When I started Tails Of A Mermaid back in 2010, I knew nothing about blogging. I remember Googling “how to start a WordPress blog” from my mom’s bed and just messing around, totally new to the whole thing. My first blog post was just a rambling story about my weekend, with no pictures and no idea that anyone would actually read it.
These days, I get a lot of questions about blogging, as I’m sure most bloggers do. While there are many resources, YouTube videos and ebooks now about how to start a blog, I thought I’d share my own top 10 blogging tips for how to blog better.
My Top 10 Blogging Tips
1 Blog consistently
One of the easiest ways to get your blog to stand out is simply by consistently working on it. It’s so easy to start a blog, but it’s not quite as easy to run a blog. There are millions of forgotten blogs that were started during a moment of inspiration, only to be left in the dust like the pair of rollerblades I got for Christmas when I was 10. Even if it’s just once or twice a week, blogging frequently in a consistent style and tone will help you build your readership and gain a loyal following. People like to know that when they come back, there will be new, great content.
2 Be consistent in quality
Don’t ever compromise your creative integrity just because you feel like you need to put something out there. Taking the time to edit your images (always straighten the horizon!), proofread your copy, research your topics and create work that is really of a high standard never goes unnoticed. It’s what sets the professionals apart and what will help bring in the paid campaigns you’re hoping to secure in the future. Don’t always focus on the money either.
3 Stay organised
This has been my one of my biggest hurdles as a blogger. Trying to manage my time and image bank and finances really is a full-time job and I have committed myself to staying on top of it. As a blogger, it’s obviously super important to have the right equipment. I use a MacBook Pro and I always back up my images and work on a LaCie 2TB Porsche Design Mobile Drive. I edit my images in Lightroom and I use Canva for creating designs for blog posts and social media.
4 Cover all the angles
One of the most difficult things about being a blogger is overcoming writer’s block. Sometimes you just feel like there’s absolutely nothing interesting going on in your life worth sharing. But there’s always something to write about! Remember when you went on holiday with your family last year? Maybe there’s a “10 tips for planning a family holiday in South Africa” blog post in there. Or maybe your family came up with “awesome camping recipes you can cook on a fire”. When you haven’t had time to do interesting things, use past experiences and share interesting content from what you’ve already done. When I got back from a trip to France, I covered everything from what to pack, to a full holiday guide while I planned my next adventure.
5 Get your rate card and media kit in order
One of the easiest ways to step up your blogging game is by creating a media kit and rate card. Even if your readership is small, being able to show potential partners that you know exactly who’s following you, where they’re from and what they like to see proves you understand the business of blogging. A professional media kit should include your monthly stats (don’t be shy to share them, even if you think they’re low), who your readers are and examples of your most recent work. Your rate card should provide an overview of your platforms, your reach and your cost per content piece.
6 Use accounting software to stay on top of finances
Especially if you plan on going full-time as a blogger! I have found Freshbooks to be the single most useful platform out there for creating quotes and invoices and staying on top of outstanding funds. You can even see when your client has opened your invoice, or set up auto-reminders to go out around the end of the month. You may also be interested in document management software similar to FilecenterDMS which could be helpful with keeping your paperwork in one place and safe, ensuring that you are up to date with your client files.
7 Get a good tax consultant who knows how to help you
Come tax season, you’re going to wish you had someone to help you. I normally spend a few hours at the end of each year putting together a spreadsheet of what I’ve spent on business-related costs during the year, then send them over to my tax consultant who helps me figure out exactly what I can claim for. When you’re paying 25% tax as a freelancer, this can actually be a really nice chunk of cash back!
8 Say yes to opportunities
Especially if the opportunity is outside of your comfort zone. Maybe a magazine loves your food photography, but you’ve never shot for anyone professionally before. It’s totally ok to admit that, then grab the opportunity with both hands. But remember that once you’ve committed to a project, it’s important to always try to over-deliver. I’ve never once regretted saying yes to a new opportunity that intimidated me, and I normally find it’s where I learn and grow the most.
9 Don’t be scared to follow up
A quick follow-up email can lead to the opportunity you’ve been dreaming of. Everyone is busy, and it’s easy for your email to get snowed under. Rather than sitting around refreshing your emails, be pro-active. Simply reaching out and reminding the receiver that you’d love to work with them or hear from them isn’t desperate or needy. In fact, I think it’s very professional. There have been countless times where my casual “hi there, just following up on this. I’m really keen to work with you on this project, so let me know if you have any questions I haven’t answered” has lead to a positive reply.
10 Consistently pitch new work
If you have an idea, don’t be scared to pitch it. We all get shot down sometimes, and I’ve had loads of my own pitches turned down. But I’ve also had loads of pitches accepted. The key is to present your idea in a professional, easy to read format. A hastily thrown-together email with your brilliant idea rambled in several paragraphs is never going to be as effective as a presentation document. I use Canva to put together pitches, that include an overview of my blog and my readership, what I love about the potential partner, and exactly what I would like to do for them. I find that providing a clear overview of exactly what you’re offering and what you’d like in return right from the start leads to far more positive replies.