Coffee Date: Things I wish I knew before starting a blog

It’s been a little longer than I hoped for since the last time I sat down and started writing a Coffee Date post. Life has been busy and I wanted this one to be good so I decided to take my time! I receive multiple messages every week asking me for tips and tricks to start your own blog, so I figured I would put it all into an article! I am by no means an expert at this, I am just starting out and there are many other people who might be doing a better job at it – BUT I am really excited to share my side of things 🙂

I came up with a LOT of things to say, so to make it easier I will do this is a few different posts covering different areas, starting with “Things I wish I knew before starting a blog”!

1. The kind of blogger you want to be.

Seems pretty obvious, but personally when I started I posted about everything. From recipes to DIY to fashion trends to outfit posts, I did it all. If you scroll back far enough on my blog you will actually still be able to see those posts. But hear me out, when you start a blog people don’t know you. They have no idea who you are, and don’t have a reason to trust your “fashion forecasts” or your “mom’s favorite recipe”. Try putting yourself on the other side of the computer/phone, and think of what people will think. Not that you should do what other people want, but I remember reading an article from a big blogger a few months after I started, and she was saying that when you start out you should find one subject you love and focus on that until your audience grows. So that is what I did, I focused on my outfit posts and slowly grew both on social media and blog views. Now that my following knows me, I try and venture out of the typical fashion posts, and make posts like this – which I realize people love! So I am not saying you should stick to one subject forever, but when you start out give a chance to people to know you before you get all personal with them – you know, before posting photos of your grand-parents’ new dog or things like that! 🙂

2. How time consuming it was going to be.

This is no joke. When I started, I was still working full-time during the day and was really seeing my blog as a weekend type of hobby. Which is fine, if this is what you want it to stay. But personally I wanted it to grow and evolve, and there is no way this can happen if you only work on it a couple of hours on your weekend. Growing your audience (and your content) doesn’t just happen! I realized pretty quickly that I needed to dedicate more time to it, so my evenings turned into photoshoots, writing and editing sessions, and multiple hours connecting with brands. I am doing this full-time now (since October) and can’t even imagine taking a weekend off! When you blog your weekends become weekdays, with the only difference being there’s no mail on the weekend! I always find myself cancelling plans because I didn’t finish what needed to be done.

3. Invest in a good computer.

And by this I mean: your computer! My previous computer was a beast, it was amazing and fast (perks of having a computer engineer boyfriend) – but I am convinced every single piece of electronic I own hates me. Needless to say I broke the computer, and had to get a new one quickly with the small budget I had. So, I got one of the most affordable one in the store (another way of saying it was cheap… both in price and quality). I’ve been dealing with it for a year and a half now, and I swear to you I feel like I am going to end up throwing it over the balcony every single day. Since taking photos is a huge part of this job, I have thousands of them stored on my computer – I did just get an external hard drive to make space – which slows it down, but the amount of time it freezes on me and I have to shut everything down and start again is just frustrating ESPECIALLY when you are half way through editing photos or writing a blog post! So please, if you can, invest just a little more into your computer and learn from my mistakes!

4. There is no need to buy a fancy camera.

There is two reasons for this. First, every cellphone has a camera incorporated and most of the time the quality will be great. About a year into blogging I bought a new Canon camera and a 50mm lens. It was a big expense for me at the time, and I don’t regret it because I still love shooting with it. But having just recently bought my first iPhone (6+), I seriously don’t think I use my camera for more than product shots at home. Taking photos with your phone is both easier and lighter (try spending the day with your big camera in your purse…). The second reason is because as a blogger you will be approached by local photographers who will want to work with you and take your photos for you – and have probably a much better camera than the one you’d buy on your own! Most of the time you can work out a deal for an exchange of services, meaning the photographer will take your photos for free and you will promote him/her when using the photos yourself. 

5. Be open to join the blogging community.

That might have been the biggest surprise for me! I had absolutely no clue when I started my blog that there was such a strong and powerful community of bloggers around the world! Women supporting other women, helping each other out, becoming friends – most of my closest friends today are all bloggers! The pleasure of being with people who share your passion, who work on the same things you do, who can help you out – and vice versa- is mind-blowing. So don’t be scared to engage with bloggers on social media, and find Pinterest and Facebook groups to be a part of (“Millenial Blogger Network” is amazing, and if you are with RewardStyle try joining “RewardStyle Bloggers”). I would one hundred percent recommend to anyone who wants to start a blog to hunt down (that sounds creepy) the bloggers in your area and connect with them. It will feel like a first date (LOL), because you kind of know each other online and then you find yourself face to face, but these friendships turn into so much more than that! Now for the not so fun part, I have experienced (and heard this is quite common for a lot of bloggers) the loss of other older friendships. When you find something you are passionate about, sometimes people in your life can’t relate and you start spending less time and put less effort to be with them. It is completely up to you to work harder at keeping them on your priority list, but simply be aware that – as with anything in life – some people are in for the long run and other for a shorter period.

6. Get a gym membership.

This might sound silly, but I’ll be honest and say I gained a good 5-10 lbs blogging. Not that I eat all the time, but more like I spend so much time sitting down working on a computer all day I don’t get enough exercise! There are obviously the days when you shoot all day, and these are exhausting physically because you spend your day on your feet, but then there are the days when you just work on your computer from morning to evening and only get up a few times. These are the killer days for me, and I often find myself wanting to move (but NOT go shopping!) but end up being too lazy. So whether you are into outdoor yoga, indoor cardio, or anything in between, being a member of a gym will force you to get out and actually shake your body!

7. You are going to need more closet space.

My favorite! When I started, and I think I have said this before but can’t remember when so sorry if I repeat myself, I didn’t know bloggers received free goodies from brands looking for exposure. About a month and a half into my blogging start, I was contacted by a brand who wanted to send me two pairs of stockings for me to wear and promote them – and you guys I kid you not I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT! Here I was, with probably 1 thousand followers on social media (which can seem like a lot, but trust me it isn’t), being asked if I wanted something for free to wear on MY blog! I was mind-blown that someone actually thought my blog was worth it! Since then, my blog obviously grew quite a bit and I receive daily emails from brands wanting to get promotions or campaigns. I am not trying to be braggy at all, because trust me I still get just as excited as the first time when a brand wants to work with me!! Needless to say I bought multiple extra clothing racks, have done more closet purges in the past two years than I have done in my entire life, have given things to so many people in my life, and just recently started hosting giveaways on my Facebook page (follow me to find out when the next one is HERE),… Of course, receiving free clothes and products is absolutely amazing, but you cannot live off of them – you feel me? Can’t pay rent or groceries with free shoes or earrings. But this will be covered in a new blog post that you will NOT want to miss. 🙂

8. Choose the right CMS.

When I started, we (myself along with my boyfriend who is in charge of the technical aspect of the blog) went with Wix as our Content Management System to host Marie’s Bazaar. While it was great to learn the ropes and get ourselves into the groove of things, we quickly outgrew the possibilities and realized there was no way to keep the blog going if we stayed with that platform. So we had to move everything from Wix to WordPress (which is by far the best one available, since you are able to design your website the way you see it in your head!) which took us over two weeks! Two weeks of being offline, working every day to move and create a brand new site on the new platform. I don’t regret the way we did it, but would recommend you start right away on WordPress and avoid yourself the trouble of moving everything.

9. Get yourself a marble table – or fake it!

Marble makes THE best background for all your flat lay photos and product shots. There is no point denying it, with it being clean, white, and elegant, marble allows you to get quality photos which will make both your readers and the brands you work with happy with your work. BUT let’s be honest, if you don’t already own a marble table, floor, or countertops, those can be quite expensive. And by quite expensive I mean a lot lot LOT of money. So your other option is do like I did! Get yourself on Amazon, order a roll of marble sticky tape, and cover your desk (or any flat surface you can use)! It cost me less than $20 and looks so real I actually fooled a few friends who came over!! HERE is the one I got, and I have enough left over after covering my desk I am considering using it to cover some old books and use them as decor in my home! Fake it til you make it, right? 😉

 

If you are still with me all the way up to here, you are my new hero! I didn’t realize when I started typing this that it was going to be THIS long, so I apologize if I’ve lost you somewhere and made you want to give up. I hope this will help you if you are thinking of starting your own blog, I know a lot of you always message me and ask me for my advice which is so flattering – even tho I don’t know what I am doing half the time! Thank you for sticking along, and if you have other things you want to add that you wish YOU knew before you started blogging please share them! I am sure there is a ton more and want to hear about your experience!
XX

 

LEAVE A COMMENT

5 Comments

  • Linda Cardoso

    I loved reading this Marie. Although I am not a blogger I am trying to build my Instagram followers. I am a spin instructor and when I first started posting 9 months ago I just focused in on that topic. However I have a love for fashion and my travels to California as well as music so I started incorporating those topics as well. I think you make a valid point about stickimg to one topic and then branching out. Some days I increase my followers from 10 to 30 and then I will lose some when I change the focus.
    I love all of your posts and I signed up for your newsletter. Keep up the good work!👍💖
    From a fellow hot chocolate lover☕

    • Marie

      I love that we are on the same page! Thank you so much for the support! XO

  • Brandy bland

    Love reading this post!! Can’t wait for the rest! I started my blog a month ago and want to learn all that I can!

    • Marie

      That makes me so happy, thank you for saying this! XO

  • Gail

    Hi Marie! You are soooo gorgeous! I looove browsing your posts! I just recently started my own blog and this is so inspiring! Thank you for the encouraging words! Hope you can check out my site sometime 🙂

    https://www.candidlygail.com