March 06, 2012

Blogging Tips from a Former Newb

Hey friends! I thought today I would share my own personal blogging tips/guidelines/rules/whatever you'd like to call them...



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.


Brand Yourself
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!

Make friends
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.

Link up
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 
Confessions of a GDS

51 comments:

  1. Great post, I always visit people that leave me a nice comment.. its just good manners!

    Also, omg, the spam detectors! SO many blogs don't get comment love from me because of those annoying captcha forms!

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  2. Great List! I'm totally on board with all of them, especially the link-up tip. I have made so many good bloggy friends that way! Also...if I could add one, I hate blogs that have background music! (Drives me a little crazy!) :)
    Hope you have a great week, girly!

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  3. These are great! It's crazy how many things you have to learn before you can become successful as a blogger (and even then, it's not a science!) I love reading these tips, I wish someone had pointed these out to me when I was brand new :)

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  4. Great tips. I really like the, "turn off word verification". I kinda stumbled around and learned these tips with my first blog. These are great tips for everyone to remember though.

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  5. Thank you so much for your tips! I totally agree about the word verification, too! It's just unnecessary.

    And question for you: do you have a personal account as well as a blog account for various social media? Just wondering if you have any tips on how to do that or balance them?

    xo, gina

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  6. Wow these are such awesome tips, I could not agree more! You made it clear that you must work for followers and it is so true. We can't expect them just to show up and stick around, blogging is truly about relationships.

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  7. Great tips! I wish someone would have told me these when I started out too. But you're right, we all have to start somewhere!

    xoxo,
    Joelle

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  8. Lady these tips are all great! This blog world is so large that sometimes it's difficult to figure out what you're doing? How to do it? Or what to do next. I've been blogging for about a year now and am only starting to figure some things out. I still feel like a total newbie - but am learning as I go along.

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  9. Kristen!! This is awesome awesome awesome. You're my favorite :)

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  10. Amen on the word verification! I find it really hard to read, and if I can't get it on the first try, I usually give up.

    Good point about the manners, too -- it makes me sad when I take the time to leave someone an awesome comment, and s/he totally ignores me.

    My favorite tips are: have an About/Start Here page with your favorite posts, and Create Epic Content. I'm still figuring out what qualifies as epic. Stuff that helps people, inspires them, teaches them, maybe?

    Thanks for the blog tips!

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  11. Good post! Great advice. :) lub yew.

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  12. This is a wonderful post and very helpful. I have been blogging since 2010! It seems like just this year I have kind of figured out how to actually grow. I really appreciate this advice, thank you.

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  13. Love the tips. I've been working on most of them myself, but it's nice to hear when you're doing something right. I must agree with Sarah up there ^^^ no one should have music on their blog. Makes me have to take all that effort to press "mute." Not fun :D

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  14. Great post, lady! Nothing frustrates me more than when someone leaves an awesome comment and I can't reply to them! Don't even get me started on word verification ...

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  15. This was very helpful! I've only been blogging regularly for a week now. Did you get my email about the ad swap? I sent it last week sometime.

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  16. loving this girl! great advice, thanks for sharing! so much of it resonated with me too!
    xx

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  17. Dear Kristen, I felt in love with you!! :-D
    Amen to every single word!

    this post is so awesome and helpful! thank you for sharing!

    I started blogging 2 month ago and haven't really figured out how to get noticed in this bloggosphere.
    xx
    Leny

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  18. Although I consider myself VERY new (5 weeks and 1 day, to be exact!), I'm happy to report that I'm abiding by all of your rules! :-)

    And yes. I HATE word verification.

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  19. Well put! I have a draft post of something similar. I'll definitely link to your post in it as well :)

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  20. If there is ome thing that is going to help your blog it is definitely design, I cannot agree with you more! I really hate finding blogs that I just can't read because it hurts my eyes and I just don't want to read the page anymore!x

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  21. I'm such a noob with technology in general- I will try to turn off the word verification thing (if I can find it)

    Ng'awh, yay for having blog etiquette and actually replying!

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  22. It took me awhile to realise how to turn off my comment verification but oh I hate those things.

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  23. Oh man... I HATE word verification. I can barely read them!!!

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  24. Okay - that bit about word verification, it should bolded, highlighted, and written in the largest font possible!!!!!!

    I also agree with everything else you said. :)

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  27. Yeah..thanks blogger for opening up two comments in one window. :/ sorry.

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  28. Def some helpful tips- I wish I would have known about blog swaps when I first started and about getting out there more. I've since started blogging only a few days a week and reaching out more and that's gone way better for me (stress-wise mostly & a tad readership : ) I def get frustrated too feeling like I'm always commenting and never hear back, which has certainly affected the blogs I spend my time on now. Great tips, thanks for sharing : )
    http://dusanabotswana.com/

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  29. Great advice and I can't wait for March 13th now! :)

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  30. I was a good girl and turned off my word verification, just like you said ;) Thanks for the tips!

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  31. Word Verification OFF!

    Thanks for all the tips! I'm a new follower and I've loved what you've written!

    And I'm letting you know I'm here :)

    -Lauren

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  32. These are some great tips! If/when I ever get big, I really hope I won't stop interacting w/ my readers. It's really annoying to like someone's blog, comment on them, and then never hear from them. It does feel like they think they're a little too big for their britches! (don't worry - i'm not referring to you! you're a very friendly blogger!)

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  33. Oh! One tip I'd give to people is to turn off Comment Moderation. Like verification, moderation can really turn me off to a blog. I don't know why, but I really like the instant gratification of seeing my comment posted right away!

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  34. Awesome post Kristen! :D

    When I read your first suggestion I was like "No! I love your blog name!" but then I realised you're not going to be a student much longer, so the name won't entirely fit. Choosing a new blog name must be so scary/exciting!

    Which begs me to ask, do you think my blog name is okay? I've never actually asked anyone that before. I just figured that since I liked it that everyone else would too, but that's a little presumptive of me isn't it? :P

    - Felicity. x

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  35. I used to be a big disbeliever in the QWERTY thing as well..and I must agree that it does discourage people from commenting. Unfortunately, without it I had some spammer one day decide to post over 100 spam comments!

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  36. Yup, with you on the word verification!

    Also the not commenting back just because you're a big name. I know it must be overwhelming when people get 300 comments per post, but if you're at a stage where you're making a living from your blog, you can spare half an hour to go through and leave a few replies!

    I heard early on that every post has to have a picture, but I've started to ignore that advice. I LIKE posts with pictures, but sometimes I just don't have a relevant image and I think the people who care about my blog being pretty are not necessarily the same ones who will read an 800 word article. That said, I try to balance it out so that somebody who comes to my front page will get a bit of prettiness early on.

    Wow, this was quite an essay, huh?!

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  37. Perfectly said! I only started blogging about two months ago and while I think I am good at it I know I need to jazz up my page, that's my first step. I spend just as much time posting as I do reading other blogs, leaving comments, and responding to comments on my blog. It is a balancing act. I have a few friends who promote their blog on FB but do not network/socialize within the blogosphere at all and I am the only one who comments on them, they wonder why and I don't want to tell them what to do. Maybe I'll share this great info instead!

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  38. These are some really great tips! I would definitely be interested in button swapping. I'll visit your sponsor page right now!

    thanks,
    - Danielle
    framedfrosting.blogspot.com

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  39. Hi, Kristen!
    What a great post! Thank you for it. As someone who hasn't yet made the leap into blogging, it's nice to find tips that don't assume I already have a blog. Getting tips that will help me start are super helpful & not so easy to find, so thanks!

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  40. Love this post - I would love to add for all you Blogger bloggers out there - please enable Name/URL commenting! It makes things SO much easier for non-Blogger people to comment!

    Loving your blog, Kristen, so glad I found you through Liz at Chanel and Chocolate Cake - I linked to you in my Freebie Friday post today, hope you'll check it out!

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  41. I seriously enjoyed reading that! Wonderful tips. I esp. enjoyed the bit about replying to comments. I ALWAYS do. It's crazy work but Ive made so many friends doing that. And like u said, its good manners x

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  42. Excellent post! You've got it all listed up there, those are all so important and great tips for newbies like me! I still consider myself a newb (;

    Thank you!
    xo
    Kayla

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  43. These are great tips, especially about the ad swap. I hadn't considered that in the past, but I think I'm going to add it to my to-do list.

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  44. Thanks! This post is so helpful

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  45. i totally loved this post. very helpful tips for me right now. i've got an established blog, but I'm working on a redesign and overhaul of my blogs goal and identity. thanks for your tips. :)

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  46. Great post! It's nice to read advice from a former newb to a total newb!

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  48. Love love love your post! I'm a now newbie. So new I'm not really sure what you mean by 'word verification' but through help with blogs like this one, I'm gonna get there! :) Hopefully I'll get my comment right. Ha!

    Thank you for caring!

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  49. Thanks, Kristen, for the great advice! I'll definitely be taking some of this! Captcha forms annoy me so bad because half the time I can't tell what they say! And your blog layout is so cute!

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  50. this is a really good and informative post, I feel I do most of these things but there is more I can do like commenting more. (see im putting my new goal into place right now) :) I know what you mean about people getting 100's of followers in a couple of weeks and I cant help but feel that most are probably "follow me back" followers. I may only have 2 followers after 4 months but I feel like I have worked my backside off for them and I've earned them. Keep up the good work.

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Hey friends! Thank you for taking time out of your day to keep up with my ramblings :) Although I read every single comment I'm not always able to reply, so if you have any specific questions please feel free to send me an email. Thanks and have a lovely day! xo