Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers

The Blogoverse has a new citizen and that is a very good thing. Since March, Pam has been blogging at Pass The Honey. pass the honey Pam and I recently started a Facebook conversation about blogging and how to make the most out of a blog. As I started my response to her, I decided to share my thoughts as a blog post.  Pam does have some specific questions, but I am going to share some “basics” first with my top ten tips for new bloggers and save my answers to the specifics for a later post.

Make A Date With The Page

This is the single best piece of advice I have ever been given about blogging. All of the credit goes to Nametag Scott. He advised me to “pick a frequency and stick to it, whether you feel like writing or not.” I prefer a less ambitious frequency to a more ambitious. For example, I blog every Sunday and occasionally create a post on an additional day. If I felt pressure to post three times a week, however, it would be difficult for me to keep that up. “Perspicacity will post every Sunday” also helps readers know what to expect.

Choose A Platform

I began blogging on Blogger and eventually changed to WordPress. For me, the move has been for the better in several key areas. My spam problems (and “anonymous commenter” problems) have been virtually eliminated by the use of Akismet. My ability to use Google Analytics has been enhanced (maybe it’s just as easy with Blogger but I did not start using Google Analytics until I had switched to WordPress).  I find it easier to work with images in WordPress than Blogger.

Quality Writing Matters

No matter how you write (or how widely you distribute your blog), poor writing will hurt your blog and your audience’s receptiveness to future content. Do you want to read mediocre writing? (That said, the main reason I blog is to flex my writing muscle, so I know that some of my writing will be better than other pieces. As with anything else in life, take the time to pay attention to your content rather than posting just to post. (Conversely, I can paralyze myself with worrying about a piece of writing’s readiness. There are times we you just have to press “publish.”))

Think About Images

Different bloggers have different thoughts about images, but for me a post feels almost incomplete without at least one image. I know as a reader I prefer to have a visual to accompany the words. One source of visual content is (wait for it…) our own lives! Here is a post that presents some great tips for creating your own visual content for your blog. Sources of free photo content that does not require permission from the creator are plentiful. I like Morgue File and a WordPress Plugin called PhotoDropper which literally drops in a photo you choose from its collection and attaches the appropriate credit to the post (it is only available for WordPress, though).

A favorite image taken with my iPhone.

A favorite image taken with my iPhone.

Be Accurate

I suppose I worded this one pretty bluntly, but if you are going to write about facts, get them right. I once hosted a giveaway for Jason’s Deli on my blog and stated that there had been a “parade of short-lived establishments since Banjo’s Barbecue had vacated.” There had not been a “parade,” there had been one (not sure where my memory pulled the “parade” from) and a commenter called me on it. Unfortunately, that was when I was still on blogger and the commenter was anonymous (although I am pretty sure I know who it was). The frustration is I would like to have followed up with them personally but could not due to the anonymous comment. (I did make a correction to the post, however.)

Say Yes to Yoast

If you want your posts to be found, one component that is important is your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A fabulous tool for making your post more “findable” by search engines and the like is the WordPress SEO Plug-in from Yoast.  Among several useful features, Yoast helps the blogger create a “meta description” that is most attractive to potential readers. Let’s take my World Book Night 2014 post, for example. When I first published the post, the meta description was a mess (it appears in the “snippet preview”): WBN Yoast I went into Yoast and made some adjustments (the text in the “meta description” box): WBN Yoast Two

Get Permission

There are protocols that you should follow as a blogger. Certainly if you are going to use an image, give credit to the creator and obey all copyright laws. But “permission” extends to other areas of blogging too. If you are going to excerpt someone else’s writing, link to their original work or credit them prominently and (if it is an extensive excerpt) let them know in advance (or at a minimum send them the link afterwards).

Get The Word Out

I have read various estimates of how many blog posts are published in the world daily. Suffice it to say the number is high. There’s no way you could read them all. For that reason, it is important to make sure your blog gets in front of people.  This is an area where I could certainly make improvements, but for now here is what I do.

  • Make sure there is a place on my blog where people can subscribe by email
  • Participate in Triberr, which amplifies my reach by tweeting out my posts via other bloggers (and vice versa)
  • Participate in Linkups, where bloggers share their posts and agree to comment on others’ posts (a favorite linkup of mine is the SITS Girls Saturday Sharefest)

Talk Amongst Yourselves

Although I blog to flex my “writing muscle,” I would be lying if I didn’t say that comments rock my world. I love to know that people are reading, and I have had some great dialogues via my comments section (as well as heaps of support at various times in my life). “Comment to others” goes in the category of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Share generously on others’ blogs and hopefully many of them will do the same for you. Likewise, respond back when someone comments to you.  Creating a community around your blog (or at least a sense that you’re having an ongoing conversation) is, to me, an important piece of blogging success.

Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps you understand how many people are visiting your blog as well as a host of other metrics related to your readership. While it’s easy to get unnecessarily wrapped up in these metrics, it is also helpful to know if anyone is reading (and how long they’re staying, how frequently they’re returning, etc.). I also need to be able to report my Google Analytics data when I am applying for various sponsored post opportunities.

Top 10 Tips

BONUS!

Enjoy it. There is hardly any mistake you could make that would be a fatal flaw. Writing block happens; typos happen. Life gets in the way of posting. Pam, you’re a year away from retirement and, to quote you, “I want an exciting life and I will try my best to have it.” Something tells me you’re going to succeed, and I for one can’t wait to read all about it on your blog!  Pam’s blog can be found at Pass the Honey (link here). Stop by and say hello!

(Lastly, Pam was Tenley’s (my daughter) English teacher last year. Thank you for making her senior year one in which the joy of words was alive and well!)

30 thoughts on “Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers

  1. Thanks so much for the extremely helpful advice, Paula. I so agree with you that the quality of the writing matters, but I guess the English teacher in me. 🙂 I edit my posts over and over, making sure that I have no mistakes, but as soon as I publish, I find something wrong or something I wish I had written a different way. I am having fun with the blog, but I’m worried about keeping the twice-a-week posts up when school starts back. I might cut back to once a week until I retire. That frequency seems less stressful. This summer I have banked a few posts for later publication; however, I didn’t get as many saved as I had planned.

    I loved having your daughter in class last year. She is a dedicated student and a really good writer, just like her mom. I know she will do well in college.

    Again, thanks for your help and guidance. I so appreciate all of the help from you and the rest of the blogging community.

    • You’re welcome!! Your question made me think about many components of blogging, as well as take a little walk down the memory lane of the past few years. Thank you for asking!!

  2. Good tips!
    I still don’t have yoast.
    My software comes with an SEO plug in, but I don’t think I’m utilizing it like I should.

    • Thanks! I had heard about Yoast long before I started using it. When I was on a blogger trip, I actually was kind of eavesdropping on a fellow blogger explaining it to another blogger — for some reason that’s when it sank in! It’s easy to let the SEO dictate what you write and that’s probably not good either – a balance is always a good thing for which to strive.

    • Thank you, Sharon! I’m really grateful to all of the bloggers who have helped me out, especially Ali from @gimmesomeoven who taught me all about Yoast (I reference her in the reply above but I didn’t name her!).

  3. Appreciate all these tips, especially your reminder, “There is hardly any mistake you could make that would be a fatal flaw.” It’s easy to get paralyzed trying for perfection! Had not heard of Triberr, will definitely check that out.

    • You’re welcome, Lisa!! I definitely can’t give a definitive primer on Triberr, but I know that it has relieved me of some of the more manual scheduled tweeting (and just manual tweeting of posts) that I used to do, and I think there is a lot of value in my posts going out from other people as opposed to just me. If I can answer any questions let me know!

  4. Paula, after our dinner tonight I decided to take the plunge! You are the first blogger for whom I have posted a reply (or at least that I can remember. LOL) I might just get up the nerve (and dedicate the time) to start a blog after all. 🙂 hmm…there’s a future Toastmaster speech in there somewhere… Thanks for sharing your personal view of the world with us.

    • Thanks, Kathy!! I am enjoying that Midlife Blvd page and so grateful to meet fellow bloggers like you. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Thanks, Susan. Since this was originally inspired by a teacher, how could I not use that phrase? 🙂

  5. LOVE this! These are things I wish I had known when I first started out- especially the one about making a date with the page. I started out trying to post every day but that got tiring so quickly. Best decision I ever made was to drop down to 1/2 posts a week!

  6. Yoast seriously ROCKS MY SOCKS OFF!! The ONE THING I wish I really did when I started blogging was start with WORDPRESS.ORG as opposed to switching from .com to .org after about a year or so! I would have saved myself some money – ha ha! But oh well, I am willing to invest in my baby!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.