From Novice To Novice

I’ve been blogging for the last 6 months. The learning curve emphasizes a “do it yourself” and learn it yourself mentality. I’m not a pro and I have a lot to learn. There’s the Internet to peruse, but without a little guidance, anyone can get lost in the blogging shuffle. I’m no blogging Yoda, but I’ve learned a few things that are important for any blogger to know.

Plan: The first month of blogging was filled with random posts that I found to be worthwhile and intriguing. I posted recipes and vented about my crazy life. Pretty ordinary for any blogger. I noticed that I couldn’t keep up with it unless I started to plan upcoming posts. I bought myself a handy dandy calendar and began planning out my weekly blog posts. Get yourself some sort of planner and get organized. It helps tremendously.

Content: The actual content of any blog post is extremely important. I try to think about my audience and find creative ways to write. I’ll write a poem about my coffee addiction or have imaginary fro-yo dates. Whatever you decide to do, be creative and be you. I find inspiration from other bloggers, but I’m always finding ways to spin a post my way and make it mine. And if I do find something that I want to use from a blogger, I’m always quick to attribute it back to them with a link to their blog.

Design: The design of your blog should catch the eyes and bring a reader in. I’ve done a little bit with my sidebar, but since I use the free WordPress site, I’m unable to really make the design my own. I’m working on this. I advise anyone to make the blog design a focus. Do as I say not as I do.

Social Media: It’s crucial to have outlets for readers to connect to you. It makes you more attainable and not just a blog on the interwebs. I’m very active on Twitter and Instagram. When I publish a post, I immediately get it on my favorite social media sites for others to see. Once I increase my followers (which isn’t my number 1 priority), I may get a Facebook page. I’m also on Bloglovin, a site that keeps all your favorite blogs in one place so you can read them whenever you want. I believe Hello Cotton is this same concept as is the typical RSS feed. All of these outlets are great to keep track of your favorite blogs.

Images: Any post that is published should have some sort of image. I’m constantly taking random photos simply so I have something to add to each post. Even if it’s a photo of me with a weird facial expression or the typical Myspace mirror photo. It brings color and something extra to each blog post. I post to Instagram nearly every day so it’s a good excuse to use those photos on my blog, too. Lord, you’d get a kick out of my photo galleries on my phone and computer. It’s so much random stuff, but that’s what helps bring appeal to any post.

Interaction: Considering how many blogs I read, I try to comment as much as possible. I LOVE getting comments. It lets me know that Joe isn’t the only one reading my blog. Commenting on other blogs can bring people to your blog. Whomever you write a comment for, they’re bound to accept the comment and there’s a good chance they’ll check your blog out, too. I’m also looking into doing sponsor swaps soon. I’ve been creating a list of awesome bloggers familiar to mine that I would love to have their button on my blog and vice versa. Speaking of, design a few blog bottons! I’ve created mine in photoshop but you can easily create something in picmonkey and get the html code to load onto your page. Make several at different sizes so when you’re ready to sponsor other blogs, you’ll have the right size other bloggers want. I could do a whole post on sponsorship. Have a page set aside for all your contacts. If I can’t quickly find your email, then I’ll give up and forget about working with you or telling you how great I think your blog is. I made a specific gmail account for my blog. It’s so easy and free that there isn’t any reason not to have at least an email account. I have a specific page dedicated to my contact information. Another great idea is joining blogging clubs or any similar group that you’re interested in. I participate in Tuesdays with Dore, a group of people that bake their way through one of Julie Child’s cookbooks. Cool right? We post our recipes every other Tuesday and we visit each other’s blogs to see each other’s creations. It’s something fun and it helps us find new blogs to love. Find what works for you and sign up!

Budget: I’m just learning about budgeting for my blog. I haven’t started any sort of paid sponsorship, but I’ve spent money on things like swaps. I’ve participated in the Foodie Pen Pals swap which consists of sending food to a fellow blogger. I love the idea and I did it for two months. Things like this cost money. I spent about $12 just on shipping for each package. With a minimum of $15 for the foodie goodies, the package price started to climb. I ended up not continuing simply because I lost my job and needed to tighten up my budget. Now that I’m back in the working world, I joined another swap, the Nail Polish Swap. I love these types of swaps and will continue doing them, but every blogger needs to have a budget set aside to how much they want to allocate to the blogging community on a monthly basis. If not, you may end up spending more than you’d original thought. I know I’ve had this problem.

Writers Block: It’s okay to take a few days off from blogging. Last week, I had absolutely nothing to write about, so I didn’t post anything. This is okay. I’ve had days where I panic. I think that my followers will forget me or they’ll lose interest because I haven’t posted something in a few days. When I get writers block, I simply step away from the computer. I live my life and know that something will come along. I’ll end up finding a story to tell, a recipe to showcase or a weekend getaway that I want to share. If you can’t think of anything to write, set the computer aside and go live your life. Simple as that.

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