16 September 2016

Five Simple & Effective Tips For New Bloggers

Lately, I've been contacted by a few people to get my advice and input on how to start a successful blog. Thinking back on my own journey, it reminded me how good information is hard to find on this topic so I thought I'd throw in my two cents. While I know that the blogging world is "What works for one doesn't work for all," I think these tid-bits of advice are solid building blocks of a good foundation for any new blogger to consider.


I've been blogging for almost five years now and while it has been fun and a great outlet for my creativity and writing, blogging hasn't always come easy for me.


To be honest, when I first started blogging, it actually felt very overwhelming; what do I talk about? Does anyone really care about what I have to say? How do I keep it interesting? What in the heck am I doing??!! All of these questions and more have a way of making an OCD girl like myself go crazy!


Sure, I googled things like "blogging advice" and "blogging tips" to help me get started on my journey and while I found a couple of great resources, ninety percent of it was...well...crap. Mostly because the people giving the advice had never even owned/operated or done a blog themselves. #blindleadingtheblind


Lately, I've been contacted by a few people to get my advice and input on how to start a successful blog. Thinking back on my own journey, it reminded me how good information is hard to find on this topic so I thought I'd throw in my two cents. While I know that the blogging world is "What works for one doesn't work for all," I think these tid-bits of advice are solid building blocks of a good foundation for any new blogger to consider. 


ONE. Determine Your Niche. This may very well be the hardest part about developing your blog and honestly, it may be something that takes form over time as you find the issues and topics that interest you so don't worry - IT'S OKAY IF IT TAKES TIME TO FIGURE IT OUT. The important thing is to try. The only way you're ever going to find out what suits you is to get writing. Think about the things in your life that are important to you - the things you are passionate about. Do you have a child with special needs and want to inspire/encourage/uplift other special needs parents? Are you a crafting goddess wanting to share your talents with others? Are you a chef who wants to focus solely on a cooking blog? Whatever it may be, find out what your strengths/passions/interests are and decide from there how you want to share it with the masses. 


TWO. Content. Content is king, bottom line. You will read a lot about the importance of phenomenal blog design in correspondence to the success of a blog but let's get real - no one goes to a blog page to look at the graphics. They are going to your blog for the content, end of story. If people are visiting your blog, they want to know what it is that you have to say and how your content can either improve/inspire them or make them think. The point of a blog is the writing. Yes, you can spend hundreds or even thousands on a flashy and trendy blog page but in the end, if your content is weak, it doesn't matter how you dress it because your visitors won't care long enough to stay on your page or return for future visits. Both Blogger and WordPress have excellent generic blog templates to help get you started and really, until you find your sea legs, you don't need anything more. Remember - it's about the writing. 


So now that I've said this, I should tell you how to create amazing blog content, right? 


Wrong.


I'm not you. Only you can speak for you and only you know what makes you unique. That's why you want to start a blog, no? You have your own voice and that voice isn't mine and what I have to say isn't what you want to say. Anyone who says to you, "Here is the formula for great content" is either lying, or doesn't understand great content because they have never produced it themselves. The one thing I can tell you is this - I've often found that my best blog content happens when I'm coming from a place of complete and total honesty and writing from my heart. You have to go into blogging with the understanding and acceptance that what you have to say may very well not resonate with everyone and you will have people that will always disagree with your opinions but at the end of the day as long as you stay true to yourself and your content, that's all that matters.


Do you. Plain and simple. 


THREE. Reach Out & Connect. As you find other blogs that strike your fancy, don't be afraid to speak up on comments and get involved in conversations. I've met some pretty fantastic ladies simply by taking the initiative to become involved. And I'm not saying you have to spend hours upon hours doing this, but make the concerted effort to network and build honest, friendly relationships. You will meet some amazing women along the way and find friendships you never thought existed. And it will totally be worth it.


FOUR. Respond to Your Readers. It's just basic, common courtesy. If someone takes the time to actually read your content and then takes more time to comment, take a minute or two to thank them and respond in kind. This is how you build trust and relationships with your readers and it is *key* in keeping and growing your audience. Granted, life gets busy and sometimes it isn't always possible to reach out to every single reader, but try. Your readers will appreciate it and aren't they the reason you exist? 


FIVE. Proof Your Work. Nothing turns me off to a blog more than poor grammar, misspellings, and sloppy work. Sure, the occasional error is going to happen but unless your blog niche is being a hot mess, you will never gain any credibility or readers by being sloppy. Use the spell check option at the very least and do all your work with intent and pride. The image you're putting out into the world can be powerful - what does your work really say about you?


Good luck on your blogging journey! What things have you found to help you along the way as a new blogger?

Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

14 comments:

  1. These are all awesome tips! I also think it's important to buy your domain at some point if you're looking to get serious about blogging. This makes you appear more professional to brands that may want to work with you and it isn't too expensive either.

    xoxo, Jenny

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    1. Definitely! I'm guilty of this one. I've purchased my domains but haven't installed them yet. Honestly, I don't know how and I haven't found anyone I trust to do it for me. Any suggestions?

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  2. Really great tips wish I had this when i was starting out.
    http://sheismelrose.net/
    @sheismelrose

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    1. Thanks, Melody! I appreciate you reading. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  3. These are all straight-forward and pretty simple and yet, I'm surprised when I don't see bloggers doing them. My biggest pet peeves? Not responding to blog comments (seriously? how rude) and also not proofing their work. Typos happen, but if it's consistent and obvious you're just ignoring spell/grammar check? Not a good look!

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    1. It always seems that the basic, common-sense things get left behind and they are so important! Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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  4. Great article. Sometimes it's the simple things which make a huge difference.

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  5. These are some great tips! I love that you included proofing your work. That is one thing that seems to be overlooked often.

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    1. Yes, and it's SO EASY to do! At the very least, use spell/grammar check! With the click of a mouse, it will catch about 99.9% of your mistakes!! Thanks for reading, Jennifer!

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  6. Really great tips, Courtney! Numbers 2 and 5 are so on point!

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    1. Thanks, Renee! I appreciate you reading. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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  7. These are all really awesome, super basic tips! The one that annoys me the most is when people don't proofread. Drives me crazy. The one I wish I'd known about sooner was how to get more involved in the blogging community because now that I have, I'm so grateful for the support!

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    1. Involvement is SO important! You have to give a little to get a little. Plus, you end up meeting some really great people. I've gained some great friendships from blogging. Thanks for reading!

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