Today, I’m excited to introduce yet another member of my new Creative Team, Holly Bertone from The Coconut Head’s Survival Guide.
I’m adding a new series on building your blog and social media presence to my blog, and Holly is going to be offering blogging and social media tips once a month. She has a lot to offer here, as you will soon see! With this new series starting, you can expect to see posts from me as well. I haven’t written much on social media or blogging in a while, but I’m going to be starting up again.
But today Holly is going to kick off the new series with an exclusive glance behind the scenes and the top 10 lessons to learn when you start a new blog!
And just a quick note before we get started…when you get to the bottom of the post, you will find that we are also offering a Grow Your Social Media Facebook party. Follow the instructions, and we’ll help you find some new fans!
Most people start a blog because they are passionate about something. Maybe they love fashion, are a foodie, or maybe even a new mother. Maybe the blog is a creative outlet or a legitimate business. For me, my blogging debut was completely accidental. I never planned to start a home and family blog, nor did I ever plan to turn it into a business.
You may be familiar with my blog, but probably not the back-story. The archives are opening up for you today, along with a list of everything I did wrong.
[contextly_sidebar id=”qf8zggz3R8m8z9A0NSsX1LuXFFJbiGRC”]I was a blogger before I even knew it. Years ago in my swinging single days, I traveled and had many adventures, and sent daily emails to my friends and family in story form. Unbeknownst to me, that was the start of my blogging career. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, it only made sense to do the same thing. Friends and family received daily emails about my condition, and responded back in encouragement.
A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with brain cancer the same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer. He started a blog. Why on earth would anyone want to blog when you can just send out emails? The more we encouraged each other, the more blogging made sense. I wanted to use my story to help other women get through cancer. I started a blog and website, which was 100% dedicated to cancer survival.
At some point during recovery, I realized that I didn’t want to blog about cancer all of the time. I subscribed to several home and family blogs which I loved, and thought, I can do this too! On April 1, 2013, I became an official blog and business. Pink Fortitude, LLC was born. I was on a mission to keep the integrity of The Coconut Head’s Survival Guide but also expand and grow. Little did I know how much work would be involved. Little did I know you don’t become a popular blogger overnight. Little did I know how rewarding and fun this journey would be.
Today, I will to share with you five successes and five lessons learned from starting a blogging business backwards.
- When it makes sense for you, become a business. It helps to protect you legally and financially and is good for tax purposes as you grow, but it also gives you legitimacy to the outside world.
- Think like a business. Even if you are in hobby status, think like a business. You never know when you will change your mind.
- Grab your domains. I don’t own all of the variations, but I do own as many as I can afford that relate to coconutheadsurvivalguide and pinkfortitude. If someone guesses my website to be pinkfortitude.com, they will be taken to the coconutheadsurvivalguide.com website.
- Find your advisors. If you don’t have the skills yourself, be sure to have a graphic artist and technical guru on speed dial. If you can’t afford to hire professionals, check your local high school or college for students (they will work for much cheaper), or offer to barter. Nowadays, these kind of technical skills are commonplace. A professional graphic designer told me that she created someone’s logo for free in exchange for the woman (who was a trusted neighbor of hers) babysitting her three children for several hours. Don’t let a lack of funds discourage you. Be creative – there are plenty of options out there. Auction sites like freelancer.com or designcrowd.com offer a forum for designers to bid on your work.
- Find your tribe and mentor/s. I was fortunate that in my first year, I found an awesome group of three women who we all complimented each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Join up with Facebook groups in your blogging niche.
Five Lessons Learned:
- Think of a blog name that will transcend time, your life changes, and be easy for readers to find you. While my blog’s name has sentimental value and meaning, major fail for user-friendliness. http://coconutheadsurvivalguide.com… Seriously? And [email protected] is my email address too. If I can’t figure out how to spell it, how am I supposed to expect anyone else to find me?
- Don’t just start a website, actually research your platform and talk to other bloggers. The transition to WordPress after over a year of blogging on another platform was painful, brutal, and expensive. Had I looked beyond the moment of wanting to start a blog, I may have spared myself that nightmare.
- If you aren’t already on social media, get on social media! I joined social media for the first time EVER in January, 2014. At that point, I didn’t even have a personal Facebook account. I had to play catch up and I worked as smart and as hard as I could to grow my following. By the end of that year, I went from basically zero to 13,000 followers. While it’s still small potatoes in comparison to the bigger bloggers, it’s a huge growth in a short amount of time. And oh, by the way, I didn’t join Facebook until the end of the year, so all of that growth was without being on Facebook. I outlined the steps to this growth in 40 techniques that you can read HERE.
- It is fine to emulate the blogging rock stars, but don’t copy them. In an obvious sense, you should never, ever copy someone else’s work as that is illegal. Right out of the gate, I thought that my work was just as good as the top bloggers who had a gazillion followers. I was quickly humbled and learned that I am not them. It took me awhile to find my voice and to find my niche.
- Learn to be patient. I am not a patient person. Growing your blog will take a lot of time and a lot of effort. Don’t expect for it to happen overnight. I still get frustrated sometimes that I’m not where I think I should be, but then I realize how far I’ve come in the last couple of years. More importantly, I remember how much I love to blog, and how much I look forward to working every day.
Connect and Share
What about you? What were some of your successes and lessons learned when you first started blogging?
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Holly Bertone, PMP is an author, blogger, and breast cancer survivor and advocate. She is the President and CEO of Pink Fortitude, LLC and Editor in Chief at the inspirational blog The Coconut Head’s Survival Guide. Holly holds a Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins University, a Bachelor’s Degree from Elizabethtown College, and is a Project Management Professional (PMP).
Holly is an Ambassador for the Tigerlily Foundation,was accepted into the National Cancer Survivor’s Day Speakers Bureau, and was named a 2014 Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women. She is passionate about reaching out to breast cancer survivors, and also volunteers for organizations supporting our military veterans. In her free time, she loves to garden, hit flea markets, antique stores and yard sales, and drink a cup of coffee on her back porch. Holly is married to a retired Green Beret, is a stepmother, and lives in Alexandria, VA.