Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Average Blogger's Guide to Blogging


I have been toying with this idea for a post for a little while (actually, it's sat in draft for about 6 months now). It is one of those topics I don't think really falls into things we usually talk about here, on my blog. I do not claim to have an awesome blog, or even an overly popular one, just your average DIY/lifestyle blog. But after nearly 5 years of blogging I have learned a few things and managed to appeal to some people (obviously, if you are reading this) so I want to pass on some of those things I've found help make a blog successful. Keep in mind these are all things that are coming from a person who has done everything on her blog by herself. I am not at all computer savvy and don't spend extra money on fancy software or designers to make my blog the way I want it. So these are simple tips for the average blogger (like me!).

If most of these seem like common sense, I apologize, but the truth is that most things in this world only take a little common sense or someone to point out the obvious! So here are my pointers, in no particular order.


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Growing up I never kept a diary. I tried, but I just didn't have any interest in writing, specially not on a regular basis. I do not feel writing is my strong suit, and do not feel that you have to be an expert writer or even an overly good one at that to be a blogger. But the only thing that will keep you coming back and working on your blog is by blogging about subjects, people or topics you are passionate about. I have seen the most successful bloggers accomplish some truly remarkable dreams, and I am sure you can agree, it is because their passion is contagious! Once it feels like a chore or a duty I can only imagine how painful it must be to force yourself to do it, so focus your energy on whatever keeps you excited, interested, involved in your blog.


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You do not have to be a professional photographer, nor do you have to take classes on the subject. But the BIGGEST thing that conveys your passion is pictures. In a way they represent you and your blog. I believe that if you are going to spend any money at all on your blog you will not regret spending it on a high quality camera (even a used one if you prefer!). I shoot all my blog photos with my 4 year old bruised and beaten Canon Rebel, which is simply an entry level DSLR camera. I would have liked to open up the box and immediately take awesome photos, but the truth is that it takes time and practice. After getting comfortable with it and continuing to learn how to improve my photos (through nothing more than trial and error) I feel that this has been the best investment in not only my blog, but in documenting and capturing memories for my family. Before we bought this camera I actually had zero interest in photography, and now it is one of my favorite hobbies.


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Social media makes it really easy and fast for a photo to take on a life of it's own, and if you took it you kinda want some credit. I have found my pre-watermarked images on everything from etsy listings to other people's blog headers, but that isn't even the main reason I watermark. When you complete a project, recipe or even just take a pretty photo that appeals to somebody it may end up on sites like Pinterest, or saved to somebody's computer. Watermarking makes it easy for people to remember where they found that great idea/photo/whatever and come back to check out your site. New readers can discover your fabulous idea on Pinterest and want to know what other gems are awaiting them on your blog if they know where to find you. I don't recommend plastering your watermark across the front and center of every image, but just in a corner or somewhere not too distracting. To add it you can go with something as simple as Microsoft paint or try photoshop if you are more experienced. I like using Photobucket's online editor when I upload my photos.


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No, I'm not talking about the content!! I mean your layout. It is easy to over crowd your sidebar and pop an ad between each post but every so often try and go through and declutter. I find that the blogs I enjoy visiting often are easy to navigate, tidy and aren't all bogged down with sidebar content. I find that I have to do this every 6 months or so and really re-evaluate what is useful or not necessary. This is totally a personal preference though, of course. I do think it can relate to your posts as well though in that a ton of sponsored posts/giveaways/freebies might be a quick way to earn some cash but can really turn off readers. FAST. It's important to evaluate who you want to partner with and think of your long term game plan. It's tempting to agree to a ton of freebies but I'd rather be selective and work with brands/partners that really bring something to my 'brand' as well when it comes to post content.


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I think this is one of the areas that I struggle with the most. Blogging by nature is all 'meeee, me, look at me' which is not really my personality in real life. But the most enjoyment I have gotten out of blogging is connecting with people. And folks tend to engage more when you share more! This can feel like a struggle when you are a naturally private person, and I am not recommending you air all your dirty laundry, but try to open up and talk about your dreams, ambitions, happy moments so people have a chance to get to know the person behind the blog.


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Does your blog have to portray you as a perfect wife/mom/human? Absolutely not! None of us are perfect, or probably even close (unless your name is Martha). But even when I'm having the crummiest of crummy days I try not to let it seep into my blog. It has nothing to do with what I want you to think about me, but why would I want to rub my crappy day off on you? The blogs I love the most are all written in a positive, fun tone, which is exactly what I want to read when I am trying to turn my day-from-hell around. If you want to share something deep or a difficult time you've had on your blog I think that it can be a great support system, not to mention therapeutic. But daily, trivial stuff really isn't worth the energy it takes to write in the grand scheme of things. Sugar coating your life? not a good idea. But I'm not really into reading or writing about toddlers melting down in a grocery store because I've been there... lots and I'm sure you have too. I'd rather show you how angelic she looks when she's napping if that's all I can take out of my day.

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If you have a great blog but don't see a lot of traffic, don't let it get you down. Stay with it, keep producing good content, interact with blogs you admire and soon enough people will recognize what you are doing. The one thing I like to remember is that I'd rather have 100 awesome readers who are genuinely interested in me (even if it is mostly family and friends) than have 100,000 readers who aren't rooting for me. All good things take time, but the most gratifying thing about blogging is being able to go back and look at a snapshot of your life just a couple years ago. A moment you may have forgotten, or a funny story you don't remember often are so wonderful to find as you go back through your archives which is why it all comes back to my first pointer (passion). Do it for you and nobody else.


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So those are my super basic take aways from the last 5 years, I hope they are helpful to somebody. Like I said, not earth-shattering or ground breaking, and definitely obvious. But if you have any additional questions about things like sponsors, photography, etc. let me know, I'd love to address any further questions in the comments.

And please chime in with any helpful blogging tips you've learned along the way as well!


27 comments:

Giggles said...

Excellent advice...I too like positive happy blogs and lots of visuals! I don't always comment but love your passion and your blog!

Hugs Giggles

Inspire Me Heather said...

Great tips, thanks!

Stitch a Wish Designs said...

Great post ! I've also been blogging for years. Sometimes I post every week, sometimes longer, but I also agree, stick with what you are passionate about. I found that stressing about "having to write another post before someone stops coming by my blog" gets way too stressful. My new approach is when I feel compelled to share a DIY project, a product I've made, share something about my kids, etc., that's when I write. Blogging is time consuming. Letting go of being competitive and having to join every linky party has really made me enjoy my blogging so much more. I have SO much to update as far as sidebar pics of my family, etc, but haven't had the time. I'll get done though. Love your blog, keep writing !!

Freckles Chick said...

Awesome tips, girl! I've been blogging for about as long as you & found myself nodding/agreeing with every single one of your blogging tips. Nice to read a guide that doesn't focus on monetizing your blog, so thanks for that, ha!

You being you & the gorgeous pics are why I keep coming back to read!!

Kelly @ A Swell Place to Dwell said...

This is a great post! I couldn't agree with you more that it's better to have 100 dedicated readers instead of 10,000 that don't really care. It's a challenge sometimes to not get bogged down in the stats and the whole keeping up with the Jonses attitude, but I find that I write my best content and usually have more popular posts when I just write what I want and don't try and compete. Thanks for all of the tips!

Douglas said...

And those things are why your blog is one of the VERY few that are must reads for me; not too much drama, sincerity, passion, good pics and design that I connect with. Marissa (who after 4 years of posting on your blog still doesn't have my own gmail account and therefore continues to comment as my husband :)

Anna & Greg said...

Great post! I saw a couple of days ago that you commented on my little blog. I was beyond thrilled, as I have admired your blog for ages. I have kept my blog focused mostly on my kids so that extended family could see them grow, but your post today motivates me to be a little more creative and share other aspects of my life on the blog. Thank you for taking time to comment on my blog - it made my week!

Holly Baker said...

Giggles, I always love your comments~
(and your super happy name!)
xoxo

Holly Baker said...

Stitch a Wish, I feel the same way! You have to be able to step away for a few days without the stress killing you for fear of not updating your blog. It's hard to remember sometimes but it is only a hobby, not a full time job (even if you bring in a little income, most of us aren't full time bloggers).

Holly Baker said...

Oh Miss Freckles, you know where the soft spot is (wipes tear). my lovely bloggy friend already know how I feel about you. But yeah, you're pretty awesome at this blogging thing.

Holly Baker said...

Keep going Kelly! Your content is lovely. xoxo

christine, just bella said...

SUCH awesome tips, Holly. I love what you said about keeping it positive. I know some people give others slack about portraying a "perfect life", no one's life is perfect. No one's. But I am so with you on this, why would we waste our energy complaining or whining about our bad days?? My blog is my happy place.

And your blog is a happy place too, thanks for being you and keep doing what you're doing. I love popping in here for a visit!!

Michele said...

Hi Holly ~ This is a super post, I enjoy reading your blog and just wanted to tell you that you were the first blog I ever read. I really do not remember how I found it but felt your style was reflective of how I feel and what I like in life too. You are very inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

Sincerely,
Michele
Pearl 13.1

stephanie said...

oh my god I loved this post. I am a new blogger and found this extremely helpful. yeah! any more advice ??I'd love to hear. Great post!!

Cara Moran said...

Hello Holl Doll, ha ha. Over the years, I find I keep coming back to your blog for all the reasons you listed. Your blog is like my savored cup of chamomile tea--you write well and I enjoy your tone, and most of all, you have superb taste.

Hello Door Seven said...

Thank you for the advices! :)

Niamh O'Dea said...

Great advice for a newb like me. It makes me all mushy when bloggers like yourself are this generous with their knowledge. Thank you. I shall have a drink in your honour tonight!

N
www.styleitlikeyoustoleit.com

Jana Hunter Interiors said...

Lovely advice! I am coming up on one year of blogging. I adore my blog and am learning daily. Still trying to figure out the watermarks for MAC! And I agree with Cara Moran's comment...you blog is like a nice cup of chamomile tea! A perfect compliment! Enjoy the day!

gemma@thesweetestdigs said...

Love this, Holly! You have done a beautiful job with your blog, and I use you as inspiration often!

I haven't done the water-marking thing before... need to start doing that!

xo,
gemma

Aspiring Kennedy said...

this is great advice! well said.... and now i will refer people here instead of trying to articulate it myself. :)

Centsational Girl said...

Wonderful advice! I agree with all of it, especially #6, love the idea of keeping content positive, uplifting, and inspirational!
xo
Kate

Newton Custom Interiors said...

As a new blogger, I really enjoyed reading your advice about blogging, and will try to keep your tips in mind!

Katy @ Lolly Linens said...

Thank you for the great info!

Christine said...

I'm a new blogger, but I found your tips really helpful. Thanks so much for posting this!

adesigndiary said...

Hi Holly
Thank you for sharing such good,simple tips for blogging. It is easy to become a little disillusioned when you see how well some of the really BIG blogs do and how many followers they have, but I loved what you said in this post and I think your blog is amazing!
I am certainly inspired to do better...

Momma Bug Brittany said...

Thank you for this! I am having so much fun writing and using it as a creative outlet while I'm at home with little kiddos :)

Barb said...

Thanks for writing this post. I've needed just this kind of advice and pointers ~ especially the part about not giving up! The other day, my fingers hovered over the keys wanting to write about how sad I was feeling about blog traffic - but some little voice inside said not to. The voice told me remaining positive was the way to go. Your post confirmed it for me. Thanks very much! Love to read your stuff!

 
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