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So, you want to be a blogger?

Fat Mum Slim /

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I got an email from a reader last night, and it’s an email that I get quite often about blogging. It’s from the beginner blogger. The thought of blogging can be overwhelming and seem huge. HUGE. So, I thought I’d try to help by answering some of the questions here.

Grace wrote:

I would really love to get a bit better at blogging, but there are so many blogs nowadays, it’s really hard to develop a unique flavor that will attract readers.

I guess my question is – how did you start blogging? What is your “blogging story”? Obviously you now have a following and your blog looks AMAZING {haha}, at what point did you decided to get it looking professional? And how did you get it designed? And do you ever get “bloggers block”? Do you plan all your posts, or just do them when it suits? How do I get my blog “out there”?

Take a breath Grace. Here are my answers:

What’s my blogging story?

Six years ago I’d just had my daughter and I was intrigued by blogs created by my friends Zoe and Sky. I’d recently given birth to baby Lacey and decided I wanted a space for myself, so I created Fat Mum Slim. At first it was a private weightloss blog, but then became a blog about anything and everything. I was lucky that blogging was so new in Australia, and I guess relatively new around the world too, so that there weren’t as many voices as there are today. Over the past 6 years I’ve grown and so has my blog. It’s an extension of me, so as I change {or my life changes} so too does my blog.

How did I start blogging?

I Googled ‘free blogs’ and started on BlogSpot. It was really easy to use. I could change the designs a little myself, but most of all I just wanted to get started. You can see my very first blog post here. It’s super boring, no pictures, not engaging, but it was a start.
If I had my time again, as well as the tech-knowledge and the finances, I’d start on WordPress, just because I like it as a platform for blogging. It’s more professional, has more functionality. I may not like Blogger very much anymore because my old blog got hacked and Google won’t do anything about it. Yes, I think I’m scorned.

At what point did I decide to make it look professional?

I’m absolutely no designer, but I’ve always dabbled in doing my own stuff. I first got design help from Freckled Nest. Kyla designed my blogspot blog in 2011.

Fat Mum Slim 2011

And then when I moved to WordPress in 2012, I employed the help from Sarah of Castle Design. I use Sarah for any website work, I use Xman Online for blog hosting {can’t stress how good it is to have a good host} and with any difficult coding I get Liz to do her thing.

If you can afford Photoshop, I think Photoshop Elements is a great starter program for designing things for your blog. I have Photoshop CS6. I just teach myself how to use it, but you can always YouTube or Google things you want to know how to do.

And if you don’t want to go down the Photoshop route, there are great alternatives {i.e. easy to use design programs}. Picmonkey.com is a free online resource that allows you to add text to photos, as well as crop, resize, add shapes and design elements. I use it almost daily. I’ve heard great things about Canva too, if you want to try that one.

My best advice when it comes to designing elements on your blog is keep it simple. Choose two or three fonts and stick to them, as well as a beautiful colour scheme. If making things yourself is just too hard, but you can’t afford a designer – head to Etsy. You can get a premade blog design from $25. I like this one, and this one, and this one.

One last thing on design, I just want to stress how important it is to have a good looking blog. It doesn’t have to be the most beautiful, but it does have something special enough about it that when people land on your blog they want to stay and read.

Do I ever get blogger’s block?

I don’t really get blogger’s block, I get something else instead. I’m a really creative person, and as soon as I get stressed or overwhelmed, and I just can’t function creatively. It’s been hard for me to juggle client work {where creativity can often get hampered} and my own blogging. I wrote this post yonks ago about banishing blogger’s block, if you ever need help. And there’s this post with 50 Things To Blog About. I’ll also be sharing a blog post next week with some fun ideas for writing blog posts.

Do I plan all my blog posts?

In an ideal world I would, but at the moment {with a small baby on my hands} I just don’t have the time or brain space. I usually print out a blank calendar and do a rough schedule of what I want to blog about. I like to regularly share recipes, and do some posts about blogging, so I jot those down. Then on my wall in my office I have loads of post-it notes scribbled with blog post ideas, so I’ll plan some of those too. At the moment I’m just blogging when I get time and creativity to do it. I think everyone blogs differently, so you just have to figure out what works for you. {But whatever you do, especially in the beginning, do it regularly. Don’t blog 5 days in a row, and then abandon your blog for months and expect it to thrive. You have to nurture it!}.

How do you get your blog ‘out there’?

This is the hard part in blogging, but it’s good, hard work.

♥ Write regularly, let people become engaged with your blog and start a relationship with it. Keep them coming back for more.
♥ Find your voice. One of the biggest compliments I got was when a neighbour read my blog for the first time this year. He said to his wife, “She writes just like she talks.” This is what I want, to read like we’re having a conversation in real life. Find your voice too.
♥ Offer readers something valuable. Be interesting or useful.
♥ Find two social media platforms that you think you’ll enjoy using, and start with those. I think Facebook is great because your audience is already there {it has gazillions of users so the people are already at the party, you just have to entice them over to drink your wine!}, and depending on the niche of your blog Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram will work for promoting your blog.
♥ Be consistent on social media too. Don’t update your Facebook twice and then let tumbleweeds float on by.
♥ Be social. Comment on other blogs. You truly need to be part of the blogging community to actually be part of it. Don’t be afraid to join conversations on Twitter, even if you don’t know anyone. Reach out to established bloggers and say hi or ask for advice {well done Grace!}. Email another beginner blogger and become support buddies.
♥ If you’re in Australia, sign up to Source Bottle to get notifications. You can find writing opportunities that can give you some great exposure.

I hope this helps Grace {and any other newbie bloggers}. Just keep at it. I love what my blogging friend Mrs Woogs did when she started blogging. She promised herself that she’d blog everyday for a year, not matter what and so she did. Perhaps you could give yourself a similar challenge?

If you have any other blogging questions, or want to know about something else in more details, please leave your question in the comments below. I’m happy to help. Also, if you’re a blogger and have some advice for Grace, feel free to leave it below too.

@Fatmumslim