Tips On Creating And Growing Your Own Blog




Someone recently contacted me with questions about starting to build an audience to share his photography skills and in doing a brain dump for him, I realized that through experimenting I have actually learnt enough to get by with social media and blogging that might be very useful to someone who is trying to figure out the hang of the whole thing. I am sharing with his permission. So if you are clueless but want to start using social media, this will be basic enough for you 🙂

Social media has been a great way for me to make new friends, connect with people who inspire me and share myself. Its a level playing field, a great way to connect and an opportunity to find your voice. I do encourage everyone to use social media mindfully and to put yourself out there because the benefits of sharing yourself are worth it, even if you are a private person like me 🙂

So if you have been wondering how to get started with blogging, building an audience, or creating an online business these are tips for amateurs like me who want to share themselves but are not exactly tech savvy or marketing experts. I think this is a good starting point and you can figure out the rest by experimenting as you go. Also depending on the purpose of your website, some might be applicable and some may not, so stay true, and most importantly give more than you take.

Leave me a question and I will try my best to answer- or leave your best tips for anyone who reads this 🙂

Ps: the links to the books are affiliate links and if you are considering buying the resources I shared I would be grateful if you bought them through those links!

Question

Hi Ebele,

Thank you for taking time to help me out…

 I don’t know if this is something you have experience in or not, but here goes:

I am attempting to transition out of a FT job + a PT job into earning a living online thru:

 a blog

affiliate marketing

eventually, books

I have a website: http://www.howtotakegoodphotographs.com/index.html.

I know it is super rough… I put this together last summer. But that’s the basic concept of affiliate marketing.

What I need your help with (or if you don’t know, a referral to someone else is just as good. 😉 ) is:

 1. What is the best way to design the website? This one I built in HTML on wordpad). I don’t know the other web technologies, and don’t own Dreamweaver or anything else. So starting from the ground on this.

2. How do you drive traffic to the website? For instance, I tried looking up blogs and forums, but it was difficult finding one’s that I could post a link back on.

3. How do you setup the blog? Do you host it yourself? Use WordPress?

4. How do you earn money by blogging.

5. What are you involved in for social media? What is important?

6. Anything else you think I should know.

If you aren’t able to help, I understand. But thanks in advance for responding.

My reply:

Dear Joseph,
 
Thanks for reaching out and I am so sorry for replying late as I was going through exams and papers. This is SUPER long and please ask me to clarify if something isn’t clear enough to you, or once you get started and need my feedback. I am happy to share what I know and its my pleasure so don’t worry about it at all.
 
I tried to put the answers to your questions in sub-headings so it is not overwhelming.
 
Creating a self-hosted website: You can always start with a free wordpress or blogger site and then move to a paid one when you want to, but if you want to start with self-hosting right away here is a video that guides you step by step to build your own self-hosted website.
 
As per making money blogging, blogging is often a way to build an audience, connect with people and then like any exchange if you identify a need and meet it then you can make money, so I advice you to think about what pain point or need that hasn’t been filled that you want to meet. You could make money from blogging through offering a product or service or finding paid sponsors or perhaps giving people the option to make a donation to your site based on their appreciation like Tara Joyce does here.  The smart passive income podcast by Pat Flynn gives a lot of ideas on passive income and adding paid value to your niche here.
 
However regardless of how you choose to make money blogging, you need to start by building your list of subscribers. 
 
This gives you a steady stream of people who come to your website often. I use MailChimp to build my email list. It is a service that allows people to subscribe to your website and receive updates every time you have a new post. Here are youtube videos on how to use it to give people the option of subscribing to your blog (how to build a list with mailchimp).
 
Once you create your self-hosted wordpress website, and you create your mail chimp account and forms, you will go under the plugins bar and download the mail chimp plug in. This allows you to have a custom form that people use to signup for your emails. (Once you create your new website, let me know if you need help with this as it will make more sense then, however here are youtube video tutorials on it : mailchimp wordpress integration)
 
The best way to build an audience is to focus on what your ideal reader needs from you. In your case, your ideal needer needs to learn about photography. However it will be very useful to think of how you can make your site stand out of all the photography sites out there. Are you for hobbyists? beginners? or maybe very specialized people who want you to review the photography tools for them? Make this clear in the about section and in your heading and as you create blog posts.
 
Imagine your ideal reader as a person- what do they like, what do they need, what is their worldview, their attitude, their values? These are the things that allow you to connect to them. Most importantly look at yourself and who you are- if you can make what you are offering reflect who you really are, then you will attract an audience that values you as well, so try to be authentic. There are many photography websites, what makes you stand out is that you connect to your own ideal audience by being authentic and also telling a story instead of simply giving instructions.
 
There are all many people in your market that will have different needs so you will need to decide who you want to appeal to and narrow down your focus to them. I realized that the more I got focused about my audience, the more I attracted people who care about what I am sharing so resist the urge to appeal to everyone. Once you decide on this, speak to your ideal client and be consistent about it. Make sure you are being very clear about who you are, what is unique about you so that your ideal reader connects to you. If you are broad, your audience won’t stick. So show what is unique about your blog, share about yourself, and let your headlines speak to the needs and personality of your audience.
 
Here is an easy way to know what your ideal audience wants so that you write blogposts that are useful: go on social media sites like twitter, pinterest, amazon books, goodreads, google and search for photography tweets, popular posts,books and resources. Under the reviews of books, check out what the readers are saying- what they liked, what they wanted more of, what disappointed them.This is a free way to know what you have that people need and are talking about and will guide you to know what to write about and what services to offer.
 
More great ways to draw your ideal audience:
 
– Do youtube tutorials on how to take great pictures.
Make sure that you always link to your blog on your social media sites including your youtube instructional videos. Here is a free course on video marketing with youtube to help guide you on how to make how-to videos.
 
– Put great pictures on instagram, twitter, pinterest and then link to your site and tell people how you took the pictures.You can also review photography tools on places like amazon, youtube, twitter, pinterest and then link to your blog.
 
– Do a free udemy course on taking great pictures and then refer people to your site and ask them to join your mailing list.
 
For your blogposts, I will also advice you to use more visuals since you are instructing people on something visual. Use pictures, then show people how you took them. Visuals are more captivating especially since you are talking about photography.
 
You can even list all the people you know who want to learn about photography, ask them what they want to know and then answer all their questions on your blog and ask them to read, comment, ask more questions, and share if they like it. That way you are answering questions people have, not questions you think they have.
 
You can also go to reddit.com, and do an ask me anything (AMA). Tell them who you are and link to your blog then ask them to ask you anything about photography and answer it. This will draw lots of people who have questions, help you know what questions people have to inspire your blogposts, and also draw traffic to your website.
 
Learning from the best
-Review people who are in your niche through a google search and see their blogposts that are popular, see what questions their audience are asking, see what their audiences are thinking, see if there are opportunities to collaborate with them through an interview, guest post, or providing something of value to their audiences. This helps you really have a feel for the people you want to reach. 
 
-Also simply comment on these blogs and connect with their writers by adding value in the comments- this links back to your blog thus drawing people who may like what you are saying and can also help you make friends in your niche to collaborate with.
 
– Create a google alert for the big names in photography and see who featured them, then ask these people to feature you or to let you provide a free blogpost for them. Guest posts and interviews are great ways to draw audiences to your new site. 
 
– Also have you looked into big media brands that share information on photography? They are a good way to get quick traffic to your blog. Offer to write free articles for them or do a free interview with them and then in the bio, share a link to your website. Whatever you do, focus not on you but on what people need and how you can add something that is missing and you will stand out.
 
-Also make sure to put a link to your blog everywhere- your email signature, your social media, guest posts you write or interviews you do etc
 
I am also working on an ebook now. Here’s a free course to give you the basics of self-publishing an e-book.
 
Here are other good resources to learn from:
Jab jab jab right hook by Gary Vaynerchuk (This is a book on connecting with social media that you can find on Amazon). You can also do a Youtube Search on Gary Vaynerchuk and check out all his interviews on social media marketing.
 
Copyblogger.com has a lot of free ebooks on the basics of building an audience
 
 
 
 
Tara Joyce has a great blog on branding yourself, communications, etc and a lot of resources as well.
 
Also just get your hands dirty and see what you like about the websites you visit. Why do you like them? Why did you subscribe? What appealed to you? You can take that to make your website more appealing.
 

Let me know if you have any more questions and if this sounds overwhelming, just take it step by step. 

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