If you are wanting to create your own blog and don’t know where to start, Hannah has you covered. Included in this book
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If you are wanting to create your own blog and don’t know where to start, Hannah has you covered. Included in this book
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If you are wanting to create your own blog and don’t know where to start, Hannah has you covered. Included in this book
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Table of contents :
How and Where to Start a Blog
Finding Your Niche
Importance of Social Media
How to Promote Blog
What Your Site Should Have
Blog Post Check List & What to Include in Posts
What You Actually Need to Take the Perfect Photo
Blog Props and Backdrops
All About Lighting
Free Stock Photos & Where to Find Them
Editing Software and Presets
Ways You Can Make Money Blogging & How to Disclose It
Gifted Products, ADs & Sponsorships
How to Find Opportunities
Adsense & Advertising Platforms
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes
Stats & Analytics
Running a Blog For £40 a year
Free Apps and Resources
My Personal Hacks
Staying Motivated & Organised
Blog Post Ideas to Get Started
About The Author
Blogging 101 Everything Uou
Yleed to Know
About Blogging I
Blogging 101 Everything You Need to Know About Blogging Hannah Heartss
Copyright © 2021 Hannah Howell All rights reserved The contents of this book should not be held as being factual, and for all intents and purposes this is book a joke. The author is not liable. No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher. Paperback ISBN - 9798747267329 Cover art by: Kristina Shlimovich
To Taylor Swift's discography for being my soundtrack.
Contents Title Page Copyright Dedication Introduction Preface How and Where to Start a Blog Finding Your Niche Importance of Social Media How to Promote Blog What Your Site Should Have Blog Post Check List & What to Include in Posts What You Actually Need to Take the Perfect Photo Blog Props and Backdrops All About Lighting Free Stock Photos & Where to Find Them Editing Software and Presets Ways You Can Make Money Blogging & How to Disclose It Gifted Products, ADs & Sponsorships How to Find Opportunities Affiliate Marketing Adsense & Advertising Platforms Taxes, Taxes, Taxes SEO Basics Stats & Analytics Running a Blog For £40 a year Free Apps and Resources My Personal Hacks Staying Motivated & Organised Blog Post Ideas to Get Started About The Author Acknowledgements
The idea for the book was born years ago. At one point I had it planned out chapter by chapter but never came around to writing it for one reason or another. But then last year the pandemic happened and I decided it was finally time to write this book. I have been writing Hannah Heartss content for the past eight years and I have loved it. Hannah Heartss is my baby, I share all of my thoughts on the latest beauty product launches and on new books as well as the occasional blog post about blogging itself. Over the years I have shared some small snippets of how I blog on a budget and how I stay organised with everything related to blogging and it has turned into this book. I wanted to share everything I know about blogging in one place and here it is! I hope that you find this book helpful and learn something you didn’t already know about blogging. If you are new to blogging or are wanting to start a blog, this book covers everything I know and I share all my secrets with you. This book covers a little bit of everything from how to get sponsorship opportunities and gifted products to how to file your tax return and what you need to include in blog posts. If you have any further questions once you have finished any section of this book, you can contact me on social media. All of my social links will be at the end of this book. This book is set out into five parts. PART ONE - The Basics This first part of the book includes everything you need to know to get started with having a blog. Including: 1. How and Where to Start a Blog
2. Finding Your Niche 3. Importance of Social Media 4. How to Promote Your Blog 5. What Your Site Should Have 6. A Blog Post Checklist and What to Include In Posts PART TWO - Photography In this part of the book, I share some photography tips and tricks and all the free apps and resources you could possibly need. Including: 7. What You Actually Need For the Perfect Photo 8. Blog Props and Backdrops 9. All About Lighting 10. Free Stock Photos and Where to Find Them 11. Editing Software and Presets PART THREE - Making Money Blogging This part of the book covers everything I have ever been asked about how my blog has become my part time job. Including: 12. How to Make Money Blogging and Disclose It Correctly 13. Gifted Products, ADs and Sponsorships 15. Affiliate Marketing 16. Adsense and Advertising Platforms 17. Taxes, Taxes, Taxes. PART FOUR - Behind the Scenes This next part is small but one of the most important factors when running a successful blog. The two chapters in this part are: 18. SEO Basics 19. Stats and Analytics PART FIVE - Blogging Hacks
The final part covers things I have learnt over the years and all of my hacks on blogging on a budget and how to stay motivated and organised. The chapters in this section are: 20. How to Run a Blog For £40 a Year 21. Free Apps and Resources 22. My Personal Hacks 23. Staying Motivated and Organised 24. Blog Post Ideas to Get You Started
If you are wanting to create your own blog and don’t know where to start, Hannah has you covered. Included in this book is everything you need to know about blogging from how to start a blog to how you can earn money through different avenues (featuring an email template on how to pitch to brands to secure gifted and paid for campaigns), to Hannah’s personal hacks. Hannah created her beauty and lifestyle blog, Hannah Heartss, back in 2013 and has since received almost three million views. In this book you will learn everything she knows about blogging.
How and Where to Start a Blog ◆◆◆
If you have decided that you want to start writing and sharing your thoughts online in the form of a blog, then the first thing you will need to do is decide the platform you want to do it on. There are a few different options from Blogger and Wordpress to SquareSpace. Every platform has different benefits and drawbacks but if you aren’t very tech savvy and just want the basic features and tools then I would recommend starting with Blogger. I personally like Blogger because it is simple to use and you can still customise the layout as often as you want. It does have some limits but I have never felt restricted with Blogger and I still continue to use the platform eight years later. If you do sign up with Blogger but decide you want to try a different platform, you are able to make the switch to Wordpress and other platforms. It can be a little bit complicated to do but there are services available that you can pay a fee and they will do all the heavy work of moving across platforms for you. There are a tonne of benefits to starting out with Blogger as it’s so easy to navigate and use thanks to its back end userfriendly interface. It’s also free which I am all about! I know Wordpress is extremely popular but it has always confused me and I have found it to be quite frustrating at times. For someone who isn’t very tech savvy, I personally wouldn’t recommend starting out with Wordpress. Blogger is completely free to start with but the url of your blog will have .blogpost.com at the end of it and this is the same with Wordpress. For a yearly fee, you can get rid of this and have a .co.uk or .com by buying your own URL. SquareSpace isn’t a blogging platform, it is a website builder but I know of a couple of bloggers who use the service and really enjoy it. This does come with a lot of fees so I don’t recommend it if you are starting out, but if you decide this is the platform you want to create your content on then you can start with a free trial to get a feel for it before you commit. Once you have decided on the platform for you and have signed up and created an account, the next thing you will want to do is create all of your social media accounts. It’s best to have specific accounts for your blog rather
than using your existing personal ones. I highly recommend this if you have had your social media accounts since you were an early teen, we have all said stupid things and it’s better to keep that stuff as separate as possible as we hopefully all change and grow from our mistakes. I will talk about the benefits and how important social media is in an upcoming chapter but anything you share online has a shelf life. For example, a typical blog post has a shelf life of around two years whereas a tweet lasts for about two hours. An Instagram post should have a longer shelf life than a tweet but thanks to its terrible algorithm, you will be lucky if it’s even seen by half of the people that follow the account within a week. So by creating a blog on a blogging or website platform rather than on a social media account, your content will live longer and be highly more likely to be seen more. You will also have much more control and ownership over the content you write and publish. I would recommend creating a new email address for your blog to use for future blogging related opportunities, sponsorships and any reader questions as soon as you create your blog. As you never know when you will get that first opportunity email and you won’t want to miss it. You’ll want to have this email address linked to every social media platform and included in your bios to make sure you are as easy to contact as possible. However doing this does have one major drawback in that you will end up with a lot of spam/junk mail. I get around 50 spam emails a day sometimes but luckily these all go to my junk folder but this is something to keep in mind. Once you have signed up, it’s time to write and publish your first blog post!
Finding Your Niche ◆◆◆
Deciding what you want to write about can seem a little stressful when you are just getting started. My number one piece of advice is to write about something you are passionate about and genuinely love. If you create a blog to write about a subject or product type with no actual interest in it, just because you think it will make you some money down the road readers will be able to tell. These readers won’t keep coming back to your website to read your new posts and it won’t go anywhere. I went the beauty route because I have always been obsessed with beauty products, new and exciting launches and reviewing them seemed like the best next thing! Overtime I have expanded my content to include lifestyle themes as well as talking about books. You don’t have to stick to one niche but always pick subjects that you are passionate about as when you love what you are writing about, it translates to the reader and they will keep coming back and they will trust your recommendations. I adore Christmas so I go a little mad with Christmas blog posts from September and I always see my stats dramatically improve from then until the end of the year. My love for Christmas translates on the page and everybody who reads my posts or follows me on social media already knows how much I love Christmas (I honestly don’t shut up about it and I start thinking about Christmas from around April). In the beginning when you have created your blog, I would recommend trying out a bunch of different subjects and seeing what feels best to be writing about. Whether it’s beauty products or books, recipes or comic books, there will be an audience for your content. Find what other bloggers of that niche are writing about and what’s trending and go from there! The best place to find these bloggers will be through social media and a quick Google search. Even with TikTok, you will be able to see what’s popular for each side of TikTok and it sparks so many new ideas! There are a few popular niches if you are stuck but only go with what you have knowledge on. These niches include Lifestyle, Parenting and Beauty/Health. These are also three niches which are great to earn money
from down the road! With a niche like Lifestyle, you can include so many different topics from homewares to cooking and pop culture! If you are wanting to start earning money from your blog down the road, it’s important to keep your options as open as you can. Writing about beauty and lifestyle topics is where I have made most of my money from blogging but I love writing about books and sharing reviews and that doesn’t earn me a single penny.
Importance of Social Media ◆◆◆
Social Media is one of the more important factors in running a successful blog and it should always be used as a supporting tool. I see a lot of people start influencing or blogging on Instagram. You don’t own that platform so if Instagram ended tomorrow so does the content you have spent countless hours creating. With your own website, you own all of the content and the control over it. The best way to make the most out of social media is to use it as a promotional tool with some personal content. In the beginning of your blogging journey, your posts aren’t going to be showing up on the first few pages of Google so your views will almost all be through, and thanks to social media. Even today, at least 30% of my daily page views are because of social media and I have been blogging for almost a decade. Social media is one of the key places to not only build your audiences but it’s also how brands will find you, how you can find sponsorship campaigns and gifted opportunities but more to come on that later! I have a different audience on every platform and it’s nice to actually interact with the people that read my posts. You will start to notice regular readers and supporters and it makes a huge difference when you are just one person doing it all. You mainly see numbers behind the scenes when blogging and you can sometimes forget that those numbers are actually people reading and liking your blog posts and photos. Once you have created your blog, the next thing you will want to do is make sure you have your username reserved on every social media platform. Even if you have no intention of using that platform. By having the same username, or as close as possible on all of your accounts it makes it much easier for people to find you to keep up with your content. You will also want these linked clearly on your website so people don’t have to search around to find them. You want everything to be as easy as possible to find as we don’t have the attention spans we used to and if I can’t find something quickly, most of the time I will give up and look somewhere else. The main social media platforms you will want to sign up for are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok and Pinterest.
Twitter is best used for sending out links to blog posts, both new and old, and I find that tweets will get more interaction if a photo is attached to the tweet. Instagram can be used to update your followers when you post a new blog post and that’s how I mainly use my feed. On Instastories I will share my actual real life and every now and again sharing new blog posts on there. Facebook is similar to Twitter when it comes to promoting blog posts, you can have your own Facebook page, share new links on your personal account if you want to as well as sharing posts in any blogging Facebook groups. The same goes for Reddit, I really don’t understand it too much and I have too many social media platforms that I am addicted to. So I will only drop in to share my new post links in relevant subreddits. I have been sharing my posts in the BeautyBlogs and Makeup_Reviews subreddits and I have noticed my views have slowly increased since sharing them on there. TikTok can be used to create similar content to your blog posts but in video form! If you are a very creative person, this might be a great one for you. Finally, there is Pinterest. This is a great one to share your content as well as sharing other bloggers posts too with an eye catching ‘pinnable’ image. I will share more about Pinterest in the next chapter but a ‘pinnable’ image is specifically created for the platform that will hope to engage others to re-share it to their own boards. When you are setting up your socials, try to follow similar accounts and try to interact with other bloggers. I have made some great friendships through blogging and we are all (for the most part) supportive of each other and it makes all the difference. I also like to add a decent amount of my personal life, my opinions and interests on my social media platforms. You will see a lot of my cat on my Instagram stories and whatever song I’m loving that week or a book or TV show I’m loving. You’ll also see my political opinions and lots of Taylor Swift related tweets as I am a big Taylor Swift fan. And every now and again, much to my mother’s hatred, I share some of the horrendous stuff that is happening with a cult that is pretending to be a religion, you might know the one. Hashtags are a key part of getting your content seen on social media and by following other bloggers, you’ll learn what hashtags are the best to use for your niche. The hashtags I use most on Twitter are #bbloggers for beauty posts, #lbloggers for lifestyle blog posts and #bookbloggers for my book reviews and posts. I will also use hashtags that are trending if they are relevant to what I am posting about for example, if I have published a post
about shows on a streaming service, I will use a shows hashtag I have mentioned in the blog post for the tweets. You don’t want to use hashtags that aren’t relevant for your content, it can be annoying and I will unfollow or mute accounts that do it if I notice it regularly. With Instagram, I don’t use as many hashtags as I used to and sometimes I will get more likes that way. But once you find the hashtags that work for you on Instagram, add them to the notes section on your phone so you can quickly copy and paste them for every new post! Experiment with every platform in the beginning to find which ones work best for you. Everyone has a different favourite platform and ones that work for them so you will want to promote across the board. Instagram has never been a platform that I have seen much growth with my main HannahHeartss account. But Twitter is my most popular platform and it’s also where I am most active. However, just because Twitter works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you and your audience. You won’t see success or growth overnight but these platforms can be a game changer to your blog getting seen. The best way to keep track of what platform is working best for you and your blog isn’t completely by follower counts, but is by how much traffic that platform drives to your site. You will be able to find this out with Google Analytics. You are using these social media accounts to promote your website so once you start to see what one is working best, you can focus on the ones that need an extra push. Try creating different content for Instagram Stories and TikTok. While you will have different followers on each account a lot of the same people will follow you on all accounts so you want to keep them engaged as well. If I find a blogger or someone I like online, I will follow them everywhere so it’s worth keeping things a little unique if you can to keep these readers engaged. It will also help the followers that only follow you on one account to follow you across platforms if you are sharing different things as they might not want to miss out on that. A benefit to being on most social media platforms is a little tech-y. Every social media platform has its own algorithm, Twitter is mainly chronological but Instagram will show you the content it thinks you want to see. If you don’t regularly interact with an accounts content on Instagram, Instagram will stop showing you it as often or at all. A lot of users are aware of this so they will follow you on other platforms to make sure they don’t miss your content. By being on multiple platforms, it will give you a higher chance of your
content being seen and interacted with. Spending a lot of time on social media for promoting blog posts can seem overwhelming and for many, that much time spent on social media can negatively effect their mental health. However there are many scheduling tools available that are free to use or have a monthly fee. As I like to do everything as cheap as possible I have been using the free services for years with no need to upgrade or change what I use. My favourite scheduling tool for tweets is Tweetdeck. This is the official platform created by Twitter. I will do at least one tweet an hour during the day for my blog posts and I usually have them scheduled a week in advance. It will take me about an hour to do them all which I don’t think is too bad once you put on some music or a podcast while you do it! A little trick for scheduling tweets is to add a different emoji or a slight change to the tweet text for every tweet otherwise Twitter will think you are posting spam and it can cause problems with your account and the tweet might not publish at all. Retweet accounts are a great way to get seen if you tag them in tweets. Twitter does have Analytics which is definitely worth looking into to see what times are most effective for posting and what gets the most interaction. For example, in March 2021, I had 289k tweet impressions (how many times a tweet was scrolled past) with one tweet alone receiving 141k impressions! Another scheduling tool I use is IFTTT that you can set up to automatically send out posts on Facebook and Twitter as well as many other platforms whenever you post a new blog post. This is such a handy thing to have set up and I did it years ago and I haven’t had to touch it since. These are called ‘Applets'. I set it up so my new blog posts share to my personal Facebook, my Facebook Page and Twitter account as soon as they go live and it saves me so much time. Other popular scheduling tools include Planoly, a visual planner and scheduler for Instagram and Buffer which can be used for multiple social media platforms and also can be used to analyse results. Another popular one is Tailwind which is for Pinterest and Instagram but it isn’t one I have personally used as you can schedule pins directly through the Pinterest app on multiple devices. Please NEVER buy followers, I know it seems like a quick fix to get that ten thousand followers on Instagram so you can have the swipe up feature on Instastories but it’s extremely easy to tell who has bought followers and it
will backfire on you. To grow your platforms, make sure to interact daily and talk about what’s trending as it can make a difference. Regularly check in with your following list and clear out any inactive accounts and follow new people and similar content creators. I love supporting other bloggers so I am always following new accounts. Giveaways can help grow your audience but keep in mind that a lot of the entries will be specific accounts made for entering giveaways and you will lose some followers after the giveaways has ended. I don’t run giveaways too much anymore but I do like to run a few a year to say thank you to those who have supported and interacted with me throughout the year. Growing an Instagram following is much more difficult I have found than with any other platform, especially now with how terrible the algorithm is. Instagram is one of the platforms that brands are looking for the most when looking for bloggers to work with so I try to make some effort with it. While I have personally decided to stop posting on my original account after consistently losing followers as my content just doesn’t work well on the platform, I created a book specific account, @hannahheartssbooks. I have been slowly but surely building my following on it. It is slow but I am seeing steady progress and I have been really enjoying it! I try to regularly post on my feed and stories which does make a big difference in itself. There is no secret to growing an Instagram account other than interacting with accounts daily, I try to go through the hashtags I often use and comment and like on posts for about 30 minutes a couple of times a week. I make sure to do this with a mixture of accounts that follow and ones that I don’t. I have seen a big increase in my own following from doing this.
How to Promote Blog ◆◆◆
In the beginning when you have a blog and you want it to be seen and read, you will have to promote the heck out of it without bring spammy on social media. It’s a fine line between the two and I am going to share how I promote my blog posts and older content. These are the methods I still use today and they make a big difference. Within your analytics of your blog (more on this later) you will be able to see how social media promotion is working for you. I try to promote my blog posts, both new and old, across multiple social media platforms as with each one having a different algorithm, you can’t be completely sure it will be seen by everyone. By sharing your content across platforms, it’s more exposure for your blog and new people will be able to find you as not everybody is on every social media platform! When you are starting out, try all of the to see which ones works best for you. Instagram doesn’t work for me with beauty and lifestyle themes but works brilliantly for others and well for an account just about the books I read. I have narrowed down the platforms that I share my blog posts on now after seeing what works best for me and focusing on those rather than wasting my time with platforms that just aren’t working after trying for a couple of years. The social media platforms that work best for me are Facebook and Twitter. I also try to share my content regularly on Pinterest and Reddit as if your post does well on these platforms, it can have long-term benefits. Let’s start with Twitter. This is a great platform to share your blog posts on as you can post multiple times a day and really as many times as you like. I try to schedule tweets for around every hour and a half during the day in UK time. I was having tweets go live overnight but when I looked into the analytics it showed that this wasn’t doing too much as most of my audience is based in the UK and would be sleeping during these hours. So I save my time there. With Twitter, you want to make sure you don’t tweet your links too often and nothing else as it can look spammy to followers but also to Twitter. They can then flag your account which can then lead to limiting how you can use your account and how it’s seen by followers.
There are a tonne of ways to get your tweets seen more on by including hashtags in your tweets and tagging retweet accounts. I mentioned some of the hashtags I use in the previous chapter for promoting my blog posts and they are really beneficial. They also help you find bloggers with similar content and it’s always great to make some friends online with similar interests! I also like to re-promote older posts from the last year or previous months in between tweets for new posts. Tweets typically have around two hours of ‘life’ which means how long they will be seen for as it is a fast paced platform so tweeting more often works best from my experience. There are quite a few retweet accounts that you can tag in tweets or use a specific hashtag that will then retweet tweets. I used these a lot in the beginning and it can help as it did work for me. One extra benefit to using these accounts is they are mainly followed by other bloggers so it’s great to find people who write similar content and they will follow you through these accounts once they notice your content. I have seen a few bloggers create threads to interact with other bloggers new posts and leave comments on them which is great for link building. And speaking of tagging accounts, if you have featured or mentioned a brand or item in your blog post, you can always tag them in the tweets! I will tag a brand in a couple of tweets if I have reviewed one of their products and this is a great way to build relationships with brands. I have worked with some huge brands because they saw my blog posts through social media! But if you are reviewing books specifically don’t tag authors in negative reviews. It’s not nice for them to read and it’s very different from tagging a brand in a negative review of a product as they are actual humans. To make sure you aren’t seen as a spam account, I recommend to tweet a couple of times a day with non blog-post related tweets. I love Twitter and I am on it constantly throughout the day. Usually tweeting my thoughts on trending topics and interacting with others or shouting into the abyss about cults or about how cute my cat is. While I don’t use Facebook for personal posts as it is such a negative platform outside of blogging, I do use it for promoting blog posts. I have a Facebook page that automatically updates whenever I post a new blog post and shares the link to my page. I share how to do this in the Free Apps and Resources chapter. If you feel comfortable with sharing blog posts links on your personal accounts, it can make a difference as we all know how nosy people are on Facebook. I only use Facebook to promote new blog posts
rather than promoting existing content. There are a bunch of Facebook groups that you can share blog posts links in for all niches. I use 4-5 beauty and fashion blogger groups whenever I post something new and it’s definitely worth joining a few. Sharing blog posts in blogger Facebook groups can have the same effect as using hashtags on Twitter in that other bloggers will see your content. Some of these groups also share sponsored and gifting opportunities that you can apply for. Make sure to check any groups rules and requirements before you start sharing links as some have stricter requirements. Reddit and Pinterest are great platforms to share blog posts. Reddit isn’t one that I use for anything other than dropping in to share my blog post links but Pinterest is one that I actively use all the time and have done for years. With Reddit, there are specific ‘subreddits’ and if you find your niche on there you can usually find one or two specifically for bloggers and be able to share blog post links. Make sure to check the rules and requirements like with Facebook groups though. Hannah Heartss receives a decent amount of traffic through Reddit when I share blog posts talking about new makeup collection launches! Now, Pinterest can make a huge difference. When I am actively using it to share my blog posts and other photos and content, I can reach one million impressions within a single 30-day period. There are some blogger boards that you can share blog post pins to but I find that pinning to your own boards works just as well. Don’t just pin your own blog posts, I pin a little bit of everything and have very specific boards and this does help push your blog posts pins to be seen more. To find boards to share in, look at other bloggers on Pinterest with similar niches and at what boards they are sharing to and request to join those. If you are wanting to grow the amount of impressions you receive, the way to do this is by actively repining existing pins already uploaded to Pinterest as well as pinning new content. And not just blog post pins, I have a bunch of themed boards featuring everything from homeware to Christmas to just the colour Pink! Pin whatever interests you! When I say pin your blog posts, I don’t just mean the existing images from your blog posts. Making specific images for Pinterest makes all the difference and pins have a long life. I have a couple of pins that still get a lot of attention years after I first pinned them! You can use templates to create pins and don’t be fooled into buying templates, you can find them for free in apps like Canva! When adding your own pins, make sure to add a
description, a link to the blog post and a couple of hashtags in the description. You can pin your pins to a couple of boards too but make sure they are always relevant. I would recommend having a business account on Pinterest as you can schedule pins and check stats on the interface. I have my blog connected to my account (you can also link it to your Instagram account) as well as enabling anybody to be able to hover over any image on my blog and be able to pin it themselves! This can be found within the Developers section of Pinterest under ‘Widget Builder’. Something that is often overlooked to getting exposure for your blog is commenting on other blogs. I love whenever I receive a comment and you start to notice the regular commenters. Interacting with the bloggers is huge in the beginning and it’s nice to build a little community. Even if you don’t like to leave comments or need to promote your blog, I love interacting with other bloggers and Twitter is a great place to do that as it is much easier to find other creators on the platform than with any other social media platform. I have become friends with a couple of bloggers through Twitter and it’s one of my favourite things about blogging and Twitter as a platform. Whenever you leave a comment on a post though, make sure it’s actually about the blog post rather than just dumping your link in the comment. If you use the following html code it will make any link clickable: blog name or any text you want here When it comes to Instagram, if you have under ten thousand followers it can be a less effective platform to promoting your blog. If you have over ten thousand followers it gives you access to the swipe up feature on Instastories which means you can swipe up on the post and it will open a website link. I prefer to share any new blog post promotion on my Instastories these days and this is when I wish I had the feature. You still can’t have clickable links in photo captions on the main feed of Instagram which is beyond frustrating. All you can do is add a link to your bio and it can be repetitive writing out, “new blog post, link in bio” in multiple captions a week or sometimes daily. When posting an Instagram photo to your feed, you will want to tag any brands of products featured in the photo and any PR companies, if they sent you product for review consideration. If this is the case you need to make sure you clearly disclose if the post features an AD or gifted products at the beginning of the post or as per your countries requirements for bloggers and
influencers. There are a few ‘blogger groups’ on Instagram that you can share new photos to and you have to typically like and comment on everyone’s posts but they haven’t actually worked for me. They had a negative effect for me but everything will work differently for different accounts. There’s no answer on this from Instagram but I have heard rumours of them cracking down on this as it isn’t organic interaction. Hashtags make all the difference on Instagram and it’s best to see what others who are posting similar content to you are using for best results. My one tip with hashtags that I find to be time saving is to start a new note in your phone with different stacks of hashtags. Then all you have to do whenever you post something new, is to copy and paste them into a comment or the caption of the photo! You can use up to 30 hashtags I believe and I usually use 1-15 per post. Make sure to switch them up every couple of photos. I have a terrible memory so there is no way I would ever remember which ones to use so this really helps me out. When I do use Instagram to promote my blog posts, I prefer to use stories. I am much more active on stories than I am on my actual feed and as I do post multiple times a week, sometimes daily on my blog, it makes more sense for me to promote on stories. How I like to do it is by creating an image similar to a pin for Pinterest with some text and the images from the blog post. Every now and again I will create a couple of stories with the most popular posts of the week, usually with the image from each blog post along with its matching title. To make these there are a couple of apps with premade templates you can use and customise and my two favourite apps are Unfold and Canva. You can get really creative with Canva and Unfold is a little more limited with a more simplistic vibe. If you wanted to make your own templates Procreate is a fantastic app and one of my favourite apps I have purchased. A non social media way of promoting blog content is by having a newsletter! You can create newsletters through websites like Mail Chimp but these can come with fees so is this something to consider before starting one. By having a newsletter, you could send out a weekly email updating anybody signed up of what you have published that week with some bonus or personal content as well. You can use giveaways as a way to gain some followers but this shouldn’t ever be the main reason for doing a giveaway. I love to give away
big bundles of products to say thank you for following me and interacting with my content. I tend to mainly host my giveaways on Twitter but you can host giveaways on your blog through sites like Rafflecopter which is free to use. By using this platform to host a giveaway you can create different requirements for entry, such as following you on Twitter and liking a photo on Instagram, etc. So it can be great across the board to use this method rather than hosting a giveaway on one social media platform. Finally, if you are wanting more awareness for your blog rather than for a specific post then SEO is something you will want to focus on. Years later this is something I am always actively checking in on and I will go into more detail about SEO towards the end of this book. But very briefly SEO is all about link building in one respect and you can ‘build links’ by guest posting on other websites and blogs. When writing a post for somebody else, you can usually include a link to your blog and it can then boost your blog to be ranked higher on Google (meaning your blog can appear on the first few pages of Google) as well as introducing that readership potentially to you! If you guest posted on someone else’s blog who has similar content to what you write about already, you have a higher chance of that content creators readership coming over to you and reading your content. Within your own blog you can promote other blog posts as well as in new posts as well. You can promote posts in side bars, on your home page and more. Whenever I mention a product I have previously reviewed, I will link to that review for example. These can usually be created within the ‘widgets’ section of blogger and also in personalised templates if you buy one.
What Your Site Should Have ◆◆◆
When you have created your account on your selected blogging platform, you are going to want to get your website all set up before you publish your first post or at least very quickly after you have got started. There are a few things I consider to be essential in a blog/website and I am going to share them with you now. These are the things I always look when viewing other blogs and what I have learnt I needed over the years by having my own blog. The most important element for any blog to have is clear and easy navigation. The reader needs to be able to find everything they are searching for within a couple of seconds. If I can’t work where the search bar is or find your social media accounts I will quickly be clicking away and finding someone else’s content to read instead. If you aren’t tech-savvy then the easiest way to achieve this is to buy a pre-made template. There are a few different places you can find templates for platforms like Wordpress and Blogger. As I am on blogger, I will be sharing specific information for this platform. A few of my blogger friends will spend a decent chunk of money on a template for their websites. But as I like to do anything as affordable as possible, all of my website templates have been under £10 each! As they are so affordable, once year or so I will switch it up and purchase a new one. To find a good, affordable yet professional looking template, the best place I have found to look for them is Etsy. You will want to search for ‘Blogger Responsive Template’. It will pull up so many for you to choose from at a range of different price points. By having a responsive template for your site, it means it will adapt to the device it is being viewed on. I love this as I do a lot of reading on my phone and it makes your site mobile friendly without you having to do anything yourself. It’s worth looking into the seller you are purchasing from as a few of them offer free installation. While I am decent at coding and some of the tech-y things, it’s nice to know it’s an option and I have taken advantage of this in the past when I have got stuck. I have purchased templates from a couple of different sellers and they have all been fantastic at helping with any
issues I have had or answering any questions even months after I purchased it. Other elements that your site needs, template wise, are search bars, drop down menus or tabs displayed along the top of the website and category tabs. I have a search bar at the top right of my website and it’s displayed there no matter what page of my site is being viewed. Under the drop down menu, I keep links to my about my page, contact information and any disclosures or privacy policies I need. By having category tabs on your blog, it will increase the chances of the reader sticking around and reading more of your content. I have a simple organising system on my blog. With category tabs for Beauty, Lifestyle, Book Reviews, Hallmark Movies, Netflix Recommendations and then a Christmas tab. When each of these is clicked will direct you to every post that has been labeled for that category. Every part of your template and blog should be built with the reader in mind as you want them to stick around and read more. Alongside the search bar and category tabs, I also recommend having a side bar. You can get creative with these and I have a few different widgets featured in mine. In my side bar I have a photo of myself, I like when blogs have these as it makes it more personal but this isn’t something you have to have if you don’t feel comfortable with having one. Also included is a short bio and contact email address. I can’t stress enough how clearly and easy to find you want your email address to be. If you are wanting to work with companies and brands you want to make yourself as easy to contact as possible. I have my email address near the top of every page on my website as well as being included in every single bio on my social media accounts and having a specific contact me page. It may seem repetitive but trust me on this, you will thank me later by adding it! Your bio can include a few things about you, your age and what country you live in, etc. Mine currently reads the following: Hi! I’m Hannah A 27-year-old UK based beauty and book blogger. I love Taylor Swift and Kevin Jonas is the best Jonas Brother. I watch a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies and you'll find me reading all the books. Contact me: [email protected] The sidebar is also a great place to have any internal links. These are great for SEO purposes as well as engaging the reader with more of your posts. I have a ‘featured post’ widget that can be customised to display any selected blog post. These are great to highlight anything you would like more
commission someone to create one for you. I have one that I made myself with Canva and I love it. I actually used a template and customised it with a free trial to their upgraded version of the website and I think it looks professional yet simple. I also have a professionally made header that I use at Christmas time with my blog name wearing a Santa hat and Christmas lights! Because I love Christmas so much, I usually have it displayed from November 1st until the first week of January!
Blog Post Check List & What to Include in Posts ◆◆◆
Having a blog isn’t just about uploading some writing with a photo or two. There is so much that bloggers do behind the scenes. Bloggers don’t often get a lot of credit for how much work goes into their blogs. As a lot of the time we are also writers, editors, social media managers, photographers and more. I thought it would be beneficial to give you a check list of what to include in blog posts and things to consider before you hit the publish button. These are the things I do with every blog post I publish. Once you have done them a few times, you will start to do them automatically and you won’t need this list! ✓ Make sure a blog post is 300 words or longer (for SEO reasons) . ✓ Add an image or two, an eye catching one first. ✓ Use an easily searchable title . ✓ Add image description and alt text. ✓ Add any disclosures needed (for example if affiliate links are included or if the post is sponsored or contains gifted items. This disclosure will vary for your country and what guidelines you should be following). ✓ Proof read the post and check for any spelling or grammar mistakes. ✓ Link any products or services mentioned, now is the time to use affiliate links! ✓ Make sure any links are set to open in new tabs, this is extremely beneficial for the reader. ✓ Schedule social media promotion ready for when your post goes live. ✓ Link any similar posts of your own within the post for internal link building. ✓ Add a call of action at the end of post (ask a question to engage the reader by leaving you a comment for example). If you are unsure what to include in your blog posts, and more so with
product reviews then this should help! Whenever I write a review or any round up blog post, I like to include a small introduction paragraph at the beginning as well as any disclosure needed for the post. If the post is a product review, I will start off with a couple of paragraphs about what the product is, what it is meant to do and talk about any key ingredients, especially if it’s skincare. I will then go into what I think of the product and how it worked for me. I will weigh out the positives and negatives. If the post is a negative review I like to talk about how it would work for someone else and put a positive spin on it. Your blog posts should always be written with the reader in mind but keeping a positive spin on them is beneficial if you are wanting to try and build relationships with brands and PR contacts. As I am mainly a beauty product reviewer, below is anything that you can include in beauty reviews. Some of these will apply to other niches but it will give you a better understanding of what to include in blog posts. The first thing I always write in my product reviews are my first impressions of the product(s). This could be the packaging or what the scent of the product is, etc. I am a sucker for good packaging and I know others are too so I always like to discuss how it feels, is it luxe or cheaply made? Will it get dirty or broken easily if kept in a makeup bag? Is it bulky or sleek? Sometimes I will notice that the packaging has been created to offer the illusion that you are getting more product for your money which is annoying with higher-end products. I will always include the price point of the product with any stockist information. If it's currently on offer, I try to include that as well but state that it is only on offer as of writing the post in case someone comes across the review months or years from when it was published. I can't stress enough how important it is to include whether a product is cruelty-free or not. I try to only purchase products that are cruelty-free but you will see products that aren't cruelty-free on my site as they are usually sent for review consideration. I have recently started including this at the end of my posts in bold so it's as clear as possible. Before I write up my thoughts and experience with the product, I will include a paragraph or two on what the brand says that the product will do. I'll include the key ingredients, if the product featured in the post is skincare
and what it claims to do for the skin. Including the key ingredients is important as many people know what works their skin. When it comes to sharing your thoughts, always let the reader know how long you tested the product for if you can and what your skin type or hair type is, depending on the product. I will trial most products for at least a few weeks and share my review when I know my thoughts are clear on what I'm testing. Skincare I will test for much longer as I need to know some of the following for my reviews. How does it make the skin feel? Is it long-lasting? Are there long-term benefits? Does it have scent? What's the texture of the product like? If I have only been testing a skincare product for a couple of weeks, I make sure to include this and I will update the post after a few months if my opinions change or if I notice any other results from use. When reviewing eyeshadows for example, do you get kick back when you dip your brush into the pan? Do you get a lot of fall out? How does it wear with and without a primer? With foundations, what tool did you use to apply it? Did you use setting spray or any powders to pro-long the wear? I will usually test out foundations with multiple products to see how it works with other things. I always struggle with reviewing perfumes but I focus on the scent notes, the packaging and how it wears. Does the scent change once you apply it to the skin? Can you pick out any of the individual scent notes? What's the scent family? Is it overpowering? Are there any perfumes similar to it that you like? Or are there any dupes that you can think of? If you have a tried a product that's similar I will often include these as well (if you liked this, you will like this!). If it's a negative review, I will often try have someone else test it out to see how it worked for them as everyone will have a different experience with beauty products. If you are sent a product to review, the post is sponsored or you have included affiliate links, you will need to make this is extremely clear to follow government guidelines. I include my disclosure at the very top of my posts, it’s the first thing you will read on any post, as well as having a full page on my site explaining my disclosures which I update every now and again if I make any changes.
What You Actually Need to Take the Perfect Photo ◆◆◆
Besides having a professional and easy to navigate website, one of the most important things for me is photography. It’s also the thing I enjoy most about having a blog but also one of the most frustrating at the same time as I am bit of a perfectionist. The photo going along with any post is always what is going to draw me to the content before I even read a sentence. It’s not enough for me to have the perfectly laid out flat-lay, the photos also need to be edited to be consistent with all of my other photos as much as possible and I need photo props to fill any empty spaces. I have to admit, over the years I have learnt to be a little less perfect with my blog photos as even if there is something I don’t like about the photo, nobody else is going to notice it and that photo could end up being their favourite. We live in a world were everything is preferred to be ‘instagrammable’ or ‘Instagram ready’ and you have to get with the trends to some extent if you want your content to be read and seen. What I mean by Instagram perfect is for photos to be perfectly filtered and well lit. My house isn’t full of marble surfaces, pretty tables and most bloggers are the same, we are faking those backdrops and most of us don’t even hide the fact! These kind of backgrounds can typically cost you a lot of money. But as I like to blog for as cheap as possible, my backgrounds ever since I started have been inexpensive to make and will usually last years before I need or what to replace them. When I say cheap, I mean they almost always under £10 to make, the maximum it has cost was around £15 and a lot of my backgrounds that I have used have even been free! In the next chapter, I share all the details on how I make your own backgrounds for photos and how to find them for free! The apps and computer software I use to edit my photos is free and the presets I use in the Lightroom app are so affordable that they cost pennies. One of the best pieces of advice I was given when it comes to photography is to shoot the same image in different size frames and orientations. Square photos work best for Instagram grids, portrait works best for Pinterest and I
like to shoot my website photos in landscape. You can adjust the items in the shot for each way and it can make a huge difference when promoting on different platforms. This is completely up to you and how you want your blog to be presented. When I first started blogging, I wasn’t going to spend hundreds on a camera and everything to get started as I didn’t know if I would actually stick at it after a couple of failed attempts at starting a blog previously. But with the way technology has advanced over the years, the camera on your phone probably has higher megapixels than my DSLR camera has! I have been using a DSLR camera for about half of the time that I have been blogging and I still don’t quite understand the settings fully to be able to take full advantage. I know the very basics. I will be honest with you, my iPhone takes better and clearer photos but I am so used to shooting with my camera that I have stuck with it. If you are starting out with a brand new blog, I would highly suggest using your phone or existing camera, there is no need to buy a separate one when your iPhone can shoot incredible quality photos! To be able to take a great photo, you will need a couple of things like a camera, decent lighting and your photo set up however you want to take it and that is it! I will go into lighting in more detail in this part of the book. When you are taking a photo on your iPhone or if you have a DSLR there a couple of settings you will want to take advantage of. I shoot my photos in a manual setting, I use the ‘AV’ setting which is Aperture priority. I definitely recommend this as you can have more control over your photos. The settings I take the most advantage of are ISO, Aperture (also known as f-stop) and white balance. A couple of these settings you can use on the iPhone as well and they are a game changer! I shoot my photos for my blog with a Canon EOS 1200D with and a EF-S 18-55mm lens. ISO is essentially a setting that will lighten or darken the photo, if you increase the number it will progressively brighten the shot and vice versa. But as you brighten it, it will affect the quality of the photo and it can make it look a grainy if you go to high without changing any other settings. I try to keep my ISO as low as I can and do the brightening in editing but upping it a few points does make all the difference. Aperture or f-stop is one of my favourite settings on both my iPhone and camera and it’s one I use all of the time. You probably use it without even realising it! The f-stop setting regulates the amount of light that passes through the lens at its given shutter speed, this is the length of time that the
camera shutter is open and exposing light onto the sensor of the camera. Which basically means how long it takes the camera to take a photo. The lower the number of the f-stop, the larger the opening of the lens will be and this then results in less depth of field, meaning how blurry the background will be around the focus point. The higher the f-stop number is leads to the background of the photo being sharper, the lower the number the more blurry the background will be. You will be limited to certain scales of f-stop settings depending on your camera and lenses. On the iPhone 11, you do have a big range to play with. In case that still confuses you, to be honest it still confuses me every now and again, if you want your focus point to have a very blurry background, you will want the f-stop to be a lower number and if you want the complete shot to be in focus you will want the f-stop number to be higher. The white balancing setting can make a big difference if you like to take photos with natural lightening like I do. All cameras and phones will usually have an auto white balancing setting which typically does the job before editing. You can create custom white balance settings on DSLRs but mine also has built in settings for shade, daylight and cloudy skies, etc. Every setting you change while taking the photo can affect your photo quality so it’s worth keeping this in mind. Once you play around with all of these settings, you will start to learn how you like your photos to look and you will be able to get a photo just how you like it within a couple of minutes! When taking photos with your iPhone (I’m talking about the iPhone 11 but it should be the same or very similar across current models), you will want to use Portrait mode, this is available on almost all of the newer iPhone models. You can shoot with the settings ready to go from when you slide across to the mode. But you can also make adjustments and because it’s all on sliders, it’s easy to play around with to get comfortable and find the settings that work best for you and your shot. There are also lighting effects in this mode, these are in the bottom half of the screen and I usually use the natural or studio light settings and play around with the exposure. To access the f-stop, exposure and other settings on the iPhone, you will need to click the downward arrow at the top of your screen. This will bring up five buttons cross the lower half of the screen. When you select the ‘f’ button, you will be able to adjust the depth of the photo and make the background around the focus point more or less blurry when you use the slider. Slide to the left for blurry backgrounds and to the right for sharper
photos. If you click on the button with the plus and minus in, you will be able to adjust the exposure of the photo to make it brighter or darker. When you slide it to the left, it will make the photo darker and to the right it will dramatically brighten the photo.
Blog Props and Backdrops ◆◆◆
I love a good blog prop! A blog prop is what I like to call anything that can be used to fill in spaces when taking a photo. I have a big storage box full of them as I have been collecting them for years now. Blog photo props can make a huge difference to your photos and help fill in any empty spaces and frame your photos, I have a bit of a system when I take my photos now. I don’t like to have too much emptiness in my photos but I know everyone is different and that’s the beauty of it. Taking photos for my blog is something I am always actively trying to improve and switch up and blog props are one of the best ways to do that. Taking photos is also my favourite thing about having a blog, you would think writing would be but it’s actually way down on the list of my favourite things about blogging! Some of the items I use as blog props in my photos are: ✓ Artificial flowers ✓ Trinket dishes ✓ Makeup bags and pouches ✓ Ribbons and twine ✓Placemats and coasters ✓ Candles I also find it helpful to use seasonal items in my blog photos, with brighter coloured items in the summer and going all out with festive items at Christmas time. Because I love Christmas so much, I always spend extra time on my Christmas themed photos and I wish I could do them all year round as they always seem to be my best shots of the year. Photo props can completely transform a photo and you can reuse the photos year after year when you create seasonal themed ones. You would be surprised at how many useful props are laying around your home too. In the beginning I really didn’t purchase many but over the years I have added a few more to the mix. The places I find best to buy items for photos that are inexpensive are usually in supermarkets, craft stores and bargain stores. Items like ribbons and twine you can get for a few pounds on eBay as you only need about a
metre when using in the corners of photos. Getting a few different colours of each is also great to switch things up. Trinket dishes can be expensive but I have never paid more than £5 for one and I have been using the same ones for a few years now so they are worth the investment. Teabag and some spoon rests also make a great photo prop and again, are very affordable (I have found them for around £2 in my local supermarket). I like to try to stick to a couple of colour themes with all of my accessories for photos so I know that they will work together and I don’t have to spend too long selecting which ones I want to use for a specific photo. Finding a background for flat-lay photo can be extremely expensive if you don’t know where to look. Flat-lay photos are photos shot on a flat surface from above. I am always shopping on a budget and none of my backgrounds have cost more than £15 each to create myself and they are usually much cheaper than that to create. There are couple of companies that offer backgrounds for around £30 but you can spend hundreds on them if you don’t know where to look. As I like to change mine up so much I like to get them as cheap as possible. If you are wanting a clean white background for photos then I recommend a A1 Mount Board from any craft store. I use these often and they also double as a base for making your own backdrops. If you get a couple of these, you can use them as a backdrop and surface for photos if you want to shoot products standing up rather than in a flat-lay style. To create your own background/backdrop you will need some sticky back plastic and a mount board. You can find sticky back plastic film on eBay and Amazon as well as in stores with the price differing depending on the design and seller. Quite a lot of homeware stores sell products similar. I would recommend one with a matte finish if it’s available as it will help prevent any flashback in your photos and let me tell you, it is so annoying when you get flashback or a glare in photo when you have finally got the perfect shot! All you then have to do is apply the film to the mount board and you have yourself a backdrop! My most recent one cost me around £8 to make and I have been using it for a couple of years now. Flooring and wallpaper samples are an incredible option and almost always free, you can even order them online now. They are available in many hardware stores and are perfect for up-close product shots. I have used kitchen flooring samples, woodwork samples, kitchen tiles as well as wallpaper samples and they all work brilliantly. If you do an online search
for ‘free flooring/wallpaper samples’ it will bring up a tonne of results! I try to keep using backgrounds for my photos that nobody else seems to have as it makes my photos stand out and makes them much more easy to identify as mine.
All About Lighting ◆◆◆
I have never used a ring light or any sort of professional grade lighting for my photos. All of the magic for my photos I do in the editing process and a little work while I actually take the photo. Natural lighting is the best thing for photos but everybody is going to like a different look for their photos. I personally like to take all of my photos on bright but overcast day so I don’t have to worry too much about editing the white balance of my photos. This can be a huge pain if you use a white toned backdrop as any hint of blue in the sky will give the photo a blue hue. And by using natural lighting, not only is it free but you don’t have to worry about any weird glares from artificial lighting bouncing off products/items or worrying about the placement of the lighting creating shadows or dark spots. Finding the right spot in your home to take photos is essential. I like to take mine directly in front of my backdoors on the floor as that is the brightest spot in my house. This will take some trial and error but once you get it right, it’s perfect and you’ll slowly learn the best place and time to take your photos. Depending on your camera settings and the tone you are going for with your photos all depend on the natural lighting you will want. I know a lot of people love bright blue sky days but it just doesn’t work for me. I’m not a fan of artificial lighting but if it is something that you are wanting for your photos or if you live in a very dark area then I have a couple of recommendations. A light reflector kit could make a huge difference and help bounce some light where you need it! And for actual lighting, I would recommend getting pure white light bulbs rather than anything with a warm or blue tint as it will help keep your photos crisp without any tint that you might have to or want to edit out later. Even if the space you are taking your photos in is a little dark remember to switch your camera settings to help and you can always edit then later!
Free Stock Photos & Where to Find Them ◆◆◆
When I’m writing a sponsored post, a round up or a post talking about products or items I don’t personally own (for example, a post about beauty deals or what’s new in), it’s sometimes best to use a stock photo. I also like to use a stock photo when I’m writing lifestyle posts a lot of the time, like with streaming service recommendations. Sometimes I struggle to come up with a photo idea for a blog post, especially if it’s not a product review which is where stock photos come in. You can purchase stock photos but as I am all about blogging on a budget, I only have free options to share with you! There are quite a few different places you can find them and they are completely free to use, you can link back to the site and photographer for credit/attribution if you want to but it’s not a requirement to use the photo(s). A stock photo is a professional grade photo that is available to be used for personal and commercial projects, either for free of charge or for a fee. They are often used for marketing projects, book covers and so on. The cover of this book is a stock photo I purchased! I like to use them every now and again if I can’t quite get shot I want or for what I mentioned. When looking for stock photos, you will want to make sure they have the right license for what you need. I always use photos for commercial purposes so my bases are covered. When using stock photos, you can slightly edit them if you like but I often don’t have a need to do this. It is an option if you wanted to make small edits to the colouring of the photo or add some text. The two websites I get almost all of my stock photos from are unsplash.com and picjumbo.com. I have found myself using Unsplash out of the two more often as they have all of the photos licensed for commercial and non-commercial purposes and there is no permission needed. All of the photos can be downloaded and used for free. There are over two million high-resolution photographs on the site from a huge community of photographers. The site is easy to navigate, it has a search bar on the front page that you can enter the keywords of what you looking for and it will
show you all of the photos the site thinks is relevant for your search. You can narrow down your search by photo orientation and colours used. If you find a style of photo you like, you can actually view all of that photographers work with a click of a button. The Picjumbo site has a similar way to navigate the site but I often find I can’t find what I am looking for on the site because of the type of content of my own website. All of the photos on Picjumbo can be used for commercial products but when using any stock photo, keep in mind that some photos may not have the model or property release for them, meaning if any branding is featured for example, that it may not be licensed to be featured for commercial use. I also try not to use any photos with peoples faces in which is a personal preference. Another place you can find stock photos is Canva which I will talk about in more detail in the photo editing section of this book. You can access many stock photos for free through the website and mobile app but better photos are available through the premium upgrade. If you find a photo you like that is available through premium, you can always get a free trial and cancel before any fees are taken and I love a free trial!
Editing Software and Presets ◆◆◆
Editing your photos can make such a huge difference and you can get really creative with it. I have only purchased one app for photo editing the whole time I have been blogging which I will get into later. The one app that I swear by if you want to do basic editing such as, white balancing, changing the saturation and brightening photos is PhotoScape X. This is a free piece of software that is available for Apple and Windows users and while you can upgrade it to a premium version, the free version is all I have ever needed. I have been using this for years and it’s so quick and easy to use so it’s perfect for beginners. It’s more than a photo editor and has a tonne of features but I have only ever used it to edit my photos. A lot of bloggers favour apps like Lightroom and Photoshop but as I am cheap, PhotoScape X works for me and I can’t see myself making a switch anytime soon. However, I do love Lightroom for editing on the go! The mobile app is free to use whereas the desktop version does have a fee. You can edit each photo by using the sliders in the app or you use presets. You can buy presets or make your own and it makes editing so much quicker as all you have to do to transform a photo is press one button and it’s finished! I have always bought my presets from Etsy and I don’t think I have paid more than a few pounds for a set of them and a lot of them were around 50p each so you don’t need to spend a tonne. Once you have found a preset you like, there are steps to follow to install them. I’m going to share the steps to install them on an iPhone rather than the desktop as this is how I have always used them. The steps are: 1. Download the Lightroom app 2. Click download on the .dng file of the preset you have purchased, this would usually be in an email. 3. Add the DNG/Preset file to your gallery in the Lightroom app (it’s usually an image with the filter/preset applied to it). 4. Click on the new file in the Lightroom app. 5. Select the three little dots in a circle in the top right corner of your screen.
6. Click Create Preset and name it however you like and it’s ready to be used for future photos! Usually when you purchase a preset or set of presets through Etsy, the seller will include a step by step guide of how to install them on most devices incase your download look different from a .dng file. And if you want to create your own presets, it’s actually really easy to do! To create your own, add an image that you want to edit into the app and use the sliders to enhance it and make any changes and then follow step five and six from the above guide!
Ways You Can Make Money Blogging & How to Disclose It ◆◆◆
Blogging isn’t something you should start thinking you will make money and I will be honest with you, it’s a slow game to get started. I started my blog when I was in sixth form as a hobby and it stayed a hobby for years until a couple of years in when I was earning more a month than I was than with my actual day job. I was earning the most I had ever earned a month with my blog right before the pandemic hit and then I didn’t earn a penny for about ten months. You never know how much money you will make a month blogging as it is all on a freelance basis or for one off posts but there are quite a lot of different ways you can earn some extra money through your blog. You can make money through sponsorships and AD posts on your blog or social media accounts. This means you are paid to write or publish prewritten content. You can also use affiliate links which I will go into much more detail in this part soon. And this is how I made any money through the pandemic with my blog and I learnt how to use these links effectively during this time. You can also use a different kind of AD with services like Adsense and have these in your blog posts or in the side bar of your website. Similarly to services like Adsense, you can sell private banner ads if working with advertising networks aren’t something you want to get into or don’t have enough traffic to apply for certain ones yet. Quite a few bloggers do this, I did in the beginning of my blogging journey when I started to earn money. Some bloggers and brands can buy an advertising spot in your sidebar (this is usually in the form of a square image that redirects traffic to the blogger or brands website when clicked) for a monthly fee. If you have a newsletter, you could also sell sponsorship space in these as well. Another way you can earn money blogging is by selling digital products such as ebooks, presets, blog templates, fonts and printables to name a few. One of the few digital products I personally don’t like that many bloggers offer is courses, they leave bit of a weird taste in my mouth by charging through the roof for them by providing knowledge that they have learnt
through multiple sources, on the internet and through other bloggers. A lot of these courses on offer are money grabs and if you do still want to buy a course or create one, please don’t charge a stupidly high fee for very minimal content or with information that you can find out for free online. If you have been writing for a while or love photography, you can sell your photos and be paid to write for others! A couple of years ago I wrote consistently for about a year for a big beauty blog at the time and I loved it! There are a few different websites you can sell your photos on, including one of the ones I mentioned in the stock photos chapter of this book. Or you could even create your own stock photo packages and sell them through websites like Etsy. Whenever you are sharing something on your blog that features affiliate links, PR products (anything you have been sent for review consideration) or if the post is sponsored, you will need to disclose it. The disclosure policies vary for each country and in the UK, it is confusing as there are conflicting policies depending on which organisations policies you follow. If you are unsure of what to follow, my advice would be to clearly state at the beginning of each blog post what’s included in the post. This is what I have been doing for years now and I also have a page on my website that explains what the disclosures actually mean. With social media, you will also need to disclose if any of the above is featured and it needs to be as clear as possible. I place my disclosures at the beginning of captions and use a gif on Instagram stories. The disclosure always needs to be before the ‘click more’ section of any caption. To save time with any disclosures you need to include, I keep mine prewritten in the notes section on my desktop and phone so all I have to do is copy and paste them. I would suggest researching into how you will need to disclose everything online as policies change often. But always try your best to be as clear and open with the reader as possible.
Gifted Products, ADs & Sponsorships ◆◆◆
When you start to be noticed by brands and PR companies, it’s all so exciting that you will probably find yourself saying yes to almost everything. I know this is what I did in the first couple of years of creating Hannah Heartss and I loved it. One of my favourite things about having my blog is trying out new products and writing reviews as I can be testing products that I might not have purchased on my own. More often that not I will find products that become all time favourites and ones I will purchase myself time and time again after being sent them for review consideration. 'Gifted' products are sent to you for review consideration. This is often labelled as pr samples/press samples or gifted items in the disclosure sections or at the beginning of an Instagram caption. They are a huge part of how I run my blog. I wouldn’t be able to post as regularly as I do without them as I couldn’t afford to buy this amount of products to review on a monthly basis. When you are sent products for review consideration, there shouldn’t be any or at least very few requirements for featuring them. Anything I am sent for review will get an honest review with as minimal bias as possible. With sponsored posts or ADs, this will be where a brand has had some control over what is included within the content. Whether it is be published by a certain date or specific information, like a certain link or release/stockist information to be included. They also might want you to send over a copy of the blog post for approval and for any edits to be made before it is published on your website. This should be stated as clearly as possible. I class a sponsored post as a piece of paid content that I have control over and an AD is a piece of pre-written content that I am being paid to publish and host on my site. It can get tricky with disclosures so I try to make it as clear as I possibly can as to what the post actually is. Knowing the difference between working with brands on a gifting basis vs a paid basis is very simple. If a brand has requirements for a blog post, like
they are asking you to have it live by a certain date, asking you to use specific hashtags on social media or want control over the post, then you should be paid for your work. If you are unsure, I would recommend asking the brand if there is any budget available for this type of post. Always pitch slightly higher than you would like to charge as they will negotiate with you to get the best price. When discussing your fee with any brand, the best piece of advise I can give you is to create packages as brands are always trying to get the most for their money. So create packages that include a blog post and some social shares for a set fee and create a couple of different ones. Trust me, it works! Knowing what to charge for sponsored posts and ADs is a minefield to work out. As a lot of bloggers and influencers aren’t all that helpful when it comes to this, if you aren’t already friendly with them. I have a couple of friends who are bloggers and out of them only one will discuss her prices with me. We are really open with each other and it’s makes all the difference once you find a friend who you can talk to about all the behind scenes things with. As while a lot of bloggers appear to be supportive, some of them are known to be nasty behind the scenes. My best advise is to set yourself an hourly rate and work out how long it would take you to create that piece of content. If a brand wants social media shares, this should not be included in this price and should be charged for an extra fee. You will also need to consider your SEO ranking and viewership numbers when setting out your fee because the more eyeballs on the blog, the more you should be charging. Reaching out to brands to work with them on a paid basis is a little tricky. I always recommend building a relationship with a brand or company first. Blogging shouldn’t be about the money and a lot of the brands or companies I work with on a sponsored basis (beauty wise) are from working with them for a while on a gifted basis first and then extending the partnership. I ended up having a sponsored post almost every single month (with social media shares on top) for a little over a year with one company after working with them on a gifted basis before that. I wouldn’t recommend reaching out to brands for paid work if you have never even featured their products previously. It’s very easy for bloggers to be taken advantage of, especially when they are starting out. There is no manual on blogging so it is difficult to know when you should be getting paid for your content but for how much as well. A personal example of this was in the first couple of years of blogging, a
huge international beauty and lifestyle brand that can be found in almost any shop on the high street contacted me to do a sponsored post on new launch. The fee was basically pennies for my work and but I still negotiated my fee and they had agreed to a small increase. After I had created and published the content, they then paid me the fee that they had wanted to in the beginning and then never replied to my emails again. You will never see that brand on my blog now and there are certain brands that could offer me thousands of pounds to work with them and I would still say no as I don’t agree with their ethics. If you end up in a situation where you have created content as agreed for with the brand for a fee and they don’t pay you within the stated time frame or stop replying to your emails there are a few things you can do. One of the most effective ways I have found to get a response and to be paid is threatening them with legal action. You can take a company who is refusing payment to small claims court but I usually find just threatening them in a friendly way works. It’s quite impressive how quickly payments can come through after you sent that email! I would also recommend seeing if you can find any bloggers who have recently worked on similar posts and popping them a message and asking for their experience with them. But as a last case resort you can also publicly post something. A tweet will do the job, I would tweet something like “@xbrandhandle Hi! I have sent multiple emails with no response and the payment is now late, who can I reach out to about this? Thanks!”.
How to Find Opportunities ◆◆◆
Not a lot of bloggers will tell you this but emails of opportunities and campaigns don’t always just land in your email inbox. A lot of my best relationships with brands have been because I reached out to them first. When contacting brands, the worst they can do is either say no or not reply so what’s the harm in reaching out! In this chapter I will be sharing all of the ways that I have found both gifted opportunities and paid sponsorships posts as well as my personal email template that I use when contacting brands and PRs. There are a few places to look when looking for campaigns and the first place is Twitter. There are certain hashtags and keywords you can search for to find opportunities including #bloggerrequest, #bloggersrequired #prrequest and the phrase ‘looking for bloggers’. The best way I keep track is through Tweetdeck as you can customise your dashboard and have individual columns for each hashtag or phrase and it makes all the difference as well as saving you time. I would also recommend following PRs and the team behind the companies as you will be able to keep up with them if they make any company moves or post if they are looking for bloggers to work with. There are a couple of PRs I have been working with for years who have moved to different companies multiple times but will reach out after each move as we have built up a working relationship. Another social media platform to look on is Facebook, I am not the biggest fan of the platform but it is fantastic for this. There are a couple of Facebook groups that I find a lot of opportunities in including ‘Official Bloggers UK’. Through these groups I have landed campaigns with Walkers and Daisy London for sponsorships and gifted campaigns. There are also a few websites for blogging opportunities including Bloggers Required and Get Blogged. The first of the two is one I have been actively using for years and it posts both gifted campaigns and sponsorship opportunities. With both Bloggers Required and Get Blogged they require you to apply for them by filling in a form and writing a message or application. But once you have a template of what to include in these, it
makes it much quicker and more effective. With emailing brands, it can seem a little scary to start with and I always feared they would say no but I have relationships with some of the biggest beauty brands all because I reached out to them first so don’t be put off or worry too much. To find contacts, the best way is either to do a quick Google search or sending them a message on Instagram, or Twitter. You will want to Google the brand name with pr contact added into the search and you will sometimes be able to find this information on their website or possible a PR company that is doing it for them if they don’t do their own PR in house. If I can’t find it through this method, I will then usually send a direct message on Instagram politely asking for their PR information regarding working with bloggers, I will usually send a message similar to the following “Hi! Do you have an PR email address regarding working with bloggers that I could get in touch with? Thank you :)” . You will want to try and include that country you are in within the message as brands can have different PR companies/teams or contacts in different countries. When emailing brands, you’ll want to personalise the email to each brand or PR contact you are emailing. I will always try to address the contact by name if possible. I will include a short run down of stats (how many social media followers I have and my best months website page views), a few lines about me and why I want to work with the brand or PR company. Also add in any related posts, e.g. anything you have already posted about the brand you are reaching out to as well as how you want to work with them. This is key and it saves a lot of time sending emails back and fourth. If you new to blogging, I would recommend starting to work with brands on a gifting basis before working your way up to sponsorships and that has worked extremely well for me. Make sure to include your social media links at the bottom of the email, you want to make everything as clear as possible and easy to locate. Now, onto the email template! This is an example of the email I have been using for the last couple of years and have seen great success in using it. If you don’t know what to include in your email hopefully this example will give you an idea of what to include. Hi there, I hope you’re having a great week so far? I wanted to get in touch today to see if you were looking for any bloggers
to work with at the moment on a gifting or sponsored basis as I would love to be considered. I write over at www.hannahheartss.co.uk (DA 31) about all things beauty and lifestyle. My site receives around x number page views per month. I am huge fan of x brand, I adore the products I have tried over the years and I am always recommending them to friends and family as well as on my site. I have posted a few individual reviews of the products as well as featured them within other posts. Some of my favourite posts including x brand are: https://www.hannahheartss.co.uk/2019/02/products-worth-price-tag1.html https://www.hannahheartss.co.uk/2017/05/it-cosmetics-products-totry.html I hope to hear from you soon, Hannah www.hannahheartss.co.uk www.twitter.com/hannahheartss www.instagram.com/hannahheartss Along with an email template, it can be beneficial to have a media kit. A media kit is a document with one or two pages (in any form but works great to have it in a PDF) and includes all relevant information about you and your blog. This can be attached to emails or you can have it as a page on your blog, I know quite a few bloggers who have done this. This includes any statistics, why a brand should work with you, contact information, your favourite or best achievements with blogging and any brands you have worked with. You can also include the ways that you are available to work with as well as your rate card, this is the prices you charge for different types of content. You don’t need to spend any money to create a media kit. Websites like Canva have templates that you can access for free. You can look up other blogger’s media kits and use them as a guide as to how yours should be laid
out and what to include for your niche. No matter how long you have been blogging for, you will want to come across as professional as possible and a media kit is one of the best places to start. You can get creative with your media kit by adding some examples of photography and your website logo. I would try and keep to a colour theme rather than using a bunch of different colours and use easy to read fonts. The stats you would want to include would be your social media following numbers, any impressions numbers for social media platforms like Pinterest and Twitter. As well as how many page views your blog receives a month on average, I would suggest using your best months numbers for this, I was recommended to do this by someone in the industry. You might also want to include your demographic information like the age group and gender of most of your readers as well as the countries where your website is most popular.
Affiliate Marketing ◆◆◆
Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money as a blogger or influencer. If you have an online platform, you can be using affiliate links to earn a little (or in many cases a lot of) money. Affiliate marketing for bloggers usually consists of the use of links or widgets within blog posts that link to the product mentioned. These links are custom created through an affiliate network or platform and when a reader clicks on the link or makes a purchase, you can earn commission on that sale. So if you are talking and promoting products that can be purchased, you should be using affiliate links! But it is always important to only promote products that you have used and liked as often as possible as your readers need to trust you. There are also some companies and brands that have referral schemes where you can earn store credit when a link is used to complete an order. Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways you can earn money blogging as you don’t need to wait for a company to want to work with you, you can do this by yourself! You can earn money through multiple affiliate networks as you don’t have to strictly use one. This is great because different brands are part of different affiliate networks and some companies even have their own affiliate programmes. There are a lot of affiliate networks to choose from and each one will have a different commission structure, payout threshold and brands available to be linked. Depending on your niche will depend on which networks will be best for you. But for beauty and lifestyle niches I have found success with ShopStyle Collective, rewardStyle and AWIN. These three platforms have multiple brands and while ShopStyle Collective and rewardStyle are free to join, I believe there is still a small sign up fee for AWIN. If you want to sign up for rewardStyle, you need to be referred which any creator can do if they already have an account. Each three of these platforms has a different payment threshold and AWIN and ShopStyle Collective’s are low at around £20/25 each whereas with rewardStyle you need to earn £100 commission before you can be paid.
I love ShopStyle Collective and it’s my personal favourite as you can create links as well as shop-able widgets. ShopStyle Collective also has some incredible guides and webinars on how to be more effective with affiliate marketing and I really rate their analytics section as it’s easy to understand what commission you have made. A lot of companies have their own affiliate marketing programmes that you can sign up for. Amazon Associates is a must-have as you can buy almost anything on Amazon these days! The payout threshold is low like with ShopStyle Collective and you can earn bounties. Bounties are payment bonuses when someone signs to an Amazon service, such as Audible, Kindle Unlimited and Prime, for a free trial. Even if they cancel before their free trial ends, you can be earning money. If you have a book blog and review books that are included in the Kindle Unlimited programme, you can earn a £3 bounty when you promote the service and someone signs up for a trial! Also with Amazon Associates they have launched the Influencer Programme. If you are an influencer, you can create a Storefront which you can curate with products you recommend. I know a lot of YouTubers and TikTokers use this programme for products they mention in their videos. With storefronts, you can link your viewers to all of the products you recommend in one place rather than having to create individual links. I have been slowly paying more attention to affiliate marketing and experimenting with it more over the last couple of years and I have seen decent results! When you sign up to an affiliate network or programme, you will either be earning money via a pay-per-click scheme or based on commission. I have used both and I personally think a commission based structure is more effective and I’m glad that I made the switch. When you are getting paid per click, you will be earning a very small amount each time, it’s pennies whereas with commission, you can earn anything from 1% to 15% on average of the item purchased and when you feature more expensive items, it makes a huge difference. These percentages will vary per product, per brand and per retailer. It will typically tell you know much of a percentage you will earn when creating the link. In any blog post that features affiliate links, you will need to disclose that affiliate links are used. I have a disclaimer at the beginning of every blog post which explains what’s included within the post. This is in accordance to the current guidelines set out by the government. Not everybody knows what an affiliate link is so you want to make sure it’s as clear as possible!
For each blog post that I am wanting to use affiliate links in, I try to use a few and include different stockists for each link where I can and use them in different paragraphs. Whenever I use a widget of images that link to websites to purchase, I always add some text above it now that says ‘shop this post below’ to encourage engagement. I always place my widgets at the end of my blog posts but they have been known to work well towards the beginning of the post underneath any images. You can also use affiliate links on social media platforms but again, make sure to disclose any links used. I often seek out my favourite bloggers or influencers affiliate links and as long as they actually disclose them as being affiliate links, I will use them to support them. When creating affiliate links, make sure to use a fresh link every time and never a link from another blogger or search result as these can have affiliate links already applied to them and it will then effect whether you make a commission or not.
Adsense & Advertising Platforms ◆◆◆
If you are wanting to make money with your blog or website outside of sponsorships and other revenues, one of the ways you can monetise your website is with ads. There are quite a few different platforms you can sign up for but the main one I use is Adsense. Even if you haven’t heard of Adsense before, you will have seen an ad from Adsense, they are one of the biggest platforms for website monetisation, if not the biggest. The main way you can use Adsense and similar services is by placing ads throughout your website. They will earn you a different amount of money depending on how they are interacted with. While I use Adsense, I know of other bloggers who have had better success with another platform like MediaVine. However with MediaVine, you do need to meet some minimum requirements to be able to sign up but with Adsense that isn’t the case. To be able to earn money with ads, I am going to be mainly talking about Adsense and Blogger as that is what I use but a lot of this information and recommendations will apply to another platforms. Adsense works by adding ad coding to your website, you can place it where you think is best. If you have your Adsense and Blogger account with the same Google log in, you can quickly and easily add advertising to your website under the layout tab then selecting add a gadget to your selected area that you want the placement to be and you’ll be able to add a widget from the list for Adsense. You earn money with Adsense based on a couple of different things and the amount you will earn differs month to month. The amount you will earn is constantly changing and you earn money based off of impressions of the ad as well as per click. You will earn more money per click than from impressions and I typically earn the most money with Adsense in the last couple months of each year. Advertisers bid to be displayed in your ad spaces that you have added to your website and then you will be starting to earn money! Adsense automatically places the ads to your website once you have added the placement and they should be targeted to your content or audience from when you create your account. If you don’t like an ad that is being displayed on
your website, you are able to review individual ads and chose whether you want them shown on your website under the blocking controls page in your Adsense account. If you want to earn the most with Adsense, you will want to consider the placement of the ads and experiment to see what works best for you. I have ad placements in the side bar of my website, underneath blog posts, sometimes within blog posts as well as a pop up feature. When considering placement, one of the most important factors is to make sure you don’t have too many and that they aren’t too big so they aren’t annoying to the viewer. Within your Adsense account there is a section called Opportunities that will help you improve your account performance. You can also integrate your Adsense account with Google Analytics and I talk about Google Analytics in more detail in the next part of this book.
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes ◆◆◆
As soon as you start earning money, regardless if it’s from blogging or not, you need to register with HMRC. All of the information in this chapter is going to be in regards with taxes in the UK as that is where I’m from and I don’t know how it works outside of the country. I am not a professional, please do all of your own research and don’t take what I say as 100% factual. The rules and regulations with HMRC change regularly so you’ll need to stay up to date. There isn’t a whole lot of information online about earning money as a blogger and filing your own tax return which makes it all the more confusing and overwhelming when you do it for the first time. From personal experience, other bloggers put the fear of god into me that I was stressing and worrying about completing my first one for about six months. But I’m here to tell you that it isn’t too stressful as long as you do it correctly and plan ahead. When you need to register to complete a self assessment tax return, you will usually need to do it as soon as possible and no later than the beginning of October after the tax year. Each tax year runs from April 6th to April 5th. If you want to submit a paper tax return, the deadline to submit (not register) is usually the end of October after the tax year ends and for online tax returns its the following January. There are penalties if you don’t pay your tax return or you miss the deadline for submitting it. If your tax return is up to three months late, you have to pay a filing penalty of £100, you’ll have to pay more if it’s later than this and you can be charged interest on late payments. You can estimate your penalty online and appeal against a penalty if you have a reasonable excuse. I wouldn’t leave your tax return until the last minute especially if you are doing it for the first time. HMRC will email you and send you a letter or two to remind you to submit your tax return so look out for those. I submitted mine a few months early and I was so glad I did that I have continued to submit it early every year since. The deadline to pay any tax you owe is at the end of January after the tax year ends. I always suggest submitting your tax return via the online option as I have found it to be so much easier to complete as it’s set up like quiz and you can complete it at your own pace and do it in sections, you don’t have to submit it and do it all
in one go. If you have started earning money via any hobbies or side projects, you can check on the government website if you need to register for self assessment. As it currently stands, you can earn up to £1000 without needing to register but anything over that, you will need to. Even if you have earned less than £1000 this tax year but predict you will earn more within the next tax year, I would register and start doing your returns now. When you register online, you will need to complete some questions for HMRC to create your account. You will then be sent a letter in the post with your UTR, Unique Taxpayer Reference, within 10 days and you will need this to file a return so save it and keep it on record. Then you will receive another letter with an activation code for your account, if you don't receive this or you lose it you can request a new one. You’ll need to register your account with your code within 28 days to be able to complete your self assessment. The current standard tax-free Personal Allowance is £12,570, meaning that anything you earn up to this amount you will not have to pay any tax on. I have a day job as well as being self employed. So for example, if I earn £5000 in my day job and £3000 through being self employed, I wouldn’t pay any tax even though I have technically have two jobs. This allowance is for your total earnings within the tax year. Anything you earn over £12,570 is what you will pay tax on. The basic rate for £12,571 to £50,270 is 20% and all of these numbers are readily available on the gov.uk website. As well as paying tax on your earnings, you might also need to pay National Insurance. There are two types if you are self employed, Class 2 and Class 4. Class 2 is for if your profits are more than £6,515 and are £3.05 a week for the tax year. Class 4 is if your profits are over £9,569 and 9% on profits between £9,569 and £50,270 as well as 2% if profits are over £50,270. If you earn less than £6,515 you wouldn’t need to pay any taxes on your earnings or National Insurance however you can make voluntary contributions if you want to for your National Insurnace. Both the tax you need to pay and any National Insurance will be calculated when you submit your self assessment. It can take up to 72 hours to view your final tax calculation and this can be found before you submit your actual return within the ‘View your calculation’ section on the website. If you submit your return with a paper return, you will be sent a letter with your bill. If you know you will be paying any tax and National Insurance, the best
thing you can do is to put away that money as you earn it, preferably into a separate account so you don’t have to worry about it. By setting the money aside as much as you can, you will avoid having to find a large sum of money and it will be much less stressful when the time comes to pay your bill. Any money you earn through blogging, including side projects within the business, needs to be accounted for on your tax return. This includes anything from sponsored post, affiliate earnings, ad earnings, etc. Any project where a fee as been exchanged for services or money has been made, you will need to account for that. This also includes any products you have accepted in exchange for guaranteed content. For example, if you have accepted a specific product or item in exchange for a blog post, this counts as payment from the research I have done and what I understand. But anything you have been sent (gifted items) that have been sent for review consideration with no obligation to post about, I believe does not need to be accounted for. Expenses need to essentially be subtracted from your profits to work out the figure which you will need to pay tax on. There isn’t a conclusive list as what classifies as expenses for bloggers and influencers but this is something I have researched over the years. The following is what I and many other bloggers have classified as expenses and includes PayPal fees, domain and hosting fees, any equipment that you need to be able to run a blog/website, any stock photos and supplement materials purchased. To make submitting your tax return as easy as possible, I keep track of every expense and earning throughout the year in a detailed spreadsheet. There are a few pieces of software you can buy just for your tax return but I have never needed to make the purchase. I prefer to track everything related to my blog digitally. I find it to be much more effective as everything to do with my business is typically online anyway. It also makes it easier to find one piece of specific information as you are able to search for it via commands rather than having to go through a whole document by hand to find what you are looking for. In a folder on my desktop I keep everything related to my tax return including the spreadsheets for my expenses and earnings as well as invoices for the year and any receipts. Label all invoices with as much info as possible, I title mine something along the lines of ‘brand name invoice, date | Hannah Heartss Invoice’. That way if you need to find one specific invoice, it’s searchable. While you don’t need to attach any evidence when submitting your tax return, you will want to make sure you have all of the evidence
ready incase HMRC asks you to provide it. I also label my blog posts as sponsored when I publish them so I can search for them on my blog and everything is easy to locate. For my earning spreadsheet, I have them organised by tax year with the project name, set fee, PayPal fee (if applicable), amount received, the date the content was published, any links to the content, payment method, point of contact and extra notes tracked. It might seem a little bit overkill, especially the point of contact being tracked however if I need to find an email months later, there is no chance I will remember the name of the person I was emailing with. If you send invoices via PayPal, a tip I have learnt along the way is to include a link to the blog post or content in the notes section. In a spreadsheet for my expenses, I track the item of each expense, the fee or price for it as well as when and how I paid for it. In the folder I will also organise any digital receipts or screenshots of evidence that I might need. Providing that you keep track of everything throughout the year, submitting your tax return yourself even for the first time won’t take you more than a couple of hours. It’s recommended that you have an accountant help you but I have managed to do it myself perfectly fine. Even though it still stresses me out every time that I’ll end up committing tax fraud somehow. When I have done my tax return in the past, when it comes to adding the number for my expenses and earnings, it’s a simple task of adding in the amount for each of them. It actually rounds the number up or down depending where the figure falls. Take your time while you fill it in, double check you have filled it in to the best of your ability and you should be good to go. HMRC does have customer services available via the phone and as well as an online chat system if you find anything difficult.
SEO Basics ◆◆◆
SEO seems like an overwhelming topic especially if you are a new blogger or aren’t tech savvy. In the beginning, I didn’t pay hardly any attention to SEO and I wish I did. Luckily I have a basic understanding of the topic having studied computers during my higher education and I found it really interesting so I was always looking into it more. Everything I mention is this chapter is things that have worked for me but I’m not an expert in this. There is tonnes of information online about SEO if you are wanting to get an even better understanding. With SEO, you shouldn't expect to see results overnight because you won’t. It’s a long game with very good results when you put in the effort as if you have good SEO for your website it will be bringing in daily page views without you having to do any extra promotion on social media. If you start implementing things early you will see so many benefits and starting later is just a bit is a pain if I am being honest. By starting and implementing these elements, your blog will start to get more and more views which is what we are all aiming for. Over 70% of my daily page views comes through organic searches through search engines like Google. Once you start to do these tasks regularly and have a basic understanding of what SEO is you will be doing them automatically. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ which is the process of ranking higher on a search engine organically without any paid promotion. By optimising your blog posts and blog with these elements, it will lead to your website showing up higher in search engine results for certain keywords that will then lead to you earning more money from your blog and getting more eyeballs on your content. For example, if you search ‘how to get bath and body works in the uk’ of the top three current results on Google, my website is the second and third result. When you are searching for information online you typically never go past the first couple of pages so you will want to try everything you can do get on those pages yourself. Websites like Moz have developed a ranking system (known as DA, meaning Domain Authority) that predicts how likely a website is to rank in
search engine result pages. These scores are ranked out of a 100 and the higher the score, greater chance your website will rank on these pages. It takes into account quite a few different requirements but the reason I am sharing this is because this is the number one thing I am asked for when working with brands and companies on paid for, sponsored content. A huge amount of companies will have a set fee per DA and many will only work with website owners of a certain DA. You can check your DA on their website through their free domain SEO analysis tool. It will tell you your Domain Authority, Spam Score, Ranking Keywords and Linking Root Domains. As of writing this, my DA is 31 and my Spam Score is 18% which classes as low. With Google Search Console you can verify your website to improve your performance on Google searches. The Search Console tools and reports can help you measure your websites search traffic and performance as well as identifying any issues and making sure your website has everything it needs to show up in Google searches. It can also help you optimise your content to see which queries are bringing readers/users to your website and allow you to analyse all of that data. You can also get alerted on issues and fixes for your website by email and Google will even let you know when they are fixed. I highly recommend taking advantage of Google Search Console. There are quite a few videos on the site that will go into full detail on how to make use of all of the tools. By improving the SEO of your website, it takes some of the work out of having to constantly promote your content on social media. To get seen on social media is a lot of effort as I detailed an earlier chapter. The first thing you will need to do when wanting to improve your SEO is to buy a website domain. When I started out blogging on Blogger, the end of my url said .blogspot.com which would make any SEO work be a lot less effective and basically pointless. Having your own domain name is not only important for SEO purposes but it is also fantastic for brand identity so you will want to pick something easy to remember and relevant to your niche. I kept my url fairly open so I can talk about a larger variety of subjects. I would personally recommend going with a .com url over a .co.uk even though I do own a co.uk url as it will make your domain potentially rank better internationally rather than just in your country. The age of your domain is an important factor for SEO, my blog will rank better now as I have had it for a couple of years as Google sees my domain as trustworthy. So if you
plan on blogging for the foreseeable future, prioritise buying that domain! I have purchased my domain through GoDaddy but there are multiple websites you can purchase them through and it all comes down to personal preference. You can also buy full domain privacy and protection with GoDaddy so your personal information isn’t searchable via your domain name. There are websites like Who.Is where you an enter a domain name or I.P address and find out all of the information connected to that domain, including your address. I wasn’t aware of this when I bought mine originally and had to go through a lengthy progress to have it removed so learn from my mistake. The first of a few things you can do for your website overall is to make sure your website has quick speed. Meaning any page will load within a few seconds and any speed issues aren’t to do with your website behind the scenes and are only effected by the WIFI connection of the user. There are websites you can check website speeds on but the best way to check this is to have friends and family visit your website. You also want to make sure your website is easy as possible to navigate and make it engaging so the reader/viewer visits other pages and spends more time on your website. Which again, any friends or family members (even peers within your niche) can help ensure that your website is easy to navigate. The more time spent on your website the better it is for SEO and will help effect your bounce rate. If your website is slow to load, this can also effect your bounce rate as we live in a world where if something doesn’t load instantly we will try another website to get the information we need. As a society we have become very inpatient and I am one of the most impatient people ever. Photos are one of the biggest causes to slow your website down so I compress the size of any photo before I upload them to Blogger to help beat this. To ensure that your website is easy to navigate, you will want to make sure everything is as clear and easy to find. This is really important factor to consider when purchasing a template for your blog. I also have a widget towards the top of my website that changes every few seconds highlighting a different blog post of the week which can prompt the reader to visit more pages. Underneath each blog post preview it will show four related blog posts as well to try and engage the viewer further. Back links can make a huge difference to the SEO of your website. Back links are links created from one website that links to another, they are also known as inbound links or incoming links. If you have a higher number of back links, it can often help the website to rank higher in organic search
engine results. These links would need to be do-follow links as these are what help your SEO rankings whereas no follow links will have no effect. The different between do-follow and nofollow is that with a do-follow link, the website linking to another is essentially lending its trust and PageRank to whatever website it is linking to. This shows Google to trust the link and a nofollow link does nothing for the linked website. There is a small piece of code that is different between these two types of links but in Blogger, once you add a link to the selected text, underneath it will provide check boxes and you can check off if you want that link to be a nofollow link and if you want the link to open in a new tab when clicked so you don’t have to worry about any coding. You will want to make sure you have a good balance of both types of links as having all of one or the other can affect the websites SEO. You’ll want to start building back links as early as possible in your blogging journey. There is an easy way to do this, if you are a blogger and that is by guest posting on other websites/blogs! Around 2017 I wrote blog posts for a much bigger beauty blog than mine at the time which often linked back to mine. If you are friendly with other bloggers with similar niches, it’s worth asking if they would like to collaborate. And when trying to build links, internal links are also just as important! So try to link to other blog posts of interest within new content! Most of the SEO work comes with each new blog post you publish, if you already have a blog you can go back and make changes to your existing blog posts if you want to. However I have over two and a half thousand blog posts on Hannah Heartss and it would take me far too long to edit the first couple of years of my blog posts. Luckily I had been implementing a lot of the following by complete accident. In the first couple of years of having my blog, I tried to pay attention to what bigger bloggers were doing at the time and learn from them at a distance and it worked out well for me. When writing blog posts, you’ll want to use post titles that include keywords that are searchable, I try to label all of my blog posts as the best I can. I imagine the titles to be things I would personally search for. ‘How to Get Bath and Body Works Products in the UK’ is one of my most popular blog posts of all time and having looked into the analytics of that post, I can see that a tonne of readers searched for that almost in full or for something very similar. Speaking of keywords, make sure to include some key words within your blog posts without stuffing the post full of them. When I’m posting a beauty product review, the title of the post will usually be along the
lines of the product name with review after it. Examples of post titles I use that have worked well for me are: ✓ Glossier Zit Stick Review (+ Discount Code) ✓ Nails Inc Tonal Ombre Nail Polish Set Review + Swatches ✓ Tesco 60p Wax Melts ✓ Ted Baker Christmas 2020 Gift Sets I try to keep my blog posts on the short side most of the time as I have a short attention span and I want to know everything as quickly as possible. For SEO reasons, it's ideal to have your blog post be at least 300 words and usually around 500 words is ideal! Sometimes I will write lengthier posts if it calls for it but usually short and sweet works for me! When I share anything online, I try to keep it within a certain length and if you create any online content, the following might come in handy! A podcast should be at least 20 minutes, a Facebook post should include around 100-140 characters, a tweet should be around 120 characters (with a link and image included from my experience) and an Instagram caption should be around 125 characters with hashtags added in the comments section. This will vary for every person and every niche but this is something to keep in mind. My Instagram captions on my book account are usually much longer as I share full reviews here and they do work well. Make sure to include multiple images in your blog posts, I don’t always do this and I know I should. If you are posting a review of a beauty product, a shot of the product itself (out of the packaging) and any swatches is ideal! With swatch photos, try not to over edit them so the reader can get a real idea of the shade and texture of the product. Before you publish your post, make sure to add the alt text and title text to each image. Alt text is the more important one out of the two as it allows search engines to know what is in the photo for search results. The title text is what will show when it is hovered over. For both of these options, I typically copy and paste the blog post title into both of these options, it saves time and as my titles are almost always searchable phrases and they work well for images too. When you are creating or editing your photos, it’s important to name them with an actual name rather than a random word or selection of numbers. I try to label mine the blog posts title. This is important for readers and search engines as the name of your images can be seen after being downloaded as well. If you are writing a blog post that includes anything that can be purchased
include a link for the reader. This is where affiliate links will come in. Internal link building is just as important as back link building and it’s recommended that you link to other pieces of content you have already published. If you mention a product you already have a blog post on, link it! It’s a great way to promote older and existing content. As always with blogging, experiment and see what works for you! There is so much information available for free online in regard to SEO and once you have the hang of it and understand what the key elements mean, it will start to come easy to you. SEO is something you can always improve on and as you implement changes, you will slowly start to see the results. But remember, the content you are writing should be with the reader in mind, not the search engine or even the brand of the product or item it features. They are important factors but not the sole reason for the blog post. In the previous chapters “What Your Site Must Have” and "Blog Post Check List & What to Include In Posts” touches on some SEO elements.
Stats & Analytics ◆◆◆
Numbers are not what’s important about blogging however they are an important factor. I try not to check my stats too often because I get obsessed with checking them and the numbers effect me negatively when I know they shouldn’t. It’s the same with Instagram likes, I try not to take it to heart if a photo doesn’t do well as it isn’t always down to something I’m personally doing. But when working with brands and companies they will want to know your numbers a majority of the time. I have worked with some huge international brands that have never asked for my numbers but every company is different so you will want to be prepared. It’s also nice to know what does well and what doesn’t so you can replicate content or make changes. As I have my blog through the Blogger website, I use Google Analytics to mainly track my stats and I highly recommend GA. Blogger does have stats but it isn’t at all reliable. Google Analytics can be used for any website, you don’t have to be with Blogger to use it. Blogger tracks your own views whereas with GA you can block it counting them which is helpful as I am constantly checking my own blog to make sure everything looks right and if I need to make any updates and changes. It’s an extensive analytics tracking service and I have been using it for years now. You can find out the numbers for almost anything from page views and bounce rate to what device is used to visit the website. It can be a little overwhelming to start with but once you know what the key terminology means, it makes it so much easier. The key numbers I pay attention to are: ✓ Users: the number of individuals who view your website. ✓ Page Views: total number of pages views by each individual. ✓ Avg. Session Duration: the amount of time on average a user spends on your website. ✓ Bounce Rate: the percentage of single viewed pages with no interaction on the page. A bounced session has the time duration of zero.
Whenever I have been asked by a brand for my numbers, it’s usually for the amount of users or page views and the countries my website is most visited from. All of this information and more is available in Google Analytics. You are able to customise the date range to find custom statistics and I really like this feature as I like to compare my numbers to previous years to see where I am making progress. Another thing I love about Google Analytics is the real-time feature! With this you can see who is currently on your website, where they were referred from as well as what specific page they are viewing. The mobile app is also great for checking your numbers on the go as the dashboard is customisable so you can set it up to display all of the specific numbers you would usually be searching for. Outside of tracking websites statistics, all social media platforms have their own sections for analytics. Twitter’s is just called Analytics and Instagram’s is known as Insights. These features are really interesting as you can see what content has had the most impressions. With Instagram’s Insights, you can see what time your followers are most active and how many accounts your photo has actually reached. On Instagram within the last 30 days the amount of accounts my content has reached has increased by +764.2%! As of writing this in the last 28 days on Twitter I have had 244k tweet impressions, with one tweet alone receiving 141k impressions. If you are wanting to track the analytics of any link you have shared on a social media or within a blog post, the website I recommend is bit.ly. Not only does it shorten any link but you can also see the number of times it has been clicked on which you unable to do easily without a service like this one. You are able to see how many times a link has been clicked on Twitter per tweet but by using bit.ly, it makes it much more manageable to track as you can use that one link across platforms and have the numbers all in one place. While the numbers aren’t everything when it comes to blogging, anybody that says they don’t matter is lying. You wouldn’t be writing a blog if you didn’t want at least someone to read it. However it’s easy to forget that those numbers are actually people, imagine them in standing in front of you and that is overwhelming no matter the number. Whatever your niche for your blog as long as you enjoy what you are writing about and are passionate about it, the numbers will come.
Running a Blog For £40 a year ◆◆◆
Starting and running a blog seems like it might be an expensive thing to do if you want to take it seriously. But I am here to tell you that you don’t need to spend a penny to get started. I have had my website since 2013 and the running costs are under £40 a year. This includes the domain for my website, any services or apps I need and any upgrades to my photography and the overall appearance of my website. A lot of bloggers and website owners will tell you that it can cost hundreds, if not thousands a year to have a professional looking website but that has never been the case for me but I don’t doubt that it can cost that. You don’t even need to be tech savvy to get started if you go with something like Blogger to begin with like I mentioned at the beginning of this book. The element that has always cost me the most is the content subject. I write about beauty and lifestyle products, mainly reviewing them, as well as books and streaming service subscriptions. I still buy a lot of products to review as I love makeup and really enjoy writing about it. But luckily after eight years of blogging, I am gifted and sent a lot of products to review (and sometimes paid to write about the products) so that cost has gone down over the years. Depending on what you are planning on writing about it will depend on how much you can or want to spend. Of course you don’t have to spend any money on what you write about as you will want to write about things you already own and love but you can quickly run out of things to talk about. I do most of my promoting of posts on Twitter as that is the platform I have with the biggest audience. There are a lot of services you can pay to have access to but Tweetdeck has always been my best friend. It’s free and you can scheduled an unlimited amount of tweets, while also customising the dashboard. There is almost always a free tool to be able to schedule your post promotion for almost any social media network and I have never been tempted to pay for one. I have always used Blogger for my blog and bought my domain a couple of years after starting my blog to get rid of the .blogspot.com. With
Wordpress you will have to pay for hosting as well a domain but with Blogger, you will only have to pay for a domain url. If you are new to blogging and tech, I wouldn’t start with Wordpress as it can be overwhelming and confusing at times. Every now and again I will make a bigger investment to grow my content but that isn’t something I am consistently paying for. This year I got myself an iPad and Apple Pencil to be able to create more custom content but I haven’t bought anything like that in years.
Free Apps and Resources ◆◆◆
I really don’t like to spend money on apps unless I need to. When you are getting started, you will want to keep the costs as low as possible incase you decide blogging isn’t for you. These are some of the apps and resources I have been using since I started blogging and ones that I am always recommending and every single one is free. I will be the first one to admit that I suck at spelling and grammar (imagine how much of a nightmare this book was for me!), it’s always been something I have struggled with. I have actually been called out on it a few times with some not so nice comments. I really don't like when people moan about bloggers using the wrong spellings of words or making sentences too long because for me personally, I had no clue what I was doing wrong. Which is where Grammarly comes in. This is the most helpful plug in I have ever used in the all of the years I have been blogging and even if you aren’t a blogger, I would recommend this tool as it is so helpful with writing. If you are a student I definitely recommend downloading it as it is a game changer! I have it installed in Safari and Google Chrome and it will highlight any spelling mistakes, correct your grammar use and even tell you if you have used the wrong spelling of a word. It's free to download and I highly recommend it, I have used it so many times for this book and I don’t have to worry too much about where to put my commas now. You can adjust the language setting to your specific language to make sure you have the right spellings. You are able to upgrade Grammarly for a fee but I have never needed to so far. Scheduling tweets is extremely beneficial but it can be little boring to do at times. I like to schedule all of my tweets in bulk. I don't have to worry about doing them every day when I do them like this and I will listen to a podcast or audiobook while I do them to make a little more bearable. I have tried a few different apps and websites to schedule my tweets but Tweetdeck is the best one I have used. To edit photos everyone loves Photoshop but I like to do as much as I can for free. If you have an iMac or MacBook, I highly recommend PhotoScape
X, this is free on the App Store but you can buy the premium version however I haven't needed of these extras and I have been using it for a couple of years now. It is also available for Windows. It has been my go-to editing software ever since I downloaded it as I love how easy it is to use if you want to do some basic edits to your photos. For anything I am planning on posting on Instagram I will use the following apps. For editing the lighting and colouring of photos I mainly use Lightroom Express, this is a very expensive software for the non express version. But you can access a lot of the tools on the mobile app for free! Feed Preview and similar apps are great if you are wanting to follow specific themed feed on your profile as you can drag the photos around before you post them to make sure they are how you want them. For Instagram stories, I mostly use Canva for any templates I need or I create them myself in Procreate. Procreate does have a one time fee but I have to say that it is 100% worth investing in if you want to get creative. To track my blog statistics I use Google Analytics and I love the mobile app as you can see who is on your blog in real time and keep track of your numbers on the go. Google Analytics is the most reliable tracking source and you can see everything from your daily page views to the countries your blog is being read in. And if you are wanting to review books websites like NetGalley are incredible. This is a website that you can request arcs (advanced copies) of upcoming books from publishers to review. I have been on NetGalley since 2016 and I have been approved for almost a hundred books in that time. A couple of my friends have been approved for many more than I have and a lot of my posts reviewing books will feature arcs that I have been granted through the website. Besides apps there are tonne of free resources available for bloggers if you know where to look. A random one I like is a title capitalisation website which I use along with Grammarly for my blog posts. As I am not the best with spelling and grammar I sometimes struggle to know which words would be capitalised in the title and all you have to do with these sites is add the text and it will make the changes for you! A few of the affiliate networks I am on will offer free webinars and they can teach you all sorts of things on how to improve your blog and earn more money. Some bloggers and self proclaimed professionals will charge through the roof for a lot of blogging resources but you can almost always find what
you need to know for free or through a cheaper route.
My Personal Hacks ◆◆◆
There are a couple of things that I do that I would consider hacks. These are things that I do behind the scenes that I don’t think are too common and some are time saving. The hack that I find is time consuming but worth it and I have already mentioned but it’s that I do anything blog related in bulk. I find that I can be much more productive in a slightly longer length of time one or two days a week than I am if I try to do something daily. So whether its writing posts, taking photos, scheduling social media promotion or replying to emails I will usually do them all in one go for the near future so I don’t have to worry about it all on a daily basis. Monthly planning is one of my biggest hacks, again this is something I have mentioned before and it can make a huge difference. If you know roughly when you want to post something or how long you will be trialing a product, it’s nice to have a date in mind for when you want that content to go live. And in the next chapter I talk about how helpful planners are which is how I do my monthly planning. If you are looking to find gifted or sponsorship opportunities, then I suggest using Tweetdeck to keep track. I have columns for the phrases ‘looking for bloggers’ and ‘#prrequest” as these are used a lot and you will notice what phrases and hashtags are most used in these types of tweets. You can then save these to columns in Tweetdeck and they will automatically update so you all have to do is search through to find them possible opportunities for you! My next four and final hacks are all related to photography. When I am shooting beauty products, usually the packaging is round which can be such a pain when you have got the perfect shot set up and it rolls out of place. I have found that if you take a hair grip (or bobby pin) and slightly pull it apart and then place the product on top of it, it stops it from moving. If I am doing a makeup review, I will often try to include swatches of the product so that the reader can see the shades, finishes and pigmentation in action. And while a finger swatch to the arm is fine, I love using swatch stencils. There are quite a few small businesses that offer them these days and
they can make huge a difference to make the photo more eye catching. You can get them in all different shapes and styles and even some branded ones. All of the stencils I have had in the past I have been able to use multiple times to prolong the cost. If I am writing about new beauty products or creating a wish-list style post, I won’t actually own any of the products. So I like to create collage of all of the products I am talking about in the post. There are websites and apps you can create these on but I make mine in a word document! I will save each of the product images and drag them into a word document and arrange them how I like them best. Doing it in word gives you more freedom when it comes to placement and without any watermarks applied to the collage like with some free apps. Once I have finished it, I will screenshot the collage and it’s ready to be added to a blog post. Finally, I have talked about presets in a previous chapter but if you are wanting all of your photos to have very similar editing or a theme then a preset is the way to go! You can make your own in Lightroom or purchase them through sites like Etsy and then all you have to do is click one button to apply it to any photo and it does all of the work for you!
Staying Motivated & Organised ◆◆◆
I have been blogging for about a decade now. I had a few failed attempted before I started Hannah Heartss and if I am being honest, I am a little shocked that this one managed to stick! I love to procrastinate and I don’t mind admitting that. The only way I have managed to stay organised and motivated with running my blog all these years is with everything I am about to share with you. If you are wanting to start a blog as a side project and aren’t sure how many hours you will be able to put into it but it is something you really want to do, this will help save you time and stay on track while also keeping a schedule. If you already know the kind of posting schedule you are planning on having then an actual planner will be your best friend! Even if you just want to post whenever the writing mood strikes this is still a great item to have to keep yourself on track and you can also use it for any ideas you might have that are seasonal, etc. I have tried three different types of planners and all of them have great benefits and it’s worth finding out which one will work best for you and your needs. When I first started planning and organising all of the admin things related to my blog, I actually just used spreadsheets that you can create for free on your phone or computer. I would create a table and add dates for the month and write down when I wanted to post what and when and it worked well for a while. You could also print these out if you wanted to. One of my favourite planners is The Happy Planner. I have used this for my whole life and not just for blogging as you can do so much with these. These are a little expensive to purchase at around £30+ depending on the layout design and then you can buy accessories and stickers for them. But they aren’t needed if you just wanted the planner itself. I will use the monthly overview layout spread to write down when I want to post what posts as well as to keep track of any gifted items or upcoming sponsored content. To keep track of these, I will use the sidebar on this section or you could simply use a notebook. But keeping track of any gifted items you are planning on reviewing it makes all the difference as you will be able to keep on top of
what you are waiting on to arrive and when you starting trialing the products for review. Most recently I have been planning out all things blog related on my tablet. Digital planners are extremely popular at the moment and you can buy gorgeous ones online. But I have been using a free one that I found through a YouTube video and it works the same way as the spreadsheet option does but as it’s digital it’s much easier to change any posts planned if I changed my mind without leaving a mess on the page. With whatever planner you use, it will keep you on track and accountable. If I know I need to take blog photos, I will check the weather for the week for what day will work best and plan out everything that needs to be photographed that day in advance. Doing this in advance also saves you so much time as you can keep a list of what specific products need to be photographed. Planning out posts in advance and writing down any post ideas as they come to you is so important. You can do this in the notes app on your phone. I like to do this as it can be updated and accessed across devices. I find that if I don't write things down in a notebook or in my phone I will forget within five minutes as I have the memory of a goldfish. These are great to have when you are lacking inspiration too. Speaking of inspiration, I like to look at the previous year of posts and see if there is anything I could update or feature that I haven't in a while. I will also go back to the same month of the year before and see what posts I did which usually sparks some inspiration, especially if there are seasonal posts that I can replicate! Pinterest is also great to have a search through if you are stuck on ideas. I also like to see what other bloggers are posting about and see if I can do anything similar. If you like what another blogger has written about always give credit where credit is due! As I write mainly about beauty products, I will look at what the current beauty trends are or any new product launches and a few ideas will usually spark from there. I have almost always been a daily blogger but recently I have posted a little bit less which I have actually struggled with doing, I can’t do anything casually. I need to learn to take breaks so I don’t get burned out and I have also been focusing on other projects so I knew I needed to take a small step back. Blogging is my part time job and I don’t ever want to feel like it’s actually my job so I only want to be writing when I am actually enjoying it. I work much better under time restraints or if I have a reward ready for when I
finish my tasks, it’s amazing what a new superhero movie can inspire me to get done! If you don’t have a lot of time or don’t like to waste time like me, setting timers and doing writing sprints is a game changer. I find I can focus much better for 15 minute intervals and write a couple hundred words than just staring at my screen for an hour and writing barely anything. If I already know what blog posts I am wanting to write, the first thing I will do is photograph any products or select what stock photos I want to use. I can’t seem to write without having the photo(s) ready. It’s also handy for me to take photos in bulk as I am so fussy with the kind of natural lighting I like. I can take 10 blog posts worth of photos in an hour and my editing process is quick now. A little tip of mine is to take some non specific flat-lays to have in the bank incase you don’t have a photo ready but you really want to write and publish something while you are in the mood for it. Use them like your own personal stock photos.
Blog Post Ideas to Get Started ◆◆◆
If you are struggling to come up with some ideas as to what to write about, I am here to help you out! I have some blog post ideas for beauty and lifestyle categories that are always useful to have on hand if you get stuck on what to write about. Outside of these ideas, the main way I come up with new ideas is usually to look at similar blogs and on Instagram to find some inspiration. Here are some ideas to get you started:
21 Beauty Blog Post Ideas 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.
Beauty Wishlist Top New Product Releases (a round up of your top picks) Makeup of the Day or Current Favourites Brand Focus (Best products from x brand) Top Five Perfumes/Foundations/Lipsticks etc Products Not Worth the Hype/Price Tag Monthly Favourites What’s In Your Makeup Bag or Handbag? Beauty Bargains (Current sales finds) Best Products on the High Street or in the Drug Store Skincare Routine Product Dupes Makeup Brush Recommendations Best Pamper Products Five Minute Makeup or Hair
16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.
Blogger or Influencer Inspired Purchases Products Worth the Price Tag Seasonal Must Haves Makeup Products For Your Skin Tone Top 10 Under £10 Beauty Advice to Your Younger Self 16 Lifestyle Blog Post Ideas
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.
Candle Reviews Favourite Recipes Seasonal DIYs Your Bucket List 20 Facts About You How You Edit Your Blog or Instagram Photos (or even TikToks) Book Reviews (keep them spoiler free!) Best Free Kindle Books Interview Another Blogger Movie Reviews or Streaming Service Recommendations Your Favourite Blogs/TikTok/Instagram Accounts That You Follow Realistic Morning or Evening Routine Homeware on a Budget Your Favourite Spotify Playlists A Day In Your Life Things You Don’t Understand the Hype With 12 Christmas Themed Blog Post Ideas
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Your Christmas Wishlist Best Christmas Markets of the Year Your Christmas Traditions Stocking Filler Ideas What I Got For Christmas (a personal favourite to write and read) DIY Decorations and Cards
8. 9. 10. 11. 12.
Your Favourite Christmas Decorations NYE Outfit of the Night Last Minute Gift Ideas Christmas Sales Top Picks & Haul Favourite Products/Items of the Year
About The Author Hannah Howell Hannah, aged 27 (which she doesn’t want to accept) lives is in the United Kingdom and has been blogging under Hannah Heartss since 2013. She is hugely obsessed with learning about cults and is a huge fan of Taylor Swift and Marvel movies and is always tweeting or posting cute and ridiculous photos of her cat. I hope you enjoyed this book and if you have any further questions you can find me at: @hannahheartss on Twitter @hannahheartss on Instagram @hannahheartssbooks on Instagram www.pinterest.com/HannahHeartssUK www.facebook.com/hannahheartss You can email me at [email protected] Thank you for reading!
Acknowledgements Thank you to Alie for listening to all of my rants throughout writing this book. Beech, our three hour FaceTime calls mean more to me than you will ever know. To Shelby, thank you for helping me on this and reading this book in advance! And to my sister, Ellie, thank you for proof reading and letting me know all of the bits that didn’t make any sense. Mum, I hope you're happy I changed my mind about writing that book about cults! Thank you for all of your support over the years.