You might know that I got my start as a college blogger, and the college blogging niche is still very near and dear to my heart. I get a lot of emails from fabulous students saying they want to start a blog in college but it’s always paired with something along the lines of:
“I’m afraid I’ll be too busy, or I won’t know what to write about.”
Well no worries, my dear! If you have the desire to be a college blogger let me tell you right now: You’ve got it in you. You will find time and you will find success if it’s something you truly want and you put your mind to it.
When I started blogging, there really weren’t a ton of people who branded themselves around being a ‘college lifestyle blogger.’ While I don’t think I was the first, I was one of the first to see huge growth and I was really able to pave the way for the niche. Looking around the college lifestyle community I can say I guided a lot of other college lifestyle bloggers to success, which is an awesome feeling.
I’m not saying this to brag, I’m just saying it to show that I know my stuff. I know what it takes to grow as a college blogger, and I’m all about community over competition so I want to teach you all of my tricks on how to start a college blog and find success.
Starting a Blog in College.
Starting a college blog and being a successful college blogger really isn’t too hard. If you put in just a bit of work every day you will find success. I’m going to talk a bit about how to manage balancing blogging and college a bit further down, but first things first – lets get you set up!
Choose a name.
Naming your blog is hard. There is a lot to consider – do you only want to talk about college? Do you want it to be your name? What if you end up hating it?
Don’t sweat – here are a few tips:
- If it’s something that isn’t permanent, don’t use it. If you’re a serial hair color changer you might not want to include ‘brunette’ in your blog name. But if you’re a natural born blonde and know that you’ll never change that – go forth!
- If you want to blog about things other than college after you graduate you might not want to put ‘college’ in the name. But there are college bloggers who continue blogging about college after college and rock it. College Info Geek is just one example!
- Should you use your name as your URL? Well, you’re on MorganTimm.com right now, so obviously I’m a big proponent of using your name as your URL but if you plan on blogging about anything you don’t want grandma or a future employer to see you might want to step back and reconsider. College blogs can get messy if you ever talk about partying or other parts of college culture that you don’t necessarily want a future interviewer to know.
- With that said, even if you use a different URL future employers can still find you. Always be careful about what you put on the internet!
Choose a platform.
You guys, I am 100% behind self-hosted WordPress, that is (in my humble opinion) the superior choice.
With that said, I know that not everyone can afford to be self hosted so you have options like Blogger and WordPress.com (which is different from self-hosted WordPress!) I know that if you’re going to start a blog in college that is just another expense to an already very expensive situation. Starting on a free host is better than not starting at all!
With that said, here are a few reasons to go self hosted:
- When you host through a free site like blogger, they have full rights to your content. That’s right, when you hit publish on your post ran on a free platform, you are forfeiting the rights to your own work. Heck no!
- You want to be taken seriously. Sure there are plenty of great bloggers who don’t own their domains, but they had to work a lot harder to establish themselves as a serious blogger and they still don’t look as credible as they would if they had their own free standing domain.
- You don’t want to make the switch. Apparently it is a pain in the booty to switch your free blog over to a self hosted WordPress blog and I would rather pay for a self hosted blog from the get go rather than pay for both my self hosted blog and a professional to transfer my blog over.
- You are serious about blogging. For any other hobby you are serious about there would surely be some sort of start up fee, and blogging is a hobby that will pay for itself over and over again if you want it to.
So obviously, if you ask I’m going to encourage you to take the plunge and choose self-hosted WordPress. If you want to take that route, I recommend checking out this post (it is stupid thorough and you get an awesome discount!)
Choose a theme.
This one is a little trickier, there are so many options! Personally on both of my sites I’ve bought a ~$40 theme and customized it, but you can so customize a free one and have it turn out to be amazing. I really recommend you checking out this post all about creating your visual brand in order to get some ideas on creating a cohesive, professional looking site.
Before you launch.
Ok, one big things I see bloggers do (and something I did when I started blogging!) is launch without any content. They might have one blog post and an about me and now they are all over Facebook groups asking for feedback.
You should hopefully launch with a few posts up to keep readers’ attention and give them something to look at after they read the (amazing) post that lead them to your blog in the first place!
This is where a lot of people fall flat. They have tons of ideas for awesome post, but as it turns out ‘tons’ actually turns out to mean seven. After they get those seven posts up they feel stuck, and a lot of people will give up.
Don’t do that! Brainstorming posts might seem hard, but I promise you that it’s not!
You already have dedicated yourself to the ‘college’ niche, so now it’s just time to figure out what you will be good at writing about. Here are a few questions to get the gears going!
- What did you have trouble with when it came to adjusting to being in college?
- Do you have a cool hobby on campus? Is it something other people could get into?
- Are you particularly talented when it comes to studying? Do you know any study ‘hacks?’
- How about your organizational system? How do you use your planner to stay focused?
- What skills do you have that you think all college students should possess? Can you teach these skills?
- What lessons did you learn outside of the classroom your freshman year?
The answers to those questions should lay the groundwork to new post idea, and once you start getting your name out there and growing an audience your readers will probably have post requests, too.
And don’t feel pressured to only write about college. If you do, that’s awesome! But posts that appeal to the twenty-something crowd in general tend to go over well on college blogs!
Promoting Your Content.
Promoting your blog posts is key. You will not find success if all you are doing is writing posts and calling it a day. There is a lot of behind the scenes things going on, and the biggest one is promotion.
If you are a college blogger then you need to be utilizing Pinterest. I won’t go too far into it here (check out this Pinterest post!) but I will say that some days Pinterest will bring me upwards of 5000 pageviews.
You should also consider setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts for your blog, especially if you plan on working with brands in the future. Being active on these accounts is important, as people will get bored and unfollow if you’re hardly ever posting.
A big reason a lot of students want to start a blog in college is the monetizing aspect. I’m on the low end of making a full time income blogging, but there are some bloggers making multiple six figures!
Again, I have an entire post on monetizing, so I won’t go too far into it here. What I would like to mention, though, is the importance of getting everything on your blog set up and growing an audience before you start to monetize.
Rushing into it is bad for a few reasons:
- It’s easy to step on toes. If you don’t get any engagement on your post and decide to email a company seeing if they want to collaborate they are going to see the proposal as one sided and only benefiting you. Make sure that you have something to offer!
- It’s damaging to the blogging community! If you do get a company to agree to work with you and they don’t see any results they are less likely to ever want to work with bloggers again!
- You’ll get more out of it if you wait! Say you really want to work with a company and get about 100 views a day. They might be willing to give you free product at that point. Now if you reach out when you’re getting 500 views a day they are more likely to pay you and want to build an ongoing relationship with you!
If you just spend a month or so really focusing on building engagement and growing followers, you will be much better off in the long run, and more profitable, too!
It’s go time!
Alright, with all of that said it’s time to get started! If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below so I can help you out! The decision to start a blog in college is one of the best I’ve ever made, you should do the same!