How To Start Your Own Blog (And Make A Success Of It)

There are a number of questions I get asked on a regular basis via email/social media, the most common being; (1) how did I get into blogging in the first place, (2) did people judge me, and (3) how do I set myself apart from other bloggers. Whenever I’m asked these sort of questions, I generally reply privately and give my thoughts/advice that way but I figured that a blog post on the topic could be of benefit to a lot more of you budding bloggers, so here we go!

Why I Started Blogging In The First Place

I published my first ever blog post in April 2015, titled ‘My Thoughts On The Upcoming Marriage Equality Referendum‘. At the time, the topic of marriage equality was huge in the Irish media and as it was something I had quite strong views on, I felt a blog would be the perfect platform to express said opinions from. Since a very early age, I’d been an avid reader and writer, secondary school English was more of a hobby than a subject to me (nerrrrd alert). However, blogging, up until this point never really appealed to me, most likely because up until a few years ago, the Irish blogging industry was seldom spoken about, with most people unaware of its existence entirely.

When I did eventually set up my blog – (then) andomhanimocheann.com, I never expected it to get to where it is today. My sole reason for creating it in the first place was to give myself a voice on a topic so close to my heart, something I was and still am very passionate about. Today, I like to think that that initial passion has traveled with me as I continue to write about diverse topics and expand my brand name as a whole, and I often reflect on that debut blog post as the start of an incredible chapter that’s now well under construction.

Having ‘Notions’ About Myself

One of the main concerns from those who contact me about setting up their own blog is in relation to what other people will think about the whole thing. I won’t lie, when I first started blogging, people did judge. Coming from a relatively small town in rural Ireland, everyone knows each other’s business so if someone was to start “doing that blogging thing”, they would be considered to have ‘notions’ about themselves. Did it bother me? No, but I can completely understand why it would effect some people. Doing something unique to everyone else is always going to turn heads, especially if you’re from a close-knit community where the social highlight of the week for most residents is Friday night bingo in the parish hall.

My advice to you here is, if you believe your thoughts and opinions would be of some benefit to the world, then take the plunge. If you feel passionate about expressing your views, you shouldn’t allow the narrow-minded and uneducated around you to suppress that initiative. Don’t think of yourself as having notions, but rather as having the drive and creativity to challenge yourself in life. While the majority of people will simply take an interest in what you’re doing out of curiosity, a minority may (or may not if you’re lucky!) try to suppress your initiative and bring you down. It’s key to remember that those negative peers do not have your best interests at heart and are more than likely feeling jealous or insecure – jealous of your drive to succeed, insecure about their lack of it.

Finding Your Niche

Once you’ve taken that leap and made the decision to start blogging, the next step, one of the most important of all, is to find your blogging niche. Explore what areas you find most interesting and you’re most knowledgeable of. Stay true to yourself. Just because all the ‘successful bloggers’ appear to be blogging about high-end beauty products, doesn’t mean you have to, especially if it’s not your thing. Being unique is key in the blogging industry, you’re far more likely to build a loyal, engaged following by delving into areas that nobody else is, as appose to covering the same topics that have been written about a dozen times before.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I tend to steer clear of the ‘stereotypical’ blog topics the majority of the time. From abortion and rape culture to obesity and depression, everything I chose to write about are things I have strong views on and/or feel passionately about. Never blog for the sake of it. Suffering from writer’s block? Take a break. Don’t push yourself to put out something half hearted simply for the sake of posting. It’s so easy to spot the difference between a passionate blogger with a love of writing and someone who’s just doing it because ‘everyone else is’.

Get Networking (But Do It Right)

Personally, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with ‘blogger networking’. While of course, it’s always brilliant to meet others in the same field of interest as you, I do find that to a certain extent, there can be quite a ‘clique’ feel to it all. By all means, network with those you click with and relate to but don’t lick up to every fellow blogger simply because you want to be ‘well known’. When it comes to building strong relationships in the blogging industry, it’s above quality over quantity – simple as. Playing by this rule will really benefit you long term when it comes to collaborating and building a name for your blog.

Starting out as a blogger who knows little or no other bloggers can be pretty daunting. While Ireland’s blogging circle is still very much developing, there are some fantastic networks for engaging with fellow bloggers. Into The West Blogger Network (ITWBN) and Cloggers (Cork Bloggers) both welcomed me with open arms and I’ve been able to interact with many like minded people because of this. Get chatting with those in similar genres of writing, you never know what opportunities could arise from it.

Get A Routine And Track Your Progress

Once you’ve established your blog and are starting to gain a following, it’s key to keep those followers engaged and interested. Whether you’re posting twice daily or once a week, it’s important to maintain a steady flow of content. If you’re keen to know what particular topics are most popular or least enjoyed by your readers, you can keep an eye on your stats by way of Facebook, WordPress or Google Analytics. Effectively reaching your target audience is also a major part of building and expanding your blog. Whether your niche is parenting tips, advice for college students or guides for globetrotters, it’s crucial that you market your posts to those who will want to read them and more importantly, engage with the content.

Keep It Fresh

Once you settle into a certain pattern of writing, it’s easy to get fixed in that routine but don’t forget to mix things up once in a while. Is there a particular topic that’s getting a lot of press at the moment that you feel passionately about but it doesn’t exactly fit your usual style of writing? Just go for it. Challenging your creative powers can only be a positive thing and you never know, you may even discover a niche you never knew you fitted.

As always, feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments below or get in touch over on my various social media platforms!

J x

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