Blogs first became popular when I was only a teen. At the time, most of us treated blogs like online journals to openly share mundane activities, or anonymously post our deepest and darkest secrets. Since then, blogs have grown to become much more – whether it’s big corporations handing out advice, or explorers sharing their stories from around the world.
With so many blogs, and so many endless possibilities when you start your own, it’s difficult to know where to start, how to start, who to start with, and how to move forward – and that’s fine. We were all there once.
So here are ten tips for the newbies in the blogging world.
1. Choose your Platform
I use WordPress to host this blog, and stand by it as the best blog hosting platform online. Of course, I haven’t tried them all, but I’ve tried my fair share over the years. Prior to WordPress, I hosted blogs on MSN Space, Blogger, FreeWebs, Google Plus, and Tumblr. I also blog on Quora and Flipboard.
None of these have provided the functionality and the true website-feel that WordPress does. Another benefit of WordPress is that it provides a built-in community to help feed traffic to your blog. This makes it easier to get your first followers and subscribers, and to network with other bloggers.
2. Pick a Genre
Many people start blogging for a specific reason – whether personal or professional. For instance, I originally started blogging to share my travel stories from Jamaica into and across the United States. Since then, the blog has grown, but still remains a lifestyle blog.
Thus, for the new blogger, it’s important to decide what you plan to write about. There’s plenty of time to grow, or change it later.
If you start off writing about interior decorating, and then next week you’re ranting about relationship problems, you’re sure to lose followers who have no interest in your personal life, and only wanted to know what cushion matches the new sofa they just bought.
3. ‘Blog’ versus ‘Blog Post’
Every hobby or profession and their practitioners have their lingo – from gamers to lawyers to bloggers. One of the most common confusions in the blogging world with new bloggers, is referring to blog posts as ‘blogs’.
This can lead to misunderstandings, and may turn away readers who easily spot the sign of inexperience. Not everyone likes low budget movies, or indie books; and likewise, some people don’t like blogs where the writer’s inexperience is obvious.
So take note:
A blog may refer to a website, or a portion of a website, which contains articles. These articles may also be called posts, or blog posts.
4. Install Share Buttons
Larger blogs usually include share buttons, but remove the re-blog button, if hosted on WordPress. Meanwhile, new and smaller blogs usually don’t have enough immediate options to share.
Share buttons refer to the icons on a page which allow readers to share that page on social media platforms. Put simply, it’s free promotion and one you shouldn’t miss out on.
As far as re-blogging goes, copy-and-pasting an article word-for-word on another blog can negatively affect SEO (how easily people stumble across your blog online). However, the re-blog button on WordPress only posts a link back to the original blog. The text that comes up is only a preview.
So go ahead. Let other people re-blog your work, and provide options for them to share your posts easily on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Pinterest.
5. Promote on Social Media
Virtually every blogger promotes their work on social media, but not everyone does it correctly. Over the years, Twitter especially has become overrun with companies and marketing specialists shoving ads down our throats. Entire timelines are just external links to products and websites. Why would anyone follow that?
When promoting on social media, treat your followers as friends, not fans. Remember to share other relevant tweets and status updates in the area you blog, and to connect with followers by liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts.
Keep promotional posts for your blog or brand to just 20 percent of your social media content. Your followers will appreciate it.
6. Post Regularly
Most new bloggers start off posting regularly, and then somewhere along the line, life and other interests take over and they fall off the bandwagon. To prevent this from happening, some bloggers may choose specific days for posting new content, or may have a general goal of a blog post or two per week.
Whatever route you choose, find a way to ensure you keep putting out content regularly. However, try not to post too often. This is one of the most common reasons I unfollow a blog, and one of the primary things I look for before following. Three posts in a day is more than enough. A blog post or two per week is ideal.
Keep in mind that when people follow or subscribe to your blog, every time you post, they get an email. No matter how much people love your work, after a while, seeing your blog pop up every day, and several times per day starts, to to feel like spam.
7. Edit your Work
I just want to write. I don’t care if people like my stuff or not!
This is often the defensive stance new bloggers take when people point out the need to edit their work, so that we can follow without numerous typos (though we all make them!) and misunderstandings. But the truth is, people who do not care if others like or view their work do not publish it online. They keep in Microsoft Word.
Anything about an individual on the internet – from résumés to tweets – are a representation of who they are, and their dedication to quality (or lack thereof). Too many typos also injure the perception of how articulate a person is, which is how we judge people’s level of intelligence, and thus whether or not we care for their advice.
Think of it this way. In the real world, a suit can make a man a gentleman, and a little black dress can make a woman a fashionista. In the world of blogging, good editing makes you an expert at whatever you choose to write about, so make a good first impression.
8. Reach Out
This is easiest for people who chose a blogging platform like WordPress, which provides a built-in community you can access. Simply read, like, comment on, and share people’s blogs and blog posts. Karma works very well in the blogging community.
If this is not an option, then all networking will have to take place on social media platforms, by building relationships with readers, and other bloggers. You can do this by following and interacting with people on social media.
There are also writing groups on Google Plus and other platforms that you should consider joining.
9. Reply To Comments
Most big websites and social media accounts do not reply to comments and mentions. In many instances with websites, the authors are not even informed when their contributed posts garner some commentary from readers. Smaller blogs – especially new blogs – do not have this option.
It’s important to do more than like comments or even just thank people for commenting. Say something worthwhile, and continue the conversation; especially on social media, where the point is to be.. well, social.
Keep in mind also that the more comments on your website, and individual posts, the more value Google gives them when ranking search results (SEO).
10. Involve Family and Friends
Social media marketing is a must, but your greatest support will come from family and friends, if you give them the chance. It can be tempting to bask in the glory of a second-life online, but they will stumble across your page sooner or later, if you market it right. Even some of my coworkers from back in Jamaica, and my mom’s friends, eventually found my blog.
My family and friends are sure to like, comment, and share my posts on social media, which gives me brand ambassadors for free. You just can’t beat that! Blog posts also make for interesting conversation with family and friends, who often prefer to save their opinions on your post for when they see you in person or talk to you on the phone.
It takes guts to write anything and put it out there for the world to read and love, or tear apart. Though these tips certainly won’t help with all the work ahead, I hope it helps a lot of new bloggers to get started and move forward.
Everyone who both likes and re-blogs this post gets one free query via email. If you are not on WordPress, then you can comment and share on a social media platform instead of re-blogging.
Be sure to make your question as detailed and specific as possible, as I can only answer once. I get hundreds of blog-related comments and emails daily, so I’m really pressed for time these days. Queries can cover any area of branding, social media, blogging, and writing in general.
If you need further professional help for your blog, book, or any other project you may be working on, check out Alexis Chateau PR.