So you’ve just joined the world of bloggers and are looking to make your blog a success (what ever success looks like for you), but you’re not quite sure the best way to go about making that happen.
I recently shared 8 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging, which gives those starting out in blogging the benefit of my hindsight, but now I want to share with you a whole bunch of tips that will help you in the early days of your blogging journey. I do mean a whole BUNCH, so many tips, in fact, that I have had to split them up into two parts.
Let’s get into it and start with my Tips for New Bloggers Part 1.
What’s In a Name?
Choosing the name for your blog can be a daunting task. To be honest, I have had several names for my blog(s) over the years, and that is NOT something I would recommend. The name of your blog is often the first introduction of “you” in the online world. It gives an indication of the mood, style and theme of your blog. Or at least it should. Try to avoid trends and choose something timeless. If you really get stuck why not consider simply using your name?! Create a shortlist of interesting and creative options for the name of your blog and then do some research.
- Is there another blog or company that has the same name?
- Is that name available as a username on all the social media networks you want to use?
- Ask some friends what the proposed names mean to them and how it makes them feel.
Weigh up all these things and then make your decision. While changing your blog’s name somewhere down the track is possible. I know from personal experience that it is a HUGE process, and if you take the time to consider the name for you blog in the beginning, you can avoid the stress altogether!
Just as it is important to take time to research and choose the right name for your blog, it is also super important to take the time to consider what you blog is truly about and where you want it to go. The best way to do this is to sit down and write up a Mission Statement for your blog.
- What do you want to achieve through your blog?
- What is your main aim?
A Tag Line is a useful tool to help readers know more about the purpose of your blog in an instant. Choose key words that describe aspect of your mission and the content of your blog. Some of my favourite blog tag lines are:
- A global community for lifestyle/design bloggers, creatives and the endlessly curious. – Blog Society
- Bringing You The Best of Australian Design for Mums, Kids and Home. – Bondville
- The cooking and eating adventures of a girl in Sydney. – Not Quite Nigella
- Baking and making with my family of 7 – Retro Mummy
They are simple, they are descriptive and they are effective! That’s all you need!
Setting goals for your blog is also very, very important. It is the best way to keep you on track, and also lay a path for you to move forward along. Consider asking yourself:
- Where do I want my blog to be in 6 months time?
- What would I like to have accomplished through my blog in 12 months from now?
- What does it look like when my blog has “made it”?
Use your mission statement, your tag line and the goals you set to guide your content, your networking and even your advertisers to help give your blog a solid, cohesive online presence.
It is true that you only have one chance at a first impression, and we all want to make a good first impression. This is why the design of your blog matters, in fact, it matters very much, even when you are starting out! There are many free or low-cost options when it comes to blog themes or design elements. Consider searching Pinterest for downloadable elements for your blog such a social media icons and graphic elements. There are many beautiful options on Etsy that are available for very little cost and you can download whole themes for your Blogger or WordPress blog through sites like Theme Forest and Blog Milk. There are LOADS of options out there that will help you present the first impression you desire for your blog. Take a look around online, you’ll be amazed at what you can find. After all, if your blog isn’t pleasing to the eye, chances are readers will click away before they even dive into your incredible content, and that would be a major shame!
A Picture Says a Thousand Words
We all know this saying to be true. Even if your blog is text-heavy, and full of information, it is important to choose at least one beautiful image to represent your post. If your blog is more visual, then it is all the more important to use good quality, appealing images. Images are another way to reinforce the design and brand of your blog (read more about branding your blog here) Choose images with the colours, mood or style that you want your blog to be known for and your readers will start to recognise your “look”. Taking your own photos or creating your own images is always best as it is a way of infusing more of you into your blog. However, if you lack the time, equipment, or skills, using images created by others is an option. The MOST important thing here is to credit the images you use with the name of the person, or the blog that originally created the image. Simply linking to the image on Pinterest is not enough. You need to give credit where credit is due! I will be talking more about sourcing and crediting images soon, so stay tuned.
Use Your Voice
In other words, write the way you talk! If you’re the kind of person who is very descriptive when you talk, be descriptive when you write. If you, like, use the word like, like at lot, then consider using it, like, in your writing (but maybe not that much!). If you are an excitable person, let that been seen through the words and phrases you use. Letting your personality show through the way you write is a powerful way to engage your readers and for them to feel as though they are getting to know the real you. YOU is what makes your blog unique! If you’re not sure how to translate the “real life” you on to the screen, then why not try recording yourself speaking through the ideas you want to write about, and then transcribe what you hear on the playback into a blog post!?
Write, Write, Write
Write a lot. Write when the mood strikes. Write when you have an idea. Write when you are on a roll. I encourage you to write a lot! That said, it doesn’t mean you have to publish every thing you write there and then. All blogging platforms have a wonderful thing know as “save as draft”. Use this function to your advantage. It’s handy when you don’t have a lot of time, to go back through your drafts and see what you can tidy up and press publish on. It is also a blogger’s lifesaver to have a collection of posts waiting when you’re experiencing Blogger’s Block. Perhaps some of the posts you “save as draft” may never be published. The mood might leave or the topic might become redundant, but as bloggers we are writers and the more we write the better at it we become, and our blogs can only benefit from that, don’t you think?
Inspiration for a blog post, e-book, or series can strike anywhere at any time. You may be at the grocery store, or travelling to work, or even taking a soak in the tub and suddenly you have the best.idea.ever! You don’t want to get distracted or forget this fab idea, so be prepared. Use an app on your phone to record your ideas. Many bloggers use Evernote, and love it! Personally, I use the basic Notes app to quickly get my ideas out of my head to save for later. Then, later, when I am planning posts, I add these ideas to a notebook I keep near my computer that is full of notes, ideas, dot-points, you name it, it’s all in there. I find it handy to have a way to record my ideas on-the-go, and then to keep them all in the one place for an easy go-to reference point when blogging. I also use Pinterest to pin inspiration and ideas into secret boards for my own reference later.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you’re at a blogging event, ask the speaker about something you are not sure on. If you see a widget on a blog that you love, email the blogger and ask them what it is called. Likewise, if you see a blog design you love, ask the blogger what theme they used or who designed it for them. Not sure how to get your blog functioning the way you like? Head online to a blogger facebook group or forum and ask away. In my experience there really are no dumb questions and most bloggers are willing to help you out with an answer. It must be said though, that not all bloggers are generous when it comes to offering information about how they do what they do, so be aware that you might come across someone who isn’t willing you help you, but by far the majority of bloggers love to help out other bloggers. Just ask!
Tutorials are a new blogger’s best friend. I have taught myself 90% of everything I know about blogging. How did I do this? Lots, and lots of tutorials. YouTube is an awesome resource that you can use to teach yourself just about anything! Of course a good ol’ Google search or search on Pinterest can help you find just info you need to work out how to add sharing buttons, or how to create an email list. If all else fails, refer to the point before, and ask questions!
Social Media is just as important as a blog to a blogger. No, seriously it is! In the current times of change in the blogosphere, more people are turning to social media for their daily snippets of news, information and inspiration. It is a vital way of promoting your blog content, you brand, and yourself. There are many social media platforms out there, but the good news is you don’t have to be on all of them! Choose the platforms that make sense to what you do on the blog and focus your energy on those. I suggest for starters you use Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, especially is your blog is very visual. Twitter is also a great platform, but I feel it’s too easy to get lost in all the noise on Twitter. I’ll be talking more about social media soon.
I know that is a lot of information to take in, but just take it a step at a time and you’ll get there. There is a lot to consider when you start out with blogging, but I hope these points help you as you set out.
Part 2 will be on the blog soon, so keep an eye out.
[photo by Jamie Lauren]