Sunday 10 February 2013

Top 15 practical tips for new bloggers

Happy Sunday, wishing you a pleasant and relaxing day.

We have come to the end of New Bloggers Fortnight and I hope you have really enjoyed it. As with the other years there has been great variety in the posts I have hosted. We have been advised to blog in our own voice by My Two Mums, write about the things we love by Helen and Luci even went as far as to tell us to leave our blog alone.

Emma warns us about the perils of over monetising our blog, Lucy has helped us to understand how to make the best of our photos for our blogs and Ruth encourages us to try out video blogging, whilst Rachel reminds us it is so important to maintain a focus on real life as it is too easy to allow blogging time to spiral out of control.

Rebecca has been blown away by the sense of community she has found in blogging and Suzanne guides us through how we can immerse ourself in that community. Then Leoarna even goes as far as to say that blogging is good for our mental health, I sure hope so as I spend enough time doing it!

I think this years guest posts summed up lots of the key advice for new bloggers like being true to yourself, using your original voice and not getting hung up on the popularity contest and therefore to finish off this years fortnight I'd love to share with you 15 practical tips for making your blog as readable as possible -

  1. Think about the way your blog looks. Dark font on a white background is best, at all costs avoid dark backgrounds under your text and any flashy images. There is nothing like that awful snow effect to drive readers away.
  2. Tell the reader about you. I love to know who I am reading about and chatting with, an 'about me' page is great but it could just be a short piece in your sidebar if you prefer.
  3. Then make sure you give an option of how I can contact you if I wish to, sometimes readers like to feedback to you without everyone else reading it or it might be that a company with to contact you to discuss working with you.
  4. Make sure you have the ways I can subscribe to your blog easily on show. How can I follow you? by RSS feed, on email, twitter, FaceBook, G+, Pinterest and a thousand other ways. Think about those which you use frequently and make sure they are available for all readers to see.
  5. Make your blog is easy to navigate - have you got a search box, archives on show, labels you are categorising posts by and perhaps using linked within to encourage the reader to more of your posts? You want them to stay with you as long as possible after all.
  6. Are you making it easy for your readers to share your posts? You want to reach as many people as possible so all the share buttons should be easy to see on every post. Take a look at Share this which has easy to create buttons for free and even a non-techie like me could do it.
  7. Make commenting easy for your readers, allow people to be able to comment without logging in to a system and definitely remove any kind of capture as that will scare people away double quick. Ensure you have a good spam filter and you will be fine without it. Bloggers built in one is good and there are plenty of plug-ins for Wordpress like Askimet.
  8. Do you want to encourage conversation and feedback?  Then pose a questions at the end of every blog post, short and sweet works best, ask for feedback but don't make it too gruelling. Then when you get that feedback respond, don't let comments sit there unanswered as the reader will wonder if it is worth visiting again.
  9. Link to your own blog posts, if you are mentioning things that you have already blogged about then link to that post and make it easy for the reader to move about the relevant content. Also, ensure you know how to make a word into a link rather than typing in a full URL - it looks so amateur and a quick google will tell you how to do it for blogger and wordpress.
  10. Make sure you credit everyone and everything.  If you share anything on your blog - someone else's photo, idea, blog post, whatever - make sure you put a credit in with a link so that people can follow that line of thought and see the original.  The world of blogging is all about linking out and spreading the net.
  11. Work on your writing skills, it is important that you take time with your grammar and spelling. Cross your i's and dot your t's, know the difference between your and you're and use the spell check, that is why it is there! You may have the best content in the world in your head but if it does not flow and articulate what you wish to say then no-one will read it. So read every blog post twice before you hit that publish button.
  12. Think about how your words look on your page. Break up large blocks of text, use bullets or subtitles or photos - anything that breaks it up and makes it easy on the eye. A large chunk of text will often feel terrifying to a reader and they might just click away.
  13. Think about your blog post titles, do they say what the article is about, do they catch attention and do they contain important keywords that people might put into a search engine looking for an article just like yours.
  14. Schedule posts, you do not have to press publish when you are sat by the computer. Experiment with the times of day that your posts go live and see what gets the best response. It must have taken me over a year to realise their is a schedule option in blogger, doh!
  15. Back up your blog regularly. You will spend a lot of time writing your blog so make sure you never lose it. It takes a few moments and is so easy!
I could probably share another 15 tips with you too but that might just be overkill.  I'm sure these ones will keep you going for now.

Remember building a great blog takes a lot of time and work and there is no need to rush it, work on improving one thing a week and stay consistent and in time it will all just click and you'll feel great about what you have lovingly created.

Happy blogging, Mich x
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