Making The Most Of Your First Year Blogging by Shahira Allen

I started my blog Afro Glory in February 2017. That’s right just a few short months ago! In that time, I have worked with some incredible brands (still pinching myself) and had some great opportunities. I really wanted to share some fantastic advice for starting out and making the most of your first year as a blogger.

first year blogging tips

Get involved with your audience
Attend events. You can find out about events happening near you by looking through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Search through hashtags like: #BlackBritishBloggers #BlackBlogger #BlackBloggerEvent #BloggerEvent #UKBloggers #BB_Bloggers. Following channels like Black British Bloggers is a great way to find out about stuff happening.

In June I attended the #BBBSocial and from that one event I have made great blogger friends, found other events to attend for the Black blogging community, discovered great blogs and social channels to follow and even found myself here in your inbox!

Make sure you have a fully charged phone at events and use the hashtags they have created so people can follow your coverage during the event. After events make sure you look at the hashtag to find others who were there. Retweet & follow them to build your network and make friends! Don’t forget to learn from the event too. The chance is you’ll be at an event with other bloggers, ask questions and take notes. You never know when you’re going to get struck by that wonderful idea!

Don’t be afraid to ask
If there’s a brand that you love and want to blog about don’t be afraid to ask to work with them! You will need to get a media kit together so you can show them who you are, what your blog is about and share some useful stats about your social media.

Remember that while it’s great to get freebies, don’t forget to support Black owned businesses too. Sometimes buying the items you want to review is really the best way you can support a business. If your proposal for a blog post is rejected, don’t stress about it! There will be plenty of opportunities to work with other brands and who knows in the next few months that brand may get in touch with you.

Branding is important
Being a graphic designer I have literally studied how important branding is for four years! If you’re starting a blog you should think about being consistent with your message but also with your image - your logo, the colours you use and consistency through all your platforms. I also run Afro Glory Design, a Black owned graphic design business. If you’re thinking about getting a logo, social media covers or personalised Instagram posts you can email me

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I created my own logo for Afro Glory and I love her! People ask about it all the time and they recognise it very quickly. It’s simple, fun and completely matches my blog. I can apply it to other things like my business cards, any merchandise I wanted to sell or even adapt it for events. I thought about all of this when I created my logo. I now have a consistent image that is simple, easily recognisable, adaptable and fun! These are the kinds of things I would encourage you to think about when building your brand and designing your logo.

Editors note: Since this post was first published in the newsletter, Shahira has launched an Etsy Store for her designs which include a line of greeting cards and pocket mirrors. She has also produced custom cards for Palmers UK. Look out for her new range of afrocentric prints and greeting cards in the new year!

People listen to people
It’s really important to remember you’re talking to real people. Stay true to yourself. People can relate to people so if you speak like a robot you will sound like a robot. Remember why you created your online space and stay true to your tone of voice. You don’t have to talk about your deepest personal thoughts or experiences but making it easy for people to relate to you is a great way to allow your audience to connect with you.

Take good photos
You’ve probably heard this a million times before but I’m going to say it again: take good photos!! If someone visits your blog and sees terrible photos it could really put them off. You don’t need a DSLR when you’re starting out. You can use your phone camera just fine. My top 3 photography improvement tips are: take straight photos, don’t over use filters & use natural daylight but not direct sunlight.

Did you know Apple do free photo walks for iPhone users? They will teach you how to take great photos and edit them all on your iPhone for FREE! Check out their website for details. Alternatively if you’re looking for good photos and you have a budget, hire a photographer to take some for you while you’re still learning or ask a friend who is studying photography if they need a model for portfolio work and if you can use the photos for your blog.

It’s not all about the numbers
You can see from my Instagram I don’t have thousands of followers but what I do have (and really enjoy) is fantastic engagement! I always reply to comments and messages. I love talking to my followers and seeing what they are up to. This is more important to some brands than the numbers. Think about it this way, if you have a hair care brand for afro hair and wanted to work with a blogger to get more engagement for your business would you go to:
Blogger A) who has 10,000 followers who are 50% white, 50% black, 50% female, 50% male
or
Blogger B) who has 1,000 followers 80% black, 20% white 80% female, 20% male?
It’s not all about numbers. If you concentrate on the numbers you’ll just get stressed out, competitive and miss out on a really wonderful journey!

You don’t have to blog about EVERYTHING
During my first few months as a blogger I felt like I had to write about every event I attended but in reality it’s not possible! I have two jobs and run my own business so finding time to blog about everything can be difficult. When you really love an event and you want to share that experience with others or when you are invited to an event as press you should definitely write about it but you don’t have to tell everyone about your cup of tea at aunt Trudie's house. Having a blog gives you the freedom to create a space of interesting content for your followers. If you blog about tea, then I’m sure your followers would LOVE to hear what aunt Trudie is serving!

Be organised
If you’re a busy person and you still want to create a blog my advice is to go for it! Like I said before I have two jobs and my own business but I still have time to run Afro Glory and that’s because I’m organised with my time (and enjoy it). I have created a free printable download for you guys over on my blog to help you get organised and stay on top of things.

Enjoy it!
Running a blog shouldn’t feel like you’re going to work. I mean don’t get me wrong, I totally get in a zone and even sometimes say ‘I’m busy working’ when I’m writing a post or trying to take photos but it doesn’t ever feel like the 9-5 slog! I really love writing posts for Afro Glory and sharing my content with everyone. I love knowing that I can help people who are on their natural hair journey, who are struggling to make their mind up about attending an event, who need advice and support on living with anxiety. My blog is my happy place!

I actually started blogging as a way to de-stress and I can honestly say all areas of my life have improved since launching Afro Glory. I wish you all the best of luck and happiness in your blogging journey. I hope you’ve found this really useful and please feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions or need a cute logo!

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