10 Tips for Aspiring Bloggers and Content Creators From a Top Latina Blogger
Today is a very, very special day. I’m celebrating NINE YEARS of blogging so I thought it would be the perfect time to answer one of the questions I get asked the most:
"Can you give me some tips on how to start my own blog or digital brand?"
This is probably the #1 question I get asked by you Vecinas constantly and because of my demanding schedule I just can't get back to each and everyone of you with all this information. Explaining this through an email, DM, or comment could easily take me hours which is why I never get to answer most of you. I hope this post answers most of your questions! Be sure to save it as a bookmark for future reference.
Nine years ago this month I decided to start a blog. I loved reading blogs but was SO TIRED of seeing the same girls talking about the same thing. None of them looked like me. NONE. The only two latina bloggers I loved and faithfully supported back in that time was Jasmin of VintageVandal.com and Delmy of FashionBananas.com. They are still faves till this day! I loved reading their blogs and connected with them because they were Latina but I still didn’t see anyone quite like me online so I decided to start my very own blog. I just wanted to feel seen and represent for the millions of others girl out there in the streets that looked just like me (curly, curvy, tall, loud, creative, ambitous, proud AF to be Latina) and nine years later here I am doing this work full-time. CRAZY.
This journey has not been easy whatsoever, but I have to credit my education for a huge part of the reason why I’m so successful. School is not for everybody and I completely understand that but my degree in Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Economics along with my actual work resume (I’ve had 18 jobs since the age of 14) have definitely help me finesse this blogging career.
Here are my tips on how to start your own blog or digital brand online:
1. Pick a niche and topic
Pick a niche market (distinct segment) and cater to this new audience with your topic of choice. Ex. Young women interested in gardening. Focus on this niche and creating content that is engaging and helpful. I understand if you’re a multi-passionate person like me it’s very hard to stick to a niche but in the beginning of your journey this is extremely helpful because it helps you stay focused.
Eventually you will start to grow and your name and personality is really what people will start to associate with, not the specific interest or area of expertise you focus on. Once you feel that you have a grasp on that, rebranding is something you can definitely visit if you would like to develop your brand beyond your niche. This is exactly what happened to me and overtime I feel like this is an excellent strategy if you are looking for longevity in this industry.
2. Choose a platform
When it comes to creating a blog there are plenty of basic platforms that you can choose from. Blogger is super easy to set up and use, while Wordpress is a little bit more complicated but gives you more creative freedom over your site/blog. Squarespace is amazing and what I currently use right now. There’s also Wix and plenty of other sites you can use to create a website. Do your research and find what’s best for you. You can literally set up a website for free on your own, you can buy a website template that you can install yourself that looks pretty, or you can pay someone to customize your site which is what I did. Like I said, do your research and find what’s best for you.
When I first started, I used Blogger for its simplicity and then transferred over to Wordpress with the help of a web designer, Jorge. He customized the site to my liking and maintained the site for me as well. Then I was over the maintenance part of it and wanted to at least have a little control over the backend just in case anything happened so I ended up transferring over to Squarespace on my own and rebranding completely from Gypsy in the City to All Things Ada. Later on, I consulted with the amazing Shana and she helped me with my rebrand. The logo and customized site you see now were done by her. Thanks Shana!
If you suck at writing and hate it then a blog is not for you. If you suck at videos and don’t have the faith that you will get better being on camera over time then Youtube is not for you. If you like the idea of a blog and youtube but want to be super low maintenance then perhaps a facebook or instagram page is your best bet. I know a lot of people who only use that as a platform and have built an audience over time.
For longevity I highly recommend creating a website at minimum and building your email list. If any of these social media apps decide to shut down tomorrow there goes all of your hard work. When you have a website you have a home base on the internet which you have 100% control over. If you’re serious create a website and build that email list sis.
3. Self-hosted Blog vs Free Blog
Self-hosting is when you have a website that is completely under your control. As a user you have full control over the blog and can manage all aspects of the blog including, layout, and advertising revenue. As far as self-hosting, most people use a third party to host their blog like GoDaddy or BlueHost.
A free blogging platform is completely FREE to sign up for and use. This makes them very popular amongst blogging newbies because anyone can sign up and create a blog. As we all know, nothing is ever really free so unless you pay for your own domain you'll have Blogger, Squarespace or Wordpress attached to your blog. Ex. www.allthingsada.squarespace.com
Also, by using free hosting you have less control over the blog because at the end of the day you don't really own it all. I suggest free hosting when you begin if you can’t afford it or want to test out the hosting service, but a few months in I would highly recommend that you buy your own domain and then proceed to self-host.
4. Customize and Design
When I first started blogging I did the best that I could to make my blog look nice using the HTML coding I learned in high school and I think I did OK. Eventually my blog started looking better especially after my graphic designer stepped in, but it definitely took some time. Now a days you all have so many options when it comes to customizing and designing your blogs. You can find a web designer online that sells super cute templates and pay a small fee for the actual template and installation.
If you want to take your blog to next level, I suggest buying a pre-made template as soon as you can. Remember your blog is your personal online space. Make sure its tidy, and inviting the same way you would want your home to be.
5. Pick a name for your blog or brand
This is definitely not an easy task but remember it doesn't have to be perfect from the get go. When I first started this blog, it was actually called Labels or Love and after I found a popular European blog with the same name I rebranded and changed it to Gypsy in the City and then I rebranded again to All Things Ada. As you grow, your blog will grow with you and change is inevitable. You might change the entire direction of your blog a few years in and decide that your current name doesn't fit who you are anymore or your new direction. The best thing that ever happened to this blog was rebranding.
Don’t get caught up on a name or handle. I promise you people don’t even care as much as you think they do about it. Focus on creating engaging content and being of service. Your work ethic, consistency, creativity, and personality is your brand, NOT the name. Over time people will associate those qualities to your brand of course but the name is not important right now. Focus!
6. Create Content
Now for the fun part - creating content! I can talk about this subject extensively and although its a lot to share here are some quick tips:
Stay consistent and create your own posting schedule. You don't have to post daily or even weekly if you don't want to. Create a posting schedule that is manageable and something you can easily make part of your current lifestyle. Think of posts as your favorite gym class or hobby. You don't want to miss it and you are super excited when the time to put in work comes around.
Write about topics you're passionate about! You don't ever want to feel like you are forcing yourself to write a post, so make sure whatever you are discussing is something you absolutely love writing about. If I had a gardening blog targeted at young women who like to garden I would write a blog post along the lines of "How to protect your manicure when Gardening."
I know this sounds repetitive but if you don't like to write then I don't recommend blogging or creating content focused around writing. If your grammar and writing skills are not up to par I highly recommend taking a local class to brush up on your skills before you start your blogging journey.
Remember video blogging is a great alternative to blogging.
If writing is not your thing and being in front of a camera scares you then I recommend creating a Tumblr. "Tumblr is so easy to use that it's hard to explain. We made it really, really simple for people to make a blog and put whatever they want on it."
Whatever platform you choose remember you are a communicator, so be clear and passionate in the execution of your message and don't half ass anything with your name on it even if you think no one will ever see! Pretend the whole world will see it because it’s online even if you only have 5 followers. You never know who will stumble upon your content!
Example: I have a gardening blog for women ages 18-35. Here is the type of content I would create:
A youtube video on how to plant flowers
A blog post on the best tools to use for gardening (linked to my amazon store so I can make affiliate sales)
An outfit post on the blog with the best clothing to wear while gardening
An instagram video on how to maintain your manicure if you’re a gardener
An instagram story highlighting my favorite gardening accounts to follow
A youtube video filmed vlog style of me going plant shopping
An instagram story of my favorite baskets from ikea to put my plants in
A youtube video and blog post on how to maintain an indoor garden or plants for city dwellers
Not all social media channels are for everyone. Find the social media channels that your niche audience uses the most and promote the hell out of your posts on there. Go above and beyond the traditional post promotion - "New post on the blog!" is not going to cut it. Share quotes and pictures from your latest post and lure readers into your blog or video with catchy titles, quality images and video snippets.
You can promote the same post over and over if you switch up how you market it. Maximize and customize your content on each social network and promote, promote, promote! If you put it all that work to create that piece of content you need to go hard to make sure everyone sees it otherwise you just wasted your time.
8. Show love and embrace the community
Read other blogs in your niche, follow new accounts, and explore others outside of your market segment. Don't be afraid of leaving comments and likes, and sharing their content if you think they are doing a great job. Be genuine - don't hate, appreciate! Slowly but surely you will start to build relationships amongst other bloggers and people in the digital industry and they will grow to become part of your online community. Support and encourage each other. Believe me when I tell you that there is more than enough room for everybody and there are strength in numbers! "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
And please for the love of god, don’t sit here and preach about empowerment and do the complete opposite. This ish aint a trend. Walk it like you talk it! I would have never made it this long into blogging had I not been constantly showing love and supporting others.
9. Collaborate and Network with Intention
Now that you made friends in the community, take those online friendship offline and collaborate! Whether it's doing a guest blog post on each other site's, interviewing each other, or doing fun things like photoshoots or videos together - collaborate! Not only will you have tons of fun but your audience will love you for introducing them to someone they love just as much as you and vice versa, especially if you have the same type of readers and supporters. People love to see their favorite bloggers collab. Everybody wins!
One major tip I will always share is to collaborate across and not up. Everybody always wants to collab with the popular person or the one with the bigger following or reach. STOP! The people you need to be collaborating with are right next to you. Who is on the same level as you grinding? Those are the people you need to work and build with, not necessarily the super popular person with more access. Issa Rae said it best in this video! PLEASE WATCH!!
Also, if you’re thinking about reaching out to someone on a bigger scale please, please do your research on them and have something to offer. Come correct or don’t come at all especially if you have no personal connection to them. You already know what they bring to the table so what are you going to bring? How can you be of service to them and their business or platform? How can you benefit or help them in what they are currently doing? How can you show value?
Example #1 - Collaborating Up
You are a videographer who loves beauty! You have 5 years of experience and work for a camera store part-time. You recently started a videography business. So far your cousins have paid you to film their baby shower but you want to grow and do bigger and better things.
You email a Youtuber that has 500k followers, attach your resume along with examples of your work and and pitch yourself to collab with her for a meet and greet you know she’s having at Sephora at the end of the month. You will record the event and deliver the content to her in a timely manner so that she can post. All that you ask is for feedback on your work and or a testimonial if she likes the work.
After successfully completing your duties you follow up, thank her for her time and let her know that you enjoyed working with her and are available for a long-term basis or more collabs. If it works out now you have a steady client relationship that will grow over time and you can ask for payment for future projects. If it doesn’t you now have a great demo video to show future clients and include on your website as well as experience in pitching and working with someone.
Example #2 - Collaborating Across
You are a videographer who loves beauty! You have no experience but just started taking videography classes in school because you want to major in film and tv production. You want to start your own brand and eventually develop a videography business.
There’s a girl in your class who is majoring in public relations and advertising. She has a beauty blog and has been working on it for the past year. She’s taking an elective and ends up in your video class because she want’s to learn how to film better videos for her youtube channel. You get to know her and realize she’s super ambitious, loves beauty just as much as you and is dedicated. You offer to help her film and edit her beauty tutorials as long as she tags you in all of her content online and helps you develop your videography business social media platforms and website.
After successfully working with her throughout your college career you end up with a great experience you can add to your resume and both of you helped each other grow. Hopefully she got noticed by some brands and started getting sponsored collabs and can afford to pay you for work. Either way you both are winning because you networked and collaborated across!
Do you see the value in both situations? Do you see the different approach based on experience and how to go about collaborating?
10. Stop waiting for everything to be perfect - just do it already!
Girl, listen to me when I tell you that you will never have it all together. I've been in the game for nine years and I surely don't. I'm not even close to where I want to be but you better believe I'm hustlin' daily to make it happen. You will never have the perfect camera, perfect blog name, perfect pictures, perfect about me, perfect intro. It will never happen at once. There is a process to this, this is a journey after all.
What blogger do you know started a blog and gained 10k followers in a day (that didn’t buy them of course)? What blogger do you know had the perfect blog down to the font during their first month? What blogger you know came slaying since day 1 and doesn’t look back at their old post and laugh? It just doesn't happen that way. Stop disrespecting the process. You have to learn how to crawl before you can walk!
Everything takes time, and you have to start somewhere. You have to be dedicated. You have to have passion. You have to be in this for the right reasons. If you’re reading this because you want to be famous or get rich, girl you just wasted 15 minutes of your life. Blogging won’t get you there and if it does you will have about 15 minutes of fame before you’re old news. If you’re not here to be of service then you will fail miserably because that should be your one and only concern when creating content. How can I be of service to my audience?
It doesn’t matter how many followers you have! How are you being of service to the 15 people who are following you? I promise if you are being of service and providing value they WILL tell others about you and pretty soon that number will double and then that new number will triple. That’s how you grow. That’s how you stay in the game. That’s how you create longevity! That’s how I have been able to do this for the last nine years and that’s how I was able to go full-time with this three years ago. That’s how I have been able to grow to the point of needing management and building a team this past year. Simply because every single day I ask myself “How can I be of service to my audience?”
My girl Mimi G says it best in her amazing podcast, Business S.H.E.T.
For your business (or brand) to succeed it must be the SHET: Solve a problem, help your customer/client get passed their current stage, earn respect, and build trust
Thank you for being part of my journey and for letting me be part of yours these last nine years. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to flex my multi-passionate muscles every day as a creative entrepreneur and I only have you all and the universe to thank for that. THANK YOU!
For those of you looking to start your own blog or online brand I hope these tips helped! Good luck, and as Rupaul says “Don’t fu*k it up!”
I mean honestly how could you? Whether you try and fail or try and succeed it’s all part of the journey. So if you’re going to fail, fail faster and if you’re going to succeed trust the journey.
Now, let’s get to work. That brand ain’t going to build itself!