A year ago today, on 29th June 2013 I posted my first ever blog!
In homage to that first blog and what I have learnt as an unlikely blogger in this last year I have decided to share my thoughts and feelings about the journey.
I never thought I’d be a blogger, never wanted to be a blogger, didn’t see why people wanted to share their thoughts in blogs and didn’t understand the blog fascination. But somehow I still became a blogger!
So what changed?
1. When you post something to Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site it eventually gets lost in all the other posts! So even if you say something insightful, profound or just simply interesting it’s lost to the millions of other insightful, profound and interesting posts on social networks. However on a blog it’s always there, easy to find, share and use.
2. I had the notion of becoming an author and apparently when you become an author you need to build a thing called a platform (which is basically your following). One of the great ways to build a platform is to blog interesting content, that people will either find when they search for topics you have covered on the internet or through blog posts you have shared on other forums. To find out more about what this is and how to do it check out the book ‘Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World’ by Michael Hyatt.
3. I wanted to share recipes, multiple pictures and more information than a standard Facebook status or tweet.
4. It’s a good way to practice this writing lark (see point 2). Also some of my blogs have actually become part of the chapters in my first book. So you can re-use your content elsewhere.
5. I wanted to have somewhere where I could link all my thoughts, feelings, information and ramblings from all my other sites, pages and groups.
6. I wanted to have somewhere where I could direct future clients or publishers to see what I write about and am passionate about.
What have I learnt?
1. Check out at least a few of the blogging books available on the market, either before you start blogging or shortly afterwards. I wish I had, as I struggled to understand what I was doing and to get any followers to start with. Within two weeks of reading ‘Get Rich Blogging’ by Zoe Griffin I had doubled the followers on my blog and continue to add new followers every week since. I have never had any intention of making money on my blog, but Zoe’s easy to follow book is a goldmine of blogging hints and tips and I highly recommend it.
2. Make sure to use links in your blog posts to other peoples’ blogs and pages and also to your own blogs and pages. This will build your following more than anything else as Google will start to recognise your site as authentic.
3. Blog regularly! Some people say to blog every day, but in my opinion this is a bit overkill and I personally have actually unsubscribed from daily bloggers sites. Most other people agree on roughly three times a week. On a good week I manage 3 times, but generally I blog twice a week and that suits me fine.
4. Think about the times of the week and day that you publish your blog. There’s little point in publishing a blog when people are not around. Some people might read it when they come back to their computer, but a lot of the time it gets forgotten about. I have always got more of a response to my blogs if I publish them between the hours of Sun – Thur 18.00 – 22.00.
5. If you have lots of ideas for blogs then write these ideas down or start multiple blog drafts with the headings and add to each one as and when inspired to do so. I generally write a few blogs at any one time and whichever one gets finished first gets published first.
6. If you have a blog idea about a particular health or environmental issue it’s always best to publish these around the date of the awareness day (look online for when these are). This will increase you blog exposure tenfold.
7. Keep it simple! Occasionally I do long waffling blogs if it’s something that I feel warrants it, but the general rule of thumb, is short, to the point and clear. People generally don’t want to read lots of text and are after quick and concise fixes when they read blog posts.
8. Make sure to use the share button on your blog to share your blog posts on all your social networks each time you publish a blog post.
9. Consider sharing part of your blog post in the actual status box of your social network page. This gets people interested and they generally click on the blog link to read more.
10. Don’t forget it’s OK to re-share your blog posts at a later date.
11. It’s great if you can get people to guest blog, as it means that your blog site will be shared between both yours and their readers. It also gives them exposure with your readers, so it’s a winner for both of you.
12. Make sure to think about the names of your blog posts. Long, wordy or boring blog post names mean people are less likely to click on the link to read them. Make them interesting or at the very least concise.
13. Interact with other bloggers, like, share and comment on other people’s blogs and hopefully they will do the same back.
14. Join blogging groups relevant to your own topics through online forums and Facebook groups.
15. If you think you might merge your blog and website at a later date then WordPress is the best site to go with as you will easily be able to move your blog from wordpress.com (their blogging site) to a self-hosted website on wordpress.org (for your website and blog together). You will easily be able to move followers, pages and all information this way.
16. Make sure to have an email sign-up section on your blog. This is a place where people can put their email address in to get a copy of your blog when you post it. This also means if you so wished you could market to these followers in other ways in the future once you have their email address.
17. Try to finish your blog post with a question that will encourage people to comment on the post.
18. Make sure to put each blog post into a relevant category on your blog site. This way if someone is interested in a particular topic they can find all your posts about it in one place.
19. Make sure to have links to all your social network pages permanently on your blog site so people can start following your elsewhere if they wish to do so.
What wouldn’t I do again?
1. I would make sure to identify my blog writing style early on, rather than swapping and changing around until I found out what worked for me and my readers.
2. Pick a blog template you are truly happy with, instead of changing your mind every few months like me! If you’re unsure then spend some time looking at other people’s blogs and websites and make a scrap book of what you like from these and put something together that incorporates all these ideas.
3. I wouldn’t have a separate blog away from my website again. It makes much more sense to have the blog as a page of your website, then everything is in the same place for people to find. I am now currently in the process of merging my blog and website for this very reason.
4. I wouldn’t use photos from Google images again, as although these are easily available on the internet, most of them are actually still copyright protected. I am in the process of replaces any Google images with my own because as your blog traffic grows more people will see these images and you likely to get into trouble at some point over them.
5. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down by writing blogs, if you start to see it like a boring task then this will come through in your writing. Plan out ideas, think about how often you want to blog and enjoy the process.
What am I looking forward to?
1. Engaging more with my readers and welcome new followers.
2. Allowing my readers to have a sneak preview of some of my upcoming book A Life Less Toxic.
3. Finding lots of lovely new ways to live a less toxic life, that I can share with all my readers.
4. Doing some more posts about less toxic travel. I totally love travelling and have been all over the world and am looking forward to posting about this to my blog for all the other travellers out there.
5. I have a long way to go with my blogging yet, but I plan to enjoy the process and engage as much as possible with my readers. If I write about what I love I know I can’t go wrong!
Here’s some relevant helpful hints and tips to blogging:
Blog Buffer: 16 Tops Tips From Blogging Experts, click here.
Blogging Tips: How to Guest Blog Successfully, click here.
Blog Her: Top 10 Blogging Tips for Beginners, click here.
Goins Writers: 25 Blogging Tips for Newbies and Veterans, click here.
The Guardian: Top Tips for a Successful Blog, click here.
Do you have any blogging hints and tips you would like to share with us?