Now I freely admit that opinion is often polarised, quite dramatically, when it comes to family blogs. If you have ever considered starting a parenting blog yourself, you might be wondering if there is space for you in what has become a very crowded niche.
What can you add to the discussion, what experiences can you share that women haven’t gone through from time immemorial?
A good blog post is like having a chat with a wise, sympathetic friend. After all, you wouldn’t expect your best friend to say “I’m sorry we’ve discussed your pregnancy numerous times before and there’s nothing I could possibly add” when you bring them a problem, would you?
Let’s leave aside the income generation aspect. Too many aspiring bloggers start off all guns blazing with the expectation that 3 posts and a nice blog header will get the money rolling in. Or that keyword research is everything.
Yes, you can make some pretty decent money from your family blog but if you start off with the sole intention of making money then you’ll struggle.
You’ll have heard lots of talk about blog ‘niches’ – in other words writing about a particular area or topic. The advice is to ‘niche down’ – to get as specific as possible. Don’t just write about parenting, write about parenting with, say, infertility problems, or another type of struggle – coping as a young mum, parenting as a single dad etc.
The reasoning behind this is that you will appeal to a specific set of readers who are more likely to follow you and to engage with your content (in other words actually read it, share it and leave a comment).
So where to start?
How to start a family blog
These are my quick steps to help you start a family blog – and you could do this by Christmas. This is the beginning of a pretty steep learning curve and you will only learn by doing so just grab the bull by the horns and dive in.
#1 Get clear on your why
As with most things in life, blogging takes persistence, chutzpah and dedication. It really isn’t just writing 500 words and pressing publish. You had better make sure that you have a strong story to tell and that you have the desire to succeed.
I started to write Mother Distracted back in 2014 and then created the .co.uk website in 2015. Whilst I love it, my blog has become my job and it requires as much professionalism and hard work as my previous jobs in marketing did.
Why do you want to write a parenting blog? Some great reasons include:
- to create a permanent memory of your parenting experience
- to share your expertise with your followers
- to create a forum for discussion around difficult topics
- and, yes, to support your family with some extra income.
#2 Craft your content
Come up with a list of topics to write about.
I would say you need at least 10 good articles to start off with. There’s no point attracting people to a website which has no content. They will just click away and probably not come back.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel so do some competitor research and see what other parenting bloggers are writing about.
But don’t, whatever you do, copy any other bloggers’ content or download images that are not copyright free – and that includes Pinterest.
So you could write about:-
- pregnancy – stages, what to expect
- birth – your experience, advice etc
- the challenges of parenting at particular stages (toddler, pre-schooler, etc)
- parenting challenges – health, lifestyle, balancing work and family life
There really are loads of subjects you could talk about – and that’s without writing posts surrounding seasonal events like Christmas.
#3 Pick a platform
I started off using Google’s free platform, Blogger but a couple of years ago I moved over to WordPress.org which is pretty much the industry standard for blogs these days. Be aware that if you intend to use your blog to generate income then you need to check the terms and conditions of your platform because not all of them allow you to use a free blog for commercial purposes. (Blogger doesn’t and neither does WordPress.com).
#4 Pick a blog name
Here’s where you really need to do your research.
It sounds obvious but check that nobody else is already using your blog name – whether in another blog or as another company – both in your country and abroad.
Does your proposed name actually sound like a parenting blog? I think Mother Distracted is quite explanatory.
At the same time, check that you can use your blog name for your social media accounts as these will be a prime source of readers. If the blog name is available but, say, the Facebook name isn’t, you may need to think again.
At this stage it is worth considering purchasing a vanity URL from somewhere like Godaddy or Namecheap. Consider whether you will need the .co.uk or the .com – or both.
#5 Start your social media accounts
Social media is a huge source of potential readers for your blog so it makes sense to proactively share your posts on each of your platforms.
This means that you need to create accounts on major platforms – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram with your blog name.
Many bloggers will tell you to concentrate on one or two platforms first – which is OK but you still need to make sure you’ve grabbed the name you need on any platform you intend to use in the future.
#6 Pick a blog theme
You can find lots of free themes from WordPress itself or you could invest in a theme made by a design company who will install it for you (at an extra fee).
If you are interested in income generation, bear in mind that you will need to invest in your blog to make it as professional-looking as possible. Unless you have a background in website or graphic design, you may find it’s not so easy.
My advice would be to invest a little cash in your blog in the early days to reap dividends later on.
#7 Add your posts
Once you have your website with a great looking theme, it’s time to add your posts. I would add one or two a day, rather than all of them at once.
This is because you will need to share them to your social media accounts.
Make sure you check spelling and grammar and that you use headings, paragraphs and plenty of white space. Nobody wants to read a wall of text.
Make sure your font size is large enough to be read and avoid weird stylistic quirks like centring all the text.
Don’t forget that some of your readers may have disabilities so consider this when you format your work.
Add some images – either ones you take yourself or from a free photo site such as Unsplash.com. Note that even if you can use photos free of charge, many photographers now want to you credit them.
Once you have a good ‘base’ of posts then you need to decide how often you are going to post and create a regular schedule.
The advice varies from anywhere between twice a week to daily – depending on your other commitments. It depends on how fast you want to grow your blog.
#8 Check your stats
You will need to sign up to Google Analytics which is the industry standard for measuring your blog traffic. You’ll find helpful information such as how many visitors your blog receives, how many page views you have had, what your visitors are reading and where they live.
These figures will be important if you start working with brands later on down the line.
You can also link your analytics account to Google Search Console which gives you even more in-depth information about your visitors but, for now, let’s keep things simple until your blog is up and running.
Eventually you’ll learn to use these stats to discover which posts are popular and what your readers enjoy – useful for creating future content and dipping your toes into affiliate marketing (earning a small commission for recommending products) later on.
#9 Network with other bloggers
Bloggers are, generally, terrifically supportive of one another and joining a Facebook group can be a great way to get to know others in your niche and to learn tips and tricks it might otherwise take you ages to discover. A quick search will reveal loads of groups so join a couple and see how you get on. You’ll find general blogging groups and ones specifically for your niche. Don’t forget to introduce yourself and contribute to the conversation.
In pre-COVID times, there were often conferences for bloggers and local meet-ups. There is nothing to stop you creating your own local group either – online now and in person once lockdown lifts.
You can share and comment on each others’ content and swop ideas for posts.
#10 Other skills to learn
As time goes on, though, you’ll find you accrue skills in lots of different areas – and don’t forget that these skills are transferrable – you can use them in work so stick them on your CV!
Here are just some of them:-
- Copy writing
- Email marketing
- Financial management – pricing, invoicing, chasing payment
- Negotiation (fees)
- Social media marketing
- Web design
You will find plenty of online courses, some free, some paid for on these topics. I have purchased many courses and ebooks on blogging and blogging-related topics and, whilst not all of them were brilliant, I found I learned at least a few useful things from each of them. As I said earlier a little financial investment in your blog will take you where you want to go a lot quicker.
Blogging is a huge topic, impossible to cover in one post. My intention here has been to give you a nudge to join the world of family blogs if you have been hanging back because I am sure you have plenty to contribute.
When I started writing back in 2014, I had no idea that I would still be blogging 6 years later or that I would be so happy in my own little space on the internet.
Are you thinking of starting a family blog? What questions do you have? Let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.