January is my blog-versary month. Two years ago I hit publish on my first post – The Emotional Rollercoaster called Motherhood – and never looked back. I fell in love with blogging and it consumed me. Today, my blog has grown leaps and bounds from that first post (though is still not even half-way where I want it to be but I'm on a constant learning curve). I learnt the technicalities of blogging on the job – googling stuff, asking fellow bloggers and learning through trial-and-error. I made mistakes, had mini heart-attacks and survived. I still don't know so much, but terms like HTML, SEO, DA and Page Views don't scare me as much now.
I took an entire year to go self-hosted (more on that in this post – rookie mistake number 1) and more than that to start monetizing my blog. But the point is I'm there NOW, and that's what matters. We all live and learn. So as a reflection on my blogging journey so far and as the first post of 2018, I'm sharing the dos and don'ts, useful tips and must-have resources that I have learnt so far. Take in what you must, share the knowledge and ask questions/ comment/ put in your inputs in the comments below.
TIPS FOR NEWBIE BLOGGERS
Content is King, but promotion is Key
Write from the heart. Write in your personal style. Let your readers get to know you – the person behind the blog – through your writing and that will make them want to come back for more. The connection lies in your content.
If you don't promote your posts and shout out from the rooftops about your blog, no-one will know you or your blog exists. I learned this the hard way – self-promotion is an art and you will feel awkward at first, but it is essential. Share your posts on your social platforms, add them to linkies and relevant Facebook threads; basically throw your posts into the blogosphere. Let your little corner of the internet get noticed.
Don't disregard the significance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization, for the newbies). Good SEO and using the correct keywords will translate to your blog ranking high in Google for that topic, which will lead to more hits on your site. Read this London Seo Expert's Success Story You'll Never Believe to know the importance of SEO for your blog.
And then there's the biggie – email marketing! If done correctly, this can do wonders for your blog as it will, over time, get the word out there. If you want to kickstart your email marketing campaign with a bang, sign up to email marketing solutions like My Emma that help you overcome the unique challenges facing your business/ blog.
Join in with linkies
Yes they are time-consuming but linkies are a great way to get your blog read and noticed, to get comments on posts, to interact with other bloggers and your readers and to increase your DA. Follow the rules of the linky and share the blog love – don't link and run, other bloggers will notice. Take the time to read other blogs and comment on other posts – that's how I made some of my blogging besties.
Join new linkies once in a while to get a new audience and find new blogs too.
Go self-hosted from the start
When I jumped into the world of blogging, I did so with apprehension. Will I enjoy it? What if I don't get time to blog? Will I have enough material? And so I committed my Rookie Mistake #1 – I didn't go self-hosted for almost a year!!! If you are planning to earn from your blog – either monetarily or with products in exchange for reviews – go self-hosted from the beginning. It isn't as frightful and will do wonders for your DA. Brands will also take you more seriously.
Of course if you're just blogging for a hobby or to keep an online diary, it's a different matter. Otherwise, just take the plunge and dive in!
Don't get overwhelmed – plan and schedule
I shouldn't be writing this as I do tend to get a bit overwhelmed with blogmin (blog admin in blog lingo) and blog stuff myself, but I'm getting more organised this year! Blogging isn't about just writing a post – that's only the first step! There is SEO-ing it, editing and adding images, promoting it on social media, keeping up-to-date with blogmin tasks like checking broken links etc. But planning content and scheduling posts and social media helps you stay ahead of the stress.
WHAT I LEARNED IN TWO YEARS OF BLOGGING…
Blogging is a full-time job
If you want your blog to be noticed and want to earn from it or make it a part-time/ full-time career, then you need to be on the job 24/7. The real hard work starts after writing the post and hitting publish.
You ain't a blogger if you ain't on Social Media
Well, technically you still are, but taking off from my first point, you won't be a well-known blogger unless you are active on social media too. The more channels you are on, the better, but don't dive in to everything and then feel overwhelmed and get lost in the maze. Instead, choose three or four that work best for you and focus on growing them. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and StumbleUpon are the best ones for increasing your traffic and reach.
That said, work on building your email list because that is yours and yours alone – so tomorrow if Facebook and Twitter shut down suddenly, you won't lose all your followers.
Have fun with your blog else what's the point, really?
I guess this goes for any job you do, but more so with blogging. Firstly, because you started your blog because YOU wanted to, nobody forced you to and secondly because it is extremely time-consuming, so if you're not enjoying it, you're just wasting your time!
Yes it can get a bit much sometimes and can seem overwhelming, but keep in mind the reason you started blogging and let that spur you on. If sponsored posts and reviews are getting a bit too much for you, decline a few and write about things you love for a while. Write from the heart. Don't fall out of love with your blog, instead, take a break and then jump back in – refreshed! Your blog will still be waiting for you…
A logo that stands out
Think of Nike or Starbucks or Apple or any big brand and what's the first thing that comes to mind? Their logo. That image becomes them. So when people click on your blog, the first thing they come across is your logo. So let it stand out. I designed my blog's logo using online logo-maker Logojoy that uses Artificial Intelligence to create the exact logo that you visualise – in the comfort of your own home! In a word – it's brilliant. (Check out my review of the site here).
A mobile-friendly, user-friendly and attractive website
Most of us bloggers are writers at heart – or by profession – but not many of us are techies. Building a website that is attractive, fast, user-friendly and (very important) mobile-friendly can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Invest in your blog and it will bring in investments for you. Take the help of aagency to design the blog of your dreams – so you can concentrate on content and promotion.
A blog planner/ scheduler
Up until recently, my blog planner was a mix of ideas in my head, story ideas in drafts and other to-do lists on post-it notes across my kitchen counter. Not smooth, I admit. My blogging new year resolution was to get more organised – both with my planning and my time – and believe me, it's made a world of difference! Here are a few basic things I'm doing:
- I plan my posts for the month (of course this can be flexible depending on paid opportunities that come up in the middle), and sometimes plan months ahead for a post on say Mother's Day or Breastfeeding Week.
- I'm scheduling my FB posts and tweets rather than just posting as and when I wish. This helps form a continuous flow of my posts on social media, so my blog reaches more people.
- I've made a list (an excel sheet works just as well) of all the FB threads and groups, Twitter groups and linkies I want to promote my posts on with the day each goes live – if it's in front of me, I can't miss it!
Of course you can work with online schedulers and good ol' Excel, but I'm more of a pen and paper girl and I love my stationery, so here's what keeps me organised!
So go ahead and make 2018 your best blogging year yet! Good luck!!!
For tips on creating great blog content, read this post.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post and contains an affiliate link. This means that I earn a small commission should you choose to purchase the product by clicking on my link but will be at no extra cost to you.
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