A beginner’s guide to blogging: 10 tips to put into practice right away
This is a guest post by (the incorrectly named) Stupidgirl45
This post is about all the stuff I wish I'd known back in January 2011 when I started blogging. If you're an experienced blogger, you'll probably know most of the below – but there might be some good links for you!
Tip One – Don't expect to get it right first time
This applies to content, blog layout, number of followers, jargon, gadgets, the lot!
It took me a little while to tweak my blog layout to just how I wanted it and to add the gadgets I wanted. Not all of them are suitable when you're just starting out IMO anyway. I didn't want to set up a Facebook page in the first week, when about 2 people were reading my blog – and one of them was my mum. Make sure that when you do add gadgets they are relevant to your blog as well.
P.S. By gadget I mean the stuff on your blog that's not the actual writing – like top 10 posts, archives, pictures, links, blog rolls etc.
Also take the time to figure stuff out in the early days – you probably won't have that many viewers, so it won't matter if you muck up a couple of times! There's so much helpful advice out there – take it. I would particularly recommend (as ever) Novel Publicity for their advice on blog layouts, using social media and how to set up FB pages. Check it out!
Be kind to yourself – there's no one watching you or judging you – your blog is your domain and what you say goes! Which brings me on to……
Tip Two – Be Yourself
Don't write for other people, write for you and what you're interested in. Easier said than done, I know. I was really scared when I started blogging, I thought, “WTF am I doing this for – there are so many bloody bloggers out there, yes really!” but I kept going because wow, people started reading the blog – and commenting – and asking me stuff. So I realised that there was an audience for my writing and that other bloggers were not the enemy – we're all unique. So keep writing – someone out there will like it. I found it helpful to write a set of rules for the blog, to remind me – and my readers – what I was all about. And maybe it was a bit silly, but I wanted to have a little integrity on my blog – after all, I bare my soul on here to thousands of people, all over the world.
Tip Three – Play Nicely
Okay, repeat after me….Read…aaaaand SHARE. Read….aaaand SHARE
You know when someone sends you a funny link and you just have to share it? Well the same goes for blogging and links and cool websites. Share. A lot. All the time. This is kind of the point of blogrolls – a way of showing other blogs that you're into, but for me, I try to regularly do shout outs in my posts of cool sites, places I've been to, books/blogs I've read, music/films etc – you get the picture. It's about sharing the love. Also what you like doesn't have to be hugely popular. I love giving newbie bloggers a shout out on my blog – because established bloggers have done it for me. It's kind of pay-it-forward in blogging. On the plus side, if you do mention someone, let them know; sometimes they'll link to your blog on a tweet or even, their blog. However, this is not the main reason to do this.
I also like to read and follow lots of other blogs just because I am truly fascinated by other people. I read a wide assortment of blogs, from management to weddings to campaigning to writing to climbing….and I love it. I feed off this information. And it reminds me to stay true to what I do as well. So once again…..read…aaaand SHARE!
Tip Four – Plan Ahead
If the thought of writing regularly with no real idea of what to say scares the living shit out of you…..welcome to being a blogger. I know exactly how you feel. It's crazy, why do we do it? It's like choosing to write a mini essay several times a week with no title. Except there is a solution…..schedule stuff. And by this I mean have regular slots for stuff on your blog. If you like doing book reviews, schedule them on a particular day of the week. If you like having a general ramble/weekly round up, schedule that for a Sunday night, maybe. If you've got a bunch of photos to share, schedule those. I've found it works so well, and I'm never at a loss for what to write because I need to think of something specific be it a word, a list topic, a photo essay subject or an interview (these are pre-planned though).
Theoretically you can even write blog posts in bulk but I'm not so good at this!
Tip Five – Labeling
Label your posts (otherwise known as tags) and then add a label cloud to your blog. Then every time you blog about, say, music, label the post `music`. When people visit your label cloud they can click on a label that interests them and it brings up every post with that label. Clever, huh! A word of warning, only use labels that you're going to use regularly (like writing, photos, WoTW, Top 10, front bottoms….!) otherwise you end up with a label cloud full of single labels, which are no good IMO.
Tip Six – Commenting
Short and sweet: if people take the time to comment on your blog, ALWAYS FRIGGIN REPLY. Simple. Even if it's not straight away, still do it. It builds up a blog community (though 'tis weird when your mum chats to a regular commenter through the comment box…)
Tip Seven – Jump Break
Kudos to Emlyn Chand for this one. You know when someone (!) writes long blog posts and you can't be assed scrolling down their entire blog for the next post? Well if they'd inserted a jump break after a couple of paragraphs it neatly cuts off the post with a `read more` click through and then you can keep scrolling down to the next post if you wish. Cunning!
Tip Eight – Profile
Maybe I'm weird and/or uber nosey but I always look at people's profile's first when I check out their blogs, hence mine being right at the top of mine. I guess it's kind of like a shop window, welcomg people into to your shop (blog) It helps people see the person behind the words and what they're into. I think you should always have a picture of yourself as well – itt doesn't have to be totally awesome but it paints a picture of you and helps your readers get to know you and, well, like you and your blog.
Tip Nine – Stats
Watch 'em; they're not just there to remind you how few people visited that post you wrote late at night that was utter drunken twaddle… No, they are handy – they show you which posts are most popular, which gives you an idea of what content your readers like. For example 6 of my top 10 most popular posts are top 10 lists that I've done – so I know you guys like lists 🙂 It means that I keep going with lists but maybe not so much with another type of post. The stats are also good to see where you are getting visits from – mostly these will be from initially probably Twitter (am assuming you put your link on your twitter profile…) but if another blogger lists you on their blog roll and you get a hit, you'll be able to see it. Then you can say thank you! Finally, you can see where in the world people are reading your blog. This completely fascinates me – it makes the world seem much smaller and is oddly comforting to me.
I'm sure that you can also, with the help of the stats, figure out what time of day your blog gets the most traffic etc, but life's too short for that kind of maths 🙂
Tip 10 – Common Sense
It's something that I don't have a lot of, but I do try to apply it to my blog. It goes without saying that your blog should be free from typos, spelling errors, txt spk, grammatical bloopers and anything your English teacher would tell you off for (btw this is a case of do as I say not do as I do…er…)
Also, just think about what *you* like when you read other blogs, what catches your eye and equally what really pisses you off and makes you not bother to keep on reading. Use that to help yourself understand what you want on your blog. It's supposed to be fun!
About this post’s author:
I'm Stupidgirl and I've been writing on and off for a couple of years – but in January 2011, after taking part in Nanowrimo 2010 – I finally got my blog going regularly. I write about writing, reading, photos, people, social media, music and stuff that interests me. As to me, well my actual name is Becky and I live in London. I love cake, rock climbing, dogs and my long-suffering husband. As well as books, shoes, twitter, a nice glass of prosecco – the usual stuff. If you want to check the blog out visit generationwhynot-stupidgirl.blogspot.com and you can talk to me on Twitter @stupidgirl45.