My blogging endeavours began in April 2013. I was experiencing a difficult time in my personal life and as I have always found writing therapeutic, starting a blog was the perfect solution.
The process has been a huge learning curve, predominantly because I knew absolutely nothing about blogging when I started. While there are plenty of useful hints and tips available from all over the web, I found there was no definitive ‘how to’ guide, as every individual has personal tastes in content and style and will have their own reasons for creating their blog, and I have yet to find two that are identical.
Here are some of the things that I have found useful when developing my own.
1. Choose a name that reflects you and your content. In my eagerness to start writing, I hastily chose a name, Suzie81, which was my first name and the year I was born. Consequently, when I decided to purchase my own domain name a year later, I had to choose ‘Suzie81 Speaks’ so as not to confuse my followers.
2. Don’t feel obligated to develop a niche. Of course, if your sole purpose for starting your blog is to focus on a particular subject, great, but I like to be able to have the freedom to discuss whatever topic I like at the time. Some may argue that this could confuse your readers, but I have found that I have a much more varied and eclectic group of followers that have different interests and ideas as a result of this.
3. Be realistic. Don’t expect to receive hundreds of views simply by pressing the publish button. Visit blogs that have similar content to yours. Comment and get to know the author. Follow them if you enjoy what they’ve written. However (and I can’t stress this enough) don’t come across as desperate and start begging for follows back from anyone you communicate with. I instantly switch off if someone does this. Blogging is a lengthy, time-consuming process and unless several of your posts go ‘viral,’ it’s unlikely that you’ll instantly get a massive following straight away.
4. Tag your posts effectively. The more tags you use, the more categories it will be seen in. The average that I use are between 15-20, and it is possible to find other blogs that are writing about a similar subject by typing in a topic in the ‘categories’ section.
5. If your blogging goals are stat oriented, set up a separate Twitter, Pinterest, Stumble Upon and Facebook accounts from your personal ones, if you have them. These are responsible for two-thirds of my daily traffic. It is easy to set up your blog so that your posts are automatically sent to your Facebook and Twitter accounts as soon as you publish them.
6. On the subject of social media accounts, Twitter hosts hundreds of chats and link ups every week that will enable you to promote your posts and meet other bloggers. I strongly advise you to participate in these if you want to build your following. If you want to find the ultimate guide to Twitter hashtags, link ups and chats, click here…
7. There are no rules against how often you publish. I follow blogs that post every day, several times a week and once or twice a month. The amount I post will depend on how busy I am. You might wish to set yourself time in your personal schedule in which to write, but I often find that I am left feeling uninspired when I am forced to write on a specific day at a specific time. Similarly, if you have a period of huge inspiration, you can save several posts to your ‘drafts’ folder for when you experience the dreaded ‘Bloggers Block,’ or you can schedule them for a specific day and time. Similarly, if you do experience a period of blankness when writing, click on the image on the right for some ideas.
8. When reading others posts, take the time to comment and let the writer know your thoughts. It is through this that I have met some wonderful people who I now consider to be online friends. However, don’t use it as an opportunity to promote your own blog by including a link to one of your posts underneath unless it is totally necessary and relevant to the content that you are commenting on. If you disagree with somebody’s ideas, do so in a polite and respectful manner. The WordPress community is extremely supportive and doesn’t tolerate trolls (see point 8) – this is not Tumblr or Facebook.
Do your best to reply to comments on your own blog as often and as quickly as possible. This is admittedly my main weakness as a blogger. While I read and appreciate every comment I receive, I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with them and am worried that I am becoming perceived as dismissive. Most bloggers I know reply to every single comment across their entire social media, and I don’t know how they find the time. Where possible, try and let your followers know that you appreciate them. You may also find that the type of comments that you receive may be weird and wonderful – click on the image to see different examples of the sorts of comments that I have received over the last year.
I’ve found that some posts have inspired me to write my own in response. However, it is important to remember if you are quoting something from another article, make sure that you have read the post properly and understand the context of it first. I’ve had numerous people that have clearly skimmed one of my articles and then angrily commented in a way that makes no sense to the content of my post, or have completely misquoted me in their own.
9. It’s cliche, but don’t feed the trolls. You could be the most insightful and inspirational writer in the world, but there will always be one person who will be hiding behind their computer, just waiting to bring you down with a hurtful and ignorant comment. Ignore the comments and block their IP address in your settings. If they get abusive, as I had to deal with earlier in the year, report them. I found that the WordPress team were amazing and the situation was quickly resolved. Of course, I should add here that if you are promoting offensive material that is designed to instigate anger from others, then you’re creating a rod for your own back, I’m afraid.
10. Images always make a post look more interesting and the ones that you use should be relevant to the content that you are discussing. However, remember that if you post an image, regardless of how many copyright signs you put all over it, it instantly becomes a free-for-all where anybody can copy it. If you don’t want a picture to be used by somebody else, simply don’t post it. Remember that any photograph can be photoshopped.
Be aware that solely posting inspirational quotes may put others off. I’m a fan of them and often use them, but many aren’t. Again, this isn’t Tumblr.
Credit others if you use their images or their ideas. While it isn’t always possible if you have used Google, I’ve seen many examples where someone has blatantly stolen something from another blog and used it as their own. Most bloggers have no problem with others reblogging their posts or borrowing ideas, but if you are unsure, ask.
11. Remember that your blog is your own little space of the internet that you can call your own and you shouldn’t write for anybody but yourself. Don’t apologise for your content (although, again, material that is offensive and deliberately used to hurt others will never be acceptable in my eyes) and feel free to change your layout, your theme and your content. Edit your posts and don’t be afraid to delete older posts that you deem to be no longer suitable for your blog. You may find that your writing style changes and/or your blog follows a different path to the one that you originally intended over time. If you’re happy, go with it. It’s an exciting journey!
12. Most importantly, protect yourself in both the online and real world. The computer screen provides us with a false sense of security, but the internet is a highly dangerous place. Don’t ever give out your personal details such as your address, your place of work and your bank details and certainly don’t give out any of your friends information. When including photographs of others, make sure that you obtain their permission first. I don’t even use my full name on here, and of all my followers there are only three that know this, only three have my personal email account, and only one is on my personal Facebook profile. Do not make your blog known to people in your personal and professional life if you are going to be writing about topics that could destroy your relationships with them or get you fired. It’s a small world online, and it is not a good idea to openly insult anybody, particularly your boss or your colleagues.
Above all, the process should be fun and fulfilling. If it isn’t, you’re doing it wrong!
What about you guys? Have you got any tips that you would like to add?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr at @Suzie81Blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks
Suzie you don’t just run a great blog personally, but you promote others and that’s pretty cool. I hope 2015 is a great one for you
Thanks my lovely! Happy New Year!
Thank you so much for the Twitter tips! Invaluable info for me. 💖 Happy New Year!
Thank you! Twitter is brilliant for building your following and networking… Hope to see you regularly at #SundayBlogShare!
Thanks Susie. I will join in. 💖
You’re more than welcome!
Great blog. Might be an inspiration for all bloggers….including myself after writing nonsense for 6 years. BTY…Happy New Year.
Thank you very much – really pleased you found it useful! Happy New Year!
Learnt so much from this. Thanks Suzie. Hadn’t thought about linking a post being published to an automatic twitter feed. Also did not know about #mondayblogs. Great! Thanks. Wishing you a wonderful new year.
This is great for a newbie like me. Lots of good tips. Thanks for posting! Happy new year! 🙂
Very sound advice – I especially like the bit about carefully choosing the title for yourself—you do get locked in and it does become you.
Thank you for this information Suzie! I’ve implemented some of the feedback you’d offered last year, and I’ve seen progress. I appreciate your help and wish you an awesome year. Thanks again!
Thank you so much for this helpful advice! I never knew about the twitter hashtags and I can’t wait to check it out!
Great reminders/list! I always think I need to change my blog name but I can never think of anything, so I just use the tagline to make it more specific 🙂
I always love to learn new things about blogging. You’ve provided helpful tips. I plan to check out a couple of those Twitter hashtags.
I loved this post. It gave me lots to think about as I enter my second year of blogging and try to step it up a bit! I especially liked the section about not feeling obligated to fit into a niche. I used to really worry about this, as a lot of advice you read says you should have a firm theme, that your readers come to associate you with, but that never really fit with me. I like reading about lots of different interests and topics and I really wanted my blog to reflect that. Thanks for all the great advice!
I need this! Thank you!
This was SO helpful! I have been struggling with getting the hang of Twitter, now I am going to join a Twitter “party” soon! Thanks!
Really good tips here, written in a thorough and easy to read way. Thanks! Happy New Year!
Thank you! Happy New Year!
Brilliant tips as always. I think I first “discovered you” this time last year and I followed a lot of your advice then and I still do. I bet you can probably guess that I’m already researching this Twub thing you speak of lol. I think I’ll leave that until next month as I have too much new stuff going on right now. Looking forward to your posts in 2015 and still excited for your “guest post” on my music blog 🙂
Reblogged this on Sleeping on the Edge of Sleep and commented:
A Basic Guide to Blogging by Suzie81 Speaks. Some great tips and ideas.
Thanks for sharing the Twitter hashtags. I’ll have to check those out. But I think the most valuable piece of advice is #7. I wish people would stop apologizing for “neglecting” their blogs. Post when you can, when you want or when you need to.
Absolutely- if I feel like I’m on a deadline I start feeling stressed like I do at work. I like the freedom to write when I’m in the mood…
I think you need to give me a Twitter tutorial. I just don’t get it, I guess. Doesn’t it require a LOT of time to keep up with Tweets? I know how to do it, and I’ve followed some and had others follow me. I just don’t see anything happening as a result of being part of it all. I tried to attend a “party” today, and it was an epic fail. I’m going to write a blog post about it. I never was good at parties!
Haha! It took me a while to get into it. First thing to do is find people you know on Twitter – I’m at @suzie81blog
Hi. With all these different hashtags, what’s the definition of a life blogger? Is it general life or something more specific? Thanks. Charlotte.
Is your separate face book account a page? If not can I convert my page to an account? A page is so restrictive.
Brilliant tips! I found myself nodding all way through. Happy New Year!
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Reblogged this on Writing Rachael Ritchey and commented:
Ahhh, Suzie81 Speaks…Here she is being insightful and helpful again. Thanks!
This is a great list to know for a newcomer like me. Thanks!
Thank you! I’m really pleased that you found it useful! Welcome to WordPress!
I learned so much from reading this! I never knew about lblogger, pblogger, though I wrote about both. I never knew about @femaleblogger RT. Do I send my link to her? Won’t it seem spammy? I hope I understood because I did it. Thanks for the lessons! Janice
Thanks Janice – I’m really pleased you found it useful! It’s not spammy at all – when you post something just include @FemaleBlogger RT and it will usually be retweeted that day – that’s the purpose of the account and it has thousands of followers. Obviously don’t go nuts with it, but the occasional one (I usually do one a day) really helps!
Great, great tips! Especially about the Twitter accounts that retweet for you…had no idea. I do agree with being careful of what you post if you gave your personal information. That could totally come back and bite you later. Visiting from #SITS sharefest.
Thanks so much – really pleased you found it useful! I’ve been burnt a few times by being too honest about my personal life, so now I’m a lot more careful!
I used to be a HUGE Twitter user, but in recent years, I started to realize what a big time suck it is, and it seems like people are just talking and not listening so much. I post every single post to Twitter, but I almost never get any clicks from them. I have much better luck with Pinterest and the best resource for me is the SITSGirls. I’ve been with them since 2009 and I’ve been doing the SITS Sharefest for about 4 years now. After Pinterest, they are my largest source of traffic. #SITSSharefest
I love the Sits Girls – I only discovered it about a year ago but I’ve met so many lovely people! Thanks so much for your comment!
Great post, Susie! I think networking with other bloggers and responding to blog comments are two things newbies often overlook.
Definitely! This is something I’m desperately trying to improve- when I visit older posts I am always a little embarrassed about comments that I haven’t replied to!
I know the feeling!
Suzie, this is a fantastic guide. I wish this was around when I first started blogging but still some really helpful tips. You’ve given some really relevant and good advice. Great for newbies but also for people who have been doing it a while
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much Kate! I’m really pleased you found it useful!
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Thank you so much for this post, Suzie! I learned a lot! I’ve been blogging for awhile, but there is still so much to learn. Since I really only use my blog to share my thoughts and writing, I was delighted to read your tip #2, especially since it seems so many experts suggest having a theme to be successful. I guess success is dependent upon how each blogger defines it. I too wish I had known about how to choose a name, but I like mine. Since I’m trying to become a published author, I write a lot about writing, but my blog is eclectic in nature. Thanks again for your post. Loved it!
I like your name too – it’s really pretty! Thanks so much for your comment – I’m so pleased you liked it!