Becoming a blogger is the beginning of a long journey. There's so much to learn in the beginning and as you progress you're always learning more, there's always a new level which comes with new challenges.
And one big mistake new bloggers make at the start is getting caught up on the fluff rather than spending their time writing and building up their blog. Little details which are somewhat important overall, but not the most important tasks right now. Certainly not more important than creating amazing content and helping your readers.
Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every single day because deciding what colour of shirt to wear wasn't the best use of his time and energy. Although I'm not suggesting to do exactly this, there's a beauty in this utter simplicity and routine which helps you stay focused on the primary goal.
So to help you with your blogging endeavours, here are five things I'd suggest you do today to allow you to focus on what is truly important.
1. Install the Grammarly browser extension
The number one tool I tell new writers to download is Grammarly, hands down. If you've never heard of it, you're in for the best surprise any new writer can get.
Grammarly is an instant grammar checker which picks up those little mistakes you miss. And no, a simple spell check won't work because you may have spelled the wrong word correctly (your/you're or their/they're/there). After reading your post so many times, your brain processes it too quickly to notice every error, especially if you've been researching and writing for hours and have re-read it a hundred times.
The free version of Grammarly is fantastic. The premium version is pure gold. Sign up for an account now and install the Chrome/Safari/Firefox browser so whenever you're writing online, including emails and Facebook, it'll be on guard. You can also just copy and paste your text into the app if you've written something offline (like in Pages or Word).
2. Pick a colour palette
Your colour palette is Steve Jobs' outfit. Once you have your combinations, you won't have to think about what works and what doesn't. You won't sit there for hours tweaking your yellows because you're not sure if either mustard or saffron goes better with your image.
As well as saving time, it'll keep everything you create in line with your brand. Here's the colour palette for Breathe Travel; the turquoise is used the most as it's on the logo, and the other colours complement it. So whenever I need to create a graphic, I don't have to sit there thinking about whether the colours will or won't match.
Read through the theory of colour so you can decide how you want your readers to feel when they visit your site. Then have a look through these 100 colour combinations. Make a decision and stick to it.
"But what if I want to change my colour palette later? I'll have to go back and change everything!"
Yes, that's true. But we're bloggers; we're expressive and creative and I 100% guarantee you'll change your mind over and over again within your blogging career. Rebranding a biz isn't a new concept, many entrepreneurs outgrow their online space. But if you let go of that now and focus on the actual business, you'll make enough money to hire a professional branding designer in the future.
Deal? Great, let's move on.
3. Sign up to Canva
I create every image on Breathe Travel within Canva. The dimensions are pre-set, so if I want to create the perfect sized Pinterest image, I just click the Pinterest option.
It's not enough to write great content; you must make it stand out. My biggest traffic source by a long shot is Pinterest. I'm not saying it's a must for you and your blog, but there are certainly benefits to having a variety of graphics that people can pin on their accounts. Even when you share your post to Facebook, by having your title on the featured image (like the one at the top of this post), it'll help catch your readers' attention as they're scrolling.
Check out the templates, the features and the online photo editor within Canva. And as you progress you can upgrade to Canva for Work which makes creating graphics even quicker. I have my colour palette, fonts and logos uploaded, so they're available to add quickly to any image.
The standout function of Canva for Work is Magic Resize. I create one image first (always the blog post featured image), then I click on Magic Resize and it copies and reformats it to fit any of their design types.
Blog post featured/header image
4. Save a good base of stock photos
Searching for images for every post, or trying to take all of your own, can be extremely time-consuming. And it's NOT okay to search Google for images to use on your site. Absolutely under no circumstances should you ever, ever use someone else's photo unless it says it's free for commercial use.
What you're looking for is a CC0, or Creative Commons Zero, licence. This means you can use it, edit it, put writing on it, publish it, all without attributing the source. Whether you attribute or not is a personal choice. I always include the website source on Breathe Travel posts, but I don't link to it. So people will know where to go if they want to find the image, but I also don't want to distract readers with links going away from the site.
New To Blogging? 5 Steps To Take Today To Make Your Blogging Life Easier Tomorrow #blogger
5. Connect with other bloggers
One of the worst things at the beginning is feeling like you're all alone. It's tough spending day after day at the computer trying to write loads of great content, then getting stuck on something, then Googling how to fix the problem, then spending the day implementing the change. Wash, rinse, repeat.
When I first started blogging, I just wanted to share my love of cooking with the world (or whoever would read about it), so I created some recipes and uploaded them every so often. I had no idea what I was in for. The more I learned, the more I realised I didn't know. And when you get to this point it's easy to isolate yourself while you're glued to the laptop, trying to learn everything.
I learned so much from other entrepreneurs, and to this day I still have a very tight group I run most things by. Find your community, search for Facebook groups, and connect with other bloggers.
Image source: startupstockphotos.com
Get these steps out of the way and you'll get a great head start on your blog. And once you get the hang of writing and are ready to submit your first guest post, we'll be here for you. Check out the submission guidelines for Breathe Travel. 🙂
So tell me, which ones will you start on first?