…By a newbie blogger.
Recently my blog turned 6 months old (yay) and while it’s only a little milestone it’s really made me reflect on how far I’ve come as a blogger. Looking back on old posts I can see such a difference between then and now and it’s not just the writing. There are so many things that I’ve learnt and want to pass on to other bloggers just starting out, handy tips and tricks to make your blog the best it can be.
Of course I’ve still got a lot to learn and I’m excited to learn it, but there a few things I wish I’d known myself 6 months ago.
Reading other blogs
Reading, commenting, following other blogs is essential if you run one for yourself. Being interactive within the blogosphere can be scary at first but the things it will teach you are invaluable and it will help you be a better blogger in the long run.
The blogging community welcomes new comers with open arms so it’s important to really show some love back. On average I spend an hour a night, usually before bed, catching up on my favourite bloggers, commenting on posts and discovering newbies who are just starting out. Not only does it inspire you for your own blog, but it helps get your name out there and you can make a few friends while you’re at it.
The importance of getting your blog out there can’t be stressed enough and social media is one of the best ways to do it. Even if you only have a handful of followers it’s important to promote your blog as much as possible. My favourite by far is Twitter and it has helped my engagement improve leaps and bounds. This is due to the many resources for bloggers on Twitter, including blog chats, retweet accounts and comment pods all of which will help spread the word about your blog and make it more successful.
Instagram is another one that can work really well, depending on your photography skills. A good picture with the right hashtags can translate into a lot of traffic for your blog. I’d recommend using at least two social media platforms to start off with then, when you’re more comfortable, branch into more like Pinterest.
When I first started out I didn’t realise how important photography was in getting my blog off the ground. It seems that as soon as I started putting more effort into the images my blog got more and more popular. Of course we don’t all have a cannon camera and a lighting box, but showing thought and effort in your photos is the best place to start.
Which brings me onto the free apps no blogger can live without. There’s an app for everything they say so it’s no surprise that there are dozens of apps out there that can make a bloggers life that little bit easier.
One of my favourites is a well known photo editor called VSCO which gives users a range of filters and editing techniques that can totally transform even the dullest image. This was especially useful when I used my phone to capture images and I wanted the illusion of quality.
Other faves include WordPress of course; Buffer which allows you to schedule tweets, Planloly which helps you plan your Instagram feed and Followers+ which helps you keep track of your social media accounts.
Posting consistently is important if you want to build an audience and have good engagement, the key to this is being organised. Knowing what posts you want to publish and when can really help you keep on top of everything and prevents blogging from becoming overwhelming.
For me I like to keep a week in front of my posts, especially during those busy weeks when I know I’m not going to have time. Having spare posts in your back pocket also helps cover you when you’re ill or just having an off day so you never lose that consistency.
Write what you know not what’s popular
It can be tempting to go with the flow and write about something with a buzz, but it’s more important to write about subjects you’re passionate about. Certain topics fit certain blogs and while I don’t think you should ever limit yourself to what you write about, staying true to yourself will help your blog stand the test of time.
Don’t focus on the numbers
My first ever blog post got about three views.
It’s disheartening at first to put your heart and soul into a post for it to only get a few hits but if you’re in this for the fortune and fame then you’re not in it for the right reasons. Blogging is about sharing your voice and connecting with people around the world and to do that you have to start off slow.
You’re not going to be getting Zoella-like numbers straight out the gate so don’t worry too much over the figures and just focus on enjoying your blog.
Keep it Fun
Which leads me to my final point, keep it fun.
Blogging is supposed to be enjoyable and while it’s certainly hard work it’s important to remember not to take it too seriously and zap all the fun out of it. Relish in trying new things and finding your voice, knowing that it only takes one blog post or comment to make someone’s day.
You never stop learning and evolving as a blogger, we strive for perfection and aim for the best. But cutting yourself a little slack at the beginning is essential if you want to be in this game long term, no one starts out with Pulitzer writing and ace photography skills so being patient and taking inspiration where you can is essential.
Pressing publish on those first few posts can be nerve wrecking but there’s no greater satisfaction than knowing you’re getting yourself out there and loving every minute of it.
What advice would you give to other bloggers? Let me know in the comments.