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 You really need to be committed to your blog if you are going down this route because a out of date blog looks unprofessional and that could indirectly harm your business.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.

Desk with laptop, pencils, iphone and books

I definitely fall into the camp of being a ‘lazy’ blogger at times. Especially working in Marketing there are some things I don’t do or haven’t done properly that I know I definitely should do.  Let me know how many you agree with in the comments below.

Not using a self-hosting platform
I am currently using Blogger as you know I should move over to self-hosting but I am so meh about it. I know the benefits its just it seems like a enormous task I don’t really want to take on by myself right now.

Using stock images way too much
I know you should ideally take your own images but I do feel like a bit of an idiot doing it for my own blog – I don’t know why. I don’t have the jazzy motivational note pads just the standard stationary ones haha!

Not using Photoshop
This is more on the principle that I cannot really spend the money on Photoshop at the minute so I am using the free version of PicMonkey – which to be fair is pretty good.

Not having a consistent layout
I am pretty consistent with image first but titles – do I go with all capital letters or not, should I have the title within the image or just have the image bare… the list is endless!

Not consistently posting
As much as I hate to admit it – I suck at posting often. I do feel that when I post my content is of value but it isn’t as often as I would like it to be. Its mainly time management and it is something I am working towards improving. This also affects my social media following as I tend to get more followers as I post my posts.

Not updating my own profile image
The one of me in my hoody – yeah that was taken when I was at Uni (and first year at that!) I have left Uni fours year ago now and have had that on my list to update but I can never find the right light/time…

BUT there is something I am good at I reckon and that is posting evergreen content. The majority of my content is evergreen (i.e. it stays relevant) long after it has been posted.

 

Open laptop on a table

Hello, hello today I am writing about self evaluating your blog via a SWOT.

A SWOT analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It may sound boring and time consuming but by writing down what each of these are, it can visually make you see your blog’s weaknesses are so you can tweak them to maximise potential. The strengths you don’t need to ignore either – by capitalising your strengths it will help make your blog stronger.

It sound’s like something that takes a lot of time but there is no point publishing content that your readers do not like to view. At the end of the day it is your blog and you can publish what you want – but if your aim is to increase readership, earn money, or increase engagement – then you need to get strategic.

To show you how a SWOT can work for you I have included a SWOT of my own blog below. If you google SWOT analysis you will see many done in a box. Personally I prefer working from a list, hence listing them below.

SWOT for becbec.uk

Strengths
Own URL and professional blogger template installed.
I have full control over my blog.
I have a full – time job so don’t need to worry about making money from my blog.
My social media and blog posts do very well in terms of page views and comments and that is the content I prefer writing about.
From working in marketing I know the a lot of websites to get good quality royalty free imagery etc

Weaknesses
Struggle to find the motivation to write content regularly.
Not enough regular content.
Social media strategy needs to be better.
My content away from blogging and social media do not so as well.

Opportunities
Know several contacts where I can get my work published – which gets my name out more.
Very confident about Twitter chats and hosted several chats before so can do those again.
Getting a lot better at Photoshop so can start creating some work sheets.
Know several graphic designers that if I reach out too, could help me make my brand better.

Threats
Established bloggers.
Blogging is a market that has become very saturated and it is getting harder and harder to stand out.

What have I learned from my SWOT?

So from my strengths I know that the social media and blog tips posts are my best posts so it is best to keep writing posts about them. Having a full – time job means there isn’t the pressure of me having to churn out content to make money.

I know I need to work on writing regular content therefore by dedicating time per week to do this is one way where I am more likely to achieve writing and getting my content published. Again by dedicating time just for social media means that I am more likely to hit my goals of pushing more people to my site. I am going to stop writing life posts because there is no point spending my time writing them as it is not what my audience want to read.

Knowing your opportunities is easy, now it is finding the time to make the most of those opportunities. It is important because if you don’t realistically have the time to take advantage you could waste other people’s time and it can make your life harder in the future when you do have more time or you try to take advantage of other opportunities because people talk to each other!

Therefore, ideally by maximising on your opportunities, expanding on your strengths and working on your weaknesses this should help reduce your threats. Your threats are likely to always be there – you should always keep an eye out on what your threats are doing so you can capitalise on there failings or find a gap in the market they are not catering for.

I hope this SWOT blog post has been useful, ironically for me by listing everything down it has made the task of getting my blog up to date not as daunting as first thought. Let me know your thoughts and how you got on below.

If you liked this post, how about reading my other posts:

Best sites for blogging and social media beginners
Best sites for blogging and social media beginners #2
How to link your blog posts to pages in blogger

 

Photo of pink and red balloons in the sky

If your aim is to win a blog award (let’s aim high here!) then you have to be in it to win it. Contrary to belief, the majority of blog awards the bloggers themselves enter in. Here is a complete list of awards (in no particular order) along with the web address and twitter handles.

*Please note, I have not been paid or approached by any of the organisations below. This is research I have done in my own time. If you would like to copy the list, I am more than happy you do so, but you must reference me as the author and add my web address and twitter handle @bex91 


If you see any blog awards I have not included please comment or tweet me and I will include it.

Cosmopolitan Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Beauty/ Lifestyle/ Fashion/ Fitness/ Food/ Sex and Relationships/ Photography
Website
Twitter

UK Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Art & Culture/ Automotive/ Dating/ Digitial & Technology/ Education/ Events/ Food & Drink/ Green & Eco/ Health and Social Care/ Lifestyle/ Photography/ PR, Media & Communication/ fashion & Beauty/ Travel/ Weddings
Website
Twitter

Bloggers Blog Award
Type of blogs: Beauty/ Lifestyle/ Fashion
Website
Twitter 

Amara Interior Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Interior
Website
Twitter

North East Blog Awards
Types of Blogs:
Beauty/ Buisness/Food&Drink/Lifestyle/Parenting/Instablogger/Interiors
Website

Next Blogger Network Awards
As I am not part of the Next Blogger Network myself, I couldn’t find much information about it. However, I felt it is worth including.

Bloggers Lounge
Types of Blogs: Beauty/ Lifestyle/ Design/ Fashion/ Charity/Parenting/ Tech/ Health and Fitness/ Food
Website
Twitter

MAD (Mum and Dad) Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Parenting
Website
Twitter

Wedding Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Wedding
Website

Beauty Blogger Awards
Type of blogs: Beauty
Website
Twitter

Blogging Edge Blog Awards
Type of blogs:
Website
Twitter 

Football Blogging Awards:
Type of blogs: Football
Website
Twitter

Brilliance in Blogging Awards:
Type of blogs: Parenting/ food/ photography/ travel/ style/ craft/ family
Website

Mumsnet Blogging Awards
Type of blogs: Parenting
Website
Twitter

Better Homes and Gardens Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Fashion/ Beauty/ Decorating/Gardening/ Food
Website

Vuelio Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Art & film/ Beauty/ Business and Finance/ Education/ Fashion/ Food and drink/ Health and Fitness/ Interior Design/ Media/ PR and Marketing/ Newcomer/ Parenting/ Politics/ Sport/ Travel and Tourism
Website
Twitter

Winerist Blog Awards
Type of blog: Drink (wine!)
Website
Twitter

Wine Blog Awards
Type of blog: Drink (wine!)
Website
Twitter

Navabi Curvey Blog Award
Type of blog: Fashion/ Beauty
Website
Twitter

UKYA Blogger Awards
Type of blog: Books
Website
Twitter

Talented Talkers Bloggers Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle
Website
Twitter

Welsh Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Political/ Community/ Lifestyle/ Technology/ Sports/ Multimedia/ Food & Drink/ Entertainment & Music
Website 
Twitter

Cambridgeshire Digital Awards
Type of blogs: From what the website it looks like any type of  blog can enter.
Website
Twitter