Blog 101 - image of a computer and a desk in the background

Well done on starting on your blog journey. It is exciting but also hard work. My Blog 101 series focuses on those who want to take the plunge and create a blog but don’t know or don’t have the confidence to start. Todays post focuses on the four key questions you need to ask yourself before you start a blog.

Time

Firstly do you really have the time to start and maintain your blog? If you want your blog to do well then you have to create or find the time to maintain your blog. This is something myself that I really struggle with, as you can see with my site my posts are very sporadic.

What are you creating your blog for?

If you are creating your blog just to obtain free stuff then you will not get very far. The blogs that do well have writers show real passion for their subject and craft and that is what makes them successful.

Is your blog supporting your business?

If your blog is part of a business then you will have to adopt a slightly different tone. You will have to maintain professionalism and all posts will have to be relevant to the business. You really need to be committed to your blog if you are going down this route because a out of date blog looks unprofessional and that could indirectly harm your business.

Expenses

Running and obtaining a blog does occur some expense. Blog props, Photoshop or cheaper photo editing software, taking out adverts, a custom URL, hosting, hiring a graphic designer to create graphics and having a personalised email address to name but a few all cost.

That is it, the four key questions you need to ask yourself before you start a blog. Second up in my Blog 101 series is on writing a blog post.

I would love to hear your feedback on my blog series. Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Photograph of a blogger breakfast

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to go along to a Blogger event. I have had this blog for nearly five years and have never been to an event! When I saw the Foyles Birmingham Blogger Brekkie advertised on the Birmingham Bloggers UK Facebook group I thought it would be the perfect starter event as I had been to Foyles before so knew the layout and I love books!

The Blogger Brekkie was advertised as a place to have the book shop to yourself for an hour, meet with other like-minded bloggers to chat and occasionally listen to a guest speaker. Brekkie was laid out, a table of freebies ranging from smarties to a few books (all of it which was YA) and a few other bits and pieces was laid out too. The best part was just having the opportunity to talk to other bloggers. It was really nice to speak to people who were from the region talk about blogging and what they did as a day job. There was a really good mix of ages as well, I thought it would be more 18-21 but it wasn’t.

Table with books, pencils and sweets

The benefits you get from going to the event’s is 25% of if you buy a book that day. The option to fill out the bloggerpicks (little handwritten notes you see in the shop usually from staff members saying why you should read this particular book) and the chance to be part of the blogger affiliate programme with Foyles where you get 7% of each purchase made from the site if a user clicks on your ad.

Crowd of book lovers in Foyles

I found Foyles very willing and actively wanting to work with bloggers of all audiences which I really liked and think it is a good ethos to follow.

It has certainly made me want to go to more blogger events so will be keeping an eye out for ones in and around the West Mids and further afield.

To book yourself onto the Foyles Blogger Brekkie, click here.

Screenshot of Rebecca Merchant's podcast page

I was never really a podcast person, until I realised listening to the entire Ellie Goulding playlist on Spotify each day to and from work was a getting a bit too much. I decided to delve into the world of podcasts – and boy, I am glad I did.

#Girlboss – Sophia Amarouso

This popular podcast starts with Sophia reading out #girlboss moments that listeners send in via Twitter. Sophia then interviews females that have achieved success in their careers. The careers are mainly business based but contain a mixture of charity/ start-ups and women in senior positions of established organisations. Each podcast charters the guests work life from first job to lessons learned in each position.

The Unsorry Podcast

The Unsorry podcast by Sam Sparrow and Lea Rice where each episode talks about topics that women in their twenties and thirties often don’t talk about. The best topics I have listened too have been: Do you have to live the dream, Meditation – Bullshit or brilliant, Dealing with burnout, Difficult female friendships and Educating men on feminism.

Ctrl Alt Delete

Another popular podcast by Emma Gannon author of the Ctrl Alt Delete book. Emma interviews different people each week on a variety of different topics. The interviews with Estee Lalonde and Laura Bates author of Everyday Sexism are well worth a listen.

Death, Sex and Money

Last but certainly not least is the Death, Sex and Money podcast hosted by Anna Sale. This podcast claims to talk about topics that people don’t talk about enough and it is so true. Usually the podcast focuses on one person’s story and includes audio excerpts from listeners who have phoned in. Podcast’s I have enjoyed listening too (out of many) have been ‘I was more angry at God’, Falling in love with heroin, An Astronaut’s husband, left behind and In sickness and in mental health.

Have you got any podcast’s you think I should listen too? Let me know in the comments below!

I really enjoy Twitter chats, I take part in them and I have hosted them as well.

I recently hosted an #lbloggers chat with my topic about ‘Creating a movement on the internet’. It was a topic that I hadn’t really seen much written about online so I was excited to see everyone’s thoughts.

My first question was:

Do you feel that blogs have empowered people to create their own movements or join one?

What was interesting with this was I saw a movement as something such as feminism however a lot of Twitter users saw it as building their own communities.

In addition twitter users that took part in the conversation as a whole felt that blogs helped people connect with other like-minded people and increase the confidence in expressing themselves.

 

Do you think the internet can be a more effective way to support causes from behind a screen rather than being out there?

Twitter users found that starting from behind a screen can be a brilliant way to dip your toes in activism and then as confidence grows and physically getting out there seems possible.

A Twitter conversation regarding activismOne twitter user bought up the very valid point that it depends on the blog and the blogger and I whole heartily agree.

My blog is less likely to get people involved or support a cause compared to a blog with millions of followers.

Are you involved in activism?

I am not involved in activism myself at all other than the odd retweet and reading Lenny Letter (a feminist newsletter). I was interested to see if other people were. Jasiminne Yip from Posh, Broke and Bored wrote about her experiences volunteering with the Greyhound Trust and Crisis UK. One twitter user pointed out that mental health issues was widely being recognised.

Lauren from Blonde Vision has done volunteering for the Race for Life, packing Christmas presents for children in Ghana.

A Twitter user, Ada Lovelace said that she volunteers at the local library and donates to charity. Another user said that she speaks up for small indie businesses.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

Instagram, one of the world’s hottest social media networks. Over 60% of its users log in daily and the platform has over 400 million active users. Interestingly at work we have recently introduced a Instagram and my assistant has been busy working away on building our profile, which got me thinking about increasing my own profile.

I have been busy working away on my Instagram for over a month now trying to increase the number of followers, improve my content but also increase engagement. I did my research and found ways to do this of course so I decided to try them out and see if it is true, so lets see how I got on.

Instagram stats before
104 posts
951 likes – average 10 per post
34 comments – average 1 per post

Instagram stats so far since me changing things up!
31 posts
827 likes – average 27 per post
47 comments – average 2 per post

I understand that this isn’t a like for like comparison – however you can see that I am reaching just as many likes over 31 posts in a month then I did for 104 posts over two and a half years! The same goes for comments!

So what did I do…

Theming my Instagram

My Instagram was never themed, the purpose being that I didn’t want to limit the content on my account and I just used my account like I would Facebook or Twitter. However when I noticed some of my images of natural landscapes were doing really well engagement wise, I switched focused so my Instagram was all of that topic. It has so far worked increasing my engagement which you can see above. Theming doesn’t have to be on topics however it can be image colour (blue, pink and white seem to be popular).

Using hashtags
To spread your message out further using hashtags is a must. I use tagblender and just copy and paste all of the hashtags relevant to my images and add a few of my own in. This certainly has increased my reach and my engagement.

Liking other people’s images
By clicking on the hashtags I easily found other people’s images along the same theme. I liked the pictures that I did greally like however I don’t think that made any difference in increasing my followers or engagement at all.

Being consistent
By posting images everyday I don’t think it made much difference to the engagement however I noticed that I was losing followers. I do tend to post everyday but don’t worry if I miss a day or two.

Editing my images
Even me who can be quite lazy with my personal social media liked more or less to at least have some good photos. I use VSCO had a read on the best presets to use and it does make a difference.

How do you increase your followers on Instagram? Let me know in the comments below!