Living Creatively: How to Promote Your Blog on Social Media

Living Creatively: How to Promote Your Blog on Social Media

Alright ladies and gents, we’re now in the final installment of the “Living Creatively” series. In this fourth post, we’re diving into how you can promote your blog on social. In part one we talked about how to start blogging and do what you love, in part two how to set up a website with SiteGround, and finally in part three how to write great content that matters.

Using social media to promote your blog posts tends to give creative entrepreneurs the chills – it means advertising ourselves, finding ways to stand out and be creative. In a sea of voices, it’s possible to use social media to drive traffic and grow your blog – even when you feel fresh out of creative ideas.

The Fear of Self-Promotion

It’s totally okay to be scared of self-promotion. As humans, our biggest fear is being judged. That’s why our egos work so hard to fill in the gaps – with money, with popularity, with attention from the opposite sex. You name it. These are all ways our ego tries to keep us from looking “bad,” from being judged.

Social media is a plethora of eyes that can cause our egos to go H A Y W I R E. I want you to know that fear is good. Why? Because it can help you become better at what you do. You put in so much of your time and effort into your business, you create incredible content, and then when it comes time to share with others you freeze.

That’s fear – there’s something there that wants your attention. Figuring out what the block is lets you create a plan of attack. Once you’re able to recognize it and say “Oh… I see. I’m afraid people won’t like me and my creations.” You can begin to work through that, and find ways to affirm that you and your creations are exactly what the world needs.

Why Promote Your Blog On Social Media?

Self-promotion is essential to selling. You can create and create and create. But keeping it to yourself will never allow you to start a real business. It’ll make a nice hobby though (if that’s your intent).

It may seem as if social media invented the art of self-promotion. Actually, self-promotion has always come part and parcel with being creative. Before a writer can get an agent or a publicist, they need to be able to share and sell their ideas. They need to go to an editor and say “hey, I have this great idea for an article. I think you’ll love it. Here’s why.” That’s called pitching. Every industry has some aspect of pitching involved – portfolios, samples and resumes are crucial for this reason. Cover letters? They’re all about selling your skills and sharing how your work can benefit a company or business.

What’s great is that now social media makes it easier to promote your blog. Learning how to use social media is important because it places you in front of the people you’d like to be at the table with. We’re all looking for a seat at some table. I like to think the world is a lot like college just on a larger scale – we have different subjects to study, extracurriculars, groups of friends to sit with. Social media is like picking a table, sharing a meal, and creating thoughtful conversations while there.

Ways to Use Social Media to Promote

There are a few different ways to promote your blog: social media, email marketing, even in-person networking. All of these work together. Each way will have a different strategy and practice. You want to keep that in mind when creating content for social media platforms. You wouldn’t approach someone at a workshop the same way you would at a team dinner. The same goes for social media. You don’t just want to create one post, and slap it onto three different platforms.

Say someone follows you on all three. First, they’ll think you didn’t care enough to put in the effort to diversify your content. Second, it shows that you’re not paying attention to how each platform is used and for what purpose. Third, you can have very different audiences on each. Customize and personalize your strategy when using social media to drive traffic and promote your blog.

“To effectively cross-promote your blog posts, you can’t simply broadcast the same message on each social network; you need to tailor your message to fit each platform and audience.”

Social Media Examiner

It’s a good idea to choose two to three social networks to start off with. Most people only use a maximum of three on any given day. Using a mix of platforms allows you to diversify your content and reach different audiences. If email newsletters are also part of your social media strategy, make this your third channel. That way you can get into a consistent rhythm, nail down your plan, and branch out further down the road.

Creating a Social Media Strategy

Creating a social media strategy was one thing at the beginning that scared me. I’d think “Oh man, how do I make the content on each different?” It sounds like it can be tons of work too. Thankfully, it’s not! I dive a little deeper into the 101s of social media marketing here. If you’re having trouble creating a plan, and tailoring your brand story for different platforms then this’ll be a great intro read.

To create your own social media strategy, check out who you already like and connect with. It’s likely that you’re already following people who are serving your ideal client – and seeing what works for them or what’s not working too well can give you an indication as to where to begin. Let’s take my favorite: Marie Forleo. Marie is a marketing master, and if you look at her Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook throughout the week you’ll see she doesn’t just share the same content across all three.

On Instagram, she gives a more personal inside look into her business – she shares photos of her dog, Kuma, throws in a clip of her upcoming video, gives us a behind the scenes into her new pasta adventures. It’s like we just came over for coffee, and she pulled out the photo albums. Seeing her joyful and inspired life makes us want to live that life too. Marie makes being a coach and business owner look fun, enjoyable, and refreshing.

On Twitter, you get more of Marie – the teacher. This makes sense, she’s a coach and so scrolling through her Twitter feed brings up inspirational quotes, links to recent blogs, even tips she loves from other coaches in the industry. On Twitter, she’s able to drive traffic to her website. This gets more eyes on Marie’s content – one follower retweets her quote, another thinks “wow I need to see the full post” and yet another loves the Tony Robbins article she shared so they leave a comment. On Twitter, comments are posted directly to your timeline, further extending Marie’s audience. 😉

With Facebook, Marie again gives you another side. Here she mixes the previous two personas. Facebook is one of those hubs where people go to catch up with friends, get some news, take a break. So Marie gives you fun tips on how to become more fulfilled, she asks her community questions, she even shares insightful personal wisdom. Through Facebook, Marie creates trust with her audience – she lets her community get to know her, and she gets to know them, making them advocates for her brand and services. This is how you create brand awareness.

When creating your social media strategy, think about how each platform fits into your blog and business goals. The most common are:

  1. Brand awareness: telling the story behind your brand
  2. Improving engagement: inspiring people to take action
  3. Increasing clicks: driving traffic to your website or content
  4. Driving conversions: turning customers into buyers

Once you’ve established your goals, connect a platform to it. From their experience, Quick Sprout has found that “the social media sites that send the most traffic to blogs in general are: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.”(In that order).

Mix Up Your Social Media Content

Once you’ve created a strategy brainstorm what types of content will help you best promote your blog. Say you own a shop and one of your goals is driving conversions. Your content is very visual, so you’d like to use Pinterest to sell items from your store. You can create product pins, use text overlays to tease out the benefits of your products, and encourage customers to find out more on your blog.

Harry & David use Pinterest to promote their products using a holiday gift guide.

You’ve now got a great way to promote your blog and turn customers into buyers using Pinterest! This is just one example of what your social media strategy can look like in practice.

Next, create a content calendar. Calendars are so so so crucial to social media – it’ll eliminate any anxiety around what to post and when. With a calendar you can create your social media copy in batches and then schedule. I use Buffer for scheduling posts. It’s free, has a simple to use layout, and lets you connect Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and in the paid version, Pinterest.

The best part about creating a calendar? If you’re stuck for creative ideas, you can simply switch up the copy and share a previous post. Every two to three months, you want to share older posts (if they’re not time-sensitive, like a Christmas feature). You can also repurpose this content. If a post did really well, and you notice it’s a topic your readers enjoyed then you can turn into a YouTube video, or create an eBook for it. You’ll have fresh ideas, and increase blog traffic.

Get creative with your content. For example, only the links in your Instagram bio are clickable, making it a challenge to promote your blog. Though there are still ways to creatively use social media and build your audience. The Content Marketing Institute, for example, suggests using stories. “With Stories, you can link within an individual story, bringing people directly to your content without leaving the app.” You can also share one of the visuals on your page, use the comment section to write up a mini-post, and then encourage reading the full feature with the link in your bio. 🥳

Building Your Blog Audience

Now, once you’ve created your content and are ready to promote your blog you need to engage. Getting to know your audience is an important piece of the social media puzzle and one piece many businesses get wrong. The drive behind business is to sell, so social media tends to become just one more way for businesses to promote, promote, promote. But the real gem of social media is connecting. Providing value (i.e. offering help), rather than trying to make a sale.

Think of it this way: you go to a friend and say “Man… I’d really like a slice of pizza.” Your friend now acknowledges that there’s a problem or challenge you’d like help with. They say “hmmm… I know a great pizza spot I think you’ll like. Let’s go.” Wow! This is great. You’re thrilled that they’re so open to being of service. They’re helping you satisfy your pizza craving. Because they were so nice and generous, you offer to get them a slice. And man, that slice? Thebomb.com

Now imagine if your friend said “Hmmm… I know a great pizza spot I think you’ll like. Let’s go. But… you have to buy me a slice.” 😰 You might be taken aback, because now your friend seems more interested in helping themselves than helping you. By the time you get there, you might even be upset ‘cuz you just traveled for who knows how long to a place that looks like a hole in the wall, and now you’re stuck having to buy this guy a slice that you’re not even sure you want!

It’s the same with social media. You have a community of friends who are in need of service, genuine help. By providing quality, risk-free solutions, you can turn these friends into buyers. It takes trust to get people to actually buy from you. It all comes down to satisfaction. Will I be satisfied once I buy this? Why? With continual exposure, your audience will see you as a brand that provides value.

Social media allows your business to create trust over time. Your community will say “Hey, this brand really knows how to deliver good stuff. I always learn something new from their posts and videos! I see they’re having a sale. I’m going to sign up for their next class.” Based off past experiences, your audience is now more inclined to take a risk and invest in your business. See? 😄

How to Connect With Potential Readers

One popular way to boost your blog traffic and use social media to promote your blog is groups. This is like going out to a cool party and socializing with people while there. You get to create conversations and let people reach you.

This is a great way to also meet others who are doing similar things as you, who are in a similar space, and who you can partner or collaborate with in the future. You may for instance find your next graphic designer or photographer from hanging out in these spaces!

Facebook and LinkedIn are two primary spots for groups, while Twitter allows you to create “lists” for certain audiences. There are also great forums, like Reddit, LanceBase, and Alignable that give you an opportunity to directly connect with potential readers and promote your blog.

“[F]ocus on building your reputation in the group first, and then keep it by only sharing valuable content, at the right time,” says online business expert, speaker and coach, Lilach Bullock.

There are so many networks to join online, so if you’re wondering where to even begin here are some of my favorite Facebook groups for creative entrepreneurs:

The sky is the limit with groups. You can find specific groups such as for freelance writers or virtual assistants, interest groups if you enjoy traveling or fashion, even location-specific groups. Try out a few and see which ones you enjoy.

Grow Your Blog

Now, the only thing left is to actually promote your blog! Use social media to grow your blog and boost traffic. You may even make a new blog or business friend along the way. 🙌🏽 These business friends will keep you encouraged and can be of service when you’re in a sticky challenge.

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Living Creatively: How to create a website to start blogging

Living Creatively: How to create a website to start blogging

Well, hello there and welcome back to the Living Creatively series. I’m your host, Dronile, and this is part numero dos of how to start a blog as a freelancer, or creative entrepreneur. If you’re brand spanking new to blogging (or this site) then I encourage you to rewind and start with part one here 👉🏽 Living Creatively: How to Start Blogging and Do What You Love👈🏽. It’ll help you nail down the very first step to start blogging. Cool? Cool.

Alright loves, so when we last met we spoke about our why. The reason why you started blogging (or would like to). This will be the guiding light for your content topics, your kick a** marketing strategy (We’ll get to that – pinky promise! 😉) and who your blog will be great for.

Even if you’re a creative sharing your personal brand or an entrepreneur launching your first creative business, it’s important to get clear on your blog and where it fits into your online presence. For instance, are you an aspiring designer giving others a looksie into the face behind the WordPress themes? Or an eco-fashion brand detailing your sustainable fabrics, and community of diverse artisans? Whichever you decide on, knowing from day one will ensure your content aligns with your reader.

In this second part we’re going to focus on how to:

  • Commit to your blog (it’s not as scary as it sounds. pinky promise #2!)
  • Decide between self-hosted or hosted sites
  • Get your snazzy new URL
  • Set up your website
  • Dress your blog
  • And share your site with le world (or you know, mom + dad)

Weeee! Sounds like fun right? (The nerd in me says yes. Humor me for a second will ya?) If you’re scared of getting techie, don’t worry. I’ve provided fun (and pretty?) pictures for you to follow along. Plus, if I can do it you can definitely do it. Let’s get started:

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Say whaaaat? That means if you click on a link and make a purchase I get a small commission. There’s no extra charge for you. Rest assured, I only share what I know + love to help you make your dreams come true.*

The C Word: Making a commitment to your blog

So… anyone else get the heebee jeebees when the word “commitment” gets thrown around? I know I certainly do. But it’s actually – in my opinion – one of the BIGGEST things you can do for blogging success. Up there with all those other heebee jeebees words like “consistency” and “discipline.” Eeep.

Before you even think about getting technical we’re going to pull out our handy-dandy planners and pencil ourselves in. Starting a successful blog will take, yes, work. Depending on what your week already looks like it might feel like this is just one more thing to add into an already busy schedule. Rather than seeing the challenges this presents, we’re going to see the opportunities available to us. Such as working on a really fun project during lunchtime. Or switching out episodes of Stranger Things to connect with your newfound community. Basically, where can you make time to commit to your dreams? Scheduling that time in will make your dreams and goals even more real.

One thing that tripped me up a lot was not knowing what to do during this block of time. If you’re anything like me, everything needs to get done – right now and to perfection (ah, there’s that Achille’s heel!). Before I would write a blog post, then immediately try to edit, find photos, create a newsletter, write the social posts… I’d feel as if I was on a hamster wheel! Scrambling to get it all done.

Then I stumbled across this great post from Dana Nicole on why batching needs to be part of your blogging strategy. It’s changed my life. With batching, you can use a project management tool like Trello, Asana, or Airtable and tackle a specific aspect of your blogging on a certain day. For instance, I like writing at the very beginning of the week or the end of the week because it gives my mind time to refresh. In between, I work on other tasks like brainstorming, researching and reading my favorite blogs, designing PDF resources for you, posting to social media. Batching is great if you need a bit more structure to your blogging. Plug in specific tasks instead of leaving that block of time open-ended.

Q: Self-hosted or hosted?

For the most part, I like figuring out how to do things myself (there’s that Achille’s heel again). If I’ve spent hours researching and still can’t find a way to do it, then yes the white flag goes up in surrender. But my inquisitive nature wants to know how to do it. Starting a website is one of those things I wanted to know more about. And you know what? It’s surprisingly easy to start. You’ve got two potential routes here: a self-hosted site or hosted site.

Self-hosting means you pay an outside company (like GoDaddy, BlueHost, SiteGround, etc.) to keep all of your files and data – think graphics, writing, documents – on a personal server. That allows your blog to stay up and running and not crash due to massive web traffic. Websites and blogs often have a lot of data especially if you like uploading and sharing pictures (which, who doesn’t right?) Now, there are also hosted blogs that allow you to create a blog for free or an affordable price. These include sites like WordPress.com, Blogger, and Tumblr. How do you know which one is for you? Well, consider…

Pros of self-hosted vs. hosted

  • Professional web address: Would you like your web address to be www.yourblog.com or www.yourblog.blogger.com? If the goal is to build a career of your blog, it will look more professional and legit with self-hosting.
  • Freedom: Self-hosted blogs give you more creative reign over the look of your site and access to additional plugins and tools you can use to modify your blog.
  • More opportunities to monetize: Some hosted platforms automatically advertise on your blog and even limit which outside advertising/affiliate partners you can use.
  • Own your content: On a hosted platform you’re ultimately at the mercy of the company’s rules and policies.
  • Branded email: Gone are the days of Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! 😉 Again, professional. Legit.
  • SEO: Here’s something I didn’t know – a self-hosted blog allows you to optimize your website, and ultimately get more eyes on your content. Because hosted blogs are a subset of the main website, getting credit for your posts on search engines will require a bit more in-depth planning. Bummer.

Cons of self-hosted vs. hosted

  • Budget: Your investment will be higher with most self-hosted blogs. You’ll pay for your domain name, a hosting plan and if you don’t know design then you’ll also be paying for a web designer or a custom made theme. With a hosted site you can start for free.
  • Self-maintenance: If you don’t like the idea of having to update plug-ins and occasionally self-troubleshoot then self-hosted is not the most ideal option. This’ll be an added cost otherwise.
  • Slower Community Growth: Some bloggers have taken to spaces like Medium to share their content, where there is already an established community. With a self-hosted blog, your community will grow much slower and will be a much more intentional process.
  • Longer set up: On a hosted platform there’s the added plus of signing up and getting right to work! Self-hosted platforms have a longer set up – you sign up, then you connect your domain name with your host, then you have to install your blog platform onto the host. It can get a bit technical and scare off newbie bloggers.
  • Fun-ability: If blogging is a fun way for you to share your passions + your work then a hosted site will fit the bill.

Ultimately, I chose to self-host. The first blog I created in 2014 was a health & fitness blog that I ran on WordPress.com. I wanted more freedom in themes, layouts, and design. So when I re-branded I was stuck between WordPress.org and Squarespace. Squarespace has incredibly beautiful layouts and makes it super easy to design a site, and I recommend it for anyone who wants a visually appealing website with little setup and low maintenance. If you’re more hands-on or open to collaborating with a web pro, go for WordPress.org. If you’re stuck between the two like I was, here are some things to think about:

Pros of WordPress.org

  • Customization to the MAX: If you’re a developer or really good at code, you can create something really unique.
  • Content management: On WordPress.org you can adjust the HTML of your post and have a media library (with stored graphics + docs) available to you.
  • WordPress Plugins: From email marketing to social media share buttons, you can find just about anything on the platform to boost your website and blog.

Pros of Squarespace

  • Fully hosted: So you get design, maintenance, and a nice content management system (CMS) all in one place.
  • Visually stunning design: Squarespace websites are absolutely *beautiful.* 😍
  • Affordability: With hosting, paid plugins and an e-commerce integration Squarespace’s pricing is a more affordable option.

Getting your snazzy new URL

{Insert web link here}

Now, once you’ve decided on a platform the next thing you’ll want to do is purchase your domain name. Thankfully, we already covered in part one how to come up with a business name. If you haven’t already now would be a good time to make sure your domain name is available both on the web and on social media. You wouldn’t want to get all excited about the perfect name and come to find out it’s already been snagged. (Been there many a times!) WordPress.com and Squarespace let you purchase your domain name straight from them when creating your blog.

If you decide to self-host, you’ll have to purchase your own. I purchased mine using Namecheap (they have domain names for as cheap as $1 per year. Steal.) Before you buy your domain name, give some thought to the extension (.com, .net, .org, .store) you’d like to use. With niche domains, there are a number of options now available for folks creating their own website.

Namecheap - domain name

Namecheap

Hosting Services

Okay, now you’ll want to brown paper bag your domain name and carry it on over to your hosting site. A few years back when I started my first blog, I chose a hosting company that had really great servers but wasn’t what I’d hoped for in terms of customer service. This time around I chose SiteGround. From my research, it seemed to be the one that provided me with what I was most concerned about: easy to use, great customer service, and free WordPress assistance. Because it’s what I know and recommend I’m going to show you how to set up a website using SiteGround. If you’re interested in setting up your own self-hosted site with them, grab my code to get 60% off.

Though there are other options too. Bluehost, GoDaddy and HostGator are equally as popular and great for website hosting. You can host your blog for as little as $2.99 a month. So like cheaper than those Pumpkin Spice Latte as Starbucks – anyone else obsessed with all things pumpkin? *insert heart for eyes here*

A friend of mine had a great question about what to do if you want to start a blog but your computer’s not in service. Well, you have a number of options: sign up from a smartphone, sign up from a tablet, ask a family member or friend to use their computer. Most of all, I definitely wouldn’t suggest signing up at a library – safety first.

Creating your website’s home

Ooooookay! Now, we’re making moves. First, to set up your website, you’re going to choose a plan. SiteGround provides three options: StartUp, GrowBig or GoGeek. For most freelancers and entrepreneurs just starting out, the StartUp option will work perfectly. Organizations will want to look more in-depth at the GrowBig or GoGeek options.

SiteGround Hosting Plans

Next, register or add in your domain name. If you’ve already purchased your domain, click the second option “I already have a domain” and proceed to create your account. Once you’ve created your account and username click pay now and get excited to show your blog off to the world!

After registering and creating your account, log-in to SiteGround. Go to your cPanel under the “my accounts tab” and find the Autoinstaller for your platform. SiteGround lets you autoinstall platforms like WordPress and Joomla straight from your cPanel. You can also contact a customer service rep for assistance. Installation will usually take just a few minutes. You can then go back onto your blog platform and log in with your account details. For WordPress.org this would be yourwebsiteurl/wp-admin/. This is going to be where most of your blogging and customization will come in.

Making your blog pretty

I love this part. Picking a theme, choosing fonts, and designing the website look is my fave piece of the puzzle. You can either choose to use a free theme or purchase a customizable theme for your website and blog. If you don’t consider yourself design savvy then I’d suggest making Creative Market your new BDF – blog design friend:

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Powered by Creative Market

They offer everything from graphics that can be used to customize your social media icons (for example) to fonts and website templates. It’s basically a one-stop shop for all of your design needs.

Go to your admin panel to customize your theme. For WordPress, this’ll be on your left-hand panel under “appearance.” Here’s a great tutorial on how to install a Joomla template, too, if that’s your jam. From the drop-down panel, you can choose “themes” to choose a WordPress theme and then hit “customize” to adjust any colors, add in a logo, and make sure your page is to your liking.

WordPress.org Admin Panel

Choose Your Home Style

The last step in setting up your website is adding and editing your pages. Most blogs and websites have at the very least an About and Contact page. You can choose whether your posts will double as your Home page or if you’d like a static Home page instead. For example, Fashionista Jean Wang at Extra Petite allows her blog posts to take center stage on the first page while Online Marketer + Biz Blogger, Kimberly Ann Jimenez uses a static Home page to share more about how she helps entrepreneurs and online business owners.

The nice thing about a website is that you can start with one and see which one works best for you in the future. So don’t feel like you have to absolutely get your blog design perfect right now. Do make sure to hit “Pages” on that left-hand sidebar and add in a page where folks can learn more about why they’ll be interested in your blog and how they can get in contact with you.

The About Page of Your Blog

The About page tends to be misleading, because while it usually says “About Me” or “About [Insert Your Name Here]” it’s actually about the reader. Wait whaaaaat? *Head nod* Your reader wants to know what inspired you to start blogging and why it’d be of interest to them.

Think of your About page like… that interview question we all know and love “so tell me a little bit about yourself?” 😰 The interviewer doesn’t want a whole novella on your love of puppies and dinosaurs (but they’re so cute! 🦕). What they want is an overview of your background and what inspired you to apply. Same gist, different application here. Melyssa Griffin has a great guide on how to write a killer about me page for your blog.

The Contact Page of Your Blog

Thankfully, the Contact page is pretty straightforward. Most will want to know how to reach you. A simple way to do so is to add in a contact box or provide direct info like a phone number or email. For organizations, this is a great spot to add in when you’re open.  If you offer products or services through your website then throw up a “Work With Me,” “Services,” “Hire Me,” or “Store” page.

Finally, if you’ve created your social media handles (which I suggest you do now) make sure to share those as well. Add these “above the fold” which means at the very top of your website or on the sidebar in a place where people can see it before they scroll. Add them again to the very bottom of your page as well to encourage social engagement.

Now, share your new blog with the world!

Alright, Rockstar! You are on fire. *Cue Alicia Keys* The last piece of this puzzle is to let friends, family, and the world know you created a thing. Before then though you may way to skip on over to part three and create content.

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Living Creatively: How to Start Blogging and Do What You Love

Living Creatively: How to Start Blogging and Do What You Love

Woo! Yes! Congrats on taking your first steps to live a creative life. Doing what you love and brings you joy can seem daunting. You may wonder if it is even worth it to start blogging. It’s what we’re taught NOT to do. Today, nearly half of the world’s population is online. And looking for a way to break free from the monotony that has become much too common.

You may worry that with so many freelance writers, designers, social media managers, etc. etc. that what you want to do is already being done. Or the highlight reels may make you think you just don’t have what it takes. You want to do something from the heart, something that makes you jump out of bed in the morning and that you’re passionate about.

First, let go of fear & comparison.

Fear and comparison are two silent killers that are always after our dreams.

But think about this…

Two sparrows sell for a coin of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

So have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:29-31

Do you really think there’s someone out there who is exactly like you? Down to the way you think, the experiences you’ve had, the hairs on your head? Sure, you’ll find similarities. But the specific, minute details of who our Father and Creator made you make you and your life uniquely yours. You see things differently. You have your own perspective.

Like those two sparrows, your value and what you have to offer is not defined by the sell, but by the knowledge, the Maker himself has embedded in you. And that’s what this world needs. Besides, do you really want to look back on your life and say “man, I should’ve done that really scary thing that could’ve made me really happy?” Hmmm… yeah, nope. Exactly. SO. Sweep all of those doubts and fears and worries and anxieties into the trash bin (where they belong, thank you very much) and rip a page out of Nike’s playbook. Just do it.

Next, why do you want to start blogging?

There are a number of reasons why a freelance writer or creative entrepreneur may want to start blogging. For example, are looking to explore your career interests, build expertise and create a solid freelance portfolio? Or are you a 9-5’er looking to go full-time in your freelance biz? I mean jeepers, you could even make blogging your career! Whatever your reason blogging can be a really fun and rewarding experience.

Creating consistent content – whether that be in the form of blog posts, videos, or even social media – is a great way to connect to your community and potential customers. A blog can show that you know what you’re talking about and can help position you as an expert in your craft. In this four-part series, I’ll share exactly what you need to know to start blogging and get your biz off the ground!

(Update: Here’s where you can read parts two, three and four).

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

One of my favorite Ted Talks is with author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek. In his talk, “How great leaders inspire action,” Simon shares that moving people to action is all about understanding your motives and intentions. Your why. Keeping your “why” top of mind will be what keeps your drive high when the honeymoon period wears off. And yes, the honeymoon period will wear off. But if you clearly identify why you do what you do the spark will come back every time.

Some reasons to start blogging:
  1. To entertain: Creating a blog to entertain can keep readers on their toes. Many online publications and magazines use their blog for this purpose. This could be a fun way for a filmmaker to share their inspiration and tease out an upcoming script. Exhibit A: Issa Rae‘s blog. If you find that you really love lifting people’s spirits and providing entertainment then this could be the way to go.
  2. To sell or promote a cause: Do you primarily sell goods or services? Are you creating a non-profit? A blog here can help you get your idea out into the world. For folks who are very passionate about a cause or craft, a blog provides you with a platform to connect with people of similar interests.
  3. To network: Sites like LinkedIn, Medium and DeviantArt have created ways for us to share work online. Displaying your expertise and networking with others is another reason why you may decide to blog. Say you’re a finance professional building a Styling agency. With a blog you can begin actively sharing fashion news, developing your brand voice and letting people know about your new venture.
  4. To build community: By tapping into what’s going on nearby, a blog can work as a catalyst for why your work exists. A local artist can benefit really well from having a blog that highlights how her drawings are inspired by the surrounding community.  Your customers will appreciate knowing the background and history attached to your craft.
  5. To teach: Are your friends always asking you how you make those delicious apple pie turnovers? You may just have a skill that others want to learn or know more about! Educational blogs range from social media managers sharing “how-to” create a personal brand to life coaches helping others develop self-confidence.

Which one of these 5 do your blog fall into? I love getting to talk to other freelance writers and creative entrepreneurs about how to stay healthy, master social media and see the world while doing what we love. For me, it’s really fun to be part of a community, share and collaborate. Keeping this why at the center helps me stay motivated. Once you’ve got you why turn it into a pretty quote or poster and put it somewhere you’ll see every day. That way, you can always keep motivation high!

Living Creatively: How to Start Blogging and Do What You Love via Dronile Hiraldo

Ok, so… what will you blog about?

Whew! You’ve sacked your fears, you know your why, and you’re ready to start blogging. Now you’re wondering what do I even blog about? Good question Padawan. This is where knowing your business and being totally YOU comes into play. The first and most important thing to think about: Why’d you start your business? Ha! See, why your why is important now? 😋 When you start blogging, to do what you love, put yourself in your reader’s shoes.

Think about:
  • What made them look for your blog in the first place?
  • Are there challenges or problems they’re currently dealing with that you can write about?
  • What questions do they have about your goods and services?
  • Who would your readers like to hear from or know more about?
  • What resources (books, podcasts, events) would your reader be really interested in?

For instance, say you’re the girl who’s always got the freshest sneakers. You know where to buy for the best deals, you know how this brand is really changing and stepping up the sneaker game, and you know they come in 3 dope colors. It may seem obvious to you because it comes naturally, but to others (hello 👋🏾 moi) style and fashion may just not be a forte. And that’s ok. That’s why your fashion knowledge and expertise are needed.

You could…

  • Create style guides on how to wear this season’s hottest kicks
  • Interview up and coming designers
  • Share a recap of a cool fashion event you attended with inspiring quotes
  • Create a Christmas shopping guide for sneakerheads based on personalities…

And on and on…

Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to deciding what to blog about. Looking to your own challenges and lifestyle can provide tons of inspiration. Ever stop to think and wonder why mommy blogs are so popular?

Life experiences help us connect with one another. They offer us opportunities to swap ideas and tell others what we know. There will always be people interested in trying that new fusion Japanese place down the block with the really good fish tacos. Or learning how to create a budget for their next trip to Italy. Digging through your own interests, hobbies and challenges can provide you with blogging gems.

Cool. Sounds like you’ll need a name.

Once you’ve settled on what you’re going to blog about, you may be wondering what the first step is. Do you dive straight into blogging? Create social media channels and then start blogging? These are all really great questions.

First though, take a step back. You actually want to iron out what your blog name is. This will be the domain name or website address that people will use when looking for you. Mindset coach and business strategist, Melyssa Griffin, has a great guide on how to choose the perfect name for your blog or business that you’ll definitely want to read. It’s what helped me ultimately decide.

When thinking about your name refer back to why you do what you do and what you’ll start blogging about. You may decide to give your blog a title, the way Contently does or you may just allow the blog (and your potential business) to fall under the same name.

A name may define your values such as, Soul Lipstick Mavens, for women who use makeup as a form of self-love. Or your name could hint at what you do. “In The Air Virtual Assistants,” a virtual assistant biz for high-level execs in the travel & hospitality industry. Most of all, have fun and let the name you choose reflect you.

And who will your readers be?

Sure, you may be creating this blog because you’re an aspiring author or because you’re really good at creating graphics and want to help others create pretty posts. But your reader is the cornerstone of what you do! A wellness blog, for instance, will attract others who are into healthy living and taking care of themselves. Similarly, who will your blog attract and why?

Some things to consider:
  • How old are they?
  • What’s their lifestyle like? What are their hobbies and interests?
  • What do they do for work? How much do they earn? Where do they live? (City, Suburbs, Farm?)
  • Are they single? Married? With kids?
  • What are their challenges? Why are they reading your blog?
  • Where do they shop? What magazines or publications do they read?
  • Do they read your blog from a laptop? A tablet? A phone?

Mhm, you’re gonna want to get real personal with readers. Think deeply about who this person is and how you can reach them. As a freelance writer, attending blogging conferences and participating in writing communities has been a saving grace! Take to MeetUp, go to local events or even try marketing on social media to find your community. Attend events you love with the kinds of peeps you’d like to work. As you start blogging you’ll make friends who share your experiences and who you can collaborate with.

Make your friends your colleagues

Dope! Now, what’s next?

Before you start blogging and start doing what you love you need to nail down your why. Let go of fear. And stop comparing yourself and your work. You’re well on your way to living creatively! In part two of the Living Creatively series, we’ll talk about setting a blog schedule, creating a website, and sharing your page with the world.

I’d love to hear: what made you start blogging or why would you like to start blogging? Share your motivation in the comments below!

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