As 2016 winds down, many bloggers are (or should be!) strategizing their content + social media goals for the new year. We all strive to get better at what we do, and if you’re someone that wants to transition your blog from being just a hobby to more of a creative platform that collaborates with a brand or two, being a little more strategic about what you post on both your blog and on social media is a must. That’s not to say that you should be cookie cutter or inauthentic (the opposite is actually true), but quality over quantity should be the name of the game.
If you’ve been thinking about kicking up your blogging efforts a notch so that you can begin working with brands in 2017, I wanted to share a few tips to help you get a headstart shifting your efforts.
Define who you’re creating for
We want everyone to read our blogs, but in reality, what and how we write draws in specific people. You don’t have to necessarily limit your content to 1 or 2 topics, but you don’t want what you write to be all over the place. If you’re a fashion blogger but want to start including beauty or travel, do it in a way that makes sense. Talk about why you chose a certain lipstick to wear with an outfit or how you’ve mastered packing outfit essentials because you travel so much. Readers can connect on multiple levels that way, and your engagement will start to increase.
Get clear with your visual storytelling
I shouldn’t have to say this, but seriously, start taking better photos. You don’t have to buy a $1,000 DSLR, but you do need to step up your photography game. IT’S TIME. If you have a smart phone + natural light, you can take better photos, whether it’s of products you’re reviewing, recipes you’re making, or just an every day stock photo. Stop being in such a rush to snap something, ANYTHING, and practice your composition + editing. It literally takes 30 seconds to edit a photo using Snapseed, so there really is no excuse. Brands + readers love pretty pictures that they can share, so before you post, be honest with how it looks. Unless you’ve gotten to the point where you can take a great shot with your eyes closed, photo staging should become part of your process. You want this to be more than a hobby, so you gotta take it more seriously. It gets easier over time, but practice really does make perfect.
Hashtag it out
Hashtags are not the Devil. I’m not sure why people hate them so much, but hashtags are vital in growing your social media audiences. They allow people that don’t follow you to find your content. Yes, some people abuse them by tagging them to crap, but for the most part, they’re great for exploring and they can only help you in your niche. Create a list of 15-30 hashtags relevant to your niche that you can include with your images (if you’re a fashion blogger, #OOTD + #styleblogger is a given for your outfit posts). The trick on IG is to post them in a separate comment under your photos to keep your caption clean. If you share a link or photo on Twitter, include 2 or 3; I usually gain a few likes, RTs or follows when I do this.
Play the 3-5 photo game
This is one of the easiest ways to keep your IG feed interesting. Pick 3-5 categories that fit into the “theme” of your blog or brand (outfit of the day, cool restaurants, branded content). Brainstorm post ideas for your editorial calendar, and then create visual content for your blog + social media using this rotation to keep your posts fresh + interesting. Pay attention to common threads (colors/layouts) so that posts remain cohesive.
These are some of the most popular photo styles to create/share:
- selfies: show off your OOTD; look for interesting backdrops
- cityscapes: a travel log of sorts; shoot from different angles
- product flatlays: sellable social; .incl flowers, trinkets, jewelry
Return the favor
Just like you want people to read your blog, others want you to read their’s too! Take time to find and engage with other bloggers, whether it’s on their actual blog or their social media accounts. It’s how you build community within your niche, and on platforms like Instagram, it can help you gain new followers too. Periodically I go through the explore page on IG and like or comment on other blogger’s content. I try to keep it within bloggers that are within my niche, because if they or their followers come back to my page + see we have similar content, they may like or follow me as well. The engagement level you get back is not guaranteed, however, I can say that this has helped me not just with growth, but with people who actually want to see my content.
With all this being said, remember to have fun and inject your personality into your content. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a product/service or if you’re writing about the latest in vacuums or makeup, being authentic (but strategic) will allow your engagement to flourish and in turn, brands will begin seeking you out. It’s a process and takes time, but don’t get discouraged. Be consistent with improving your efforts and you WILL start to see more opportunities.
What are your blogging goals for 2017?