I’ve avoided this blog post for years. Mostly because I’m really terrible at admitting what I’m good at – I’m working on it. When someone asks me for advice on something, I like to give it from a place of 100% confidence I can give it, that I’ve perfected whatever it is they’re asking me advice on and I can give it without doubting myself. Well, I’m no longer in that headspace! So here are my tips on how to start your very own blog.
First things first, why do you want to blog?
Is it to connect with people? To document a personal journey? To get free products? If you’re star struck and doing it for free products from brands and invites to exclusive events, think again. Not all bloggers get there and even if they do, it’s not enough to keep you going for the long run. You need to be creating because you love it. Your content will suffer if you get into it just for the (potential) perks. Once you’re in it, it’s easy to forget why you’re doing it, so I always suggest to write it down and refer back to it when you’re feeling uninspired, overwhelmed or confused. It can get hard and challenging to keep going so always remind yourself why you’re doing it to keep yourself on track.
What to blog about?
I’m often asked: what should I write about? How do I know what to blog about? Well, put simply: write about what you want to! There’s no point blogging about video games if you’re not a gamer. Yeah, it’s popular, but if it’s not a genuine interest or passion, then you’re setting yourself up for failure – and boredom. I started my blog because I needed a place to put all of my hair experiences and learnings in one place. I’d just stopped relaxing my hair and embarked on a hair journey. I could talk about hair forever, so I always have something to say about it. I’m now also a mom and there’s constantly something new happening there. Those two topics are what my blog centre around.
- What do you always find yourself gravitating to? Either in reading, or in conversation? Travel bloggers are good at it because, well, they travel regularly. Simple.
- Do you believe in something strongly and are looking to share this outlook with others? Maybe you’re a vegan and a damn good cook. Share your awesome vegan recipes, while educating people on animal rights.
Once you’ve figured the above out, see how you can do it differently. These days, everyone’s a ‘blogger’. But you need something else to reel them in. So, what’s your thing? What’s your angle? Take style bloggers. There are thousands of them, so how will people remember you? Will you focus your content around dressing on a budget, or creating a clothing uniform? Also, don’t worry about running out of conent. As long as you’re being authentic, the content will come because it’s true to you. Your life and experiences will inspire the content. I didn’t know how much content I’d have when I started, yet here I am almost seven years down the line and still sharing.
How do I start?
Don’t wait until it’s perfect, or when you’ve figured out your whole life. Just start. The great thing is you don’t have a following yet, so it gives you time to find your voice, visual style and if you haven’t yet decided, your main topic. Blogs should be ever evolving and you can always change the look and perfect things as you go along. When I started, my blog wasn’t called anything. It was on a crappy bokeh lights background and its URL was bonbon.blogspot.com. Yes, really. Then I called it ‘Me and Fro’ with the URL meandfro.blogspot.com before I settled on my beloved My Fro & I, with a whole look, logo and theme. The rest is history, as they say. I have a friend who ‘started’ her blog over a year ago, and still hasn’t hit the ‘publish’ button because it’s not as perfect as she wants it to be. Well, she stopped working on it about 6 months ago. And I honestly don’t know if she’ll ever just do it. Publishing your blog will force you to keep working on it, small audience or not. So, just start. You don’t have to have it all figured out now.
I’ve pressed ‘publish’, here come the followers!
Well, as awesome as it would be to post something online and have thousands of eyes on it straight away, that’s not how it works. It might look easy but that only happens once you’ve established yourself. How did I do it? Mostly word of mouth and coming up with fresh ideas. When I first went public, I shared my blog with EVERYONE. I had no shame. I even DM’d my entire Facebook friends list and told them about it. I didn’t care if we hadn’t spoken in years and were still on each other’s lists out of courtesy. If they weren’t my target audience, I asked them to share it with their sister or girlfriend or auntie. My blog and name really blew up when I did my 30 Days, 30 Updos challenge – a fresh idea. So get to work in promoting your work! These days we have more platforms available to share our content, use them all. If your content is relatable, inspiring or entertaining, people will come back for more.
Get into a routine
What’s a realistic frequency of posting new blog posts? Well, it depends on you and your schedule. There’s no point telling you to post everyday if you only have a couple of hours on a Sunday to write. If you’re working full time, commuting three hours a day, doing kids’ homework in the evenings, time isn’t on your side. In a nutshell, post as frequently as you have time to create good content. However often that is, try to be consistent with it so your audience knows when you’ll be sharing new stuff and they can look out for it. That being said, if you’re only able to write two posts every three months, I’m not sure how many loyal readers you’ll accumulate. For me, 1-2 times a week is realistic. Also remember that people who read your blog may not be able to keep up with new content everyday, so space it out to what’s comfortable. Of course, there are times I get writer’s block or I need a break (I took a long hiatus when pregnant and after) but those aren’t the norm. Try to build your audience first, before taking that kind of time off. Which brings me to my next bit…
I’ve had people say they want to blog but they don’t want to share their lives. Honest blogging requires sharing, it’s the nature of it. You can decide how much is too much of course but you’ve got to share something to make a connection with people. I have certain boundaries that I never cross and others I now don’t mind sharing, but only you can control that. Another thing, this Instagram life where everything is perfect, not a hair out of place and everyone is richer and happier than you is a FACADE. I’m sharing more and more of my personal stories with you because it gives me strength in knowing it gives others strength too. I also follow accounts that enrich me, and I’m consciously unfollowing those that make me feel bad about some aspect of my life. Don’t get broke or depressed trying to keep up with other online personas. You never know what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s hard, I know, I’ve been there. The trick I think is to not allow yourself to get there and just focus on your ish.
I hope that helps you aspiring and newbie bloggers, do let me know. If you have any more questions, drop them below and of course include your fabulous blog URL so we can check it out and support x
Main photography by Robin Davie
So glad i read this. Going to re-register my domain and actually hit publish on that blogpost i have been sitting on for eves.
Finally got a chance to read this!!! And I felt so inspired by it that I just RE-registered my domain again. I needed this so much, I stopped blogging because I felt like I did not fit in and that my voice won’t make a difference, but now I am ready for a fresh start. Thank you Aisha, this was indeed a good read.
That’s so cool to hear! Good on you for starting over. Just be you, and find your own voice 😉
Wow interesting read I needed this. I just found out about your blog coz I’m currently busy with my hair blog. I’ve been working on my blog for a while now and I’m publishing it as soon as I’m done. Thank you
Hey Akhona, thanks for your comment! So glad this has helped you. Do share your URL so we can support you 😉
Hi Aisha…..Thanks a lot for your authenticity and your post( very informative)….. I am battling with getting into a routine …hopefully one day I will master this ……thanks again http://herdivineconversations.co.za/
Thanks Nonhlanhla. It’s really not easy, but you’ll get into your own groove. Good luck!
wow thank you Aisha
I started blogging last year and I’m enjoying sharing my journey . It is fulfilling when i get responses from people who understand 🙂
It is good to remember WHY we started
It’s so crucial to remember why. Cos a lot of things will come your way that’ll almost sway you so your why is the only thing that’ll root you.
Wow! All these tips are so good. Thank you for sharing. I really admire the way you support other woman, never holding out. It’s clear why you are so successful. I love your blog and hope mine will also stand the test of time, jus like yours. Sending you love.
Thanks so much fellow mama! You’re too kind. I think it’s important for us to support each other, we’re all swimming against the same tide 😉
Love love love this!! Thank you for writing something so real. It’s so important to hear this level of truth about blogging. You’re amazing!
Thank you Thobi 🙂 I try to keep it real 😉
Wow your blog is so beautiful,the first time I saw your blog was when I decided to go natural two years ago.I was struggling with people telling me how unprofessional natural hair is but two years later I’m still natural and starting my own blog.I wish you bigger and more blessings for you Aisha.
I’m so glad you stuck to it, our hair is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement x
Great tips, thanks for sharing! Started blogging a year ago and needed inspiration and ideas in taking it forward. Very helpful 💕
Thanks Fadzi, what’s your URL?
Thanks for this Love it x
Thanks for this lady O. I just started my blog about three weeks ago, it was something I had been wanting to do for a while but just didn’t think I had it in me, or rather I didn’t think people would be interested in what I had to say. I’m still finding the true path and direction of my blog, but it relates to the overburdened, working wife and mom and everything in between that space. I have found that since I hit publish on my first blog, the creative juices have just been flowing, so its true, you just got to start!!!… thanks for sharing the tips and ideas! you are a Godsend!
Thanks luv, I’m so glad you’ve jumped. Your blog is hilarious! Keep those creative juices coming!
Hi Aisha, thanks for this one — I’ve just shared it on my Facebook author page.
Despite being a writer all my life, it didn’t occur to me to “JUST WRITE” for ages — to open up the world to my writing, via a blog.
Like you mentioned, it’s important to be passionate about something. For me, that’s writing… my blog http://www.sachafortune.com/author/blog/ – on Writing; what else?!… gives me a chance to spread my wings as a writer and connect all the pieces of myself into a cohesive unit… I’m excited about where it’ll take me, and the connections I’ll make along the journey — not only to my readers, but to myself.
It takes courage to write even on the days you don’t feel like sharing — failures, challenges, frustrations… but it’s good to get it all out and to let others know they are not alone! Thanks for writing 🙂
Hey Sach, yeah it can take a while to ‘just write’ but it really is the best thing to do when it’s in you. Otherwise, your thoughts and ideas just stay with you and they belong to the world! Write, girl, write. I’ll be checking your stuff out soonest x
Oh Aisha! I’m so glad you’re finally talking about this. You were the very first blog I bumped into on the internet. I was so frustrated with my hair and wanted someone in South Africa to help .. from the moment I clicked on your blog I was hooked.
You are so relatable. It’s been 4yrs since I started reading your blog. I was inspired to start my own blog ( certainly not as good as yours) and it’s hard. You make it look so easy.
I hope there’ll be more posts on how to maintain a blog. Thanks for this one.
How to maintain a blog…hmmm, you’ve given me an idea. Let me know what you’d like to know 😉 Yup, blogging is hard work, especially in the long run. And people really underestimate it. Thank you for reading my words for four years! I so appreciate the support