Blogging can be a little overwhelming in the beginning. Trust me, I made PLENTY of mistakes before I actually was like, "Ooooh, nowwww I get it!"
Some people say blogging should "just be for you" and to some degree, yes, I agree with that. But if you have plans to gather a large following and keep the interest of your readers, there are certain things you kinda need to research and follow through with.
You may or may not agree with everything I have on this list, these are just some things that have helped me out along the way (and in no way, shape or form am I claiming to be perfect)!
Let's begin, shall we?
Pick an Original Blog Name
Assuming you already have a purpose for your blog, picking the name for your blog can be the most difficult task. Make sure you brainstorm and put some good thought into it. Get some feedback from friends before you decide and make sure your URL matches. Buy a domain name if you can (I know I haven't yet- I'm still in the process of deciding on a new blog name because Confession: I don't like it!). The blogs I remember most are original, meaningful and personal. Simplify it as best you can and use a tagline if you'd like to be more descriptive.
Start off with a GOOD Design
Good Design=Followers. Plain and simple. Sometimes, I will barely read any content and just based off the design I'll follow. Other blogs I'm sure have amazing content, but my eyes hurt so bad looking at their design that I immediately leave and never want to go back :/ Sad but true. If you're completely lost in the design world, my advice is to skip trying to do it yourself and just hire someone. Think of how much time you spend blogging... you want it to be worth it right? It's like working out... after all your hard work you need some nice clothes to compliment your figure, but would you try to design your own clothes or would you go out and shop? If you're serious about blogging, skip your next shopping spree and invest a little bit. There are a lot of VERY affordable blog designers out there, and it's going to be worth it, I promise.
In a way, by starting a blog you are starting a brand. The brand is YOU! You don't need to be selling anything per se, but you need to have a cohesive flow of content, personality, and design to match. Be yourself, stick to blogging about what you truly love, and center around topics that you are passionate about. Change it up every now and again, but make sure you are keeping with your original reason for blogging. Make sure this "image" or "brand" carries out through your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Everything you post should be a complete reflection of YOU!
Join Social Media
Continuing with branding, your blog should have a separate blog email and social media accounts set up. At least get on Twitter. I resisted it for the LONGEST time. I thought "tweeting" was for dorks. I actually just recently caved and really started utilizing it... and it's a HUGE benefit! You grow closer with your blogger friends and get really quick updates from everyone. I feel really dumb for not tweeting as long as I did!
Let people know you exist
No one is going to magically find you without a little self promotion... market yourself! DON'T EVER leave spam comments, or flat out ask people to follow (um, no), but just let people know you're there and introduce yourself. Click around, explore, comment, and follow.And no, you're not going to be chosen for Blogs of Note, so stop wishing! A good readership will not happen overnight... I'm actually surprised when people say they started 2 months ago and already have over 1,000 followers... excuse me, what?? It's taken me a year and a half to get where I am right now. Granted, I didn't know what the heck I was doing for the first 6 months, but still. Rome wasn't built in a day, neither will your readership. Once you have them, cherish them!
Where do you find friends? Easy. Make one blog friend that has similar interests/content as you and then go visit their followers... and those people's followers... and so on. Chances are you will have things in common with these groups of people. Leave comments. GOOD comments. Actually read and get to know this person. Just one suggestion before you start leaving comments... CHANGE YOUR SETTINGS TO SHOW YOUR BLOGGER PROFILE AND EMAIL! Sorry to get "All Caps" on you there... but I can't tell you how disappointing it is to receive a fabulous comment and 1. Not have their name linked to a profile where I can visit their blog and 2. See they have a "no-reply" email address. What am I supposed to do? Just... nothing? Who are you anonymous blogger? Why can't I find you!! Don't you realize by not giving me any way to contact you we can't be friends? PLEASE... stop. doing. that.
Turn OFF your Word Verification
Please, for the love of GAWD. I'm so sorry, I know a lot of you have this turned on because I've spent hours reading and returning your lovely comments, but seriously... seriously?! Eh em... listen up on this little secret, people... Blogger already detects spam comments and puts them in their own separate folder where you can conveniently check and delete them whenever you want. Genius right? So say it with me... "I will go and turn off my word verification right after reading your post." Very good! ;)
Swap & Sponsor
Ever heard of a little thing called button swapping? It's FREE advertising, people! Lots of blogs of all kinds, big and small, support the swap (I have a free swap program if you're interested, just visit my Sponsor section for details). Start scanning those sidebars and Sponsor pages. If you don't have a swap program, my advice is to start one. It will truly help get your name out there. If you see yourself growing and want even more exposure, consider sponsoring one of your favorite blogs. Check out their stats and numbers, but also check out their reader involvement. Look for the perks that allow sponsor spotlights, giveaway participation, and social media shoutouts. The more perks, the better, but remember to choose carefully!
Keep it up
Ever since I started blogging regularly (M-F) my readership has grown tremendously. Some people blog every day, but I personally need my weekends. The more posts- the more views. It makes sense. Just get into a groove that works for you. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to treat your blog like a newsletter- they get delivered at the same time on a regular basis and people start counting on them.
Speaking of certain days, you may have noticed a lot of bloggers have specific topics on specific days. Participating in popular link ups will really help bring in new readers and allow you to meet new people; you just have to look for them! I personally try to stick with a general topic for each day just for my own guidelines, but I don't always stick to them. I like a little wiggle room to just bust out what I feel like sometimes.
Mind your manners
To put it bluntly: Don't be a b*tch. If you're just starting out, return comments and spread the love! If you're a semi-large blog, don't act like you're above it all. I remember what it was like to leave a comment on someone's blog who had 300 followers while I had a measily 10. I never got reply comments from them, and after a while it made me stop reading because I felt so overlooked- like because I wasn't "popular" enough to be worth their time. So, even if you're running low on time, try to at least catch up once a week and support the little guys... remember, you would not be where you are without their support!
These are just some tips I had off the top of my head,
but I could easily think of 20 more...
What other blog guidelines do you like to follow?
P.S. I'm co-hosting a new blog hop coming next Tuesday