I’ve been blogging since 2007 and went from The Daily Ice Blended to Well That’s Just Fabulous to Breakfast at Toast and now, Danielle Moss. I still own breakfastattoast.com and think about going back to that one all. the. time. What do you think? Is it as great as I think it is or is it one of those things I like because I’m sentimental? I suppose that answers any and all questions about how to name a blog because I have no idea. I’ll stop now. A few weeks ago, you sent over your questions about blogging and I’m here today to do my best to answer them.
Do you think there’s still room in the space for new voices? Would you start a blog now? Has the space become oversaturated and too hard to enter?
I would never tell anyone not to start a blog and if you want to do it for the right reasons, you should 100% start one. If you have something you want to share and are excited at the thought of creating content (it can’t be about making money or getting free stuff) then you should definitely go for it. I started blogging 12 years ago and didn’t make any money on my blog until about 3 years ago. Years of blogging unpaid simply because I loved it, and even now, the majority of my content is not sponsored posts last year and say no to brands regularly, but that’s a whole other topic I can talk about another time. I had 12 sponsored posts last year. That’s it. I do work with affiliate links but if you know me/my style, I never link to anything I don’t love and The conversion rate is less than 2%.
In all honesty, I don’t know if I would have started a blog now, but I also have a full-time job and baby, so it wouldn’t really make any sense for me to take something like this on. It’s just such a big part of my life and I truly enjoy it, so as long as that holds true, I’ll keep it up. We all have a unique voice and perspective so there’s room for everyone. Yes, there are endless blogs out there and the market is probably somewhat oversaturated, but it being “too hard” to enter isn’t a reason not to do something.
It’s a lot of work but is so worth it.
How did you grow page views? I am stuck.
So this probably isn’t the answer you want to hear, but I didn’t really do anything other than post daily, engage with other bloggers, and share my content on social media. We’ve done some content sharing, partnerships, and some Facebook ads over at The Everygirl, but that’s it. It’s been about sharing great content regularly – and with 5 stories a day, there’s just so much for our readers to see and share. I don’t put too much time into analytics, but know interior posts and personal stories/advice usually do pretty well for me.
I moved from LA to Chicago in 2010 and launched The Everygirl a year-and-a-half later, and I truly think my life resonated with other women. I’m not sure how much this will help, but my blog grew very quickly after I moved and had a lot more traffic than it ever has, and a lot more traffic than it does now. I’m not really focused on growth beyond posting when I can and sharing content on social media because I’m just doing what I love.
In June 2011 I had 583 users and in February 2012 I had 69,000. That is not a typo and this all happened four years after I started blogging.
How do you find the time for your personal blog with your FT job and family?
I have no idea. wasn’t easy before Margot and it’s a lot harder now, so I’m posting a lot less but still really enjoy it. When my nanny is here, I’m working on The Everygirl and The Everymom. When I’m with Margot, I’m with Margot. Blogging happens when Margot is getting in some dad time or when she’s asleep, like she is now. It’s really tough because I’m already not with her when I’m working so if she’s awake, I want to be with her, so most of the time, I write at night.
Ultimately, I’m posting less, but I’m only one person with a full-time job and a baby, so I’m just doing it when it feels right. I will never post because I feel like I have to.
How did you gain traction? Create good content? Check. What else can I do?
Engaging – but truly engaging – with other bloggers used to help. It all comes down to 1. good content (but you know that already) 2. Posting regularly 3. Sharing via social media 4. Tag brands you feature and hope they’ll repost, or offer to host a giveaway to help grow your following.
Was returning to personal blogging a challenge after launching The Everygirl?
I never fully walked away from blogging but scaled way back, by 100 posts each year for two years. Then I took a short break and really missed blogging, and relaunched almost 4 years ago. I just said this but it’s such a big part of my life, and I missed it too much.
Should the name/url be my real name or an IG nickname?
Your blog name/URL can be whatever you want but it should be easy to spell, and it should make sense. Choose something that you think/hope will withstand the test of time. I clearly didn’t do that and changed my blog name multiple times, and I have friends that have done the same, so if you do choose something that you don’t like in a few years, it’s always an option to change it and then forward your old URL to your new site.
What would you consider the key first ingredient before launching a blog?
I don’t know that I can choose just one key ingredient. Here’s everything I’d recommend.
An idea. Figure out what you want to write about, think about why you really want to write, and come up with a list of story ideas.
A blog name. Come up with a catchy name or use your own name. Make sure the URL is available, and purchase it.
A blog. I have hosted with blogger, squarespace, and WordPress (where I am now) and would recommend WordPress because of the options you’ll have later on as you grow and potentially hire a developer to design your site. There are some great, affordable templates out there that you can install yourself or hire someone to install for a reasonable rate.
Content. Start writing. I’d have at least a few weeks – a month of content ready to go so you’re ahead of the game.
What are the best ways to use Instagram to build your audience?
I put very little strategy into instagram, especially with the new (stupid) algorithms. I post when I feel like it and always promote posts in my feed and instagram stories with a swipe up, and that works pretty well for me. I do engage with friends and other accounts I love, but there’s zero strategy behind it.
How do you reach out to brands for partnerships and collaborations?
I very rarely do this. There are brands I’ve wanted to work with, and if/when that (rarely) happens, I send my media kit and tell them that I’d love to work together. Almost all paid partnerships
Does it work to have more than one focus? Like fashion and home?
Well, if it doesn’t, what I’m doing and what most of my friends with blogs are doing isn’t working. You can blog about whatever interests you. Food, fashion, career, relationships, beauty etc.
How did you build an audience without being sleazy?
Haha. Best question ever. I was just myself i.e. hopefully what most would consider not sleazy. I have never bought followers, never been a part of a loop giveaway to gain them (not a fan of those – no judgment!), and just post what I love. Traffic to my blog continues to grow (when I post) but I’m not out trying to get new followers. I’ve pretty much been stuck at the same number on instagram for a month or two but am not doing anything about it.
What’s your top motivation for blogging?
I truly enjoy creating content that might inspire or help others. When I get an email, comment, or message on instagram from someone who felt less alone or was inspired by something I wrote, that makes the late nights all so worth it.
Is work/life balance overdone?
I used to talk a lot about looking for balance and with growing older, learned to stop trying to find it, and to just live it in the best way I can. For me, that means spending time with my family, eating healthy, working out when I can, signing off from work/blogging to disconnect from this online world. As much as I love what I do, it’s so important to enjoy the people who matter to me. I think you can figure out a balance that works for you, but I don’t think a perfect balance exists.
Are blogs still going strong or are people primarily turning to IG?
Based on my blog and my friends’ blogs (and what they tell me) i think they are very much still going strong. There are lots of eyeballs on instagram, but if you’re producing content people want to read, they’re going to want to head over to your blog. The new algorithms have made it so they’re not seeing content in the order it comes in – it’s such a mess.
As a self employed business owner, how do you save for retirement?
I didn’t have an IRA until a few years ago and have been putting money away annually since. So I have an IRA but it’s much smaller than what most my age would have. I’m more focused on saving and investing right now. This is something I mentioned recently, but we’re saving to hopefully buy an investment property.
For someone with no coding knowledge, should I choose WordPress or Squarespace?
They are both great options, but ultimately, you’ll probably want to end up on WordPress if your blog grows and migrating is a pain (I’d know!) so I would just start there.
I hope this helped those of you who are thinking of starting a blog, are new to blogging, or have been trying to grow a blog for a while. Since “Find a Friend in Your City” went so well, let’s find some new blogs to read. Leave a comment with the name of your blog, a few sentences on what you blog about, and of course…your URL. Once you comment, head over to the blog of the person who commented before you. Whoever goes first, come back later and head over the blog of the person who commented after you.