This little blog (and blogger) has come a long way in 8 months!
And over these months, I've learned a few lessons about blogging...
...Some lessons I learned the hard way and I made a blogging faux pas.
...Others are tips I received from other bloggers.
...And some concepts just made sense to me from the get-go.
I am by far no expert, but I thought any new blogger may be interested in this advice...
(I wish I had heard some of these 8 months ago!)
So, here are 8 lessons I learned over time either as a blog reader or as a blog writer.
1. Give credit and link back.
Confession: I rarely come up with "original" ideas. I am usually inspired by something else... and I always try link back to that idea or site. Even if it is just for the colors of a project, like in this post and this post. Granted, some ideas (i.e. oil rubbed bronze or chalkboard paint) are so widespread that it is impossible to pinpoint one post for inspiration. But if I remember where I originally saw the idea, I link back.
Do I worry that you will go over to that other site and never come back? No.
My hope is to inspire you by sharing other great blogs... and that you will come back here for more references.
And if I participate in blog link parties, I link back within my post. BUT I have to admit.... I used to be one 'those' bloggers. You know, the blogger who lumped all the parties I linked to on one single page, instead of within my posts. Setting up one page made sense to me in the beginning... and so many other bloggers were doing it. (plus adding lots of buttons to a post took time and looked messy)
Mid-summer, my opinion on link party buttons shifted and I wrote about it here. I wanted to give due credit to the hard-working hostesses in my post. But I wanted the process to be simple and neat. I came up with a solution and I now use a linky program to neatly manage link buttons at the ends of my posts. For my tutorial how to create this list of linky buttons, please read this post.
2. Clear photos, clear photos, clear photos.
This is a lesson I learned VERY quickly when I started blogging. You've heard it before: A picture is worth a thousand words. Clear photos add to your story. Clear photos can even tell your story for you. (i.e. a step in a tutorial)
Great photos can help get your project featured. A million and one bloggers posted about ice cream, white kitchens, glass gem magnets, peanut butter cups, chalkboards, etc. But if I took clear photo of it? I think that helped those posts get featured. And just so you know, I do not have a fancy camera. I have a (pretty good) point and shoot.
3. Think carefully about when/where/how you monetize (if at all).
There are two basic schools of thought to monetizing (have ads, sponsored posts etc.) a blog:
- Monetize from Day 1 on your blog so your readers know what to expect from you (changing later could be a turn off for your readers).
- Build your readership up before you start to advertise or accept compensation.
I chose the latter approach and always had doubts about the decision. I posed a question about this topic during a recent Crafterminds chat on Twitter. I appreciated the advice I received from some seasoned bloggers. The majority advised to wait to monetize, especially when it came to paid blocks of advertising. Wait till your numbers can support it.
"Don't undersell yourself. It hurts craft bloggers...Please do not offer $1 a month spots."
- Beckie, Infarrantly Creative
This argument makes a lot of sense. I am glad that right now I do not accept any money for this blog. (Please read my disclosure statement for more details. You may also like my 'why I blog' post, too.)
But never say never... so I may accept compensation at some point down the road. I worry how that will be accepted by you, my readers.
Just to let you all know, I really dislike reading blogs where every other post is a canned review/giveaway or about their latest sponsors. If I have to wade through my RSS reader to find a meaty project or topic post from a blog, I "unsubscribe".
I don't want to risk turning you all away on this blog. So IF I do monetize at some point, I promise to notify you. And I promise to keep the interruptions in content and format to a minimum.
Believe me, this will NOT occur anytime soon. Right now, I'm happy blogging for fun.
4. Content is king.
I do my best to bring you at least 2-3 projects or topics per week. (that was my own goal I set several months ago) If I'm feeling really chatty or productive, you may get more. I hope that is the kinda content and frequency that will keep you coming back.
5. Comment luv.
I was a little shy at first when I started to blog. But I started commenting more on other blogs after reading this post over at Thrifty Decor Chick. In fact, my first e.v.e.r. comment was on that post!!
Wanna see it?
Once I started to comment more on other blogs, I noticed an increase in my traffic. Plus, I 'met' some really nice bloggers by commenting.
So, don't be afraid to leave comments on other blogs. Everybody likes nice comments!
For tips on leaving a thoughtful comment, there is a great post over at The Stories of AtoZ (with a guest post from Kathy at Creative Home Expressions).
BTW- I am also trying to reply to more of your comments lately. I installed a new comment program that makes it a little easier to email you and post the reply at the same time. (I'd love to hear your perspective about Intense Debate, too.)
6. Wait to host a link party.
This was a very hard lesson for me to learn. After a couple months of blogging and only a handful of followers, I tried to host my first monthly link party back in August.
I had a great idea for a unique niche linky...to highlight projects that were about words and quotes. I cleverly called it: the Weekend Word Search. And I wanted to start it right away. What was I thinking?!!???
Since I barely had any readers, drumming up participation each month was hard work. I went out and found posts/projects and left comments inviting the bloggers to link up... Which I've since learned, is kind of an annoying and spammy comment to leave. (even though I did try very hard to leave a specific, kind observation before inviting them to the party) I thank all of you that did link up... but apologize for my thoughtlessness!!!
I gave up on the idea after the October party. It was not worth all the time I was putting into it.
If you have aspirations to host a link party, please wait till you have enough readers for decent participation. Otherwise, you may be disappointed.
My readership has increased since October... and I'm going to try hosting the Weekend Word Search one more time... maybe later this month or in February. We will see how it goes... If the participation is lukewarm, I may retire this party forever.
7. Keep it simple and stay focused.
Simplicity. This is a lesson that I learned way before blogging.
Keep your blog's layout simple and the content focused. Focus on one topic per post or you could lose your readers when the post is too long. (This post is starting to get out-of-control... are you still there?)
Focus on what works, skip what does not. As noted above, I could be ditching the WWS link party. And very soon, I am going to be scaling back on the linky parties I join. I will just frequent the ones that I enjoy and who are a top referring source. (will save me time and focus my efforts)
Remember to focus on WHY you blog.
If you do not have a "Why I blog" post, write one.When I am in a blogging rut, I always go back and read mine. It is kind of like a 'mission statement' for me. I find it refreshing to read and it helps me refocus.
Read. it. often.
Read. it. often.
For some reason, I was nervous to interact much online in the beginning. This is something that I'm trying to do a little more of recently. I dived into social media by joining Facebook and Twitter. I had my first guest blogger last week! I participated in some of the online chats with Crafterminds (which is a resource that I'm delighted to find!).
In all of these avenues, I find it is really nice to interact with other bloggers. To build bridges, to connect and to share ideas.
So you see, every new blog (and blogger) has her growing pains. Hopefully you can learn a few things from me.
But most importantly, remember it is just a blog and it is supposed to be fun.
Also: Unplug. Regularly. It is addicting and fun to blog, but it is easy to get sucked in online!
Which reminds me, I gotta go and hang with my hubby and pup right now...
So, I guess that makes 9 or 10 tips total... oh well, ya got some extras!
What about you? Do you have any tips for other bloggers?