Tuesday, May 8, 2012

WOL Career - Blogging Tips

In keeping with our career theme this week, I approached a bunch of successful bloggers to see if they had any blogging advice for us.  Everyone was so receptive to this idea and eager to share their tips.  Here is what they said:

Sizing blog buttons
We all put blog buttons (from other sites) on our own blog, but these grab buttons are often different sizes and have different alignments. As I love things to line up and to be neat and tidy, I had to learn how to resize and align blog buttons. This meant learning a little html coding. It's not that hard. Here's a link showing how to align buttons and a link within to resize buttons...

No-reply and word verification
My tip is two-fold. Turn off no-reply AND word verification!!! When I first starting blogging I didn't understand why other bloggers weren't answering my questions and why I wasn't getting many comments. Well, no-reply and word verification were both turned on and I didn't even realize it. I think they are automatically on and you have to turn them off in your settings. I hate it when I am not able to reply to someone's question or comment when they have the no-reply enabled! Plus, the word verification has gotten so hard to decipher that sometimes I can't figure it out and just give up on trying to leave a comment!
Virginia from Artsy VaVa

Living in France
My favorite blog tip would be to not be a "no reply" comment blogger! Set it up so that people bloggers can reply to your comment, that's where blogging relationships are built. Just the simplest little thing, really. 

MiMi from Living in France

Excellent content
Provide excellent (and pertinent) content.  Which to me means, if you are going to do sponsored posts, you need to work them in so that they are still part of an interesting post.  And if you are having blogger's block, don't put feel bad - read a few of your favorite blogs and soon you creative juices will be flowing again!

House Talkn
Large photo and text sizes
Please, for the love of all things holy, make your photos and text LARGE! I am old and squinting only makes my crows feet more prominent!

Kerry from House Talkn

Good photos
A large part of the blog "first impression" are the photos. From personal experience, I've had a few awesome projects that I felt like didn't get the exposure or notice that I thought they would get because I didn't have great photos. Even if it takes longer to complete the post, wait until the right moment to take at least one excellent photo of your completed project. Utilize natural light and use an editing program (like PicMonkey) to spruce up and add a watermark your pic!
Melanie from Bear Rabbit Bear

Use Pinterest
Get more pins on Pinterest: add a pin it button under one picture on your posts. (http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/).  It seems the things I added the button to definitely got more pins than the projects I didn't!

Check reader and update posts
1)  Check your blog feed and make sure it shows up on your (and everyone's) reader.  (Mine didn't for almost 2 months and it was sad to realize people weren't seeing my efforts.)
2)  Update posts on Linky.  (I didn't know you have to do this manually every time you post.  When I did finally do it.......I saw that most of my Linky Followers still aren't doing it.
Danni from Silo Hill Farm

Make it You!
I think that it's so easy to get wrapped up in the "I'm not good enough" blogger head game. Seriously, when I first started I spent so much time trying to get people to like me. I had to be funny. I had to be crafty. I had to be generous and do a million giveaways. I had to be it all, because, isn't that what it's all about?
Umm, heck no! All of those expectations were completely self imposed and ridiculously unreachable. 

Perfection sure looks easy when you have the big mommy bloggers with their hair in perfect waves, their boobs still up where they are supposed to be and hot apple pies cooling on the counter top all while being the very best at pretty much everything they touch. 

I, for one, can't bake a pie to save my life! 

Just search dream hairstyle / kitchen / garden / homeschool room /  on Pinterest. Can any of us really do that? Can we realistically be good at everything? The mass amount of perfection that we are hit with daily begins to make us feel like a huge expectation to prove ourselves is weighing down on our pretty little heads. 
When it comes to blogging, make your space yours! Make it a place where you feel comfortable, safe and real. Make it you! Why work your tail off to impress or be like someone else? 

We're here for such a short amount of time. Have fun with your time! Have fun with yourself and your readers! And maybe store bought pie ain't that bad after all, huh?

Focus on relationships
Focus on building relationships, not followers.  It's easy to get caught up in numbers and start focusing on doing whatever you can to see that magic follower number go up.  And sure, there are things you can do that will give you a boost.  Giveaways and link parties are two great ways to gain followers, but many of them will just link and leave, rather than being a true reflection of who's actually reading your blog.

  It's far more rewarding to invest your time in actually building relationships with readers and fellow bloggers.  At the end of the day, it's so much better to hear the story of someone you've inspired or to read some sweet words of encouragement from a friend than to see one more number on your sidebar.  There are more than 1000 people who supposedly read One Artsy Mama, but when I think about what I do, I'm most interested in those sweet names and faces I see time and time again as they comment on the Facebook page and blog posts.  I think about my "bloggy buddies" who I email back and forth with, share ideas with, and who really feel like a part of my life...those are the real blessings.  

So how do you do that?  Comment on your favorite blogs.  Interact on Facebook.  Thank the hostesses whose parties you link up to each week.  Pin someone else's project and tell them you did it.  Feature someone else on your blog or Facebook and let them know.  Ask others to guest post or participate in something you're doing.  You know how to make friends in real life; in blog-land it's no different.  Be real, be genuine, be encouraging, and treat others the way you want to be treated.  Don't be afraid to share about yourself.  Every time I post a personal photo or a question on Facebook, like "What do I put in LC's Easter basket; he hates chocolate?" I get a ton of responses!  People want to connect in a real way, and that's far better than anything a silly number could ever reflect.

Amy from One Artsy Mama

Linky Parties
The thing I wish I’d know about blogging when I first started was about the power of Blog/Link Parties. How they work; what to do with them and how much they can help you to grow your blog and find and share inspiration.  I really had no understanding of the whole process and wish I’d had someone to explain it all to me.
Carol-Anne from Use The Good Dishes

Be Yourself
My #1 tip is to just be yourself - your blog is supposed to be fun, so enjoy it and don't worry about what you're "supposed" to be doing.  Also, I'd say partner up with other bloggers.  Giveaways, blog swaps, etc.  Get involved, jump in, offer to help, ask questions.  Part of it is getting more exposure, but a lot of it is making a friend and a resource.  That probably sounds pretty obvious coming from me, who is always saying, “Want to work together on something?”  ;)

Adrianne from Happy Hour Projects


Good simple content
I am not so good with all the technical stuff. So my tip is about content. Keep it simple!  To be honest the posts that have been featured the most and get still get the most views are things that I really thought were to simple to even post about.  Just because something seems simple to you doesn't mean it is to everyone. And if it is something your family has done forever (so everyone must know about it) just means that you have a family tradition to share, and most likely lots of other people have never heard of it before.

Kadie from Seven Alive

Put yourself out there
I think that the only thing that I can suggest for New bloggers...if they are trying to grow their blog is to put your self out there.  Link up at parties, leave great comments that mean something on other blogs and build relationships with people.  I always try to find bloggers similar to me... maybe ones that I have something in common with... and go from there.  It's also a good thing to respond to comments that are left on your posts.  Make the connection back!  Put yourself out there!

Time Management
As with any hobby, you don't have time for it, you make time for it.  You steal time from something else.  And as with anything, you do your best to make sure there's a good balance between your hobby and your priorities.  Some days are easier than others to make that happen. My tip is, screw the dishes, post the clematis! 
Mindy from Rindy Mae

A big thank-you to all of the bloggers who were willing to share.

This is where I'm partying:
Happy Hour Friday (Happy Hour Projects)


Pam @Threading My Way said...

I wish I'd known all of the above when I began blogging!!! It is so easy to take it all seriously, to compare to others and forget to have fun. Thanks so much for this series, Terry...

Danni@SiloHillFarm said...

All of this is great advice and I'm glad to see it all in one post! I sure wish I'd seen this when I first started blogging too! I especially like the ones about making friends blogging. It was the last thing I expected when I started blogging and the most pleasant result from it!;)

Tina Bradley said...

This newby blogger thanks you for this great post!!! It was quite informative! T.

Adrianne Surian said...

Oh, great tips from everyone! Pinning this post to my Blog Tips board, what a great resource!

Unknown said...

I agree completely with all of the above! What a great post and how fun to read from so many bloggers in one post. While I truly wish I knew these things when I started blogging, they are good reminders for more seasoned bloggers!:) Great job putting them all together.

Unknown said...

Wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing with us!

Makaila said...

what a great idea, i LOVED reading this. such great, simple tips. really loved what Lesley from Fabulously Flawed had to say.. great series Terry!

Hanni said...

Thank you for writing this post! These were really good advices. Now as I see my blog growing is more important to do it better and it is more important to find the balance...
Wish you a beautiful day,

Macey said...

Hey, there's me!!
Those tips are really good though. :)

Unknown said...

Great collection of tips! Thanks for inviting me...apparently I'm the long-winded one...lol.

Nelly@DGInnovations said...

Such encouraging tips! Thanks for doing this! It is important to be reminded that
1-We are all normal everyday people(not wonder woman in an apron); and
2-to just be real!
I enjoyed this post!

Brittany said...

This is all great advice. Thanks!

Maureen Wyatt said...

Danni from Silo Hill Farm sent me here to read your great post. Of course, I follow you and would have read it anyway but it's nice for you to know how impressed she is with this series. ~ Maureen

Maureen Hayes said...

Wonderful tips that can help all bloggers no matter how long they have been blogging. As a reader may I especially thank those who pointed out turning off word verification? I HATE it and am starting a new policy that I will not comment if it is turned on. Life is short and I don't want to spend my time time guessing at random letters and numbers just to send a comment to someone!

Thanks for an nerves ting and informative post!

Amy said...

This is a wonderful post!! Lots of good info for a baby blogger like me. Thank you! :) Found you via Threading My Way and I'm going to browse around a bit. :)

Gloria said...

This advice, "Please, for the love of all things holy, make your photos and text LARGE! I am old and squinting only makes my crows feet more prominent!

Kerry from House Talkn"

YES! I'm not old, but small text or light colored text is a lot of eye strain. Want to keep the crows from roosting on me!

Also, it wasn't mentioned, but Thank You for having the pop up comment box. Blogspot blogs with the full form below the post has a glitch since it was rolled out last year. That glitch prevents a lot of bloggers from leaving a comment.

Thanks for sharing all of this helpful info.

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