Wednesday, February 13, 2013

10 Blogging Tips - that I have utilized to help grow my blog. #learntoblog

Probably the hardest thing to do in creating a new blog, when new to blogging, is figuring out how to get others to read your blog.  Honestly, this has been my struggle from the start.  I have dear friends that read my blog, and I love them for that....but I wanted to know how to get followers beyond my friends. So I began my research and here are a few tips and pointers I have found along the way.

DISCLAIMER:  I am NO pro at blogging.  I am actually still very new to the world of blogging, but am eager to figure this world out.  I have been looking at lots of suggestions and advice along the way and the tips below are what have benefitted me the most SO FAR!!!

10 Blogging Tips:

1.  Content - First and foremost, I agree with most everyone out there with the fact that you must be creating content people want to read.  It's been an interesting road for me to see what posts get the most hits and what don't.  I will admit, I am usually surprised by what does well.  It isn't always what I would have thought.  For me, my recipe posts are probably my most popular by far.  

Fontina Cheese Appetizer

My most popular post of all time is:
Fontina Cheese Appetizer 

But I have a few tip posts, craft posts and just family posts that have done well too.  One thing that has truly helped me with content is to find blogs that I love to read, and then figure out why they are so appealing.  Most of the time if I can take just one thing away, learn something new, or find a useful way to do something better it was worth my time.  

2.  Design - I have really struggled to make my site what I vision it to be.  I knew in my mind what I wanted my site design to look like, but not being a skilled HTML person, I was struggling with knowing how to do what I wanted done.  I didn't really want to pay a designer to do it for me, because I just desired to learn how to myself.  So I did a little research and ended up purchasing an affordable e-course called "Blog (Design) Love".  I found it through Elise Blaha's blog.  She is the co-author and the e-course can be found here (link).  I learned more from this one e-course than I have ever learned about HTML....and it all specifically relates to blog design, and they cover Typepad, Blogger and Wordpress!  So I found it to be well worth the $34.  I spent about 3 weeks, daily going through all the lessons and tutorials.  I could have probably done it in about a week, but the authors encourage you to take your time and really do all the I did.  Boy was it helpful!  ( may be asking yourself, how does this affect growing a blog, well I truly wasn't happy with where my blog was design wise and felt if I wasn't who reading it would be.  So I at least feel better.)  I was previously using Dynamic Designs on Blogger and although it was easy and quick, and generated lots of page views (more than my design now, based off of how it counts page views), I still am much more comfortable with the newer design.  My next step will be to own my own URL, and probably eventually switch over to Word Press, but for now I am happy with where I am.  I am still working to improve things like my sidebar buttons and etc, but that all takes I am pacing myself and trying not to hurry through it too much.  At least I now know how to do what I want!

3.  Photography - This goes hand in hand with design & content, but honestly great photography can pull anyone in, especially from Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites 
like that.  Again honesty....I take most of my pictures with my Nikon DSL camera, but there are quite of few photos on my blog that are just iPhone photos.  As long as it is a good shot, who cares.  One thing that I definitely started doing was labeling my blog name on all of my photos (I still have many old photos to go back and label), this will help identify you as the owner wherever your photo may show up.  

4.  Pinterest - Well this goes without saying, but Pinterest is definitely where a lot of my traffic onto my site comes from.  Both from me pinning pictures once I post, or from others doing it.  I try and add "PinIt" buttons onto the photos that I believe will do well on Pinterest.  Here is how...
  • Go to your Pinterest account.
  • Click on About button in far right top corner of the page.
  • A drop down menu should have "Pin It Button" as second choice.  Click it.
  • Then scroll down to Pinterest Widgets.  You can there create your own "Pin It" buttons for your pictures.  
Also here is a great blog entry by Crystal and Co on "How to use Pinterest to grow your blog" (click link).  So many great tips and tricks to make Pinterest work for you!!!

5.  Linky Party Fun - Linking up has brought me not only traffic, but more loyal followers.  It's a great way to get your recipes, crafts and ideas out to many more people.  I have seen traffic increase two fold when I take the time to link up my posts to other blogger Link Parties that happen on a regular basis with lots of traffic.  I also have found almost all of my favorite blogs I now read daily through other link parties.  It's a great way to display your content to others within the same nitch!  I usually just find the Link Parties by googling for them.  I have many that I now use on a weekly basis.  Many great blogs have a page designated to links to linky party sites by the day of the week.  (I haven't gotten there yet! ;O)  You can find on the bottom of a lot of my posts buttons to where I have shared my posts.  

6.  Comment, Comment, Comment - Sometimes I forget and have to remind myself not to be a creeper.  When I began blogging, I wasn't good at this.  I would stop by blogs, love what they were doing, but then just leave without telling them.  I never really thought about it.  I have since changed my approach.  If I like something, I tell the blog writer.  Knowing how much time I now devote to my blog, nothing makes me happier than to see a new email where someone has commented on my own blog.  Makes it all worthwhile.  I also have recently began making what I like to call blog friendships.  I have to admit, I am a very independent military spouse....and I have a team of "battle buddies" in real life.  So the idea that I would need blogging battle buddies, made me want to convince good friends of mine not blogging to blog, just so I had ready made "Blogging buddies".  Well that isn't going to work.  So reality has showed me, that there are GREAT people out there just like me doing this on a daily basis, and I have a LOT I can learn from them.  (Just like my military battle buddies.)  So I encourage you, if you read a blog posting and you like it, gained anything from it, or just loved the photo....tell them.  Comment on the post and let the blogger know.  I guarantee you that 90% of the time you will get a response.  Most bloggers love to have people appreciate what they are doing!!!  

7.  Archive for Ease - Meaning, give a person who has stopped by your website a reason to stay.  If they found you via Pinterest and they click on a link, make sure that you have photo links or something eye catching to make them want to stay and read more of your postings.  Don't forget to have a HOME button.  That is one of the easiest way, someone who found you via a picture on Pinterest or a Google search can see what you are currently posting about.  Here is a great tutorial on how to create your own Simple Navigation Bar.  It is also helpful to have a "Search this Site" tool somewhere near the top of your page.  I have mine currently near my Archive side of my page.  

8.  About Me - When I first began this journey, I wasn't sure how much I wanted to say about myself.  But as I read blog after blog, I found I was drawn to other blogs where the writer was human.  I mean where I could see who they were, and somehow relate to them.  I find that I personally am not as attracted to blogs where the author is a mystery.  So I have stepped up and began sharing more and more about Me!  (Within reason and always with caution...see as a military spouse I have heard time and time again about internet safety!  So I just make sure I am always talking about the past, and never give any specifics about our current military life.  Mostly I blog about FOOD, CRAFTS and a few life TIPS here and it hasn't been an issue for me.)  

9.  Get Social - OK, well I have kind of touched on this in a few above tips, but specifically now I would suggest you use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and etc to get your word out.  I also have found using Bloglovin' that will post my new blog entries directly to my social media sites helpful.  I used to do all those postings myself and pick and chose what I wanted to put where, but once I began letting it post automatically I found I was bringing in more people from different places.  Also connect with your readers on those platforms.  This is where I am just beginning to try to get better.  My next adventure is going to be to look into Triberr.  I have logged in and haven't yet gotten into a Tribe.  So that will be my next goal.  ;O)

10.  Research - Just like anything else, the blog world is ever changing.  To stay on top of your game, you have to work at it.  I am a firm believer that knowledge is power, and that the world of blogging is a mystery to most.  But if you look hard enough you can find the answers to all your blogging questions by just researching.  

Good luck on your ventures.  I hope you have as much fun as I do with your blog.  Got any great tips or hints to share with me?  Please post them in the comments, email them to me, or put a link to them in my comments.  I am always wanting to learn more.  Please remember my DISCLAIMER from the beginning, I don't know it all, and never claim to.  So the more you can share with me the better I can become.  Thanks for stopping by!


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