your groove and narrow your focus, it's not hard to come up with what to talk about. I try to write when I know I'm the most productive, which is usually first thing in the morning (and sometimes late at night). And as I said in the beginning, I'm at a point with my business that I'm flooded with questions every week. I am unable to respond to everything but I do my best to answer as much as I possibly can. It's my goal with this blog to create a resource for fellow business owners to find inspiration and useful information to help them grow their own business.
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