Before I dive into today’s post, I just have to say what a ‘Blogging High’ I have been on over the past week. I can’t even believe I’m typing this but THE Apartment Therapy featured my Side Table Makeover on Friday. WOW. What a huge honor. I also have to thank all of the other amazing blogs for featuring my work over the past week, I feel like someone needs to pinch me right now! And as always, thanks to all of YOU for making my day with all of your encouraging comments.
I generally don’t write about blogging on my blog, but it’s always good to mix things up a bit, yeah? I’ve been blogging for a little over a year but it hasn’t been until the past few months that I have I really taken a plunge into the blogging world and found ‘my blogging style’. It has been a really big learning experience and I thought I’d take a few minutes and share some of my thoughts with you. Take them as tips or take them as my opinions, I’ll leave that up to you. I am in NO WAY a blogging expert, I still feel like a very small fish in a big sea and I am learning new things on a daily basis.
1. Content and Photography Are the Dynamic Duo of Your Blog.
They go together like chocolate and peanut butter. You’ve probably heard this from hundreds of other bloggers but I had to say it again because that’s how important it is. Photos will make or break a project. I’ve seen awesome, super creative projects go unnoticed due to poor photography and on the reverse I’ve seen really simple projects go viral because the blogger achieved the perfect shot.
I’m not saying go out and buy a super expensive DSLR Camera but I am encouraging you to learn to use your camera in manual mode, play with lighting, stage photos, and edit. I’ve really benefited from this post from Centsational Girl and this post from I Heart Naptime. In case you are wondering, I have a Canon Rebel and I edit all of my photos in Picasa and use PicMonkey for graphics :)
2. Networking is KEY.
Network, network, network. I can’t say this enough. I know we all get caught up with our own projects, taking photos, editing, writing posts, and it can be hard to find time to visit other blogs. But make time for it. Comment on your favorite blogs, interact on facebook, pin projects you like, email your favorite bloggers and introduce yourself and tell them why you enjoy their blog, guest post, etc. (But be genuine, don’t just comment to comment. This topic could be a whole other post in itself).
If I have to choose between writing a mediocre post for the next day or spending 1 hour browsing blogs and commenting, guess which one wins? By spending time commenting on other blogs it helps you get to know other bloggers better, you discover new ones and people are more likely to discover you. I’ve discovered some of my favorite blogs because they took the time of leave a comment on my post and vice versa. AND there is so much inspiration out there that by browsing other blogs you could be inspired to add 1K more projects to your list :)
3. Brand Your Blog.
Treat your blog not just as a place to share your projects but as your brand. What do you want your brand to feel like? How do you want to be perceived by other bloggers and companies? What do you want to be known for? Be professional and have respect for yourself and take pride in the content you are sharing on your blog.
For me, I THOUGHT I started out with a clear vision for my blog but so much has changed over the past 13 months. It took me a while to REALLY find my niche and I finally feel like I’m in a comfortable place (at least for today, that could change tomorrow).
4. Focus On What You Are Good At.
This ties directly into #3. You may begin to notice that your popular posts will slowly begin to define the direction of your blog and essentially your brand. Are people coming to your blog for your tips, your recipes, your sewing patterns, your knock-off projects or your posts about your personal life? If you don’t know which projects are your most popular, study your Google Analytics and look at the ‘content’ section. Take a look at your top 10-15 most popular posts from the past 3 months and see if there are any correlations. If there is a mix of everything in there than keep doing what you are doing, but you may be surprised what you find.
For me, I’m always surprised by which projects really take off. It’s like a gamble every time I push ‘publish’. And to be honest, some of my most popular posts are projects that I almost didn’t post because I thought they were ‘too simple’ or ‘not good enough’. So never underestimate something you KNOW, because someone else might find it helpful!
5. Don’t Be Intimated.
I may seem super outgoing, but I actually get intimidated really easily. Thankfully blogging helps this insecurity of mine because there is a computer screen to hide behind (kidding, but not really) but in all honesty, there is no reason so be intimidated in the world of blogging. Don’t be scared of other ‘bigger’ bloggers and don’t be afraid of big brands either. I still feel like the same blogger that I was when I had ZERO followers. If you have a blogging question send an email to another blogger and ask for advice. Or if you feature someone’s work in a round-up, write them a note and let them know. In my experience, everyone has been SO helpful in this community and the more you put yourself out there the more people will notice you and get to know your blog.
6. Join Link Parties.
Quality versus quantity. Link parties are a fabulous way to get your projects out there, be featured and earn new followers. BUT link parties also take a lot of time, especially if you are linking up daily. In my opinion it is best to focus on the parties that bring you the most traffic. There are HUNDREDS of link parties out there and you could spend hours linking up to every single one of them or you could spend that time focusing on the parties that you enjoy the most and spend the rest of the time commenting on other blogs and writing super fabulous posts. Your call. You can view where I link up here.
At the end of each month I look through my Google Analytics (if you don’t have this set up, do it now, like right now) and see who my top referrers are. If you look to the right in my sidebar you’ll see my top referring blogs from last month and most of them host awesome parties (that I recommend). My top referrers vary each month but it’s great to know where your traffic is coming from how many clicks you are actually getting from each link party you attend. It’s eye opening!
NOTE: I’m not saying don’t support other smaller blogs with link parties, I’m just encouraging you to prioritize your time and link up to the ones that best fit your content.
7. Timing is Everything.
One thing that has really helped me is discovering the best time to publish my posts. Your Google Analytics can actually tell you what times during the day your site has the most visitors. I know that my pageviews peak once in the morning and once in the evening so I schedule my posts around these times. I also schedule my posts to be delivered to email subscribers during this time. Try a few different times over the course of a few months and see which one works best for you.
8. Turn That Frown Upside Down.
It’s human nature to want to be accepted and liked by others but to be a blogger you have to have tough skin sometimes, after all you are putting yourself out there! It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative comments or people ‘unliking’ your facebook (it happens to me ALL the time). These things happen daily and if you let it get the best of you it will affect the rest of your blog. Stay positive, focus on the people that WANT to read your blog, make killer projects and interact with your readers. How many people actually enjoy hanging out with Negative Nancy? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Whenever I loose a facebook friend, I always tell myself not to take it personally and remember that there are so many reasons why someone could ‘unlike’ your page. They could have deleted their facebook account entirely, decided to not follow ANY blogs anymore (not just yours), or ‘liked’ your page as an entry to a giveaway and decided you aren’t really the right fit for them (and that is perfectly ok).
9. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others.
Trust me, this is WAY easier said than done. I’m totally guilty of it, but every time I start to compare my blog to X blogger or Y blogger I bring myself back to focus and have to remember that we are all different. We all blog for different reasons and we all spend different amounts of time blogging. I know that I will never be a full-time blogger so I can’t compare myself to someone who is able to put 40 hours+ into their blog.
I put as much time into my blog as I am able to with a toddler and no more. I work on projects during naptime which could be anywhere from 2-4 hours (minus the time that I spend doing laundry, cleaning etc.) and I blog after my family goes to bed, so from 9:30-11:30 pm and occasionally if I wake up before Miss E I get an hour in the morning. That’s all the time I have for blogging and I am ok with that because I get to spend the rest of my day as a mom. I’ve already discovered that I can’t do it all and have a full-time job from home (you can read about that here) so I’m always making a conscious effort not to fall into that trap again.
10. Blogging Should Be Fun.
Throughout this journey I have always told myself that I never want to feel like I HAVE to write a post. I always want to WANT to sit down on my computer and browse other blogs and write a post for you. If I ever say to myself, “I’m so tired, I don’t want to write a post tonight”, I don’t. I take a break for the night and generally crawl into bed and call it a night. It’s good to turn your brain off and rejuvenate. I always want to ENJOY blogging and not turn it into a JOB (it’s just a bonus that I am actually able to make SOME money from it). And to be honest, most people aren’t going notice if you post 4 instead of 5 days a week :)
For the record, I could do a WAY better job in all of these areas and I’m still learning the ropes as I go. But hopefully some of these tips help you. What are some of your best blogging tips?
If there is anything else you want to know more about, you know where to find me!