Guess what? Arcadia Wife turns ONE this month! To celebrate, below is a list of 11 things I have learned this year as a new blogger. But first, get ready for confetti and a giant number 1 balloon!
1. Define Your Target Market: This is the first thing you should do when you are starting a blog, yet so many bloggers (myself included) just jump right in to creating content. Think about why you are creating your blog. Who are you hoping to help or inform with the content you are writing? Dig into that target market. Think like they think. Understand what content they care about. For me, the intent of Arcadia Wife is to share amazing spots in our favorite Phoenix neighborhood, but also provide you with content about being in a long-term relationship or being a newlywed. I’m not perfect, but as I continue to think about who I want to inform and impact, it helps to shape my content calendar….
2. Which leads me to my second point, create a content calendar. Create a framework for the posts you’d like to share and make sure it is realistic with your time constraints. For me, I make sure to write a blog post at least twice a month. I outline the general idea of the content I’d like to share, that way when it comes to writing the post, I am not starting from scratch.
3. Hire a professional photographer or ask a friend with a great camera to take pictures for your blog. This is another reason why a content calendar is important, so you know what types of shots you want for the next few weeks. If you have followed my blog from the beginning, you have seen the evolution of using my own photos to using professional photographers like Jessica Rae Photo. You don’t need professional pictures for every post, but having good quality pictures makes a huge difference. It helps increase your chances of being featured on company’s social channels like when RoandDe reposted my photos, because they were quality images.
4. Create a Network. Let’s be honest, the blogging market is very saturated. And connecting with other bloggers can feel like you are mingling with your competition. But at the end of the day, we all have slightly different target audiences and we can really help each other grow our blogging businesses. One of my friends and fellow bloggers, Karolina from Sunkissed Way, has been incredibly helpful with my blog this year! She showed me how to utilize Google Analytics, has helped me to see how I can connect with my target audience better, and has been a great sounding board for new ideas. And I’d like to think (I hope!) I have done the same for her. It’s nice to connect with fellow creatives and be able to share ideas.
5. Utilize your social platforms. This is the one that probably takes the most commitment for me. I try to post on Instagram and Facebook each day. Thinking of engaging content for each post, every day, can be really difficult. Especially when you feel like your Monday-Friday are barely interesting enough for your husband to hear, let alone your followers. This is what pushes me creatively. This is where really knowing your target market, what they want to hear and what they care about, is so important. You’re not going to get it right every time, but you’ll get closer each time you post.
6. Aside from using your social media platforms regularly, there are other great tools to make sure that the content you share on your Instagram is visually appealing and at the right time, primed for engagement. The two tools that I love are Prime and Planoly. Prime is a tool that scans your Instagram feed for engagement and provides you with a weekly snapshot of the best times to post. For example, this Friday Prime suggests that the best time to post for the highest engagement is 6:14pm. You can also schedule the posts out of Prime, if you are unavailable at the time suggested. Planoly is another great tool that allows you to view your Instagram feed prior to posting. You can upload photos and view them on a feed similar to Instagram but you can adjust the photos to determine which placement looks best. Planoly also has a scheduling feature so you can build out content for a few weeks and schedule posts to go out.
7. Another great “tool” I use, especially when posting on Instagram, is hashtags. Hashtags create a central place for anything with that specific hashtag. This is a great way to get more engagement and involvement on your Instagram because others who are interested in similar things will search through these hashtags, and stumble upon your content. For example, #myphx is a collection of great content for people here in Phoenix. There is everything from great restaurants, to local events, to great pictures of cactus and Arizona sunsets. Think about your target market. What hashtags would they search and be interested in scrolling through?
8. So now you have your target market, your content calendar and frequency, your social media tools and platforms. What’s next? You need to put yourself out there. This is something that I am definitely still working on. Creating a blog is essentially letting anyone who wants to read your posts, watch your Instastory, or interact with you on Facebook learn about your life. And as humans we are actually really interested in other people’s lives. Think about all the reality shows out there. We want to know all about each other and the more someone puts themselves out there, usually the more interested we are. Even when it feels uncomfortable, share with your followers. If they are following you, they are interested in learning more about you.
9. This doesn’t mean throw away authenticity. Be authentic. Remember why you wanted to start your blog. Stay true to who you are and the content you want to share with your target market. Don’t take putting yourself out there too far, and stray from your true self.
10. Don’t be afraid to try new things. In this ever-changing world we live in, we all know what works today could be outdated tomorrow. As a blogger, you have to be comfortable trying new things. There are always new apps, new tools, new social platforms. If you think something looks promising, try it. For example, videos are becoming the most consumed media content. How can you leverage these new trends in your blog?
11. The final thing I learned about blogging this year, is make sure it is about passion above profit. Some people see famous bloggers like Amber Fillerup, who get paid from major companies to travel the world, stay in expensive hotels, wear designer clothes and think, I could do that. I can tell you, becoming a blogger is a commitment. If you are looking to quickly make money, blogging is probably not your avenue. To be successful in blogging, you need to start with a passion that you can’t wait to share with the world. For me, people kept asking about new restaurants or bars in Arcadia, and I thought I love our neighborhood, I can share all about that with whoever will listen. And if you haven’t noticed, I love talking about my hubby, our relationship and this life we live together. Hence, Arcadia Wife. It’s a blend of two of my favorite things, and I love sharing about both.
Don’t forget that it is a process and evolution. I doubt any blogger (no matter how successful) feels that they are doing everything right. Remember, we are all learning together.
And lastly, THANK YOU! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I truly appreciate the support as I have started this journey in becoming an aspiring blogger. Can’t wait to see what year two has in store!