December to me is a good time to reflect on the past years goals, celebrate accomplishments and lessons learned. As I close in on a year with Mar on the Run, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own blogging experience. I’ve been blogging for about 4 years which began with non-running related topics. I’ve learned a lot about blogging over the years and am still learning. The biggest thing is it is whatever YOU want it to be. I certainly don’t have all the answers but have gotten a lot of questions about it from new bloggers and those thinking about it. Today I am offering 10 tips for newbie bloggers:
- Be You. Readers can tell when you aren’t being authentic. You don’t have to share super personal details about your everyday life (unless you really wanna) but be real about the experiences you do share and don’t always write “what the reader would want to hear”.
- Comments matter. When someone comments on your blog, respond! It is their way of giving you feedback and opens the door to engagement. To me, that’s what drives blogging, not just page views. On the other hand, don’t force yourself to craft a response. If you truly have nothing to say in return a simple “Thanks” lets them know you acknowledge and appreciate their visit. To that end, don’t make your readers jump through hoops to actually comment. (I’m looking at you Captcha!)
- Fonts and Colors make a difference. Nothing turns me off visiting a blog more than wild and crazy patterns with unreadable fonts or small font size. Yes, be you, be different, and bold in your themes but if your reader can’t see what you write they won’t return.
- Take and use pictures. I photograph way more than before I started blogging and don’t always use everything but it helps break up the text in a post and more importantly, brings your story more to life.
- Keep it simple. Have a sense of the direction for your blog’s focus overall. Recognize that things change and you adjust with time but knowing the general subjects you want to talk about will keep your content consistent and helps generate followers. Recognize that not every post has to be a novel.
- Visit and interact with other blogs. Unless you are satisfied with an audience of one most bloggers want to build an audience. The best way to do that is to subscribe, read and comment on other blogs. Find blogs that are similar or resonate with you. If you follow someone whose content is of no interest to you, trying to force interaction will not work. When someone comments on your own page use that opportunity to visit their page as well (provided they left the site address).
- Social media is your friend. I never thought I would use Twitter or create a Facebook page but I did and use these tools to support my blog by announcing new blog posts and engaging with others. I also participate in Twitter chats (such as #RunChat) and challenges, both of which have been informative and helpful.
- Join groups. As a new running blogger I wasn’t sure how to build my network. Then along came Fit Approach, the organization behind the Sweat Pink movement. I liked what I read so applied to become an ambassador. Through this I have met some great people and been provided many opportunities. Other affiliations have followed including Girls Gone Sporty and IDEA Inspired Bloggers. I interact in our Facebook group pages, publicizing and sharing posts, have joined blog hops and linkups. Also look for local bloggers you can connect and network with. Find what works for you!
- Be consistent, clear and concise. I blog 2-3 times a week in general depending on life events. I doubt I would ever blog everyday and commend those that do but to me it’s less about quantity and more about quality. Make sure your content is readable and relevant. Grammar and spelling makes a difference in who will return and interact with you. Mistakes happen to the best of us but if your posts always contain these issues it reflects badly on you. Built in spell check tools make this easy to manage as well as writing in Word and then cutting and pasting to your blogging platform.
- It takes time and effort. My own blog has grown so much over the past year. As with anything it requires time, effort, and commitment to think of and write posts, edit photos and interact with others. Manage your own expectations about what you want to get out of it and put that level of energy into it. Above all, practice patience. Blogging can be and should be fun!
On a technical note, I started blogging with the free WordPress.com platform. Back in August I decided to go self hosted (WordPress.org, Blue Host) and set up my own domain name. This is not always the best direction for everyone but I wanted more options, functionality and control over my blog so it has certainly worked for me! Good luck and happy blogging 🙂
See my related post: I Blog Because