Before you start a blog, make sure you read this post!
We have discussed the idea of starting a “Blogging Basics” series here on Two Peas in a Prada for quite some time now. After having countless coffee, dinner, and phone dates with friends and acquaintances about how to start a blog — we figured that there is a serious need for these kinds of posts. So before we get into the nitty gritty of blogging, here are some tips to consider before you begin your blogging journey.
1.) Don’t do it if your goal is to make money.
Ashley: I repeat: do not do this for the money. Like my day job, I didn’t get into it for financial reasons. Sure, our blogging finances started to fall into place – after a while – but that was because we put 110% of ourselves into this blog every.single.day. This blog was something that we loved and nurtured as if it were our own child.
We will go into more financial detail as this series progresses, but I think it’s really important to think about why you want to start a blog before you actually start to get moving on the process.
Emily: I couldn’t agree more. And what I think Ashley is trying to say is – ONLY do it if you love it.
To be completely open and honest, Ashley and I run this blog as a business (through an LLC) and our first year we operated at a loss. There are startup costs to consider, and although these costs are small compared with the startup costs of most businesses, they are costs nonetheless. You will have web design fees, legal fees, accountant’s fees, state business fees, hosting fees, you will have to buy a domain name, you will have to have a media kit designed – all of which are costs that no one usually thinks about before starting a blog. And all those costs come before you even can consider making $1.
However – if blogging, writing, and producing content are things you love, then we both say “go for it,” and the money portion will come. For us, this has taken time, energy, tears, two years, and lots of long days and and late nights – but I will say – it has happened. But just know, before you start, the money portion takes time.
FYI: As Ashley said, in a later post in this series, we will get all into the financials of blogging, and how we monetize, so stay tuned for that.
2.) Make sure you have the time and dedication.
Ashley: If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they were going to start a blog, but then didn’t… I would be a millionaire.
It’s not easy, and I’m not here to complain about how much time I spend on the blog every single day — because I love it. But, I don’t think people realize how much time it truly takes. Whether you have a 9-5 or not, it is hours upon hours a day of responding to emails, sharing your posts, taking photos, editing photos, making an editorial calendar, attending events, taking calls, networking, reaching out to brands, Pinning, Tweeting, Facebooking — and that doesn’t even cover Instagram or actually writing a post. I am very lucky to have the support of my boyfriend who has been so understanding with my late nights, countless events, and weekends away.
Emily: The time and dedication that you will need to start a blog are going to be five times what you think. I thought we could run a successful blog by dedicating an hour a day to it. Try 5 hours a day. At the least.
Now, we’re not saying this to try to discourage anyone, but it’s fact. Between emails, brand correspondence, shooting photos, writing posts, snap chatting — don’t even get me started on social media — that’s another post in and of itself — blogging takes SO much time, so you HAVE to love what you’re blogging about. I don’t even go to blogging events – Ashley does all of that for us in San Francisco – so add another 2-3 hours onto that for her days.
Successfully blogging is a job. We can’t stress that enough. While it is fun, and can look very glamorous, have no doubt that the people who are most successful at it, dedicate a ton of time to it.
What’s more- be prepared for your life to change. One example is this – holidays don’t happen on actual holidays anymore for us. What I mean by this is… I prepare a Thanksgiving Dinner – a month before Thanksgiving. This way we can photograph it and prepare content for it on the blog. No one cares about Christmas two weeks after Christmas… they care about it starting December first. So, Christmas decor goes up two weeks before Thanksgiving in our home. New Years toasts happen well before Christmas – all so that we can pre-plan our content mindfully for our readers, and then enjoy the Holiday for ourselves with our families. Blogging changes your whole life – there’s no two ways around it.
Also, as Ashley said – if your partner isn’t on board, it’s better to stop while you’re ahead… or get in a new relationship. Joe and I have had many long and serious talks about the time the blog consumes, and the time that the blog takes away from our family. We have finally gotten to a point of balance, and he is fully supportive, but I would be lying if I told you that getting to this place was easy.
3.) Do your research / Know your niche.
Ashley: Step 3 is two parts. You have to do your research before you pick a niche. Blogging is incredibly over saturated — so you have to be sure you stand out. Mine and Emily’s angle has always been: we are two opposites. There aren’t a lot of duo bloggers, so that already sets us apart. We are also night and day different, as you know. This actually widens our niche — and makes us more accessible to more people.
In order to find your niche (what you’re going to blog about) think about the following: What are you passionate about? What could you talk about for hours and hours without getting sick of? Is someone else already writing about this? What do people often ask you for help with? The last one was a big one for me; people were always asking me for recommendations. What to wear, what to read, what to buy for their mom for Christmas. We realized there was a market for this — so we took it and ran with it.
4.) You have to enjoy social media.
Ashley: Learn from my mistake — I thought I loved social media. I was always on Twitter or Instagram. That is, until we started the blog. Posting for fun and posting because you have to is incredibly different. Understanding what content to put on each channel is finally making sense to us — two years later.
Emily: This was one of the hardest parts for me to come to terms with as well. When we first started the blog, I thought I LOVED Instagram. I already had a great following, I already Instagrammed what I was wearing every day, and I thought that would translate easily into loving the “social media” aspect of blogging. Oh dear lawd. I could not have been more wrong.
Social Media-ing for business will change everything you think you know about social media. Instead of just posting a photo of William, or of my dog, Henry, I now think… “Does this photo make sense to our readers?” Instead of just Instagramming whatever I decide to wear on any given day, I have to think, “Does that pink jacket look OK in our feed?” You’re building a brand when you’re blogging, and every aspect of your social media presence represents that brand.
And I mean… how many days a year are you really eating macaroons for breakfast, next to a beautiful bouquet of hydrangeas, with a leaf drawn in your coffee?!? <<<< Am I right?!? It’s something to think about.
What we’re saying is that you are constantly plugged in, and it is hard. On top of that – social media is constantly evolving. Read any articles about the new Instagram algorithm, or Pinterest strategy, or Facebook Ads and you will understand what I mean. You constantly have to stay up on social media trends or else you will fall behind.
With all of this. comes the good — which is building strong and meaningful relationships with our readers and other bloggers. Social media allows us to do all of this, so as much as it is – a job – we absolutely love it.
5.) You have to have a “thick skin.”
Ashley: I am still struggling with this. And I wish someone warned me. With blogging, comes a lot of rejection. A lot of comparison. And a lot of being hard on yourself. I used to cry if I didn’t get a certain number of page views or likes. Brands will say no. Hotels will say no. Affiliate marketing networks will say no. People will write rude things on your Instagram. You have to be prepared for all of this. Sometimes, it still gets under my skin. It’s hard not to take these things personally. I often think to myself, “if only I had 25k more followers,” or “if only I were a size two.” The truth of the matter is — even those people get rejected too. Think of every “no” as another person who was exposed to your blog and another step you took toward building your brand.
Emily: Last year, I went to a Christmas party – a Christmas dinner – and somewhere in the middle of dinner, about 5 people at the table thought it would be funny to make fun of the blog. Relentlessly. “Oh is Joe your Instagram husband? How much does he hate taking those photos? Why doesn’t Joe start his own blog? Two Peas in a whatever! Are you going to put that outfit you’re wearing on the blog? Hey Em… Can I be on the blog? Is my outfit good enough for you?”… It went on, and on, and on.
I excused myself to the bathroom and cried. It was mortifying. I texted Ashley from the bathroom, “I want to quit.” She wrote back, “They know nothing… and they don’t matter.” She was right.
It’s so easy for people to poke fun at you when you have a blog. A blog – no matter what your angle – is personal, and it’s public… and that means everyone thinks they can have an opinion about it. Which really boils down to people having an opinion about you. You have to be ok with that.
You have to have a thick skin. And you have to realize who and what matters.
Equally important are the people in your life to lift you up when you’re down. If Ashley and I didn’t have each other, and our amazing readers to help cheer us on during these hard times, Two Peas in a Prada wouldn’t exist. So just be sure, before you start a blog, that you have your cheer squad ready. You’ll need them.
If and when you think you’re ready to start a blog, please let us know… we’re here to help in any way we can, and we’d love to be a part of your own personal cheer squad!
We went back and forth so many times about writing this post, but then we went back to the beginning and looked at our very first post. When we realized how far we have come, and how many new friends we have made along the way, we knew it was time. We hope you like these kinds of posts — if you do, we’d love to hear so we can keep them coming! XooX