This month marks 6 years since I launched Hayley’s Joys! The time has certainly flown by. It all started as a creative outlet and at the time I had no real intentions.
But as time went by, I started learning “the ropes” and naturally I have had so many opportunities to work with brands and making it a side-gig, if you want to call it that.
I work full-time so my blog has always been a side-hustle and I still don’t have any intention of making my blog my full time focus. I enjoy blogging, it’s fun, it’s my creative outlet and I have gotten so many extraordinary opportunities from it and I want to keep things this way for now.
My blog has however evolved over the years and my social media profiles have also grown along with it.
Over the last few years, I’ve had a few requests from people who’d like to start a blog, or become an “influencer” (I don’t really like that term, but anyway). I would usually do this over a cup of coffee with them, but thanks to COVID-19, I thought I’d share my tips and pointers in a blog post.
Disclaimer: I am not a blogging expert nor am I a social media expert. I am merely sharing tips that have helped me along the way and helped my platforms grow – without having to buy any fake followers!
Ok, so let’s get to the tips. When I say blog – you can interpret it as an actual blog with an actual url, or a Instagram or facebook page or any other platform that you will engage with users. In my case, I make use of all of these platforms which are all part of my personal brand.
Here Are Some Tips For Starting A Blog
Find Your Niche
This is the most important tip I would give anyone wanting to know where to start! It’s been proven – you can’t be everything to anyone! Yes, you could be good at a number of things but what is it that makes your tick? What inspires you?
Consider your interests, use a mind map, visit Pinterest and create mood boards. This will help you decide what you know best and what you are most passionate about. This will help you find your niche and help setting up a content plan for your platform.
I can promise you – if you’re passionate and authentic in what you do and love what you do, it will come through in your content.
Invest in yourself
You want to stand out from the start, right? But do you have the basic skills to set the standard for your platform? If you’re starting a website type blog, then do you know how SEO works? Are you aware of the various platforms to host your blog on? Or if your aim is to start and grow on Instagram – do you know how to take good pictures and engage with users on the platform?
There are so many free Youtube tutorials and courses online to learn from. Take advantage of them! In fact, this digital space changes so quickly, I am constantly attending online workshops and courses. Even if its just one thing new that I learn, it’s a gain for me.
If you’re starting a website blog – go straight to paid version
I wish someone had told me this before I started my blog. I initially had a free wordpress blog which went on for about 2 years until I moved everything over to this site. Yes, the content carried over, however I lost all those stats and growth from that previous site!
Start off strong with your own .co.za or .com !
Engage with other bloggers
I have learned so much from being part of the South African blogging community. There are so many ways to collaborate with Bloggers and help each other grow! There are various groups on Facebook that you can join and share ideas, links and ask for help when you’re stuck with something.
I have even made some good friendships along the way.
Engage with brands you love
Many new bloggers make the mistake of thinking that the minute you post your first picture you are now entitled to free products! Let me stop you there…. if this is your number one reason for starting a platform, you’re reading the wrong article 🙂
The reason why brands work with Bloggers or Influencers is that they would like to tap into your platforms audience and reach your followers. They will pay you or provide you with products in exchange for your content and reach to your audience.
It will be a mutually beneficial relationship. Understandably if you’re just starting out, your audience will be small. So why not focus on growing it by sharing content on products and brands you already love and have in your day to day life. Tag them in your posts and who knows , you may be working with them in the future!
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As you grow, prepare for some hate
I said it above and I’ll say it again – you can’t be everything to anyone! People may take offence to things you post for random reasons. Internet trolls are real and it comes with the territory.
If you ever host a competition on your platform – you will soon find out how crazy the internet can be. Ha ha!
What is your value proposition?
As your build your platform and you really want to collaborate with a specific brand who you love, it won’t hurt in approaching them – if you know what value you can add! In other words, don’t just send them an email saying – I love your product, I’m a blogger – please send me free stuff….
Instead, put a proper proposal together in the form of a media kit. Like you would normally prepare a CV for a job application, put together a kit and proposal detailing your all your url’s and social media links, what your stats are like, details of your audience and what kind of collaboration you are interested in. Be specific. For example:
“I would like to review your x product and will share y amount of posts on platform z. I can offer this for a fee of R xyx”
Regardless of the platform you are on, clear, beautiful, vivid images attract attention – even more so on Instagram. Most people will scroll right past if a picture is distorted and blurry. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take decent pictures, you can learn along the way. If you want to have lots of portraits of yourself or some outfit posts, you can also team up with a photographer who will achieve this. I’ve worked with a number of photographers and it really is awesome collaborating.
When I take pictures of the kids and flatlays, I use a Canon 650D for most of my images you see on my platforms but some of my pictures are taken and edited with my iPhone! I’ve learnt a few basic editing tips online which has made all the difference!
In fact, when I traveled to Europe last year, I used my iPhone for all my pictures!
Don’t Fake It Until You Make It
Fake it until you make it, they say…
But that really doesn’t work in this game. If you thinking of buying followers to get your Instagram off the ground without anyone noticing – think again. People will spot that sooner than later and not only will your followers think you’re a fake, so will the brands who you’ve been longing to work with!
Be Authentically You and Learn As You Go Along
Be You! Nobody else can do what you can do and your personal experiences.
For your platform to grow, people need to get to know you and they need to feel like you’re friends. A community! So just be you. Share the good and the bad. You don’t have to overshare but what I mean is don’t try to be something that you’re not!
These are the main pieces of advice I can fit into one post. If you’re considering getting your blog off the ground, I’m happy to answer any other questions you may have.