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