Guest Post: Written by Rebecca Viner of Autumn Leaves.

Fed up of seeing posts like "top tips for starting a blog"? Yeah, me too. Posts about how to run a successful blog are appearing here, there and everywhere nowadays, and I’m beginning to wonder whether some bloggers are just doing it to jump on the bandwagon. Blogs like mine try to banish all of that and give clarity to bloggers who really are seeking advice in a particular area. There are so many misconceptions in the blogging world compared to when I first started six years ago; these end up creating confusion, overwhelm and unnecessary pressure on bloggers who probably just started it as a hobby. Today I’m going to get real with you as I’m sharing ten things every blogger needs to know in order to stay true to themselves while they reach their goals (personal or blog/biz). We’re going to delve into trends, making things manageable and the big deal right now – whether or not you should monetise your blog.

When we start a blog or take the next step with it, we will undoubtedly look around us to see what others have done or are doing. But if we do that, we begin to mould our path based on someone else’s results. We stop thinking outside of the box, we reduce the authenticity in what we do and we aren’t even guaranteed that it will work for us. No matter what aspect of blogging/marketing/design you’re working on, it won’t work the same as for someone else; you could have the exact same design, exact same post title, exact same image in a post, same number of followers and one could go viral while the other sits there with less than 5 shares. The sooner we accept that there’s no one size fits all model, the sooner great things can happen. We can begin to trial new strategies and learn from them, which can potentially get us even more visitors/money/opportunities. As relationship coach, Tracy McMillan says, “You can learn a lot from success but you can learn even more from failure”. You’re guaranteed to get more of a buzz from learning through your own experience rather than copying someone else’s methods. Many bloggers & consultants promise you X results and it’s absolutely okay to try them out, as long as you know that it might not work for you. You could be the anomaly to a trend, but knowing that in the beginning won’t leave you disheartened down the line.

Since I started blogging over 6 years ago, I’ve seen a huge surge in people wanting to monetise their blog and even wanting to start a blog just for the money. While I’ve been very lucky to make the transition to full time blogger/coach (in the final stages of transitioning over the next 2-3 months), it’s not the right path for everyone. No blogger should feel that they have to have advertising on their blog, accept sponsored content or offer services. If that’s not what you want, don’t let anybody tell you, that you should! A considerable number of bloggers have been in touch with me lately saying how they miss the personal elements of blogs and don’t like how blogs are changing into businesses. I like a mix of both. While I strongly believe that no niches are saturated, I do believe that if you want to monetise then you need to be able to offer something different. That something different has to fit a need/want and if you want to use your blog as a marketing tool, then all aspects should be towards a target audience. I also don’t believe that any blogger should be judged for making money, trying to make money or not being interested in making money from their site. I think it’s fantastic that bloggers have the opportunity to do so if they wish, and that many are making way more money than in a typical 9-5 job. It’s okay to change your mind down the line either way. Blogging is a journey. If you want to monetise, do something you love. If you want to write because that’s what you love, just stick with that.

A huge common misconception in blogging is that you need to be on every social media platform. You need to be on the new ones, you need to be on the big established ones, you need to be on the video ones. No. You need to be on the ones that suit your needs/personality (and if you’re trying to increase traffic/monetise – where you’ll find your target audience too). Me? I’m just on Pinterest and Twitter. Both of which are where I’ll find my ideal reader/client through chats, group boards and the use of optimised images, hashtags and descriptions. If you’re too busy to tweet five times per day and can only spare time to share one piece of content, then try Facebook. If you’re not into visuals, avoid Pinterest and try Reddit. If you like to be yourself and a little less formal on social media, then try Instagram over LinkedIn. If social media marketing isn’t your aim or if you’re part of a team, then there’s no reason why you can’t be on a bunch of platforms. But if your goal is to establish yourself and get your content out there, focusing on 2 or 3 (maximum) will be much more beneficial to you. Personally I use Instagram just for fun, but remember if you’re using the same or similar usernames/profile photos, it’s easy to be found and linked. Spend some time really getting to know the platforms and choose your favourites. You’ll avoid feeling overwhelmed this way and will be able to share more thought out, valuable content to your audience.

While everyone has different intentions for their blogs, there’s nothing better than learning a new skill or discovering a new tool that makes life a lot easier. For too long I was reluctant to put any money into my blog/business and didn’t spend enough time on my self-development. I had a bunch of things I wanted to learn (because it’s always better if you know how to do all aspects yourself, just in case!) but I’d put it off in favour of being able to post every day. Big regret. When you invest in yourself, you’re in turn investing in more opportunities and can in fact create more content ideas. Your additional knowledge and skills can completely transform how you do things, or they can make a small difference that in the long run makes it all worthwhile. In the past year I made the switch to Squarespace, upgraded Mailchimp, Buffer (and a whole load of other seriously great tools), learnt how to use more than just the basics of Photoshop, have taken numerous e-courses and read a bunch of relevant and inspiring books. Micro investments can honestly make the world of difference, but if you can’t put money into your blog right now, that’s okay. There are plenty of free resources, tools and courses you can use. But make room in your busy schedule to invest in yourself - whatever that means to you.

Build your network! It’s so important to find your people in this huge bloggersphere, as you never know when you might need them. There are times when you don’t want to reveal everything to your readers, or have a huge project that you’re just not sure you’ll be able to get done in time, or you might even have a new product that’s about to be launched and you want to have your own affiliate program; this is when you can turn to your network who’ll help you to see things more clearly, help you to create a plan to move forward or help you to market your new offering. Your network should include people who you see as competitors too. Working with people in your industry/niche will get you further than competing against them as they have a similar audience to you – people who are already showing an interest in the sort of thing you do/offer. Team up and wonderful things can happen. Joint venture webinars are seriously popular right now, or perhaps you might co-host a Twitter chat, or even guest post on each other’s blogs. However you choose to collaborate (even if it’s just you both having a Skype call every now and again) and whatever getting ‘further’ means to you, work with people and embrace the community that the bloggersphere has to offer.

The amount of followers you have does not necessarily reflect your influence on a certain platform. Your blog could have 20k unique visitors a month, but you might have less than 300 followers on Bloglovin. You might have less than 1.5k followers on Pinterest but your pins see over 100,000 viewers a month. Your follower count really is the least important statistic (and any good brand should know that). Your analytics are far more than just how many people visit your site or follow you on a platform – they can teach you how visitors use your site, where they’re from and what their interests are, how many convert to buyers of your products/services, what people are searching for to get to your content and so much more. One of the most worthwhile investments of your time is to identify what the most important aspects are of your analytics and how users are behaving. Perhaps you lose 1000+ visitors after the page they land on - so what can you do to make them stay longer? Maybe they read your post and don’t sign up to your newsletter - what can you do to encourage them to? Understanding our analytics and learning from them can help us to grow as bloggers; we can start to provide more content for our ideal readers based on what’s already popular, we can offer extra value content upgrades to encourage them to sign up to our newsletter where they’ll get even more awesome stuff from us, and we can re-design our page to make it more user friendly if we’re losing them early on. But don’t worry about how many followers you’ve got; it’s far better to have quality over quantity when it comes to followers.

If you often suffer with a case of blogger’s block or think your head might explode with the amount of content that’s around you to consume, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed. It’s really important (for your own sanity and quality of work) that you remain purposeful through everything you do in blogging. Perhaps that means only reading up on/taking a class or course on a specific topic you’re learning about at that time (and saving others for later), using tools to streamline your process, avoiding following people who share the same content on every platform or not storing one long list of post ideas (instead save a few, then put the others to one side for another time). There’s a bunch of things you can do to stay purposeful, but it’s about finding what that means for you. To me, that involves regularly auditing who I’m following, categorising content to read, finding what I enjoy most and prioritising that.

Everything you do for your blog has a process, no matter how small or simple it may be. But one thing I wish I’d known sooner is that there really is an app or a tool for every single process. Whether you want to schedule social media, create image templates, record calls, track data, share files, automate emails or pretty much anything you can think of, there’s definitely something that can streamline your process and save you a bunch of time/effort. PS, I’ve created a list of 45+ Awesome Tools to Transform Your Blog that you can get for free! (They’re all seriously good tools/apps that I love and use!)

I’m a huge believer in goal setting, even if the goal is tiny and only matters to you. With everything we do, working towards something makes it more exciting, more interesting and more purposeful. It encourages us to commit and show up to do our best – something that I strongly push my readers, my clients and myself to do. While this is a term that’s thrown around in business a lot, having SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) goals, gives us a platform to outline what we want to achieve and keep control over how we’re getting on. So make it your mission to set goals for the rest of the year and reminders to check on how you’re getting on. If you’re ever feeling lost or stuck, look back at these to encourage you to be intentional towards achieving them.

While no one is saying you have to reveal everything to your audience, sharing your story and being you is what will make you more relatable and authentic to your readers. Show your personality through posts - that’s what will set you apart. Use your story to encourage others that they can achieve the same results as you. But please don’t ever be anything you’re not. "Fake it till you make it" isn’t a term that should be used or acted upon in blogging. You don’t have to be an expert; you only have to know more than the audience you’re writing for. Letting your readers into your world will help you to connect more and encourage conversation. There’s always someone else who is, has been or will be in your position – so be honest, open and yourself in everything you do. As Oscar Wilde said: "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."

It’s totally okay not to listen to any blogging advice or to just take in what you need to know, but always remember to consider the authenticity behind the information you’re consuming. What’s the bloggers’ experience? Are they sharing stats/relevant work to back up what they’re saying? Who are they aiming the post at? If you ever start to feel lost or overwhelmed, head back to this post and you’ll be guaranteed to feel a breath of fresh air.

Written by Rebecca Viner, a creative coach and infopreneur, helping bloggers like you to get the clarity you've been longing for by listening, serving and leading. Read her blog here.

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  1. I loved this post ladies. It is clear, concise and is exactly what every blogger needs to read. Well done!

  2. thank you!!! I do not have to use twitter, instagram, snapchat and everything else to have my blog out there! There is so much pressure to update all of these on a daily basis...

    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  3. Anonymous20.8.15

    Why did you decide to stop using YouTube Hayley?

  4. Thanks so much Karen! I'm really pleased you enjoyed reading it!

  5. Loved reading this post! :) Great points for me to thik about more!

  6. This post needs to be out there! It's a huge help gives me options, advice and freedom. I like the way you think and see things. If I like blogging for myself why should I do it for others? Establishing a target is a must I sure need to think about it more often! Thanks for keeping me on track!

    Sara | www.marybloomy.com

  7. Good points to remember thanks!

    Pippa | LittleLifestyle

  8. What a great helpful post , I agree with a lot of your points too . Thanks for the advice. xox


  9. This is such a fantastic post i love your guest posters it brings such a great perspective


  10. I find having my own goals helps me a lot, when I finally achieve them I feel so much more proud of myself, if that makes sense haha!


  11. Great post! Thanks xx

  12. These are some really invaluable tips, thanks for sharing. xx


  13. This was such a good post - I especially like what you said about investing in yourself and your blog.

  14. This is a great post. I have only recently started blogging and this is so helpful to me!

    Lauren x


  15. This is probably one of the best "advice" posts I've read- very useful! Thanks Rebecca I'll definitely be checking out the site!
    Hannah | Rated In Beauty

  16. I have just discovered your blog and I want to tell you right off the bat - thanks so much for honest and helpful, not generic, tips and pieces of advice. Thanks so much for this post.
    Have just discovered your blog :)
    xox N.

  17. Yayy.. I learned something today from this post!
    Thanks for sharing, hun! It helps a lot!
    Have a lovely day!

    Jhem | JhemSays.com

  18. This is a great post, it's honest advice for doing what feels right and what you love. Thank you for sharing! :)



  19. Just wanted to join in with the praise, this is a great post. I've read a bunch of those "Top tips for blogging" posts and also feel like a lot of people are just trying to jump on the bandwagon with it but these ones are generic enough they fit most bloggers and specific enough they are actually helpful; a lot of the others I'll go through thinking half the points just aren't relevant to my specific blog.

    Keep up the good work :)

  20. Loved these tips! They were actually very useful compared to most blog posts I've seen about tips for blogging. I use to feel like I needed my blog to be as big as all the popular blogs surfacing around. It made me not enjoy blogging as much because I would compare my numbers and content so much. Now I just blog for fun. I may not get thousands of views, but blogging has become my hobby again!

  21. Such a great post! I've recently just started blogging and I'm loving all your honest tips. Thanks for sharing! x


  22. I loved this! I've been blogging for over six years and it's always great to read about ways to change things up. My blog is an extension of my job as opposed to something that I want to be my primary income. But it's always nice to read about ways to reach more readers or connect more with the readers I have.

  23. Well said Hayley! I'm also pretty impressed by the ability of us fellow bloggers to be able to handle online trolls and nasty comments - or just shake it off with laughter! x


  24. Thanks Hayley. I've been blogging for what seems an eternity, but still struggle to keep motivated and focused. Thanks for the link to Autumn Leaves for the blogging tools!

  25. Hi hayley, as per, a very honest and 'real' post with much thought gone into it. I started my blog in January and have had ups and downs but things are starting to go well. Why? because I read advice but didn't take it all! I decided to make changes and am still learning so much but, feel being true to myself in the blogging world has had its gains.
    Thanks for the solid advice, always love the fact you say it 'how you see it'.
    Heidi x

  26. Hayley, oops..just noticed this was a guest post written by Rebecca Viner, aka Autumn Leaves, another awesome blogger. Credit to you Rebecca, great advice and enjoyed reading this. We are always learning and to take 'all' advice from others is like following the heard, something I have never done in life!
    Heidi x

  27. Like everyone else here, i thought this post was brilliant. Everything is so well explained. I couldnt be happier that i came across it. You mentioned e-courses? Do you have any recomendations? xx


  28. I loved this blog! It was so helpful! There are so many 'blog advise' posts that are just out there like 'have great pictures and everyone will follow your blog'. Which is a load of rubbish! This is a great post!


  29. This is such a good post, I relate to every single point!


  30. Thank you so much for posting this. It truly comforted me and provided a clearer vision for my blog. It is always nice to know that someone has been where I am. Have a wonderful day and thank you again.

    Lilly Cook

  31. A very helpful blog post! One of the more down to earth and ''real'' once I have read. I have just entered the world of blogging after flirting with the idea for a long time. I'm here! And loving the buz of actual writing on a topic I am so very passionate about and home to make into a business on the side around my 9-5. Thank you for your honest advice


  32. So pleased you said 'you don't have to be on every platform' sometimes it's just a bit much!


  33. Thank you for this inspiring post! I really love your blog and thanks for following on bloglovin' - it really means a lot :)
    xoxo http://becciqueeen.blogspot.de/

  34. I absolutely love this, these are definitely things that bloggers need to know. I have had many of friends ask me if I just started blogging for the money,mto which I laughed at them. I do my blog for me, because I have something to say and if someone reads it, I am over the mood. Followers are definitely the last thing you should worry about, but I didn't realise that when I first started out, but I get it now. I have since jointed a blogger tribe and feel like I have gotten further than I would have without them. They get my worries, thoughts and give great advice.


  35. Love this piece, thank you, Rebecca and Hayley!

    It's always fab to read a different perspective on the whole 'how to be a blogger' and I love that you mention authenticity and overwhelm. And Hayley, I really want to thank you for your Blog Advice column in general – it's always so insightful and one of my go-to reads. For these very reasons, both this piece and the column have been featured in my (first) 'Thursday Thoughts': http://buff-beauty.com/why-this-is-my-background/.

    Thanks again girls!


    PS, just followed 30+ Blog Collective. Love this, though the 'Beauty isn't the monopoly of the young' is making me feel a little old, haha!


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