|via Pola Cherie|
I have been blogging since 2007, and during this time I have gathered a bit of experience and wisdom that I'd like to share. Obviously my advice is biased towards bloggers who blog as a hobby, however I'd say that most advise here will be useful for everyone. Here are my very best blogging tips, learned the hard way:
Stop clinging to your images:In the world of pinterest, weheartit and tumblr the internet is zipping away from copyright and towards open source. You images will get shared and reshared and reposted and pinned, and on the way they will lose their context and the link to you. I refuse to think of this as "stealing". It's not like someone is taking the original image away from me. I do however add the name of my site to the images, because hopefully they will lead curious people back to my blog. That way my wandering images will work as extra publicity for my blog. Obviously, if someone pretends that they made the images or tries to make money with them, it's a different story.
Twitter and Facebook followers are just numbers:The only reason you should care for them is if you want to work with brands, in that case higher numbers do look good. Otherwise, just don't bother. I got disillusioned when I discovered Twitter accounts with thousands of "spam" followers. You can pay a couple of dollars to people in Asia to create hundreds of fake Twitter accounts to follow yours. Even if you don't resort to this kind of stuff, the truth is that most bloggers get followers through giveaways: just raffle off something everybody wants and you will get a couple hundred followers overnight. Bottom line: the number of people following your Facebook page or your Twitter account doesn't have anything to do with how many people actually read your posts and like them.
Jealousy is a waster of time:There is always that blogger who posts "I like kittens and raindrops and cupcakes. What do you like?" and gets 200 comments, while my 800-word super-informative and painstakingly researched post gets five. Or none. Just deal with it.
Guest-posting is the best way to promote your blog:Seriously. You get high-quality links back to your blog, and you get to show off a sample of your blog to a new audience. Plus, if you do a guest-post exchange, you get two posts for the price of one (you should always put a placeholder post on your blog when guest-posting elsewhere: "Today I'm blogging about x over at blog y, come check it out").
Many big, established blogs accept guest-posts! Some that I know are Apartment Therapy (Submit A Story), Problogger and Hello Giggles. You can always mail your favourite blogger and ask them if you can guest-post for them. (Ahem, feel free to contact me as well!)
Post regularly:This is probably the most important advice about blogging. Have a rhythm. Readers prefer if you blog consistently once a week, over throwing twenty posts at them in one week and then disappearing for two months. If a blogger doesn't post for too long, I assume that they lost interest and abandoned the blog, and I move on to more regularly updated ones. If you have a hard time posting regularly, try to schedule posts to automatically publish on chosen dates.
Don't use tiles (the layout):
They are the trend in blogging right now, but I seriously dislike them. They don't allow the reader to smoothly scroll and skim though your archives, and scrolling and skimming is how readers get to know and love your blog. Nobody wants to click through to see every single post.
What happens on the internet, stays on the internet... for ever:Over-sharing is tempting, especially when you see a blogger get extra attention this way. However, remember that you can't unsay anything online. It will always be there, and it can be googled and passed on to others by strangers, employers, friends and family. If something could be potentially embarrassing or hurtful to someone, think twice about posting it. Believe me, "I really wish I had written about that on the internet" is not a common regret.
Copy from other bloggers:Don't copy what they do, but how they do it. How often do they post? Which information do they include in their about page? How long are their posts? Which widgets did they include in their sidebar? How do they handle criticism? Where do they guest post? I have a couple of bloggers that I admire terribly and have learned a lot from them. Shout-outs to Yes and Yes, Already Pretty, Garance Dore, and Alina Rose -- I love their transparency and honesty, their unique styles writing styles, their blog layouts, and their business savvy.
Ask for help:I have emailed more experienced bloggers a couple of times asking for guidance when I couldn't find any information online about a blogging problem. They were extremely nice and helpful!
Also, blogging communities are amazing: I learned tons from The Sits Girls, even though it focuses on a topic very different from mine (mommy blogging). Also, Independent Fashion Bloggers has nice tips and an interesting community. Search Facebook for blogging groups -- they are an amazing way to privately communicate with many bloggers at once, ask for guidance and get feedback. If you are lucky enough to have other bloggers in your town, do go and meet them!
Don't bother with keeping up with everyone in your niche:If you love a blog in your niche and would read it anyway, then do so. But don't read every blog similar to yours just because Problogger tells you to. Other blogs can have useful content and inspire you, but personally I find that too much
That said, I do have a couple of beauty, style and bra blogs that I do read -- but I do it for myself, and not for the sake of "keeping up with my niche".
Don't work with anyone who doesn't respect you:At a certain point (usually when your Google Page rank goes up to 2), you will get all kinds of proposals from brands and PR companies. Now, a huge number of them will be most unprofessional (either really obtuse or wanting to take advantage of you). Just say no to anything that doesn't feel right. Don't bother replying to emails where the author clearly didn't bother to read your blog. End things if the brand is making you jump through too many hoops, is inconsistent with their promises, or is trying to tell you what to write. Don't accept generic guest posts/free content, they are actually using your blog as a free link farm.
A "good" brand treat your with respect, will know who you are, and most importantly will offer you something worthwhile in return for your time and effort. And no, it won't be 5$ per post or "free publicity for your blog" -- the time and effort you put into posts is worth way more than that. A good brand will also give you the right to express your own opinion about their goods or services. You, your blog and your readers and worth a lot to you; always remember that.
Check your spelling and grammar:I highly recommend polishmywriting.com, which catches spelling and grammar checks that your default spell-check might have missed. English is not my native language and I do make mistakes, however running my writing through polishmywriting catches at least the biggest errors.
Content is king:You don't need the latest overpriced Apple notebook and a showy SLR camera. If your blog is not part of your business, you don't need to work on your branding or a professionally deigned template. Of course, it's nice to have these things. But people come to blogs to read stuff, and if your stuff is entertaining, interesting or useful, they will come back even if the branding on your Facebook page doesn't match the branding on your footer divider bar. On the same note: you don't need to tweet your butt off or even have a Twitter or Facebook page unless you really want to. Just write great, original content and people will flock to your blog.
Over to you: what are your best blogging tips? Let me know in the comments.