So, lately I have had a lot of lovely ladies reaching out to me for advice on how they can start their own blog. While I have a step by step guide detailing how to actually set a blog up – there is so much to actually blogging successfully than just making the blog itself (obviously.) But what’s not so obvious is how to attract readers, build social media, and create buzz about your little corner of the internet. I’ve been blogging for a little over 7 months now (crazy!!!) and I have learned so much in that time. I sort of jumped into blogging blind and there was a huge learning curve for me and I definitely still don’t know everything but I’ve come so far and I feel that some things that I’ve learned might be able to help other bloggers who are still trying to figure everything out!
Social Media & Blogging
Ask any blogger and they’ll tell you that networking is just as important as actually blogging. For my first four or five months I only used facebook and pinterest sort of – I’ve since added twitter into the mix and I’ve been working on google plus and I’ve seen a ton of growth! Because I feel sufficiently well versed in Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter I will offer tips for those three avenues.
So you can take the route I did at first and use your personal facebook – but I wouldn’t recommend it. I didn’t make a facebook specifically for my blog until a month or so ago and I have such deep regret over that decision. I finally made one because I was turned down for a sponsored campaign due to my lack of one, and I’ve since been turned down for several more as a result of my lack of followers. So I highly recommend making a facebook page ASAP so that you can start growing your followers as soon as possible. Quick tip: share your blog on your personal facebook page first thing so that you can start with at least a few people liking your page, the more likes you have the more likely people are to like you page – it’s a proven fact! People trust other people! Also regarding facebook – join blogging communities. When I started out my only readers were my boyfriend (thanks, Chris!) and the people I connected with on facebook. The blogging communities are not only great for getting eyes on your blog, but you can also ask for help if something on your blog is askew – there are a ton of bloggers who will be more than happy to help you!
Pinterest is my everything when it comes to blogging. Around a month ago this post went crazy on pinterest and I started getting 20,000 views a day. Mind you before that happened I considered anything over 150 views a good day. So that was absolutely huge for me. Things have slowed down, but that pin alone still brings me in about 2,000 visitors a day, and over half of the people who read that post read other posts meaning I get about 3,000 page views every day just because I made a pinnable image. “Well, what does it mean to make a “pinnable” image?” you may be asking yourself. Well, it’s not hard, highly pinned images typically have these features:
- They are significantly longer than they are wide
- The images are saved with a descriptive title, e.g. best-college-study-tips.jpg
- The images have text on them
- There is a lot of contrast in the image
- There are no more than 2 fonts used
- Images with predominantly warm colors are statistically pinned more often
Now, I don’t follow every rule for every post, but I do try to at the very least create a long image, save the image with a creative title, and use a text overlay with only one font. When I learned what it takes to create pinnable images my views went up 400% so it’s super important. If you don’t know how to use programs like photoshop or gimp, then I highly recommend creating your images on either Canva or PicMonkey, usually I use a combination of both. Another thing to consider is group boards – I’ve recently started getting into them and have seen a small rise in how often my images get repinned! I am eager to delve more into group boards and seeing the impact they make.
Let me be completely honest here – when it comes to getting new readers from Twitter – I am hopeless, but what I do use Twitter for is connecting with current readers. It’s really cool – before I made a twitter I only ever really talked to other bloggers, but now I find myself spending hours on Twitter talking with random people who found me through the blog and that is awesome. Most of them are my age – and some of them are bloggers too so I am able to find new blogs to follow, as well. I just started getting into Twitter, and while I’m not super good at it I do have some tips.
Here you have to decide on quality versus quantity. Plenty of bloggers just care about numbers so the go and follow as many people who hashtag “teamfollowback” as possible – but then you’re stuck following a ton of people who are probably just going to add a bunch of boring retweets to your timeline and won’t engage with you. I wouldn’t recommend going down that path. My chosen method was first to follow people I knew in real life, then bloggers that I am friends with, and then bloggers who I don’t know but are within the same niche (not that I really have one) as I am. That got me a good 50 followers or so which was a nice start. After that I went through hashtags like #fbloggers, #bloggers, #collegebloggers, etc. and found tweets I found interesting and followed and engaged with the blogger who posted them. Some gave me a polite but dismissive acknowledgement as a reply, but others struck up conversation and followed me back.
- Try to remain present on Twitter and tweet several times a day. (This one is super hard for me!)
- Use hashtags – it helps people find you!
- Tweet random things to help your audience get to know you more often than you tweet out self-promotion for you blog
- Reply to people and follow new people – Twitter is all about being social!
- Don’t mass follow people in hopes you’ll gain followers back – follow people you’re interested and hope people who are interested in you will follow you.
Blogging is hard. Coming up with new ideas for content, finding time to draft and revise and edit then revise again, and staying creative can be absolutely draining if you don’t have a game plan. My motivation would always fizzle at the first sign of writers block and I would get discouraged, lately I’ve come up with a better system to stay motivated and a great system for staying inspired, so I’ll share a few of my best tips with you here. Be Concise You may be looking at this post and accusing me of being a hypocrite – but advice posts like this are a special exception. For the most part readers want something they can read in a minute or two. So if you want to share an anecdote at the beginning of a post make sure to keep it short and sweet.
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader that reads.” -Dr. Seuss
They say the magic number for a blog’s word count lies somewhere between 300 and 600 words. For me that tends to be way too short, because despite my best efforts I can tend to be long winded. Mine are usually around 1000 words and I find that to be fine, as I chop my posts up into plenty of paragraphs with headings to keep interest.
Come up with a semi-consistent blogging schedule. One of my goals this year is to create a super consistent schedule so that my readers know when to expect posts from me. If you are going to post four times this week, then you should post 4 times every week. At the same time don’t burn yourself out. Just try to create a schedule. When I first started once a week was perfect for me, now I try and do twice a week. Of course there will always be those off times where life gets to be too much and you need to step away, but for the most part be consistent.
I most definitely do not have the best blog design out there, in fact I am still using a free wordpress template and I will until I can convince myself to buy a nicer one, but I do have some key elements that (hopefully!) make the reading experience a pleasant one.
Social Media Buttons
Connecting with your readers outside of your blog is amazing, and social media is super important in creating a following for your brand. You can see mine on the very top of my sidebar!
An About Me Page
About me pages are terrible, awful, scary things to write. I know. But they are the quickest way for a reader to get a sense of who you are. So don’t wimp out and put a bulleted list of fact of yourself up – rather pour your heart into your about me and get over how awkward it is for you to write. I’ve subscribed to blogs solely based on how awesome bloggers have portrayed themselves to be in their about me pages. That is the first thing I read when I find a new blog – and it usually helps me decide whether to stick around or move on.
A contact me page
Remember when I mentioned how pinterest made my blog blow up with an insane amount of views? Well during that time I was getting several emails a day from awesome people either just offering their appreciation or asking for further advice. And it is so cool. Now I’m down to an email every few days and I love it. I have created some super cool friendships with girls around the country because they emailed me after finding my blog. Also, if you want to work with companies – they are going to need a way to contact you. As frustrating as it is there is a ton of competition in the blogging world and if a company can’t find your information in less than a few moments, they will just move on to the next blog.
A Subscribe Widget
Do you see on my sidebar how I give you the option to subscribe? That helps my posts get straight into your inbox which is good for me because it helps people find my posts, and it’s good for my readers if they are interested in what I’ve got to say. Also, a lot of companies will want to know how many subscribers you have, and it’s not fun to tell them zero!
So many blogs don’t have a menu, making exploring them super difficult and simply not worth the effort in my opinion. I have a sidebar up top where I’ve got my posts categorized, encouraging people to keep looking around. If you don’t have a sidebar – make one now and I promise you that your page views will increase.
So my obnoxiously long-winded post has finally come to an end. I hope that I was able to help you out! Remember, this advice just stems from my own personal experience in my short time blogging, and these tips are just a starting place and not all of these tips will work for everybody. But play around with them and you may just find yourself with more readers and a greater level of engagement!
What are your best blogging tips? I would love to hear them! Share them in the comments below!