I started Soap Queen in 2007. At the time, blogging was relegated to dark and cobweb laden corners of the internet. I started to blog because I wanted a direct outlet to speak to fellow soapers and Bramble Berry customers. As Bramble Berry had grown, I couldn’t answer every single email myself, pack every box, and talk to all our customers one-on-one. I knew I missed that connection and a blog seemed like a way to get it back. Plus, a blog seemed like the perfect way to share soap tips, recipes and techniques. Experimenting with soapy recipes and techniques is always fun with more friends to share it with. Finally, I was hoping that blogging could be used to further personal connections with friends and soapers all around the world because blogging also allowed me to share my everyday life in the form of more personal posts.
Since 2007, the Soap Queen has grown in size, style and professionalism. When I started blogging…I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t own a fancy camera, nor did I always write particularly valuable content (check out this early post). Many posts included no pictures, and were only a paragraph or two. My goal was simply to write something every day … but that was pretty daunting back then. So at first this blog served more as a personal journal, with soap techniques and tips sprinkled in.
As I continued to blog, I began to hone in on Soap Queen’s purpose, audience, voice and schedule. Blogging is a constant learning process and over the years I have learned a lot! Want another example of how much Soap Queen has grown? Check out the blog post below from 2007. The photo is rather small and the content is not informative. But it did give readers a peek into my everyday life!
The blogging world has grown leaps and bounds since 2007. Across the board, content on blogs have become higher in quality, consistency and abundance. New blogging technology has made it easier to start and maintain quality blogs. With so much to think about, starting a blog can seem overwhelming. If you are feeling hesitant, don’t be fooled; building a blog takes commitment, planning and plenty of time. But blogging is also fun and incredibly rewarding. I can honestly say this blog has changed my life for the best.
Considering a blog of your own? It’s important to first lay down a blueprint for what you want your blog to represent in the online community. The 5 steps below will help you in creating a clear and purposeful blog. I recommend grabbing a notebook to jot down ideas while walking through each step.
1. Find Your Purpose
When starting a blog, the first step is to narrow down the purpose. Why are you starting a blog? Do you love writing, or want to share your photos? Maybe you’re starting a blog to connect with your customers or a certain community. Having a clear understanding of why you are blogging, and what you want to get out of blogging will help in every aspect.
When I first started Soap Queen, I knew I wanted to share soaping tips and business knowledge. I also wanted to better connect on a personal level with other crafters. This has continued to be the main purpose for this blog. As the blog has grown, I continue to write posts to achieve this goal. As you begin writing posts and designing a blog layout, always keep the purpose for your blog in mind.
2. Find Your Topics
What do you want to blog about? Take a few moments to jot down 5-6 topics you are passionate about. Topics can include soap, DIY, home decor, fashion, food recipes/cooking, photography, business, etc. Now, narrow down your topics to three. These topics should be things you feel comfortable writing about and can evolve with over time. It’s fine to have more than three blog topics, but in the beginning stages I recommend narrowing it down as much as possible. This way, you can fine tune these topics over time and later expand into more areas. Focusing on a few topics can help you discover which you feel truly passionate about. It also helps readers know if they want to invest time reading your blog. For example, if you’re super into wood art, my blog probably wouldn’t appeal to you much since I don’t discuss wood art.
If I were to narrow down the topics of this blog to just 3 types of posts, they would be: crafting tutorials, business tips and personal posts. There are some posts that don’t fit into this category, but about 80% of them do. Having defined topics will help in brainstorming post ideas, finding a strong readership base, and develop your blogging schedule.
3. Find Your Audience
Consider who will be reading your blog. Do you want your blog to be read by mostly friends and family, or do you want a broader audience? Who reads your blog will help shape what you write about and how you write it. For example, if your blog is for friends and family you may want to include more personal posts. A familiar audience may also lead to a more casual, personal writing style. If your blogging audience will be potential customers, your content and writing style should reflect that. For example, if you want a wide variety of readers to be comfortable on your blog, cursing probably isn’t appropriate.
I have 3 distinct types of readers in mind when I write this blog: the urbanite who is crafting for fun, in a smaller space and tends to be younger; the natural sophisticated shopper who is looking to make a difference in her personal care by creating her own products and the busy mom or grandma who is looking for a part time income on the side and a creative outlet to do with the littles. Not everyone that reads this blog fits into this category but knowing who I’m writing to helps me craft my writing. After all, it’s easier to write to a friend than it is to a nameless, faceless entity called ‘the interweb.’
4. Find Your Voice
How do you want to be perceived online? Social media is an interesting thing; it gives you the ability to “create” an online persona via photos and text. Of course you want to be yourself! Authenticity is key (for more on authenticity in blogging, check out my SACRED rules for social media post here). Communicating online is different than communicating in person. When writing a blog, you don’t have the ability to show body language or inflection in your voice for example. The photos, text and content of your blog will shape how others perceive you and the personality of the blog.
I’m a super positive and energetic person. To make this blog an extension of my personality, I choose to write about uplifting things. I like the photos to also be bright and cheerful. I’m also a business woman, and want the blog to be professional. Because of this I check (and double check) for typos, and do not use terms such as “LOL.” In my everyday life, I’m comfortable using “LOL.” But it does not fit with the voice of this blog. Of course you can make your blog as casual or professional as you want. Your blogging voice may also depend on the individual post. For example I like to keep tutorials professional and to the point, while personal posts are more casual.
5. Find Your Schedule
Having a consistent blogging schedule will build your readership. Consistency is key! It may take a while to find your blogging “groove,” but after a few weeks you will find a blogging schedule that suits your lifestyle. In general, I recommend blogging at least twice a week. The more often you blog, the more your readers will consistently visit your site. Soon, reading your blog will be part of their schedule!
Before even starting your blog I recommend making a schedule. I use Google Calender to plan out blog posts. I plan blog posts out months in advance, and move them around if necessary. Having defined topics helps create a consistent schedule. For example, the topics of this blog are tutorials, business tips and personal posts. To make sure each topic is touched upon I schedule a tutorial on Tuesday/Thursday, a business post for Monday or Wednesday and a personal post on the weekend. To further develop a schedule, you may want to buy a timer to discover how long it takes (on average) to write a blog post. Doing so will help you decide how often you are able to blog. The key to consistent blogging is planning.
Now that you have a general idea of what you want your blog to be…get blogging! There are so many things about writing and creating a blog that can only be learned by doing. If you’re looking for more resources on setting up your blog, check out the How to Set up a WordPress Blog post. Soap Queen runs on WordPress, and I love how user friendly it is. You may also find the blog posts below helpful as well; they include information on photography, time management and avoiding social media wipeout.
- 6 Simple Strategies for Better Time Management
- Soap Photography Tips from Handmade in Florida
- How to Photograph Products
- How to Set Up a Facebook Business Page
- How to Set Up & Use a Twitter Handle
- How to Avoid Social Media Wipeout
Have you been thinking about starting a blog? If so, what is holding you back? Or if you have any blogging tips I would love to hear them!