When I first started blogging I read every blog post I could find on blogging. I was always so thankful when successful bloggers who didn’t necessarily blog about blogging shared some of their secrets. So, this week I want to share some secrets with you. If you aren’t sure where to even start, check out this post by The SITS Girls with some great information.
1. Longevity pays off
I remember reading when I first started that you won’t really “make it” as a blogger until you have been blogging for 3 years. I told myself I would make it to three years so I could “make it”. Amazingly enough, this seems to be true. My second year brought some amazing opportunities for me and my site but it seems like this third year is going to be even bigger. I have some exciting things in the works! So, make sure whatever you are going to blog about your are passionate about because if you are going to talk about it daily/weekly for 3 years you want to have a lot to say about it without growing tired of it.
2. Focus on content
You may have heard it before and I’ll say it again, when you start out blogging you should focus solely on content. Don’t worry about getting your numbers higher, more Facebook fans, or getting advertisers. If you don’t have strong content then you won’t have readers, Facebook fans or advertisers. Give people a reason to stay on your page when they find it.
Make sure you have past content that is strong as well so they have a reason to stay on your site and search around. Gigi from Kludgy Mom did a series a few years ago where she talked about where bloggers should focus her time. I remember the second year blogger should focus on social media. That isn’t to say a first year blogger can’t but don’t let your social media numbers consume you. Your first year you should be focusing on content.
3. Know the rules of giveaways
Giveaways are a great way to increase traffic to your site and get more fans/followers to your social media platforms. Before you jump at the chance to give something away make sure you understand the rules/laws. I had the privilege of listening to a lawyer, Sara Hawkins, break it down at a conference but luckily for you she wrote a very detailed and fantastic post you can read. Please read this post – Social Media Promotions and the Law: What You Need to Know.
Once I did, I realized I needed to keep my giveaways to only US residents since Canada and other countries have different laws when it comes to giveaways. Be mindful of Facebook’s Terms of Service when it pertains to promotions/giveaways. These are constantly changing but make sure you are up to date. It’s not worth the risk of losing all your fans to break their Terms of Service in hopes they don’t find you. If in doubt, ask or don’t do it.
4. Design does matter
When I first started blogging, I couldn’t afford a blog design so I found a free template and did my best to make it look professional. I was blessed with people who offered to do my header and even create a watermark for me. I would suggest purchasing a template if at all possible. I like the ones at Genesis and found their forum to be rather informative to help me change small aspects of my design to make it fit my style.
After a year, I finally saved up for a blog designer and noticed an increase in my traffic after the new design. I don’t know if the two were related or not, but having a nicely designed blog does make a difference. Don’t clutter your sidebar with every button under the sun. Every few months, go through and remove some things from your sidebar. Keep it clean and fresh.
5. Buy your domain name and host your site
If you are serious about blogging, buy your domain name. I’m talking about your dot com. Instead of being www.clickitupanotch.wordpress.com. Besides the fact that it is a super long address and might be hard to remember, WordPress.com sites have to follow certain Terms of Service such as not being allowed to have advertisers on their site. You should own your own domain name and host it through a site, such as Bluehost. It may sound confusing but you want to host through a hosting site and open a WordPress blog that way so it’s considered a self hosted site instead of a WordPress dot com site.
Read how to start a blog here.
6. Affiliates are your best friend
Many people get into blogging to make money and to be honest, you need to make some money to cover the costs for hosting and other expenses. You can sign up for different affiliate programs and I have found Amazon to be an effective one for me. When you mention a product you like and want to link to it, if you sign up for an affiliate program you can link to the product using a specific link and you can make a small proceeds of the product from the company.
If you want your readers to have value in what you say and recommend then make sure what you recommend is something you believe in. Plus, the bonus of affiliate links are they sit on your site for as long as your site is live. That means a post you wrote 3 years ago can continue to bring in money each month today. Don’t underestimate the power of an affiliate link. Almost every company out there has an affiliate program so find those products and companies you want to support and apply for their programs. This is a great way to start to make money without having to find advertisers.
7. Create a schedule
I know some people are lifestyle bloggers and so creating a schedule may not work with your style but honestly, it was the best thing I could do for my site. When I first started I blogged Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I did that for about 8 months and then started blogging Monday-Friday. Now, I blog Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday with an occasion Wednesday post here and there.
There are two reasons I think a schedule works. One is that your readers know what to expect. They know when you post new stuff and look forward to it and will come back to your site to read it. The other reason is it holds you accountable. If you know you need to do a post for Tuesday then you will do a post for Tuesday. If you say, I’ll post when I have something then a week or two may go by before you have something.
If you want to be serious about blogging I would say start with 2-3 times a week. I don’t post more than 5 days a week because I remember reading a post a year ago saying their numbers went up when they posted less. You want to give your readers time to read your content instead of overwhelming them with post after post to the point they feel so behind and stop reading. Melissa from Momcomm I believe said once to give your posts time to “simmer”. Have a day or two where you don’t post so your current post has time to get the attention it needs. To help you stay organized I created a blog planner. You can view The Ultimate Blog Planner here.
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