When I started blogging my pictures were horrendous! I didn’t have a real flow to my blog, I wasn’t using the right tools, I didn’t know what the heck link parties were and thought they were some sort of spam. If only I knew the things I know now – here is what I would tell myself (or what I would tell new bloggers today!!)
#1. Good Photography is IMPORTANT!
If you don’t have great pictures you could loose quite a few potential followers. If somebody is reading your blog via a feed (more on feeds in a bit) they won’t see your blog design – only the content of your posts (including PICTURES) so make it GOOD.
In order to obtain better pictures realize that natural light is your friend! Use the light of late afternoon to take pictures – early afternoon light is too bright and casts too many shadows. Morning light – well I’m not mentally ready to take pictures in the morning so maybe it works and I just don’t know.
DON’T add vignettes or crazy distracting borders to your photos – it just makes the bad worse.
DO use text to label a few photos in your post to make them social media ready. It is great to have that label incase your images are pinned to Pinterest.
#2. Offer Different Ways for Followers to Follow.
If you are a Blogger blogger you are probably very familiar with GFC (Google Friend Connect) as a way to follow blogs that you like. In a few months GFC won’t be offered to non-blogger blogs (meaning WordPress blogs) and using a reader such as Google Reader or Blog Lovin’ will become a more popular way to keep up with blog posts. Why is Google doing this? To push us all towards using Google+ which I just integrated into tonight. Let me just say – confusing!
Anyways, set up feedburner to your blog ASAP and OFFER A RSS BUTTON because people don’t want to search for it or manually add it to their reader. They will just leave. See the logo below? Recognize it? It is an RSS button and by clicking on it when you are on a blog you can add it to your reader!
Offer a way for people to follow along with your blog via email subscriptions too. You can add this easily by adding the respective gadget in the layout section of blogger.
If I could have told myself then that I would have almost 100 more feed and email subscription readers than GFC followers I would have been ten steps ahead in the game called blogging! I didn’t add ac RSS button or email subscription buttons until less than a year ago. I guess I just thought… who wants to get my blog posts by email? I am just not that cool. It just so turns out that some people DO think I’m cool enough!
#3. Resize Photos Before Uploading them to your Blog!
Seriously have you ever visited an awesome blog and it took F.O.R.E.V.E.R for it to load? It is usually because they add their photos to their posts and THEN resize them. Bad idea!! When you do this it still uploads the picture in its original size and then has to resize it – thus taking a.long.time. You can resize pictures in so many different programs that there is no excuse not to do it beforehand.
#4. Other Bloggers are you FRIENDS.
Blogging is not a competition. It is not about who has the most followers, although it is nice, it just isn’t the point! If you DO want to gain more followers then make friends. Embrace others that are like you and form relationships which will in turn help you grow. Your friends will follow you, promote you, help you, and be there when you need advice or encouragement. This is something else that took me a LONG TIME to understand.
Don’t be afraid to ask bloggers with more followers, or less for that matter, to join your link party or to email them with a question or for advice. Sure there are the occasional few that won’t respond, but many of them WILL. How do you think they got where they are now? Followers just like you and I!
Leave comments showing your love. This is something I still struggle with because I am often overwhelmed by the amount of posts to read in my reader, but I love comments and so does everyone else!! That is how bloggers know for sure that their posts are being read. Make it a point to comment more.
Sponsorships – this may not be for everyone because it takes a lot of upkeep and time, but if done right it can be a great way to form relationships. I started sponsor swapping over the summer and it has been great. Sure I haven’t received tons of traffic from it, but I have made some awesome friends who are willing to help each others endeavors! I have also paid to sponsor bigger blogs throughout the past few months and have created new relationships with them. Seriously what have I found? You get way more bang for your buck when sponsoring a blog that isn’t too big or too small. The big blogs usually have too much going on to really help you and the little blogs don’t get enough traffic.
#5. Use Social Media.
It took me a while to use social media. Again – I just didn’t think I was cool enough. I didn’t (and still don’t) have 1,000+ followers. Who wants to keep up with my silly crafts, life, randomness and such? Turns out quite a few people do! Facebook brings quite a bit of traffic to my blog and it keeps me informed on what other bloggers are doing when I ‘like’ their pages!
Twitter? Twitter was just annoying to me. I think it was the lingo I heard like ‘tweeters’, ‘tweeties’ and can we say ANNOYING? Well a few months ago I decided to take the plunge. Again – it keeps me in the loop about what other craft bloggers, companies, and blog friends are doing. I’ll admit that I really do like it now.
Pinterest? It was love at first sight! I’m still as hooked as I was on day #1. It is one of the highest traffic referrals to my blog and is utterly inspiring. Now if I could just stop pinning and actually MAKE something!
And just for a laugh I saw this and couldn’t resist sharing -
Let’s not get me started on social media though – I have turned myself into a walking social media wiz kid! I research it almost as much as I pin! More of that on another day – I think it deserves its very own post.
#6. Use Google Analytics
I did an entire post on using Google Analyitcs over at Fontenot Four. Hop over there to read it – but in a nutshell G.A. is a great way to track the traffic coming to your blog. It is 10x better than the stats you can view through blogger. G.A. shows you any and every way a person found your site and I love it for that. I check mine at least three times a week. It just interests me and when I see a spike in views I love figuring out where they came from! It also helps me to stay informed on where I have been featured, because lets face it, I can’t keep up with everything.
#7. Write Posts in Live Writer to Save Your Sanity!
I was stuck in the stone age for a while – a LONG while. Then I found out about Live Writer and it changed my life – well okay it changed my blogging. My posts got better, they were easier to write and edit. I enjoyed blogging a LOT more and I didn’t have to deal with that darn blogger posts thing! If I want to use the HTML portion I can still do that through Live Writer, and if I want to see what the post will look like on my blog before publishing I can preview it. Live Writer was just seriously pure awesomeness to me. If you don’t have it GET IT!
That.that.that’s all folks – These are some of the most important things I wish I would have known from the get-go. What did you wish you would have known? I would LOVE to know – seriously!