Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Blogging Tips and Advice for New Bloggers

One of the most frequent emails I receive is what advice I have for new and beginner bloggers. Instead of responding individually each time and potentially forgetting some tips I thought it would be beneficial for all if I shared on here some of the tips I have and personally think to be the most useful.

Even if you aren't a beginner maybe you will be able to be reminded of some effective ideas and techniques to use while blogging!

(PS. I do not really have any tips for layout or side apps considering I struggled with that too! Google will be your best friend if you are looking for advice in that department!)


1. Start blogging for yourself not for followers.
I feel like this is one of the biggest mistakes that can be made when starting a blog. Immediately thinking that you are going to be incredibly popular with 100s of followers is a sure fire way to be discouraged by blogging! If you start for yourself you will likely be more consistent and create engaging and interesting posts because of your genuine interest in the subject which will likely cause you to continue blogging based on your personal enjoyment in creating posts.

2. Make it unique, don't steal someone else's name or content.
As a blogger this is the absolute most frustrating thing to see. Personally I spent days trying to think of a clever name for my blog and searching around to make sure that it did not already exist. Seeing people create blogs, instagram, twitters, etc with any spin on the name Prep In Your Step (ie. prep in my step, a little prep in your step etc.) frustrates and discourages me. Seeing someone else take something that you labored over is not reassuring (in all honesty the phrase "imitation is the best form of flattery" is false) and is instead discouraging due to the thought you put into it being taken with no thought behind it at all. The same goes for posts, while it is great to take inspiration from other bloggers (hello, we are all hoping to inspire you) it is not fair to steal direct content whether it be photos or text from them without giving credit where needed. I know this sounds like I am lecturing on plagiarism and I will not deny that! If you feel like something is bordering on copying shoot an email to the blogger or give credit where it is deserved but whatever you do, do not claim something for your own if it is not!

3. Utilize social media.
I have a very strong belief that social media is one of the reasons that my blog is where it is today. I entered the blogging world to have an outlet from homework and soccer and share fun ideas I have with others if they cared to read them. I hit it at a time where people were looking for things and ideas like posts I had and the rest is history but I have since worked to grow some by utilizing social media. Have a pinterest? Link it! Clever on twitter? Share that with your readers? Took an amazing photo of a stylish outfit you wore? Put it on instagram! By reaching people on many different social media platforms you are expanding your potential reader base infinitely! If your images or blog graphics are creative then pin them to pinterest! Pinterest is one of my most highly used means of finding other stellar blogs to follow and it has been the same thing for my blog!

4. Write down ideas as you think of them.
If you are sitting around and suddenly have an epiphany about a fabulous post idea I encourage you to write it down right away! At some point I feel like every blogger goes through a phase when they feel as though they have nothing to talk about. If you have been writing down ideas as you think of them then you now have a wealth of ideas to pull from and be inspired by! I keep a notebook and it is a saving grace to me! I also have amazing friends who I talk about my blog with and they are always awesome about providing feedback and ideas for me to use and brainstorm on! Also, if you are feeling in a slump with no ideas then ask your friends/readers/family for ideas you never know when you may hear of something you've never seen done before! Chances are if you spontaneously think of a blog idea then it is most likely pretty creative so do your best not to loose the idea, write it down, and save it for later! This leads me to…

5. Schedule blog posts in advance and when you have time, be consistent.
This is kind of like 2 tips in 1! As a student I know what it is like to have a limited amount of time and although I love creating blog graphics and posts as study breaks sometimes I am just too swamped! When that happens I am super thankful for the option to schedule posts in advance (that is how this is going up now!). This is where your notepad of great blog post ideas comes in. When you have time or when you are feeling particularly bloggy one day write a few (or 10) of those post ideas up to have for later! This will save you when you are randomly assigned to read a book, research for 2 papers, write bibliographies, finish a paper, and take a test all in one week (aka this week). Now on to the second part of this tip! By having all of these posts saved up from when you were really in the mood to blog you now have the ability to be more consistent! Consistency is key with blogging. By consistency I don't mean that you need to blog daily but instead you need to have an uploading schedule so that your readers can begin to understand what to expect (but hey, you still better be blogging for you!). For me personally at this time I do my very best to have a post up each weekday at 8:30 CST. This is what works for me now but is subject to change at any time and it is unlikely that catastrophe will ensue as long as I am consistent with my upload schedule if it changes! Lately I have been contemplating cutting back on the number of posts just so that my content is seen by more people not because I don't enjoy creating posts (because believe me I do)! I feel like this is a major struggle of bloggers, wanting more people to read each post that you labor over but being too excited to post your next idea to hold out on posting it!

6. Use good quality photographs, preferably your own.
I am well aware that not everyone has access to a fancy camera or even a digital camera to take good photos with. If you fall into that category by no means have that stop you from creating a blog! However, I find that people are more drawn to my posts if my photos quality is better! I too am totally guilty of finding photos on pinterest and posting them on here and if you are inspired by them go for it, that is great but throwing in photos of your own is one of the best ways to capture your audiences attention (and it would be great to share on social media, tip 3 as well as being unique, tip 2). Also, bonus tip, try to include at least one image in every post! That will be the reason people click on the post but the content will surely invite them to stay!

7. Share your advice and open up to readers.
Hmmm, I wonder if this post falls into this category… Kidding, but honestly your readers will think more highly of you if you are relatable in some sense and often the best way to do that is to share your advice and experiences with them and be willing to communicate with them. Why do you think I share details about my life? First, so that I will be able to look back on all of this and secondly because I want y'all to see me as a human being that can relate to all of your emotions and perhaps help and share in any way possible!

8.Welcome feedback and connect with your readers.
Kind of ironic that I am saying that considering I am terrible about getting around to responding to emails (SORRY!). Respond to comments, be active on twitter and tweet back, appreciate feedback, all of this will make your entire experience more worthwhile!

Whew, did you make it?
I really really hope that many of y'all found this helpful since this post has been a labor of love and over 2 years of learning and growing with Prep In Your Step to make it!

I would really appreciate hearing what you think about my tips and would graciously allow any other tips people may have to be posted in the comments!


22 comments :

  1. Great tips! Writing down ideas is so important for me because I always have random thoughts when I'm out doing things and if I don't write them down, then I won't remember later!

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  2. Love your tips, they are very helpful for beginning bloggers like myself. I am impressed that you are able to always blog! As a college student myself it is so hard to find time.

    xoxo
    AnnMarie
    http://annmariebanasik.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much for this post! It was wonderful.
    - Victoria
    http://victorialnorris.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love these tips, they are so helpful since I am a fairly new blogger. :)

    Julie,
    http://thepreppysisters.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you Dorothy, these are very helpful considering I had to restart my blog yesterday.

    xox
    Alex
    www.preppy-therapy.blogspot.com

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  6. Blogging for yourself is such an important part of the beginning stages of blogging. I initially wanted my blog to be anonymous but I ended up not being able to stop talking about it with my friends. Haha.

    Sarah
    aroseinthecity0.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fantastic tips. We're still fairly new and appreciate this advice!!

    - Lindsey & Amanda
    Oh Buoy Boston

    ReplyDelete
  8. These are great tips! I've had so much fun with my blog, and it has grown so much faster than I anticipated. I think part of that is because I just make things I love, then toss them out and wait to see what happens. It's definitely not about building a following or anything like that. I just love classic style and want to share it!

    -- Alex at Cashmere Kangaroo

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  9. Thanks for all of your tips! They were definitely helpful :)

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

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  10. These were so helpful! I am just starting out my blog, so these tips were wonderful!

    Emily
    eisforelegance.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great Ideas!
    Ashley
    http://life-of-ashley.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
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  15. Great tips! I have recently started a blog, it is an up and down process. This post was really insightful. I see new bloggers all the time jump in with everything they have only to exhaust themselves of ideas and energy in the first few months.

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