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Friday, July 15, 2016

11 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

Whether you're new to the blogging world, thinking about starting a blog or if you're one of those Instagram bloggers looking to expand your brand with having your very own website, then this post is for you!

When I first created Ooooooo La La! and started blogging in 2011, I had no idea what I was getting into and I didn't know what I was doing. I used to read NecoleBitchie, That Grape Juice, Bossip and all of these urban celebrity gossip blogs religiously and I thought if I just mimicked their style, then my blog would blow up as well. Well, it didn't. 

I've learned instead of mimicking other people's styles, it's better to do what you're passionate about and create a lane for yourself. Create your own style and be authentic. 

Below are 11 things I wish I knew before I started blogging. Hopefully this list can help you so you don't make the same mistakes I did in my blogging journey.

#1: Stand Out In Your Niche

There are hundreds of celebrity gossip and entertainment bloggers, media personalities, travel bloggers, mommy bloggers, fashion bloggers, etc. 

So, ask yourself: In a world full of bloggers, how can I stand out? What can I do to separate myself from the crowd and gain my own loyal readership? Why would people be interested in what I have to say?

Bring something different to the table and create your own unique voice, create a new series or new topics, etc. 

This leads me into my #2 point ...

#2: Don't Be Afraid To Bring Your Personality To The Table

It wasn't till I made my blog Instagram page that made me realize readers like a little personality in stories and in those IG captions. 

Before Instagram even came about, I wrote some personal topics and rants on my blog and I even had a special category for each day of the week at one point. That was me trying to be different from the other popular bloggers. 

I also notice a lot of bloggers choose to stay out of the spotlight and they don't post their real name or any pictures/videos of themselves. If you choose to go that route, that's cool, but I've come to find out that readers love to know a little about the blogger. Readers like knowing the face behind the blog, and they tend to like someone who responds to comments and someone who they can relate to.

Social media works both ways, so responding to followers and showing you're actually human is a huge plus. 

Instagram really helped with bringing my personality out online. I started posting more videos of myself and sharing them on YouTube. I write long, personal captions sometimes about real life experiences and funny relatable things. I also created unique hashtags for my blog to stand out, like #OooLaLaTVChats #OooLaLaChats #KickinItWithLaLa and #OooLaLaDiaries and I incorporated those topics into my website. This all led me in getting loyal readers more involved. 

Don't be afraid to let your blog show your personality and add in your own personal stories and your opinion on topics from time to time. Also, write how you talk. I like writing like I'm having a conversation with one of my friends, this feels more real. 

Do you know how many times my female followers tell me I'm their best friend in their head ... and I love that! That's what I aim for ... to connect with my audience. I just wish I brought my personality and videos out more in the beginning. 

#3: Guest Post & Make Blogging Friends

This is a HUGE mistake I made in my beginning blogging years. I was so caught up in my own blog and I didn't have any direction in what I was doing that I forgot one of the easiest ways to not only gain some blogging experience but to gain exposure is to connect with other bloggers in your chosen field. 

Reach out to these fellow bloggers online and don't be afraid to ask the bigger blogs if you could write a guest post on their website. Writing guest posts on other blogs is smart because usually you can leave a link back to your own website which will not only help you gain exposure but will bring some traffic back to your own blog. 

Also, as much as you create and post your own content, you should also spend time to "like," comment and share other people's content as well. You get further when helping, learning and promoting one another. 

Tweet: Remember, there's enough room for everyone to win!

Remember, there's enough 
room for everyone to win! 

#4: Grow Your Email Subscribers 

I need several slaps in the face for missing out on this from the jump. 

Let me tell all of you non-website having bloggers (yes, you bloggers who just have an Instagram page and have no plans on expanding) ... social media is cool and all, but guess what, it's not yours, you don't own that page. 

I see A LOT of bloggers just on Instagram and they have more than 50k followers but no website!

Well, what if the Instagram app or any other social media site decided to shut down tomorrow? Say goodbye to those thousands and thousands of Twitter, Instagram or Facebook followers that you worked so hard for. Would your followers have another place to find you or would you just lose everything? 

If your entire blog has just been on social media forever then you're missing out on a lot. 

It's okay to start on social media, but what are you waiting on? Get that website up and build up that email list! 

Popular celebrity entertainment blog TheShadeRoom started off as a blog on Instagram just a couple of years ago and they blew up, fast! They soon joined other social media sites: Twitter and Facebook and then branched out further by creating a website. Now they also have an app! But, it wasn't always easy for them. That blog lost their Instagram account before. Luckily, they got their page back quickly and they gained even more followers. 

This isn't the case for everyone. I know a lot of bloggers who have lost their Instagram pages and they haven't been able to get them back.

TheShadeRoom's old Facebook page had more than 4 million "likes" and guess what happened? Facebook pulled the plug and they lost their page! Gone. Just like that.

TheShadeRoom never did get their original FB page back and they had to start over. However, they branded themselves well after seeing how fast their Instagram page grew in the beginning and their readers know where else to find them aside from social media. 

So, if you just have an Instagram blog or if you're just focusing on having all these social media followers, you need to secure your brand for the long run and start investing some time and effort in building up your email list. 

Facebook and Instagram could pull the plug on your page whenever but your email subscribers will be right there. PLUS, your email list helps boosts your website traffic AND you can also use your subscribers when promoting your own products, etc. 

#5: Don't Just Rely On Google AdSense For Money

The possibilities are endless when it comes to making money from blogging. More and more people are turning their blogs into businesses and making it their full-time career (I haven't gotten to that level, yet) #Goals!

I started blogging as a passion because I love writing. It took me awhile to even think about ads but then I finally signed up for Google AdSense because, well, that's what everyone mentions as a money source for blogging. I thought the more content I pushed out, the more money I would get. Nope! 

AdSense only pays you once a month and you need to reach a $100 payment threshold to receive a check. You also need a decent amount of monthly page views to actually get a decent sized check. It took me FOREVERRR to finally reach my first $100 check, I'm talking like months and months ... just to make $100 from AdSense. 

I became somewhat frustrated with not seeing a lot of money from AdSense in the beginning. I soon realized AdSense is nice little pocket change every once in awhile, but it's certainly not enough money for me to live off of. 

Don't start blogging and then automatically think you'll be rich from it.

Also, everyone has different experiences. What didn't work for me may work well for other bloggers. Some bloggers may be ballin' just with that AdSense check if their RPM count is high and many people click on their ads. But, it takes time to grow and build your audience to that level. 

Some better ways for bloggers to make even more money include: 

  • Affiliate links
  • Sponsored posts
  • Doing speaking engagements
  • Posting social media ads
  • Partnering with brands
  • Selling & promoting their own products/e-books/e-courses/online workshops, etc. 

RELATED - Instagram Marketing: Turn Social Media Into Your Side Hustle

#6: Brainstorm, Build A Niche & Fan Base Before Launching 

With Ooooooo La La! and my other old blogs, even this one, I got so excited about a new project that I didn't even take my time to plan out the direction of my blog. At least for this blog I have a bunch of future posts already planned out, but 
I wish I would have focused more on my overall vision and promoting the launch date first. 

Building up an audience first for your soon-to-be awesome website creates such a huge buzz and builds up anticipation. You
 will already be somewhat established online and you can also start promoting your email list all before publishing your first post. 

  • Build An Audience. 
  • Promote Your Website Launch Date.
  • Plan Out Different Posts To Publish On Your Launch Date. 
  • Ready, Set, Launch!
  • Continue With Consistent Posts & Promotion

In the beginning stages, my entertainment blog was all over the place and instead of rushing to just bang out all of this content I should have done way more planning to narrow down my particular niche. 

Defining a niche is key in building your brand and your audience. Are you into blogging about the latest beauty products? Different crafts, DIY pieces and life hacks? Are you more into the celebrity gossip and entertainment type of blogging? Find what it is you're passionate about and narrow it down to around 3 similar areas (for example: fashion, beauty & lifestyle). 

Focus in on finding your key audience within your niche and supply them with your bangin' content.  

Also, really put some thought into creating a name for your blog and make sure your URL and all of your social media handles match so your readers can easily find you all over the web. 

#7: Purchasing Your Own Domain

This is another one of those times when I could just slap myself. I decided to join Blogger over WordPress in 2011. Why? Simply because I had no idea what I was doing, I had no technical skills and Blogger is way more user friendly. 

WordPress is better than Blogger though. 

I kept for awhile in the beginning because I was too cheap to purchase a .com. 

If you're taking this blogging thang here seriously, purchasing a custom domain from the get-go is a MUST.

For one, having a custom domain looks official and more professional. Why would you want to see blogspot in the name of your brand? 

Buying a domain isn't expensive. You can easily get a good domain name ending with .com or .org for around $10. Domains can be bought through GoDaddy and many other web hosting companies.

If you use Blogger, setting up a custom URL through GoDaddy is relatively easy to do from right under the 'Settings' tab. 

#8: Be Consistent.

I know everyone says consistency is key and blah, blah, blah ... but it's constantly said for a reason... because it's true!

Not only should you be consistent with your brand, but also your posts. Plan a schedule and post ahead. I now like to use Pinterest and a content calendar to stay organized with blog posts and different ideas. 

As a gossip and entertainment blogger, you can't really wait to hold off on juicy news stories. The sooner those are posted, the better. But, it all depends on your niche. 

If you're a lifestyle blogger or if you have a personal blog, set up a schedule of certain days you'll post and stick with this schedule. This will help your audience tremendously and they'll keep coming back to your site because they will get used to your posting schedule. But, if you throw them off and post five days straight and then don't post for a week, you may lose some readers because they won't know what to expect from you. 

Monitoring the best times to post blog articles can actually effect the success of your posts. Experiment with different days, content, post length and take notes of which days see your highest traffic. 

A key time to post seems to be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and early in the morning. I cater mostly to an audience who is between the ages of 25 to 35. So, I'm assuming most people get to work and browse the internet early on those days. I also think posting around 3 p.m. is key. People with those 9 to 5's may be drawn back towards the internet towards the end of their shift, looking for fun and interesting things to read. 

Also, take advantage of scheduling your posts. Many blogging platforms offer scheduled postings so you can write a blog any time and have it auto-posted on a specific time/day. The same thing works for most social media sites.

#9: Publish A Welcome Post

I've written and published 3,101 posts so far on my entertainment blog. Take a look at this post: A World Without Music from January 1, 2011 ... that's my very first blog post on Ooooooo La La! and it's terrible!

First off, there's no photo, there's no 'Call To Action' and most importantly, I wrote that on the first day of the New Year. I should have started off my blog wayyyy better than that with at least a 'Happy New Year' type of welcome message. No one had a clue what my blog was or who I am and here I am writing about music as a first post. 

Not good. No wonder why that post only received 8 views ... only 8!

Your first post should be a Welcome Post. I made the mistake of not introducing readers to my entertainment site because I didn't even know what I was going to talk about. I didn't plan anything and I just jumped right into writing and then boom, publish!

Take the time to craft an awesome Welcome Post for your readers. Trust me, this is a better way to start off. 

Check out: My Welcome Post for Blog Like A Boss

#10: Quality Over Quantity. 

How many blog posts should you post a day? Well, there's no right answer to that question because it all depends on your niche. For example, a celebrity gossip / entertainment blogger should post a number of times throughout the day, every day while as a personal blogger could get away with posting as little as once a week.

I remember I used to kill myself over pushing out like 10 to 12 posts a day at one point. I thought I was really doing something until I realized, none of those posts were picking up tons of traffic. I would get like 30 hits on one post, maybe 10 on another. Here I am burning myself out and for what? 

What I learned now: produce quality posts and don't worry about how many you get to publish in a day. Now, I rather post one awesome, lengthy and helpful blog post over posting 10 rushed blog posts that are filled with a bunch of nothing. 

#11: Learn To Say NO!

Look, I like to help out people and offer my support, but I've learned you just can't help everybody, join every team, accept every submission, review everyone's mixtape, do every one a favor, etc. etc. etc. 

I tend to be too nice with helping people, which isn't a bad thing, but it's time consuming and can be exhausting. I started learning to chill on responding to certain emails and with covering just any and everything. I learned to post what I want, why? because this is MY blog and MY brand. 

It's so easy to get caught up with trying to please everyone that you lose focus on what it is YOU want to be known for. 

I get so many Instagram direct messages from people asking me to post this story and that story ... and even though I love receiving news tips, I stopped posting a lot of them. Over half of them don't associate with my brand and what I'm all about. 

So, know the vision of your brand and stick with it. Others may not get it and that's okay. Post what YOU want to post and don't feel obligated to please everyone and post everything. 

Like I've told my Instagram followers a countless number of times on my page: this ain't CNN so don't expect me to cover all these news stories. 

Have you started blogging? If so, what are some of the things you wish you knew before you started? Drop a comment below!

5:31:00 AM / by / 6 Comments


  1. I think my number one and two is branding and good photos! It was just for fun back in 2011 and I was just trying it out but my old blog template, now that I look back, I wish I put more thought into it lol. My photos were also all over the place and poor quality and I didn't care but now I do so regret not putting a LITTLE more into it. Now that I'm back I redid my blog and I plan to go through and redo photos if I can and work on being consistent in the visual branding!

    1. Yes, those are great tips! People are more attracted to the visual effects and having a great photo to top off your post is key ... just make sure they're your own photos or copyright free pics! ;)

  2. For me , it's definitely building a niche...I need to ad something new in the entertainment blog I started. I need to be constant and consistent ! And now I'll be so happy to make blogger friends, so this is on my list too,lol! What am also doing is putting my personality on each posts I make! Am working on that...
    Thank you Lala !

    1. You're welcome! Definitely bring more of your personality out ... Readers love knowing a little about the face behind the blog so they have someone to connect with. Thank you for reading, and I'm glad we're Instagram blog buddies now :)

  3. This is a very useful post! Especially #1!


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