6/27/13

A Few Tips & Tricks?

So this blogging thing... is tough to break into. Let's be real.

I am the last person to claim that I really have any idea what I'm doing here. Promise. Half the time I feel like I'm still struggling to figure out how it all works, but I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way. After getting a few emails seeking some start up wisdom, and some encouragement from the sweet Laura, I thought I'd share some of that information.

*Disclaimer: Is this all encompassing? No. Do I claim to be an expert? No. Am I open to more advice from other bloggers? Absolutely




Design and Layouts

An aesthetically pleasing, eye catching layout is the very first impression you make on readers and companies. While the preset layouts Blogger or Wordpress provide can be useful when you initially set up your blog, looking into a more professional design may be beneficial. Blog layouts can run a wide range of prices, but you don't have to spend $100 on a hand made blog layout (or you totally can!). There are plenty of websites that have blog designs made by professional designers for as low as $15. Investing a little in your blog at the beginning will help you in the long run.



Pages--the tabs on your navigation bar-- are a pretty important part of your blog layout, and you HAVE to have an "about me" page. My "about me" page has thousands of hits, and it's what gives a new reader (or potential sponsor/company) an idea of who is behind the blog. (Sarah has a good post about how to make a good "about me" page," along with other blogging essentials.) I also recommend creating a "popular" posts page and a "sponsor/pr" page. Don't worry if these are sparse at first, just get them up. I'll talk about sponsors/swaps in a minute. Having these pages just give a finished look to your blog, along with providing readers more places to click. Clicks are always good!



Your blog button is a really important part of your blog, and can do a few things for you. Basically, this is your "button" with a bunch of html underneath it. This does two things: allows bloggers to grab your button when you swap AND allows bloggers who like your blog to just straight up put your button on your blog (which is always nice!).  

Content

Your blog design may grab the attention of new readers, but your content is what will keep them there. Who knows, they may even turn into pretty loyal readers if you give them a reason to keep coming back. Yes, linkups and giveaways are great for getting your blog out there, but if you do one every day rather than creating new content, you may not keep readers' interests for long. 

Coming up with something to write every day is hard. Sometimes downright impossible. There are absolutely days where I sit in front of my computer, staring at the screen, and I'm starting to be ok with the fact that maybe I don't have something of value to write about every day. One thing I do recommend? Consistency. If you just write two blog posts a week, that's great. Just try to space it out. If you blog five times a week, then that's great too. (One thing I have learned: my pageviews drop in half on Saturday and Sunday!)

Pictures are a large part of your blog. Honestly, I could stand to improve upon my picture taking! There's sort of an unspoken rule that you have at least one picture per post, but there are always exceptions to the rule. If and when you do use pictures, ensure that they serve a purpose and align with the story you're telling. And a little personal preference of mine- big pictures are always better than little pictures!

Social Media

The biggest thing that got me hooked into the "blogging community" was a lot of social media presence. When I started, I decided to create new social media accounts specifically for my blog. This is absolutely about personal preference, but I try to keep my personal information (including my last name) separate from my blog. 


One of the biggest, most helpful tips I heard when I first started blogging was to brand yourself as much as possible. A simple way to do this? Make all of your social media accounts the same. My Instagram? @hangonhoney. My Twitter? @hangonhoney. It doesn't necessarily have to be the exact same as your blog, but it doesn't hurt. It makes you very easy to find, and even easier to remember. There are about a million different social media outlets, but Twitter and Instagram have hooked me in the quickest. And make sure that all of your social media links are easily found on your blog! 



Again, I can't stress the important of social media. It's how you get to know other bloggers, and how they get to know you! I just started following TONS of people from the get-go, and kept increasing that when the "follow suggestions" came up on twitter. From there I tried to interact with them as often as possible... a blogger throws out a question or funny tweet? Respond to them. It may feel a little awkward and nervewracking at first, but do it. I absolutely butted in on all sorts of conversations... but it gets your name out there! And make sure your responses have value. "Haha me too" isn't going to get you noticed, but if you add something to the conversation you'll be remembered. The same goes for Instagram... comment rather than simply "liking" a picture. Once you get to know those bloggers? (Or while getting to know them.) Read their blogs. 

Sponsoring/Swapping

Sponsoring/swapping- So here's the part where you can get yourself out there and really start connecting. If you have the means, you can do paid sponsorships on blogs you like/have larger followings, OR you can find other new bloggers and do "button swaps" with them for free. That's how I started out... basically just get to know them/email them/ ask to swap. You put theirs up on your blog, visa versa. 

If you can, sponsor some of the blogs you LOVE.  If you can't, I would still recommend saving up a bit to put into one or two good sponsorships. Do your research- sponsor blogs you really enjoy reading, blogs that have an active readership, and bloggers that are friendly. (One tip: pageviews are more indicative of how active a readership is than followers!) If you still can't sponsor, no worries! Swapping is a GREAT way to start out. 

Commenting

There's nothing bloggers love more than a thoughtful comment from another blogger. I respond to every comment I get, and it's so awesome when I get quality comments. I remember those bloggers, and I know they're there to actually read my blog. Just like with twitter, those that say  "haha me too" or "great post" and nothing else really don't make an impression. Sometimes it gets tough to keep up with writing your own blog, responding to readers, real life stuff, and reading blogs, but sometimes I'll sit down for an afternoon and catch up on my favorites. I learned that trick from Shannon, who's notorious for blog stalking in the best way possible.



What have you learned from blogging? Got any helpful advice for people just starting out (or those who have been in the game for a while)?

42 comments:

Jackie said...

great tips. no matter how big or little! You've done well for yourself lady, so I trust you :)

Kathy said...

i agree; it's so important to connect with your readers. my #1 peeve are bloggers who just ignore your comments or questions, never pay you a visit and you wonder if all the time you spend reading and commenting on their blog/trying to establish a connection is all for nothing.

so i've made up my rule: 3 strikes and i unsubscribe.

Tori G said...

What great advice! Thank you!

Tami said...

These are great! I understand that bigger bloggers can't reply to all their comments, but nothing turns me off more than a SMALL blogger who doesn't bother to reply to comments. It's like I'm just interacting with a brick wall and usually stop reading. I also kind of wish now that I would have separated my blog social media accounts from my personal ones, so that's a great tip for those who may have yet to create them!

Amanda said...

I love your tips!

Kay said...

Love this! Advice from big bloggers is great, but I really related to the advice "smaller" bloggers give because that's where I am too! And I liked that you didn't seem like you were cramming things down my throat, instead just simply giving me advice and saying what has been working for you!

Nicole.Pipho said...

I am new to the blogging world and these are so helpful! I appreciate it and I'm glad I found you to follow!! I have a lot to work on... :)

kayla pfeil said...

thanks so much for the great advice. I am just starting out and love reading advice on how to grow my blog! I love reading yours!

Stephanie said...

Great tips!!!! :)

Another Clean Slate said...

Looks like I have some work to do! Thanks, lady!!

Kari @ All My Good Intentions said...

This was extremely helpful Beth, thank you so much! I agree with all of it. My blog is fairly new and I'm going to take your advice and make sure everything is branded the same. Now I'm wishing I picked a shorter blog name! Geesh :)

Jennifer Dunn said...

Great tips!! I love reading your blog. I've just started a blog of my own and I am constantly tweaking it to make it better. I would love to be a part of the blogging world and connect with different people. All of this excites me so much!!

Venus Trapped In Mars said...

My biggest regret is not having all my social media uniform. Everything is iamsarahwebb but that doesn't help people find me. I think that may confused people.... maybe I should switch it... hmmmmm.....

Gigi Gonzalez said...

this is awesome!! love reading your stuff but appreciate some type of guidance. I'm trying to make my blog more polished and semi professional but all these codes are overwhelming. Any advice on how to plow through the codes and get stuff up on a blog that actually works?

Kaeley Mull said...

This is some really great advice! I wish I had read it when I first started!

Andi (Anchor and Elm) said...

Thank you for this! Your blog has grown so gracefully and at a good rate so I trust your advice completely. Now I just need to decide if I want to make a real effort at growing my blog or just enjoy what happens organically.

Jenna said...

Thank you so much for these great tips! I'm always looking for blogging advise and trying to make my blog the best that it can be. It can be overwhelming at time and I'm not sure if I'm doing it right (if there even is a "right" way!)

Aileen said...

Thanks so much for posting this! I've been getting discouraged with my blog bc it's not growing very fast. These are some great tips! Maybe it'll help my sweet tiny blog.

Maggie said...

Such great tips!! I love the part about commenting. I hate when people leave comments that they clearly just throw on every post. A good thoughtful comment makes my day!

Hayley! said...

Great post! I have had a hard time finding a cheap design option. Any links/recommendations?

Kerry @ Till Then Smile Often said...

Love these tips! I do most of them so glad I am at least on track. Also want to add I don't think some starting out realized that even if you comment through blogger the person doesn't get your response by email. They would have to go back to your blog to see if you commented back. After commenting on a few I lose track so if I don't get an email I assume they didn't response. I copy and paste my blog response into my email alert so it posts on my blog and in email format direct to the person who commented.

Lisette H said...

I knew you'd be a rockstar the second we became friends! very impressive list hear lovie!

Laura {happily ever} Parker said...

Color me BASHFUL! Your tips were incredibly helpful (duh I pinned them) and I am so happy you're sharing them with everyone!! I'm hanging onto you, honey!! xoxo
Laura

Kelly Louise said...

this is awesome, and I needed it! I just started blogging (seriously JUST started - I have one post and I'm waiting for my layout design to be completed). I've started following a lot of blogs and their twitters and IG's, so I'm glad you mentioned that so I don't feel like a creeper lol.
thank you for this post!!!
http://www.petiteramblings.com/

Whimsy Lindsey said...

THANK you for writing this! I just started my blog and have been feeling like I have been going about it completely wrong. This was really helpful.

Can't wait to read more of your stuff!!

brooke lyn said...

i have been debating switching up all my social media stuff to link up to the blog, but it kind of sounds like a lot of work, so until then i will just do shameful plugs and link you too my twitter, insta, etc. ;) loving this advice lady!

Rachael Stone said...

Thank you so much for this post, Beth! Very helpful for someone who is working hard to expand and grow their blog.

A Modern Commonplace Book said...

This is SO great! I asked for some tips - so I am so glad you did! Your page has skyrocketed! Was there a turning point for you when it grew fast? Or was it a gradual increase?

Thanks!

Ginny

allthatglitters810 said...

This is awesome! I'm just starting out and it's always nice to get tips from someone who really knows what they're talking about:)

Faith Bowyer said...

These are awesome tips. I definitely need to working on making posts more accessible to my readers (having a 'Popular' page), and I'm thinking about looking into offering sponsors on my blog.
Now I just need to get off my butt and actually get it done ;)

Amy @ Living n Learning said...

I am bookmarking this post to read again! This was all great advice. Even though I've been blogging for a while I still feel pretty new to it all and definitely need to apply some of these tips/tricks you mention.

Jenna @ thelittleunicornblog said...

Awesome tips! As someone who is relatively new to blogging, I can definitely use as much advice as possible! Super helpful, thank you :)

Steph G said...

Love this. You are kind of a big deal and I love that you're helping people out.

Nikki Coglio said...

Thank you for this! These are great tips, and I need all the help I can get :)

Rebecca Johnston said...

Great post! I am really new to blogging. Question..how do I even create a button? Is that something I have to pay for with a blog design? Just curious, that's one thing I do want.

April said...

Wow...such perfect timing to come across your blog and this post specifically!!
I found you through Mama Laughlin and even more excited to continue to work and improve my blog!

mika jasika said...

I loved them all!

MJ
http://teamfollowpromo.com/

Kayli Schattner said...

Thanks for creating such a great list! I'm a new blogger (just started 6/1) and am continuously looking for new ways to expand/promote my blog! You have been such an inspiration to me and I'm so glad that you, out of all people, made this kind of post! Sponsoring is something I have been looking into and I think that button-swapping is another great route to try out. I also converted all of my social media accounts to use the same handle, I agree that it's definitely important for followers/anyone that wants to find your blog. Thanks again!

http://www.kayliwanders.com

Katelyn said...

Thanks for the advice. I am new at this, and honestly don't have a clue what I'm doing! What do you use to edit picture and add captions, etc.?

Sarah Long said...

@Hayley! I haven't bought anything from this site yet, but I really enjoyed the blogger templates and they have some as low at $15 and then you can buy add-on's. I'm seriously considering it, but at the same time, figure I better get my blog up and running and doing regular posts before I put too much coin in it. Great post Beth! It inspired me to really look at my blog and re-vamp!

Rachel said...

I know my picture-taking could stand to improve a lot, too! I totally agree with you on having a couple pages for your readers to click through, right from the beginning of blogging. You can always change and update the info on those pages as you go!

Karianne Salisbury said...

I love these types of posts! Thank you. I've been reading your blog for a while, and I'm the type of blogger who mixes in my daily stuff with a bit of the tips and tricks stuff. So thanks! You have great tips too! I blog at writedreamsweat.com. <3 - Karianne

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