I started blogging when I quit my job to travel the world; to share my adventures with friends, who thought about doing the same.
The Wong Blog initially launched as a travel blog; advice on which tour company to use, what to eat & where to go. I never envisioned making a penny from it.
I get lots of lovely messages asking for blogging advice, so I thought it would be useful to compile everything that I’ve learnt into one space.
Disclaimer: I’m by no means an expert, and I’ve dedicated a lot of my time elsewhere in my digital consultancy & modelling, so I haven’t been able to release as many posts as I’d like, but I want to share with you my learnings, starting with the very basics.
The Wong Name
I changed my blog name five times. Once upon a time, it was ‘Small Girl Tall World’ (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either), then ‘Monica Wong’, ‘Monica Wong Blog’ & ‘ProjectM’. I don’t want you to go through the same experience because it’s a logistical nightmare to rebrand, especially with SEO. ‘The Wong Blog’ is a play on the fact that Wong is my surname, and I wanted to show a bit of my personality through my ‘wrong’ blog. Make yours, memorable and catchy: like a childhood nickname or favourite food. Once you’ve decided, head over to a domain site to make sure no one has nabbed it first. I use GoDaddy; I highly recommend them, they’ve got great customer service when I’ve called them at midnight, panicking [insert laughing emoji].
There are two popular platforms: Blogger & WordPress. Someone asked me about Square Space and Wix, but in my opinion, they are better for websites. I started on Blogger then migrated onto self-hosted WordPress. Blogger is ideal for beginners & a lot easier to use, but WordPress allows for more customisable options for the HTML savvy. If you’re an online wiz, Self-hosted WordPress has great SEO & analytics capabilities which is ideal for client reporting, I use Site Ground.
Now that you’ve acquired & named your plot of land, you need to spruce it up! There are lots of places where you can get designs. Blogger & WordPress has lots of free templates; otherwise, search for ‘blog designs’ from sites like Etsy or Pipdig. Your personality should shine through from your content so have fun with it!
I wrote a whole blog post about this here. In a nutshell, build up your eye for detail: take lots of snaps. Go out & start taking pics with your phone and start noticing how smaller details can affect an image.
Fashion / Lifestyle Bloggers
Find a photography buddy to take snaps of you: I know how difficult it is if you don’t have photo-willing/taking friends, so why not make a blogging friend and take pics of each other? If you want professional photos, reach out to a photographer who you like the style of; you’ll be surprised to see that some have surprisingly affordable rates.
Beauty, Food & Product Bloggers
If you’re taking product/food shots, practice by putting things together on a table. Move it around; essential products first and smaller items in-between.
Write about topics that you would read yourself. I am passionate about discussing issues that are important, like female empowerment. Alongside this, I write about travel, food, style & beauty. Remember that there’s room for everyone, if postal stamps are your thing, there will be blogs about it. Don’t pressure yourself, it’s not a cover letter so write like you’re talking to a friend over a cup of tea.
Social Media is going to be invaluable in promoting your blog. My most prominent channels are on Instagram and Twitter. However, some bloggers are killing it through YouTube or Pinterest. Why not sign up to them all? Make sure that all of your channels feature your latest post; you can automate this by signing up on IFTTT so that if you post on one platform, the others will also publish. Follow and interact with your favourite bloggers on Instagram, big and small. I try to respond to every comment because I value each one. Join Facebook groups & participate in Twitter chats.
Blogging can be scary & invasive as you’re letting people into your life. In my years of blogging, I’ve only encountered one rude blogger, but (luckily) not one rude reader! Little did she know that I’ve been a digital manager 5 years prior, and if I wanted, I could blacklist her (all marketers know each other). Because of its public nature, strangers & even your own friends can become nasty, I’ve spoken to some bloggers who have lost friends due to jealousy. In spite of this, I’ve found the community to be very supportive. Don’t see other blogs as competition. At the end of the day, it’s a great place to make lifelong friends and learn different perspectives. Everyone is different. You are unique and what you bring is valuable.
The advanced stuff
(don’t worry about the below too much if you’re just starting out, just come back when you’re ready)
Learn HTML & SEO
HTML is very handy for making your blog the shiniest without having to wait & pay for someone else to do it. Learn about SEO; Google creates its algorithm based on your content so knowing how to increase your DA is a useful skill to master.
HTML (the codes I use the most)
<p><p/> = Paragraph
<center><center/> = Centre Text
<b><b/> = Bold
<u><u/> = Underline
<a href=”https://www.instagram.com/thewongblog/?hl=en”>Instagram</a> = Links
<img class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-1750″ src=”http://www.thewongblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/How-to-start-a-blog-5-1440×1920.jpg” alt=”” /> = Image
- Feature your links on other sites, you can swap URL’s with other bloggers to improve your DA (domain authority)
- Make sure you always name your images with what a person would search on Google to find it, e.g. ‘MonicaWongHowToIncreaseYourConfidence.jpg
Know your audience
You will get to know who your audience is. You’ll start to see who interacts with your content and in time you’ll analyse demographic data which shows gender, age & location. Then you’ll learn how about impressions, clicks & the average time that readers stay on your site. My audience is predominately young women, UK & China-based. As a result, I try & cater my content.
Show me the money
The most common question that everyone asks is ‘how do you make money from blogging?’. I will save it for a full-length post because it will be a detailed cracker, but in a nutshell, it’s brand sponsorships, PR, affiliate marketing and display advertising. As you develop your following, you’ll be approached by brands & PR’s wanting to promote their products. Create a media pack, buy business cards and learn how to negotiate your rates. Remember that most brands want you to market their product to gain more sales, so be realistic with what you can provide a brand for a mutual partnership.
Closing (read these, they’re important!)
I spoke about internet security here. Never post in real time where you are. I’ve seen some bloggers take pictures of a PR package which had their home address on it, doh! Don’t mention private details like your full birth date, mother’s name, where you went to school/uni or work address.
Unless it’s constructive & benefical, never let anyone make fun of you for starting a blog: your writing, your style, or for taking pictures, they’re only showing their lack of confidence in their own abilities. Everyone has to start somewhere. Doing is always better than regretting. I wasn’t great at writing when I first started, but you don’t get better at anything unless you practice right?
Do not start a blog with the aim of being successful because you won’t be passionate about what you write. You’ll end up putting too much pressure on yourself, and you’ll feel deflated.
Blogging has changed my life unexpectedly. Seeing your comments make my day and I wake up doing what I love, because of you. I love that I have a little scrapbook to look back on when I’m old.
If you’re starting a blog, please keep me posted. I will support you all the way.