Tuesday 18 December 2018

Tips For Perfecting & Professionalising Your Blog

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Like most bloggers I started out writing blog posts as a fun hobby that also helped me to connect with people who had similar interests in beauty & fashion. After working with brands on collaborations for a number of years, the progression to becoming a professional blogger was gradual & almost accidental. Many people still don't see blogging as a real career & wonder how it's possible to make money from writing stuff on the Internet but the amount of hard work that goes into running a blog could easily prove them wrong. Blogging is an already crowded market & a lot of the people who have become really successful were simply in the right place at the right time. However one of the best things about blogging is that there truly is room for everyone. No matter what you want to write about, there's bound to be someone out there who wants to read it. People are naturally drawn to websites that are easy to navigate & pleasant to look at so it's important to make your blog look as professional as possible even if it's only something you do in your spare time. It can also increase your chances of getting to work with the brands you love! Turning your blog from a hobby into something that you can pursue as a career isn't an easy task but there are a few simple changes you can make to create greater success for your blog. Perfecting & professionalising your blog will take a lot of time & dedication but trust me, it will all be worth it in the end. Whether you're improving your blog photography or working hard to improve your writing skills, there are many ways to better your blogging business. I thought I would share some tips that can help to catapult your blog from simple to spectacular.

Buy A Business Address
When you collaborate with brands or receive letters from your followers you might not want to let them know that your blog is actually based from the corner of your bedroom. Although that is nothing to be ashamed of, you want to come across as professional as possible. For privacy's sake, it's not the best idea to give out your home address to anyone & everyone. Head to PhysicalAddress.com & see how you can obtain your own business address to receive blogging mail. PR samples are a great perk of blogging but you never know which courier they're gonna use. Having your own business mailbox means no more waiting in for parcels from the likes of Hermes or Yodel for fear of them getting left in a bin. You can even check your mailbox from your mobile phone, so you can go and collect your bits & bobs as soon as they arrive.

Update Your Equipment
When starting out as a blogger you might not have the best camera or editing software but this is definitely something you should invest in. If you want to professionalise your blogging business you need to get up to date with your equipment. Whether you're updating your laptop, investing in new lighting or splashing out on a state of the art camera, it will all be worth it when you see your blog succeed. Blog photography is so important & it's harder to take good pictures without a decent camera. I started out blogging with a Canon 400D & then moved to a 650D when I wanted something a bit better. I now use a 70D which is brilliant for both photo & video. Lenses are also really important as they can totally change the feel of a shot. I switch between a 18-135mm, a 50mm, a 40mm & a 24mm depending on what kind of picture I'm taking. A lot of people don't seem to realise that it's totally acceptable to use your iPhone camera for blog photos. The newest iPhones have such fantastic cameras that you don't even really need to get a DSLR anymore. I currently take all my photos in natural lighting but it can be a struggle at this time of year. I've got some soft boxes but I'm planning on getting a ring light as they tend to be easier to move around. In terms of software, Photoshop & Lightroom are the best for editing photos. If you're just getting into video editing, iMovie is more than enough but if you want something really professional then Final Cut Pro is the way to go.

Reach Out To Brands
Back when I started blogging, brand collaborations mainly involved being sent samples for review purposes. I'm still more than happy to produce content in exchange for products but nowadays sponsored posts are the norm. If you have yet to land your first paid brand collaboration, then now would be the perfect time to start chasing. It can take a long time to actually get paid by a brand for endorsing their product so the sooner you can start the process, the better. Even if you start by buying one of their products yourself & doing an honest review about it, this is an excellent start. As long as you tag the brand, they should notice you & you might gain a PR contact in the process. Keep up this consistent work & you will land that dream collaboration in no time.

Improve Your Writing Skills
It's true that not all bloggers have a background in writing, in fact many just start up their blog because they have a passion for a niche topic. The way in which you write your blog posts is what will make them stand out from the rest. Think about tone of voice. Do you want your blog to impartially review or inform your readers about products? Or do you want your blog to be informal, friendly & personal? Either way, learning how to become a more professional & polished writer will start to bring you more success. In order to become a better writer you just need to practice, practice, practice. Write all of your initial thoughts down on the page, then learn how to refine & edit them into something entertaining & flowing. Always perform a spell check before publishing your posts. It's so easy to make simple mistakes when you're busy typing away but being pedantic about grammar & spelling can make all the difference in terms of professionalism. Take an online course if you really want to become a super serious writer!

Your Website Platform Is Important
When someone clicks onto your website, they are going to make a million first impressions from the way it looks & navigates. There are so many awesome platforms out there for you to choose from, whether it's Blogger, WordPress or Wix. It's always worth paying to upgrade your platform so that you can make full use of the customisable options. If you struggle with customisation, Etsy is full of amazing blog templates that will take your site to the next level. I still use Blogger as I'm more than happy with the way it operates but I would recommend buying your own domain name. This gives you your own personal space on the Internet & increases your chances of landing brand collabs. The more unique your website can be, the more seriously people are going to take you. Make sure that your blog is optimised to work on all devices. If you spend some time checking that your website is slick & sophisticated, you will have peace of mind that your followers are in for a great experience.

Create Aesthetically Pleasing Social Media
Although this is not the be all & end all of being a successful blogger, it really does help to have aesthetically pleasing social media. Your Instagram grid should be consistent & pleasing to look at, so that your audience can determine exactly what you're all about right away. I still struggle with this & definitely don't post on Instagram as much as I should do but I think people mainly watch Instagram Stories now rather than scrolling endlessly through their feed anymore. I still believe that blog posts have much more permanence than Instagram pictures. Blogs are easier to search through, they're more informative & you retain full ownership of the content. A lot of bloggers that I've followed for years have abandoned their sites in favour of Instagram as there's more money being pumped into the opportunities there. It's such a shame as there are so many flaws to Instagram & even the best content can be completely lost to the algorithm. Organic reach has become more difficult & things like the swipe up ability being locked behind a 10k follower wall makes it harder for the vast majority of people. I think it's important to make your Instagram look good but don't forget that long form content should be your priority.

So try out some of these ideas & see how your blog could be turned into something much more professional. With a business address, all the high tech equipment you need & a wonderful website, you will be setting yourself up for long term success. All of these updates & improvements won't happen overnight but if you put in the hard work you will start to see results sooner than you might think!

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