One of the recurring messages I’ve been receiving from here is to ask for tips about blogging. I have to tell you right now though, I don’t consider myself as a professional blogger nor do I consider myself as someone to look up to in the blogging world. I too am still learning how this whole thing works but I’d be glad to share with you some of those lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Let me give you a background of my blog first – it started, like most of the blogs out there, as a journal of my shenanigans. It was only when I organized a charity event in Dubai which was attended by so many people who have been following this blog did I realize how popular it has become.
Never have I imagined that many people will actually read this which made me delete some of the
incriminating blog posts I’ve done in the past. So yes, you probably don’t know it but you might have more readers than you think.
Now the tips that I’m about to give you will probably not conform with the tips the other (bigger) bloggers will give but these are the ones which worked for me without driving me crazy. So only you will know which of these tips will and will not work for your blog.
Guide to Blogging.
1. Choose a topic you’re passionate about and stick to it.
A lot of bloggers these days are covering every single thing they can think of even though they know nothing about particular subjects. I don’t know what exactly they’re vying for but I guess they just want their name to be associated with just about everything which for me, isn’t good. I would love to have a particular identity when readers refer to me – that way, you also stand out from the rest.
If you’re just starting out on blogging, it might take some time for you to decide what your niche would be. My advice is, even though you don’t have a niche yet – just keep writing. Trust me, it took me about 2 years to figure out mine and in those years, my blog I would say was having an identity crisis. At some point, you’ll realize what your niche would be about and once that happens – stick to it. This could also be a time for you to choose THE perfect domain name for your site which will suit your chosen niche as well.
2. Make it look professional.
Once you’re all settled with your blog and finally decided that you really want to make it bigger then a good web design is definitely one of the top things that you should be investing on. There is nothing more discouraging for me to go on reading someone else’s website if it doesn’t look nice to my eyes – it could be the background color (if it’s not white, I’m not going to read it) or the font or maybe, there’s just so many things happening on the sidebar which makes it look tacky.
You can use some of the free templates of your chosen blogging platform (which I hope is wordpress) but a customized one would be best. That way, you’re able to show your own personality in your website. Remember, your blog is YOU. I highly recommend my web designer, Grace Litan if you’d like to take your blog to the next level. She designed two of my blogs and my sister’s catering website as well, I’m very happy with her service and professionalism so I’ve been recommending her to just about everyone.
3. Make a good first impression.
First impressions fall largely on what one’s eyes see which is why when you see a well-presented food served in front of you, it immediately increases your appetite. I’d say it’s the same with posting nice photos on your blog – it makes it more appetizing for your readers which will make them want to read more.
4. Content is king NOT SEO.
I am currently taking a blogging course with Christine of Almost Fearless, she’s the ONLY blogger who I really look up to right now. She has an army of followers and her blog is extremely successful plus her kids are such cutie pies.
I took up her course because I wanted to learn more about the technical side of blogging which includes the very confusing SEO. So imagine my surprise when she casually mentioned about how SEO is so once-upon-a-time-ago and that we shouldn’t be bothered with that anymore.
Instead, what she advised was to focus on your blog’s content and not the SEO which, I will have to agree on. Besides, who am I to argue with the 2014 National Geographic Traveler of the Year? :p When I was obsessing with SEO, my posts have become very impersonal as I was too focused on optimizing it for search engines.
Blogging should be a personal output of your thoughts, it should reflect your own voice. After all, it’s the reason why you have started it in the first place right? To write down your thoughts and your opinion. Don’t make it too commercialized because that’s the time when you will lose your identity on your blog.
Note: I am taking Christine’s course which is called We Create and I do highly recommend it for anyone who’s planning to take their blog to the next level. I am learning so much from her 1-yr course. You may click on this link to enroll yourself. Do take note though that it is my affiliate link, I will get a small commission to whoever signs up to this course through my link. Price of the course will not differ though.
5. Build your own community.
This is probably the one thing which made such a difference on my blog this year. I’ve joined a lot of blog link-ups and link parties (highly recommended!) and got to know wonderful bloggers in the process. Leaving comments on blogs which you do actually read and follow not only gives you publicity but also develops your relationship with other like-minded bloggers.
Whenever someone invites me to join a collaboration with their blogs or do a guest post, I’m always in for it. It did help my blog to have a steady growth this year.
6. Be consistent.
I make it a point to post at least twice a week and when I run out of things to write about, I’d think of a topic and collaborate with other bloggers just to have something to post on my site. Staying focused and being consistent is very important – that way, your blog stays up-to-date with current times.
Using the scheduled post option has done wonders for me – I don’t recommend posting every single day because it tend to make your readers lose interest in your blog. Two to three times a week is what I would recommend, that way – you don’t look like a spammer and you’re also still keeping your readers up to date.
Having my own editorial calendar made being consistent easier for me. I take a note of the things I should be writing about and give myself a deadline for it. The calendar also makes it easier for me to track all the blog posts I’ve written.
7. Get social.
Depending on where you are and what kind of readers you have, there is always one social media account that you should always focus on because that’ll help you get more readers in the process. I get a huge chunk of blog traffic coming from Facebook so I always make it a point to share my posts on my Facebook page account and make it very active.
Engaging with my readers and followers helped me to show them my personal appreciation to them and they get to know me as well on a more personal level. This way, I am no longer just the blogger behind the posts that they are reading but I now become Pinay or Noemi whom they have been interacting with on Facebook.
8. Don’t “sell” your blog.
Eventually, you will have that itch to monetize your blog which is definitely ok. I too am trying to monetize mine but I’m not selling it for just about anything. I only choose to be associated with companies or products which I myself have used or trust. I will never accept any kinds of partnerships, no matter how much they pay me, with companies or products which go against the niche of my blog (or principles).
So far, I have declined a number of partnerships and collaborations such as – a car dealer because I know nothing about cars, a make-up company because I’m not a beauty blogger, company which sells kitchen appliances because just like the car, I know nothing about them and finally, an online casino which offered the biggest fee I’ve ever been offered. I couldn’t accept it because 1. I live in Doha where it is considered illegal and 2. Casinos has nothing to do with my blog niche.
Having a good reputation in general (whether it be online or offline) is very important for me so I can’t possibly have my name associated with companies, people or products that I don’t trust.
9. Ignore the trolls.
Your blog is public, anyone in the world can read it and not all of them will agree with whatever it is you’re going to write about on your site. Some people can get carried away while some of them trolls the internet with passion. People may attack you personally or even bully you online and you’ve got to be ready for it.
After writing a post which became viral in Dubai, I was attacked by a lot of internet trolls. At first, I was replying on each comments but then at some point – I got tired of it. I would still approve their comments though (unless there are very bad words in it) but will no longer reply. This I think is the best way to deal with internet trolls – ignore them.
Let them know that you’ve seen their comments by approving it to be posted on your site but don’t reply to them so they’d know that they were not successful on pissing you off which is what they are basically trying to do. Trust me, ignoring the trolls will make them feel very insignificant which is what they truly are.
10. Let your blog statistics be your guide, not your life.
At some point, I got obsessed with my statistics – my happiness depended solely on my blog statistics which I think is extremely pathetic of me. Good thing though that I was able to realize it sooner than later and I was able to understand that my blog’s statistics does not define who I am.
I do still check it from time to time but I am no longer obsessing on it. I check it just to have some sort of a guide for me to know what people are reading and which topics are they mostly interested in. It’s also a good guide to know where they’re coming from – which sites referred them to my blog or where in the world they are reading my blog from. To be very honest though, I only get to check my statistics these days when someone asks for it. Hah!
Last but not the least, one of the most important advice that I’m going to give you about blogging which worked for me is YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF YOUR BLOG. Blogging should only be ONE of the things you do, it shouldn’t be running your life. You must have some another hobby other than blogging. Your sentences shouldn’t always start with “Oh checkout my blog because I just wrote about…” There is nothing more annoying than someone who couldn’t stop talking about their blog like it’s the ONLY thing which defines them.
These blogging tips worked for me but I’m not saying that these are the ONLY ways to grow your blog. There are so many ways on how to grow your blog but not all of it will work for you so it’s only you who can decide which is best. NEVER EVER COMPARE your blog with the others. Just do your own thing. When you’re doing something you enjoy and are passionate about – it shows on the way you write. And as mentioned earlier – Content is KING!