By Nicole Pelletiere
ScaryMommy.com, CafeMom.com, TheHappyHousewife.com…Whether they make you laugh or make you cry (or both!), blogs have become the go-to way for many women to vent about the beautifully complex world of being a parent.
According to eMarketer, parenting and pregnancy websites are the top source moms and expectant moms use to learn about parenting and related products and services. In fact, a whopping 3.9 million moms are blogging today, and the number is expected to jump to 4.4 million by 2014.
“It’s crowded in the blog world, so I meet many people that show a lack of confidence in their stories,” says Cori Howard, founder and instructor of The Momoir Project, online classes that guide you on starting your own blog, or improving your existing blog.
Still, she insists there’s room for more bloggers: “My advice is to go for it because every story is worth telling.” Here’s Howard’s advice on how to get started, finding your voice, building an audience, and more.
1. Do your research. Look closely at your competition: What are other mommy bloggers writing? What are they doing that’s different? Take note of which stories were commented on the most—this way, you can get an idea of what topics followers are interested in reading about.
2. Make your blog stand out. According to Howard, a good plan has three main parts:
Design your blog so it is visually appealing with a clean layout and eye-catching images. Visit the theme page of your blog host where you can choose a colorful template and a layout. For images, Flickr’s Creative Commons Search allows you to download free, high- quality images. (Just be sure to credit the photographer; no one likes copyright infringement!)
Getting new readers is important, but keeping them is even more crucial. Hone in on your writing style by getting personal with your audience; speak to them as friends and minimize the use of “I”. This will engage your readers and encourage them to keep following.
Rather than writing about everything that interests you, try and focus on a theme, like shopping for bargains or your adventures as a working mom. That way, you’ll attract like minds and establish an audience.
3. Build a social circle
Get guidance and inspiration by taking a blogging course, which will help you polish your writing skills and help you gain your first followers. Mediabistro.com offers various online courses that include several sessions from $385 dollars; Bloggy Boot Camp’s one-day conferences are $99. Start making connections as soon as class starts by offering to swap links with classmates.
Another tip: Build new relationships on your own with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Connect with accounts that have large social circles and interests similar to your own. Read and comment on their blogs too; hopefully it’ll lead bloggers back to your page!
4. Just do it. No more waiting around—get started! Howard recommends hosting your blog on Wordpress, which is free, easy to customize and regularly updated with new bug and security fixes. Once you publish your first post, start writing another. Consistency is important!
5. Make time and don’t give up. Writing a successful blog isn’t something that just happens. Between work and kids, blogging is something you’ll have to make time for. Try Carving out a half hour in the morning before anyone else is up, or pencil in some writing time at night after everyone’s asleep. Most importantly, don’t look at updating your blog as a chore. Instead, think of it as meditation: A way to practice skills—and reflect on meaningful moments in your life.