How to: Write a Blog

CATEGORIES: How To..., Sara

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Now that school is back in session, it seems like a good time for this post I’vebeen wanting to write for months and months.  There are a few questions that pop up in our inbox over and over and over again, and among all the requests for red velvet cake and macaroni and cheese are a mound of questions like, “So…I started a blog.  How do I make it big and huge and awesome?”  or “I’m so excited!  I quit my job to be a blogger!  Now what?” (Let’s get one thing out of the way:  never, ever, ever quit your job to start a blog.  Period.)  But really, we get so many questions from people out in the world wanting to jump into this blogging thing and simply wanting tips and advice to make it the most successful it can be and that’s what I want to address.  As women who have been successful in turning a small hobby blog into a thriving business with a large and loyal following (muah!), we can just tell you what’s worked for us.  There is no magic formula in blogging.  There are literally hundreds of thousands out there and everyone wants theirs to be successful, but how do you make it stand out?  How do you get people to read it?  How do you earn money from it?  How do you keep readers around once you get them?

Last spring, Kate and I spoke at the annual business summit at Brigham Young University.  We addressed students about developing web-based business strategy and really, it could have been called “Blogging 101.”  There is a LOT to cover on this topic, so much that it’s overwhelming for me to think about.  So maybe in the future we’ll extend this into a series and have the posts build upon each other, but today we’re just starting with the very basics.  Here are 4 points that we feel are instrumental is setting up the groundwork for a successful blog.

OUR LATEST VIDEOS

Authenticity 
When we started Our Best Bites we had no intentions of one day becoming “Professional Bloggers” (yes, that’s a real term!)  We now earn a respectable living by writing this blog and that has been an incredible blessing that we’re very grateful for, but it certainly didn’t start out that way and we feel that is one of the keys to this blog’s success.  We started this site simply as a fun hobby because we had a passion for cooking and entertaining.  Whether you want to start a blog in hopes of earning money, or you want to do it simply for a hobby, our best advice is to do it because you love it.  Do it because you’re good at whatever it is you’re writing about.  Don’t set out to make money from the get-go.  Don’t write about what you think you’re supposed to be writing about because everyone else is.  Don’t try to copy someone else’s successful blog idea, be true to your own voice.  Having an authentic voice is something that can set you apart from the thousands of other blogs on the internet and help you gain a loyal following.  If you want to be a blogger, you need to start out being completely okay blogging with absolutely no one (but maybe your Mom) reading it!

Design and Branding
You know the saying, “Never judge a book by it’s cover”?  Well it’s crap.  Okay, okay, I get it.  Trust me, there are days when I certainly hope people don’t judge me by my cover (maybe every day.)  But there’s a reason why books hire professional designers to design their covers, and why you take a shower and put on your nicest outfit for a job interview, and why stores spend hundreds of thousands of dollars designing window displays and creating interior ambiance.  It’s because the reality is that everyone judges books by their covers.  So think of your blog as a store- it doesn’t mean you have spend a ton of money on a professional design, but try to make it as crisp, clean, and as easy to navigate as possible.  Develop a concept for a “look” and stick with it.  It doesn’t mean your design and concept can’t change at all, most major brands do, but try to be consistent.  For example, our site started out very, very basic.  Just a homemade little template and over the past 4 years we’ve changed our look 3 times, but each of those times we’ve kept the same citrus theme and a similar color theme.  Try not to switch gears too drastically, or too often, or each time you do, chances are you’ll lose some of your audience.

Consistency and Quality
With very few exceptions, we’ve posted on this site every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 4 1/2 years now.  When we go on vacations, have babies, move across the country, posts still go up and we plan it that way.  If you want to have a loyal following, they need to know when and what to expect.  They deserve that.  If you are erratic, chances are your audience will be too.  Pick a schedule that works for you and strive to deliver content on a regular basis.  Even more importantly, make sure it’s quality content.  There’s a reason why on this site we don’t post the recipes that turn out so-so in our own homes.  You can have the best looking site in the world, but if it’s filled with fluffy content, people probably aren’t going to keep coming back to read it.

Outreach and Networking
This topic could fill a whole post of its own, but we’ll keep it simple today.  Best advice:  develop genuine friendships within the blogging and professional community.  One of the best ways to get your name out there is to connect with other people with similar interests, but there’s a big difference is developing those genuine friendships and kissing up and trying to ride someone else’s wave.  Don’t try to connect with people because you want something in return, don’t go plaster your blog address on other people’s facebook pages or in their comment sections.  Just take an interest in others and chances are they will take an interest in you.  The blogging world really is a big community, and getting involved is one of the best ways to get your name out there and bring new people to your blog.

As I mentioned before, this is a huuuge topic.  We could talk about ad networks, how to earn revenue, working with PR companies, building an audience, etc.  If you have questions, please feel free to ask, or if there’s a specific follow-up topic you’d like to see, just let us know!

And the countdown continues…only 6 more days until our new book is out- woo hoo!  Come join us at our launch event, and pre-order yours today!

46 comments

  1. I just started a blog that I have been talking about doing for 3 years now and have no clue what I’m doing. This post was really helpful and even gave me a little insentive to keep it up. Thank you so much I hope you guys post so more on this topic. I would love to here more on earn revenue I had not considered that I’m also not sure I could with what my blogs topic is.

  2. Well ladies, you OBVIOUSLY have a loyal following and a wonderfully unique “voice” that resonates with ME because I just read the entire post and I have NO interest in blogging!!! I personally love anything you ladies write!! Keep up the consistency (you are my first place I visit Monday, Wednesday and Friday!!!)

  3. You are right about doing it because you love it, not because you want to earn money from it. If it seems like a chore, it will show through your writing I think. I LOVE writing my blog and getting messages from people saying I have motivated them to get healthy too makes it even more worthwhile 🙂

  4. I love what you said about authenticity! I write on my blog because it is a great outlet for me, and if I keep it up for 10 years and the only people that ever read the posts are my mom and aunt, I’m okay with that! I think trying to force the blog will eventually lead to resentment and definitely not the results you wanted to achieve!

  5. Thank you! Great to get some advice from successful women! Blogging has been a hobby for me for a long time and I always go back and forth about whether to try to make it more. Your advice to be consistent is a good reminder to me if I want to take my blog to the next level.

  6. I have a question. How do you get started with an Ad Network to start earning an income from your blog? I have been blogging as a hobby for a few years and I want to turn it into a business. Any tips would be great.

  7. I loved this! I’ve been a “professional blogger” for awhile now, and it always amazes me how many people think they can just quit their job and start making money overnight from blogging. It took me a long time to get there, and it takes a lot of time and dedication! I admire you guys for what you have done. I hope there is more coming in this series!

  8. I’ve recently started a blog mostly to share with my daughter who is an eager cook herself, but also as an outlet for me. Thanks for reaffirming that’s it’s quite accpetable to blog just because YOU love it. Looking forward to tips #5 – #8 🙂

  9. Thanks for this post. I’ve recently started a food blog and I usually only post once a week. I have missed some weeks but I do try to stick to this routine. I’d love for you to take a look and give me some feedback on the look and feel of my site.

  10. I have always been curious, how far in advance do you guys plan and write your posts? How do you divvy up the responsibilities in your blog? These are just the questions that plague me as I read your awesomeness every week. 🙂

    1. It really changes depending on the other things going on in our lives, lol. We share an on-line calendar where we can sort of map our plans a month or two in advance and see what the other is thinking. But we change things lot too. Sometimes we’re really on top of things and have posts done several weeks in advance. Often, we’re frantically photographing the day before, haha. We talk on the phone a lot, and just split up responsibilities to where it feels even. We’ve been doing this together long enough that we have a pretty good rhythm going!

  11. Hopefully you can pass this comment on to Kate. I owe her a big thank you for steering me toward blogging when I got to meet her once at a book signing about a year ago. I had no plans at all to start one, just a lot of passion for my specific subject. It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done! Lots of work (not to mention late nights) but for me completely worth it. Thank you!

  12. Thanks so much for your witty writing. I don’t have a blog but it has always intrigued me how people get started. I am also interested to hear how you get sponsors for your site so that you can make money. I, too, am curious how you decide who does what – do you just rotate? You both do a super job.
    Your recipes are always great too!

  13. Thanks for this! Can’t wait to read the rest. I had a cupcake blog as a hobby for a few years and couldn’t keep up with it as much as I wanted when my kids were first born, they are 2 and 4 now, and now I am totally redoing it, renamed it, and am covering more than just cupcakes because I do more than just that and I loved the part about being authentic because I felt I am so much more than cupcakes in the blog world! ha ha!

  14. I love reading about the “behind hand scenes” of a good blog. Thanks for always being willing to lend help and advice. Love you ladies!! 🙂

  15. I love the info!!!! I was blogging but relocated from Canada to Atlanta, and then had my 2nd child, my 1st is 2. I too could not keep up, and kind of gave up on it. My sister provided me with your info, it’s great inspiration. Thank you so much.

  16. Great advice! I have been blogging for just under a year now & I feel like I am doing things properly. I am gaining readership gradually since I am consistent in posting regular, quality content. It’s so thrilling to see a comment from someone who tried my recipe & liked it. That’s my favorite part! 🙂 I would be interested in learning more about monetizing my blog b/c it does take a lot of work, & sometimes I feel like I really deserve to get paid for it, but it’s what I enjoy doing, & that makes it worth it! Plus it’s a great place for me to store my recipes for when I want to go back & remake the same thing over & over. 🙂

  17. Thank you for sharing this. I started a blog about seven months ago as a hobby and love it. I think I’m slowly gaining some followers and maybe one day it will make me a little money. I have followed your blog for a very long time, you two are so talented and I can’t wait for your new cookbook. Thanks again for sharing your ideas, they were so helpful.

  18. I too love this post! Every point you brought up, I found myself nodding to :). It’s awesome to have examples like you guys to look up to. As you can guess I have a blog. I just started it 5 months ago and it’s so fun for me! I feel like it’s making me a better person and it’s so exciting to see that other people are actually interested in what I have to say. I would kind of like to hear more about design and steps forward to make it more user friendly. I’m prepared to hire someone to do the logo and everything. I’m ready to move past blogger’s templates but need some advice that way. Thanks again for your awesome blog and all your hard work! I am blown away by the quality of this blog! Can’t wait for your book to come out tomorrow!

  19. Thank you for posting this information, it is nice and refreshing to see that there are still people such as yourselves whose main drive for doing this is the joy of sharing and not just to make money. Furthermore, it is even more commendable that you are willing to share not only your delicious recipes but also your tips to success with your loyal readers. Where others might hesitate to share recipes or success ideas for fear of competition, it is amazing to see that you all care so much about your readers that you are willing to share with and help them in every way possible. Keep up the good work ladies, so far everything you have done is amazing, and I am sure it will only get better.

  20. Thank you for posting this. I was actually at this presentation as a student last Spring at BYU-Idaho. I was so excited to meet you both and hear your story. What a great post and reminder on how to be better at blogging.

  21. I love your blog and have made so many of your recipes. I can tell you don’t post just any ol’ recipe because all the food I’ve made from your blog turns out to be a winner! Two years ago I made the Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies for our neighbors at Christmas and last Christmas they were begging for more! Anyway, I have a blogging question. Is there any way to write blogs in advance and have them publish once a day automatically while I’m on vacation? Thanks so much.

    1. Oh yes, absolutely! When I mentioned we post even when we’re in the hospital having babies we aren’t actually writing posts! You can set the post date to anything you want- there in an option in your dashboard to publish immediately or to pick a specific date and time in the future (or past).

  22. Thanks for the advise. You ladies do a great job! I started a blog about my baking adventure but life got in the way for a while =)but I’m back at it and will start working on some of the the ideas to really get myself out there! congrats on the new book!

  23. Hey. I do have questions about earning money… How? I’ve been blogging for almost a year now (fairly consistently at first, not so much over the summer), and I really enjoy it. And if I could earn some money doing it, it’d help my growing family out a lot. Thanks so much.

  24. Thank you for the post. I started my blog a few years ago just for a place to save my ideas for future use and to journal. I’ve started to slowly get a following because of pinterest. do you use anything like social spark? I signed up for that but only get offers from companies I don’t necessarily want to blog about just to earn money. Is there a way to get different leads? I want to keep my blog about things I love not things that will earn a buck

  25. Thank you for the post. I started my blog a few years ago just for a place to save my ideas for future use and to journal. I’ve started to slowly get a following because of pinterest. do you use anything like social spark? I signed up for that but only get offers from companies I don’t necessarily want to blog about just to earn money. Is there a way to get different leads? I want to keep my blog about things I love not things that will earn a buck

  26. Great post. I like the KISS (Keep it simple, sir; also that last word can be another that many might know) method. We just started a blog about family activities in the Northern Nevada and Sierras region and are slowly developing a following. We are concentrating on the content first. I will keep this post in mind when creating new posts in the future.

    Thanks for putting this out there. It’s a great resource.

    Oh yeah, by the way, your citrus color theme really inspired our own. One of our authors, Lauren, loves your blog and wanted to incorporate the colors as an aspect of admiration and respect for yours.

    Thanks for doing what you do.

    Will
    WillHull(dot)com
    WindyPinwheel(dot)com

  27. I’m wanting to start a blog/diary that will be very personal and private for me. Just found out my younger sister has Pulmonary Fibrous which means she has a lung disease that there is no cure for. At this point she has been given 2-3 years but will know more in another 4 1/2 months when she does the chamber oxygen exchange test again. At that time they will be able to tell which sub category she falls in and will be able to give her a better idea of just how long she has to live. Since I am 2 years older than her I guess I always thought I would go first. We have already lost our parents so she and my older brother is my only connection to my birth family. I already feel so alone, even thou I have been blessed with a great husband and 3 children, which I am very close too that part of my life will be ending and I am so NOT ready for that.

  28. I just found your site and enjoy it very much. I used to craft but now am more into cooking. I am obsessed with recipes. Your site is great and is inspiring me to get back into crafting. Your web site is laid out very clearly and easy to read. I will be checking back often. Thanks.

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