When I first started blogging back in May 2014, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I simply headed on over to Blogger, picked myself a free and cheery Blogger template and essentially filled in the blanks; no fancy header, no sleek-looking design, just an array of crazy fonts, various colours for every little thing and terrible content. Looking back it has made me think of a few things I wish I knew before blogging, before buying a domain and committing myself to my little space on the internet.
Throughout the whole of 2016 I have constantly thought about doing a re-launch; changing the blog name, get a new domain and simply do a little re-brand. I’m completely happy with my whole design as it is and I’ve never been happier with my content, but the name for me has run its course.
Why Scampi & Chips? When I first bought my domain 2-3 months into blogging, I rushed into the whole name-picking process – it honestly felt like naming your child! I genuinely was lost for words and my mind went blank, but I was impatient, so the first thing that came to mind was my favourite meal – Scampi and chips. Not to everyone’s liking, but for me it’s utter perfection. But now, two and a half years on, I’m not liking the name at all! So I currently have a list as long as my arm full of potential names, but if anyone has any tips on how to curate the perfect blog name, share them in the comments below! Right, now on to the things I wish I knew before blogging.
1 | Pick a name you LOVE! If you’re starting out with a free WordPress or Blogger domain (.wordpress.com or .blogspot.com) this doesn’t matter too much, but does help to slowly build rank for the name, but when you’re buying a domain, be sure it’s a name you really want. Buying a domain costs, obviously, but if like me you come to not like it in the future because you rushed the decision, you then need to buy another domain for the name you do love and then continue paying for the old one for it to redirect. You don’t need to continue paying for the old domain if you don’t wish to, but all the work you’ve put into building up DA etc. will then be lost, for good. But then again, perhaps you want to start from scratch? You do you.
2 | Sort your social usernames before buying your domain. My current blog name; Scampi & Chips, is obviously very much food related and quite a generic dish name. So it came as no surprise that it was taken on EVERY social channel for a username. I didn’t like the look of the suggestions they gave, so I stuck to my real name: @KayBestwick on Twitter, @kayleighbestwick on Instagram and even had to go to @beautyandlifestyleblog on Facebook! It’s honestly a mess and all over the place with no consistency, which is something else I now need to think about (and worry about) when it comes to a name re-brand sooner or later!
3 | Have a small budget set to one side. I’m not talking £££’s, but instead just around £50-£60 to get you started. Initially I had a free blogger template and even when I then moved over to WordPress, I stuck to a free WordPress theme, but it pays to invest a little into your blog from the get-go. If you’re no good at designing a simple, but nice header then opt for a freelance graphic designer who’ll offer you quality for less. The likes of Jemma at Dorkface is a good place to go. Better yet, head to Etsy UK to pick your blog theme/template – I got my first paid-for one for just £6 and it was awesome!
4 | Set up a branded email, now! When I first started blogging I had just one email address: my name. I was using this for everything; signing up to newsletters, order confirmations and even applying for jobs. But, it was also dotted all over social media and my blog for people to get in touch. By the time collaborations became consistent on a weekly basis around a six months later, my inbox became too much to handle. Worse yet, when I did set up my blog email, it was then the mundane task of having to email every bloody brand with my new email…to date, I still have the odd blog opportunity come through my everyday email account!
5 | Don’t accept less than you’re worth. It was around 4 months into blogging when I received my very first blogger opportunity and I was sooo excited! But, as the majority of you have probably received by now, this was to write 300 words and offer two follow links for a mere £6. I accepted. Now, before you now look on in horror and roll your eyes, I was a newbie. At the time I didn’t even know what a ‘follow link‘ meant and I honestly was just drawn in by the fact I’d been contacted. That’s completely innocent, right? I’ve learned my lesson though, as I soon realised how spammy this site was and how it was effecting my site too, but also how little I was offered. So, know your worth!
6 | Pre-write ten blog posts. This sounds a lot, but I don’t mean all at once – give yourself a break, love. Before you start promoting your blog, or before you even put it live, have around ten blog posts already on your blog. Don’t publish these on the same day – space them out. This way, once you start self-promoting, there’s a good amount of varied content on your blog for your readers to enjoy. But also ensure you have a handful of posts at the ready to start scheduling for weeks to come. When I first started blogging I put my blog live, shouted about it and then put my first post live…what a tool.
7 | Install Google Analytics. If you are new to blogging and are perhaps reading this type of post for advice before you do go ahead and set up your own blog, don’t be scared. Google Analytics isn’t as scary as it sounds – or is it? I set up analytics around 3 months into blogging and I wish now I had it from the get-go, but also wish I knew what I was doing with it from the start. Take your time to read a basic guide to Google Analytics or watch webinars or YouTube videos to learn the basics. It’s really not as scary as you think and it’s a great way to track your blogs performance on a day-to-day basis.
8 | Join a blogger forum or blogger support group. Around 2-3 months ago I joined UK Bloggers which is an amazing Facebook group filled with so many great bloggers who are supportive. Got a question? Simply ask on the group and heaps of people will answer. Got an issue you need help with? Let the group know and everyone will come to your rescue, some even offering to physical sort the issue themselves. Everyone can be trusted in the group and it’s just a great place to be to help you improve you blog, but also your knowledge.
9 | Things are going to get bitchy. This kind of contradicts the latter point, but generally the blogging community is a very kind, lovely and supportive place. However every party has a pooper as someone once pointed out to me. Social media, blog comments and even forum sites are going to share some pretty nasty stuff – it’s simply one person being nasty about one blogger, then a bunch of others jumping onto the bandwagon until it becomes chaotic. My advice – do. NOT. get. involved.