I’ve been meaning to write this post for a year now, and am thrilled that I finally got all of my thoughts down on “paper”. I often get emails asking for blog tips – whether it’s how to start monetizing your blog, how to grow your audience, or how to stay inspired, I’ve heard it all and it’s something I’ve been meaning to address publicly. And after almost 5 years of blogging, contributing to a ton of different platforms, and editing for Style Me Pretty Living, I finally feel like I’ve accumulated enough knowledge to legitimately help. Following are 12 of many of my very best blog tips:
This point is really only true if you run a very visual-based blog like mine. A huge portion of my traffic (over 30%, in fact) comes from Pinterest, so I tend to place a lot of emphasis on that platform. It’s a bit of a bonus that I legitimately enjoy pinning, so it really doesn’t feel like work. One thing I recommend? Signing up to a network that allows you to schedule out your pins. I use viralwoot, which helps ensure that beautiful things are going up regularly, even when I’m not sitting behind my computer.
I cannot stress this one enough. Do not underestimate your readers. They can tell when you’re faking it, and without your readers you really don’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to monetization (if that is your ultimate goal, of course). People crave authenticity, it helps them relate, and helps foster a beautiful community (which is one of my very favourite aspects of blogging. The relationships it allows you to foster are irreplaceable!) Don’t get me wrong, nobody wants to hear you whine unnecessarily, but some of my most engaging posts are the ones in which I kept it raw and real.
Like most new bloggers, I originally made the mistake of signing up to wordpress.com in lieu of wordpress.org. It’s a great tool for beginners, taking care of a lot of the start-up headaches, but it leaves little to the imagination when it comes to customization. And when you do plan on taking your blog to the next level, you’re left with a pretty big ordeal when you want to migrate all of your old content onto your new site. If I were to go back, I would have skipped all the trouble and done it right from the beginning.
The only real pain when it comes to wordpress.org, in my experience, is that you need to self-host your site, which comes at a bit of a cost. I’ve been with Bluehost since my first redesign, and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about them. They’re reasonably priced, they’ve been a dream to work with, plus they’ve helped me troubleshoot free of charge many a times when my site has gone down (often as a result of something I’ve accidentally ruined myself – a coder I am not!)
In my personal experience, when I’m writing, it’s important to pretend like nobody will be reading. It allows me to stay true to my voice, and remain my authentic self (see above!) That being said, once the post is published, I do pay close attention to how my readers react. I truly believe that the secret to a successful blog lies within listening to your audience – whether it’s via criticism (constructive or troll-like), paying attention to re-pins, digging into my analytics… Over time, these key details will help you determine what types of posts your core readers are looking for.
For the first two years, I literally blogged about anything and everything. If you take a look at my early archives (um, but please don’t), you’ll find posts of all varieties, shapes, and sizes… I was all over the map. It wasn’t until I first redesigned my site back in 2012 that things really began to take off. I hired an incredibly talented graphic designer, who was imperative for helping me create and establish my brand. From there I was able to hone in on exactly what I was trying to accomplish via this here blog, which then helped me find loyal readers who knew just what level of content to expect each day.
Once you do discover your brand, it’s a good idea to keep it consistent across all platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like). While you definitely don’t want to be monotonous, and growth is of course imperative, humans are a creature of habit by nature and they love to have an idea of what they’re getting into. Whether it’s consistency with your branding as discussed, consistency with your posting schedule (daily? weekly? monthly?), or consistency with your content, it’s all incredibly important. People like to know what to expect, just a little.
When I first began blogging, I would prep my post in the evening, write my copy on the subway en route to work, and publish it when I arrived, before beginning my day. Not only was it terribly unproductive, but it was also very stressful as well. I now have a google document that has my editorial calendar laid out (up to 3 months in advance), as well as an organized tab where I can list future blog posts and ideas as they come. I don’t always stick to my editorial calendar, and it often evolves as I go, but it really does help me stay on track. And knowing I have a ton of content laid out on “paper” eliminates unnecessary stress, allows me to keep an eye on the upcoming holidays so I can plan accordingly, all while giving me a tool to keep all of my ideas in one place.
Starting regular columns is a great way to take the stress of 5 new posts each and every week off your shoulders (if that’s your plan, of course). Much like a traditional editorial (ie: a magazine or newspaper), it’s a great way to maintain that consistency we spoke about before. For example, I know that Tuesdays I always post a home tour, Thursday is always a recipe and Friday is my Scenes from my Week wrap up. That leaves me Monday and Wednesday to keep people on their toes. It’s on these days that I have a bit of flexibility and creative freedom to either dig into my other semi-regular columns, or throw everyone for a loop and start something brand new.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there has been a huge shift as of late. Bloggers are beginning to place a lot more emphasis on their newsletters and email lists in lieu of other outlets. Social media platforms the likes of Facebook and Pinterest are a great way to connect, but they often switch up their algorithms the moment you find your groove, thus only delivering your content to a fraction of the folks who actually chose to follow you. The only real way to know for certain that your messages are reaching your entire audience is to build your email list. That way you’re the one in control, and you’re not putting your blog’s fate in someone else’s hands (imagine if Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram just disappeared out of the blue? You’d no longer have access to any of those relationships that took years to build).
I’m of the firm belief that what you put out in the world comes back to you ten-fold. I live it. I breathe it. It’s been proven to be true time and time again. Give away your knowledge – become an expert on a topic, help people in need, share it with the world. Chances are, if you’re blogging, you have something to say – so spill those secrets and lay it all out on the line. Not only does it end up creating the most interesting content, but also: the longest lasting, most-fulfilling relationships.
Lastly, be patient and kind to yourself. Blogging is a ton of work. A ton of hard work. It takes time before anything really happens. And it’s so easy to get caught up in your goals, and not celebrating them once you surpass them (guilty!) Instead, enjoy the process. Use your platform as a learning experience, grow as your audience grows, and make damn sure to give yourself a pat on the back, and a celebratory cupcake, when you achieve your milestones.
I admittedly could have gone on for another 12 tips or so, but in light of brevity (or, you know, somewhat brevity) I’m going to stop here. If you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you, I’d so love to hear them!
Main Image: Artifact Uprising | Blonde: Emerson Fry | Supplies: The Everygirl | White Office: Sacramento Street | Woman: Heidi Lau | Kraft Paper: Design Milk | Gifts: Almost Makes Perfect | Cupcakes: Bakers Royale
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