I've always been partial to blogging, I think it gives your audience a unique insight into your life and can help you to establish your credibility in a field; not to mention, it is a wonderful creative outlet! If you're just getting started blogging (or you're a seasoned expert looking for some tips!) have no fear, I am here to help! I've employed the help of some of my favourite bloggers to answer some of your most daunting questions.
Meet the Experts
Brooke Hamilton is the blogger behind The New Mrs. Hamilton. who also owns a small videography company BDH Films, specializing in modern wedding videos. She loves spending time with her husband, 2 year old daughter, and crazy Golden Doodle! They are also very excited to welcome a little brother to the mix in a few short weeks!
Candice is the freelance arts/travel writer as well as the blogger behind FreeCandie. She based out of St. John's, Newfoundland. After earning her BA in English and a diploma in Professional Writing, she went on to work as a tech writer for a deep sea technology company, and then wrote a YA novel under the guidance of Toronto's Humber College. After living in Europe for a year and travelling for the past seven years, Candice is currently employed in Communications at the St. John's International Women's Film Festival. She is a bookworm and food lover, who is obsessed with ancient history!
Gabby is a freelance food and travel writer based in St. John’s Newfoundland. Her blog, The Food Girl in Town, documents (mis)adventures in travelling to eat, along with hotel/restaurants reviews and culinary history.
Lesley Raymond is the creator of Lantern where she and her team get to help entrepreneurs conquer their overwhelm and rock their businesses. They offer one-on-one services, social media strategy packages, and courses.
Why did you start blogging?
I started my blog in 2013. I was working a day job at the time and for the first time in 16 years I wasn’t attending school and needed a challenge! I went straight from high school to university, and once that was over I felt like I was missing something in my life. I was so used to learning new things and constantly working on different projects, and I knew that I needed to bring that aspect back into my life. I have always been a creative person, so having an outlet like a blog to document my life and chat about my interests just seemed to be a good fit!
I've been technically been blogging since I was a teenager, first with Deadjournal and then with Livejournal. Back then it was just a way to document my (extremely uninteresting) life, which I had been doing through written journals since I was a child. I've always loved writing, and blogging allowed me to explore the writing world before I ever considered it as a career.
I started blogging in the fall of 2012 when I moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I didn’t know anyone in the city, so blogging about food was a way for me to explore (and eat delicious things all the time).
My latest foray into blogging started when I created my company, Lantern. I knew it would be a great way to provide awesome value for my target audience. Plus, it feeds my love of teaching and my need for a little creativity in my work week.
How do you come up with topics for your blog?
With a fashion & lifestyle blog the topics are constantly changing and usually revolving around what is happening in my life. My website is an extension of myself, so the topics are heavily influenced by the things I am experiencing. And that is easy to see if you compare the earlier posts to what I am writing about now. I try to find balance and preplan what I want to talk about, but for the most part if I am going through it in real life, I’m writing about it the next day!
I keep a brainstorm list of topics that I know will be useful to my target audience. Most weeks, I'll work off of that list and continually add new ideas to it. Other weeks, something specific will come to mind that is relevant at that time - it could be something that I learned that week, something I saw discussed in a Facebook group, or something a client has asked about.
What are your tips for overcoming writer's block?
I find just forcing myself to sit down at the computer with a topic in mind is the only way to start. When I'm on a roll, I can't slow down. It doesn't mean the writing is great, necessarily, but I always go back to it a day later to rewrite/edit.
When I started blogging, I felt immense pressure to post several times a week on a strict schedule, but it became too much of a chore and incited writer’s block like you wouldn’t believe!
Now I focus on quality over quantity. If there is a week I don’t post, I don’t feel bad. I want my readers to enjoy the content, so writing something for the sake of writing doesn’t fly on The Food Girl in Town. My best advice for writer’s block is to go for a walk, or do something relaxing completely unrelated to writing.
What is your number one advice for a new blogger?
I think the best advice is to blog about topics because you are passionate about them, and not because you think it's what people want to read. I tell a lot of people to start their blog but to keep it to themselves for the first little while. If a couple of months go by and you are still excited about your content, having fun writing posts and not stressing about what people are going to think, then you should share it with the world! Not only that, there is nothing worse then checking out a brand new blog with only one article to read. People want to get a sense of who you are, so it wouldn't hurt to have a great about page, different posts about the topics you love and a place where they can connect with you on a daily basis
If you're writing just for the pleasure of writing, go for it. If you want to make a business out of it, seriously invest the time and money into learning how to do it properly, and to develop a niche, etc. Being a resource is important when you're looking to make money
Write for yourself and not for others. In the early years of The Food Girl in Town, I tried to create content I thought people would want to read and I found myself uninspired and unhappy with engagement. Now I only work on things I love, and while I don’t have millions of followers, I have a solid base of regular readers who love The Food Girl in Town for what it is. Focus on what you love — your blog can’t be everything to everyone.
Make it pretty! You could be a brilliant writer but if your blog looks blah, you won't attract an audience of people who don't know you personally. You can get great free templates (search on Pinterest) and inexpensive ones on Etsy. Also, read up on formatting blog posts to make them reader-friendly. Posts that read like novels aren't appealing to most readers; text should be broken up using headings, lists, bolds, italics, etc.