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3 Things to Consider When Starting a Blog*

Next month sees me 5 years running Cocktails in Teacups, where has that time gone?! I started it in the September after LM was born in the January as an outlet for the upheaval my life was going through. Writing had always been an outlet. Prior to Cocktails in Teacups I had two blogs and a bunch of Livejournal accounts since about the age of 15. I started in 2012 in the high days of blogging. When it was all MAC lipstick swatches, outfits of the day and the day in the life of. There was no niches, everyone commented and everyone attended the weekly chats. My blog has always grown slowly, a lot of my hits come from Google these days rather than loyal readers. I’ve gone from beauty and fashion, with a touch of food to more life, parenting and travel as this is what my life consists of these days. I don’t mind. In fact writing about a huge variety of things keeps me interested as my personal life isn’t always that interesting.

There is no denying the fact my blog makes money and yields some of my income. I cannot stress enough how important this is for me as a single parent who wants to be there for her daughter. I don’t make masses amount so it isn’t my sole income but it helps and I’m thankful. It took a good 3 years for this to happen, it wasn’t an over night thing and I certainly wouldn’t recommend someone who started a blog last month to attempt it. It’s so hard these days as everyone thinks it’s a cushy job when it really isn’t. Anything surrounding blogs and social media is hard. But I’m thankful I can as it helps.

Finally, this year I launched my baby, Livvy Bird Adventures finally became a blog where I can write about Disney until my heart is content. As I post near every day on Cocktails in Teacups my content was getting lost and I wanted somewhere to keep it all neatly filed. I’m so excited after years of learning and growing with Cocktails in Teacups, I can happily balance two blogs.

In recognition of my 5 years with Cocktails in Teacups, here are 5 things to consider when starting a blog;

What Are You Going to Write About?
First I’m going to say, if you just want to write then you can have a blog about anything. This is more aimed at people who want to eventually become a successful blog (not saying that I am). Niches seem to do better as they end up with a dedicated niche audience but more open blog seem to be more financially viable. The reason I’m even suggesting this is you need to pick something YOUR passionate about not something you think people will read. Because if you have no passion, you’ll have no voice. That’s what happened when I tried to do beauty and fashion, 10 years ago I cared, these days I don’t even brush my hair most days so I had little passion in my writing. In the end I gave up and started to write about what I cared about which is mainly travel and parenting, but to not be too constricting I added in lifestyle too. Your readers can tell if you are passionate about what you’re writing about, and if you’re not, they won’t want to read it.

Is Your Blog Visually Pleasing?
These days blogs are all about the minimal look, white white with a touch of black and maybe some grey. Even the photos are all on white furniture with a few flowers tossed in. And while there is some truth that this looks professional and the odd colours draw your eye, it’s not always visually pleasing. It’s all about finding balance between keeping your personality in it and still being taken seriously. There are plenty of people who make a living out of blog design these days so search the net for one like Essex Web Design Studios which offer web design in Chelmsford but you can contact them via email for a free appraisal. Or if you feel like your own coding skills are up to scratch why not search Pinterest for some inspiration and have a crack it yourself. My layout on both this blog and Livvy Bird Adventures actually came from Etsy, I liked that it was different to all the stock ones everyone else bought and it was so easy to edit it to how I wanted it. It’s not very professional but neither am I so it was a good balance.

Are You Going to Go Self Hosted?
Well this is kind of the $100 question, isn’t it? When I started blogging 5 years ago everyone had a .blogspot or .wordpress blog but eventually everyone started to get a vanity url (your blog url as a .com, .co.uk .org etc) and then everyone became self hosted as it works better for SEO and being visible on Google. The reason why I suggest this being one of the things you think about in the beginning is because although buying and setting up a vanity address is easy at any point, the further down the road you are the harder it is to switch to self hosted. I ended up paying someone to do it for me because there was so much redirecting and url changing that I just made a mess. If you start out self hosting (like I’m doing with Livvy Bird Adventures) it’s so much easier, especially if you’re not just planning on blogging for a hobby.

Once you have made decisions about the above three things everything else will be a breeze. Get your social media all connected and get that first blog post up and out into the world. If you are planning on earning from your blog down the line you have to be prepared to put months or maybe years of hard work into your blog, it doesn’t happen over. I didn’t go self employed until 2 years past June, that’s how long it took me to start earning. It wasn’t an over night miracle. But I do appreciate that other people in my situation want to do it so hopefully this guide will help.

Good luck!

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