There comes a time in every blogger’s life when they feel ready to give blogging advice to others. Or maybe there just comes a time when they’ve made so many mistakes they feel they can help others by sharing their experiences.
This time has come for me :)
I’ve been writing here for ten months now, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Some lessons were learned gently, by reading other blogs and searching the Internet, while others were learned the hard way, through trial and error.
Here are 10 lessons I learned over 10 months of blogging. Enjoy!
1. Premium themes are sometimes worth the cost:
I started this blog using a free WordPress theme, which worked well for a few months. But as I grew more comfortable with WordPress and began customizing my blog site, I found I wasn’t totally satisfied with any of the free options. I ended up purchasing a premium theme from WooThemes, and have never looked back. [Update: I now use a paid theme from ThemeForest.]
If you cant find a free theme you love, consider springing for a premium theme so you can make your blog look exactly the way you would like it to.
2. Read as many blogs as you can:
I regularly read 20-25 other blogs, from big name sites like Copy Blogger and Zen Habits, to growing blogs from fellow writers such as Dan Gillmor and Kat Latham. I have learned most of what I know about blogging by reading what others are writing about and creeping about on their blogs.
3. Set up Google Alerts:
I’m surprised by how many people don’t set up Google Alerts. Google Alerts are a fantastic way to keep track of what people are saying about you and your blog online, and best of all, they’re free!
When you create a Google Alert, you’ll get an email each time the search term you specify is mentioned on the web. I set up a Google Alert for my name (in quotation marks, to ensure I’m only seeing mentions of “Carrie” that are also attached to “Mumford”) shortly after launching my blog, and have not worried about missing mentions of my blog ever since.
4. Don’t be afraid to try new things (or scrap them if they’re not working):
In 10 months, I have gone through 3 blog names, 4 urls, and countless blog pages. At one point, I even completed a full site redesign. In my humble opinion, blogs are meant to be experimented with! Don’t be afraid to try new things or stop doing something if it’s not working. Try new types of posts, add new pages, post at different frequencies. Just be sure to monitor your site stats and comments to get a feel for which pages and posts are resonating with visitors.
5. Decide why you’re blogging:
It may sound odd, but I didn’t decide why I was blogging before I started this blog. I had a vague idea that I wanted to write about writing and meet other people interested in writing, but that was about it. Since the launch of this blog, I’ve narrowed my reasons for blogging down to a tight list (that perhaps I’ll share one day). Knowing why you’re blogging will keep you going when you don’t feel like writing and help you focus the topics of your posts.
6. Be yourself:
It’s difficult to make yourself stand out in the sea of blogs available to readers today. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to survive in the blogging world is to be yourself. There were some posts that I wrote with my face red with embarrassment at my nerdiness, assuming that no one would read them. Little did I know, those posts turned out to be some of my most popular. Your voice, more than anything else, will define you in the world of blogging.
7. Post a photo of yourself:
I know this is debated, but I think including a photo of yourself on your blog is important. If you are using other social media outlets, like Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus, your blog readers will be able to recognize you by sight alone. If you’re shy, try using the same icon across all of your social media accounts. I used a stack of books to identify myself for several months until I was ready to post a real picture.
8. Add social sharing buttons:
Social sharing buttons fall into the “learned it the hard way” camp for me. Social sharing buttons give your readers a really easy way to share your posts with their followers on various social networks. All WordPress themes include social sharing options – you even get to choose which networks you would like to enable.
If you scroll to the bottom of this post (and you’re reading online, as opposed to in an email account), you’ll be able to see my social sharing buttons beside ‘share this.’
9. Comment on other blogs:
To me, blogs are just as social as Twitter or Facebook or any other networking site; they’re a forum for conversation. Leaving comments is a great way to meet other people who are interested in the same things that you are, and a great way to let other bloggers know someone is out there, reading what they write. I know comments aren’t for everyone; just like the people on Twitter who choose not to follow anyone (only to be followed), there are bloggers who simply write and that’s it. For me, commenting on blogs and meeting other people is half the fun (and one of the reasons I bog).
10. Don’t give up!
Although it’s difficult to find statistics about blogging, I have read estimates that claim 60-80% of blogs are abandoned within a few months of being launched. If you manage to post consistently for more than a few months, you’re doing better than most! When to going gets tough, try reading other blogs for post ideas, or check out these links:
I learn something new about blogging every week, so I’m sure I still have a long way to go. Do you have any tips for hosting a successful blog? Please leave a comment below!
Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/sqback