Blogging for beginners

guide-to-blogging.png
Time on your hands and a taste for writing? Our burgeoning social media and blogging culture means that it's never been easier to get your words heard. Starting out, however, can be a daunting task so this week we've been speaking to a host of brilliant bloggers about their top tips for creating an online profile and some great content to go with it.
Time on your hands and a taste for writing? Our burgeoning social media and blogging culture means that it's never been easier to get your words heard.

Time on your hands and a taste for writing? Our burgeoning social media and blogging culture means that it's never been easier to get your words heard. Starting out, however, can be a daunting task so this week we've been speaking to a host of brilliant bloggers about their top tips for creating an online profile and some great content to go with it.

First of all, "know your niche market." That's the advice of Josephine Lalwan who started fashion blog Chic At Any Age in 2009. She previously worked in fashion PR and image consultancy so concedes she had a head start when it came to specialist knowledge on the lucrative beauty sector. She saw a gap in the market for mature women who felt left behind by a glamour and catwalk industry increasingly dominated by images of waif-like, 20-something models, so her blog set out to prove age is no barrier when it comes to cool, confident clothing: "Our style may evolve with time and changing lifestyles, yet with a little knowledge and inspiration we can all continue to have fun with fashion. As women of a certain age we are a growing demographic, so let us prove that we can also be a chic one."


Ceri Wheeldon had a similar starting point for her lifestyle blog Fab After Fifty. She explains: "At the time of starting my website I felt there was far too much negativity about ageing in the media, and too few positive role models. In my role as a headhunter I could also see that attitudes to women over 50 looking for employment weren't as positive as they could be, hence I decided to create a platform where women could share, inform and inspire - have a voice!" Almost five years later, Ceri hopes the impressive following she's garnered mean perceptions are finally changing - and she's having fun doing it.

However, a 'strategy' as such is only half the story. Just as many successful bloggers have started out with no agenda at all except to explore a hobby or interest, or maybe to discuss something that has piqued their curiosity.

David Evans has been writing Grey Fox Blog for almost three years now, but initially had no idea who it was for or what form it would take. "I wanted to write and a blog seemed a good outlet for this," he says. "It took me a while to decide what to write about – it had to be something I could discuss with a bit of humour. I chose my search for style as an older man. We all find it harder to choose and buy clothes once past forty. Many older men give up and descend into cardigans and slippers. We find few role models to help us do better. Older men rarely feature in fashion adverts and we seem to be forgotten by the clothing industry. As a rapidly-expanding and affluent demographic, this seems strange. I hope to reverse this by showing that older men are, and can be, interested in what they wear and how they look."

Paul Johnson of A Luxury Travel Blog admits his blogging success also started out as a happy accident. Compelled to write after an unforgettable honeymoon to Tanzania in 2003, he claims personal rather than pecuniary interests were the seed. But things quickly changed: "It just gathered momentum and I could tell I was on to something! It was just different to anything else that was out there at the time." However, he has a word of warning for others hoping to emulate his model and use their blog to bring in cash. "The world and his wife want to be travel bloggers (understandably, it's a great job!), but the market is saturated and starting a travel blog now, with a view to it becoming your primary business, isn't going to be easy when there are so many out there with healthy traffic and established followings on all the social media channels. If starting from scratch, you're going to have to work extra hard and do something really unique if you're to have any chance of closing that gap and competing with the most influential bloggers who have been around for years already." He hastens to add: "Don't let that put you off, but do be aware that's it going to be a tough challenge."

Finally, remember that "content is king!" Karen Burns Booth is the creative genius behind seasonal cooking site Lavender and Lovage. Her advice? "Write about what you enjoy, be honest and true to yourself and tell a story." At the same time, a little conscientiousness can save you a lot of hassle. She explains: "People will always notice your mistakes before anything else, so be diligent and check everything you write."

Inspired? Then get going. As Paul Johnson rightly points out, "With a computer and an internet connection, and without the need for any financial investment whatsoever, you could be starting a blog in the next five minutes." From there, most bloggers agree that posting at least three times a week should slowly build traffic, while being active on other social media channels, like Twitter and Facebook, certainly helps too.

Above all, enjoy it. We didn't meet a single blogger who failed to rave about the opportunities writing online brings, the satisfying focus it creates, and the new friends you'll meet as a result. Blog on! It's a bright platform.

To find out more about learning how to blog and writing online on your own blog, we recommend The Content Marketing Insitute's guide. While much of their advice is focused on businesses, there are some real nuggets there too. We've also found one of London's most popular bloggers, The Londoner, also has some excellent advice on the topic of blogging. Enjoy!

309