First of all, I'm not going to lie. I am not entirely new to blogging. I had a sweet GeoCities site completely dedicated to N*Sync. Blinking clipart and all, y'all. I then took an - oh - 15 year hiatus from "blogging". I don't think that was even a word back then. I digress. While I can't promise you the latest gossip on Justin and Britney, I do hope that you can take away something from this post that helps you become a blogger, or an even more awesome blogger than you already are!
1. Don't compare yourself to ANYONE else. Reading other blogs is a must in my opinion, but getting all green-eyed over their success doesn't do anyone any good. Give yourself time to learn and to grow. There are probably a million other bloggers out there blogging about the same thing that you are. Your unique voice and style are what sets you apart. For instance, there are a thousand different cookbooks out there and a thousand different chefs. Yet, I always reach for Mark Bittman. You may like Guy Fieri (although I don't know why, the guy seems like a real...). I kid! I kid! But seriously, it all comes down to personal preference in the end and as a blogger you are your own biggest asset.
2. Read and comment on other blogs. This is extremely important in getting to know other people in the blogging community. If you see a great, well written article, let the writer know! This is a great way to meet people while promoting your blog and essentially supporting your fellow bloggers. I have found that there is a great sense of community in blogging.
3. If you want to monetize, go ahead and put ads up right away. This will give you time to switch around the ad types and their placement to see what works for you. Don't expect to make much, if anything for quite a while.
Don't get me wrong, wanting to make money is perfectly fine. We work hard, for some of us its a full-time job. Wanting to be rewarded monetarily for that hard work is perfectly reasonable. Just don't get discouraged when you aren't immediately making a small fortune.
If you're only looking for a get rich quick scheme, or even a get rich slow scheme, you are probably in the wrong business. Blog because you love to write, or because you love to help people or because you take amazing pictures and your readers will love you and your blog for it. Blogs that are just there for money are obvious to the reader and are just plain sleaze-ball.
4. I've noticed that a lot of people suggest starting off immediately with Wordpress. I am not one of those people. If you are unsure about whether you are going to like blogging I suggest starting out with something free. I love Blogger. Being it is owned by Google, it is very integrated with other Google products like Google+. On the flip side, due to it being owned by Google, you're blog is technically owned by Google. Catch 22.
I am not saying that you shouldn't go self hosted, there are tons of benefits that come with it. Starting off on Blogger is just what worked for me and my minimal budget at the time.
If you are going to spring for a self hosted site right away, make sure you shop around and read reviews on hosting companies. Do a Google search for "The Hosting Company Name" + Promotions. I use iPage for another website I run and I got a deal for $33 for the year and have been very happy with their service.
5. Another thing you might want to think about investing in is a blog template. I got mine on Etsy, but Theme Forest is another awesome site. You can hire a designer to totally custom design it for you. I've decided to wait a little while longer to spring for this, until I decide what direction my blog is going. I would love to design my own theme, but I'm just not Photoshop savvy enough at this point.
6. As mentioned above, I've realized that I can't do everything, at least not right away. I am trying to focus on good content that in some way helps my readers. That is the most important part of this blog for me. I agree that photos are very, very important. But, I did not run out and buy a $900 DSLR camera. First of all, I don't have that kind of money at this time. Secondly, learning how to work the camera is a whole other skill that I'd have to learn. Currently, I feel the same way about Photoshop. I want to focus and out everything into my writing and for me personally, learning a bunch of new skills just takes my time and energy away from that. Will I someday invest in a DSLR and Photoshop? Most likely. However, for now I will continue using my trusty, old Panasonic Lumix and PicMonkey for my photo editing needs while focusing on polishing my writing skills.
7. Invest in a domain name. This is one investment, in my opinion, that is worth doing right away. It can be as inexpensive as $1.99 to register a .com for a year. I went with GoDaddy, but there are tons of options out there. again, make sure you Google "Name of company" + Promotions to get the best deal. I just feel like the domain name not only makes you look professional, it saves time and confusion of changing your blog name later. It's a very small investment for what I see as a large benefit.
8. Promote, promote and then promote some more. Every article I write I share on every social network I use. Then I use an app called Buffer to schedule the articles to be shared again.
I usually end my tweets that I really want to share with others with @FemaleBloggerRT. They will re-tweet your post to their thousands of followers. It's a great way to get yourself out there and to find some other amazing blogs. There are so many little things like this that you can use to your advantage.
9. You DO NOT have to use every social network out there if you don't want to. You don't want to overwhelm yourself. Pick one or two to start out with get comfortable and then decide if you want to add more to the mix. When I first got started out, I immediately jumped on every social media site I could get my hands on and ended up feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. Think about your audience. Which social media sites are they using? For years I had thought of Google+ as a failed Facebook wannabe, but it is now my most used social network. I have met great people there and a ton of my traffic has come from it. For me, Google+ is an amazing resource. I won't get in to. Long winded post about how I use it, as there already tons of resources about this out there.
10. Make sure your social network and follow links are easily accessible on your blog. Give people the opportunity to follow your amazing content. At the very least, you should have links to your social networks on your sidebar and contact page. The footer of your blog is another great place for not only your social network links, but also your opt in or subscription bar if you have one.
11. Don't get discouraged. I've read about amazing, influential bloggers whom it took years to build a real following. Enjoy writing, keep doing your homework and most importantly network. Have fun with it and you will get to where you want to be.
Most importantly, take what I and everyone else says as a suggestion, not a rule. Do what you feel is right and what will work best for you in the long run. Experiment, change things up, try new things and just have fun.
Here are some resources that I feel have helped me tremendously.
Blogging Help, Tips and Other Resources:
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