Have you ever considered setting up a blog of your own?
Or if you already have one, have you got plans to improve it or change it this year?
First of all, I’ve written about what you need to do if you’re thinking of setting up a blog of your own and I have a few little blogging tutorials planned for the next few weeks if you want some extra help but the main thing you need to know is that setting up a blog of your own isn’t difficult at all (although I can’t say the same for some of the other things that will drive you mad over time if you stick with it) and it doesn’t have to cost anything unless you want it to so if you fancy it, then jump right in.
Ultimately, what you write and the way you write it is what’s going to attract people to your blog but there are things you can do that will make it more attractive to your readers, that will make them want to stick around for longer and that will improve your blogs visibility to people.
- The first thing you need to remember that it’s your blog and no-one (not even me ;-)) can tell you what to do with it. Don’t lost sight of this as you’ll get people trying to tell you what you should and should be doing but it’s your blog so you do what you want to do when you want to do it.
- Make it easy for people to connect with you elsewhere or to email you. I have my social icons set up at the top of my page so people can come and find me on Social Media. It’s right under my about me section which I hope helps people to see who I am and what I write about quickly and easily:
- I’m a bit lazy so I use a site called co-schedule (that’s my referral link) to schedule all of my social shares for me so when I write a post, I schedule it to share twice on the day I write it, once the day after, once the week after and then again a month later if the post will still be relevant then. It takes two minutes to do all that and then I’m done. The only thing co-schedule doesn’t support is Pinterest but I use Tailwind (another referral link) for that. Both of these are completely non-essential but they make it so much easier for me to get my post out there and the scheduling means once I’ve done it, I don’t need to think about it again and I get to think about the fun stuff.
- Don’t feel you have to do everything although I’m sending you a virtual high five if you do because that’s awesome! I personally can’t do everything so I admit that I don’t focus on Twitter or Google Plus and I enjoy what I do a lot more now. Before it felt a bit forced because I had to split my time so much whereas now I use Facebook and Pinterest to share my blog posts and other blog related things and have Instagram as completely non-blog related – I don’t even have a blog link in my Instagram bio. There’s no rule that says you need to do everything so if I were you I would just do what you enjoy.
- Pinterest is becoming a major source of traffic for me on here and accounts for around a third of my monthly visits so even if you don’t particularly like using it then I’d set up an account and have a board specifically for posts from your blog. Even if you don’t do anything else on Pinterest, do this. Everything else can come later on Pinterest if you’re not a fan or you want to prioritise something else. I can’t stress enough how important Pinterest can be to your traffic, this is the sharing analytics from one of my posts that I wrote in 2013. The post didn’t see too much traffic at all until I went back and re-did the pinnable image on the post and pinned it to a few collaborative boards but since I did that last year it’s been pinned 27,410 times:
(that’s now up to 36,000 times as I wrote this post before Christmas which is another tip I’ll share with you as a bonus! 😉 I like to take breaks from blogging but rather than not post at all I spend some time over the course of a week or so writing and scheduling posts so while I’m sat with the laptop switched off, my blog is still ticking over nicely. )
- Still talking about Pinterest, I would make a vertical pinnable image for each blog post so other people can pin your post. I use picmonkey to make mine and I generally make them 600 x 1000 or 600 x 900. Pinterest for bloggers is a whole other post so I won’t dwell on it too much today but if you’re not already, you really should start doing these two things to help you when you get more into Pinterest for promoting your blog.
- I’m not a great photographer and for the most part that doesn’t really matter (to me anyway) but what I do like to see are nice big photos that I don’t have to squint to see. Looking back at some of my earlier posts I went for smaller images but they really don’t look that great and I’m now trying to update these posts (and make pinnable images for them). Your photos might not be amazing but they show what you’re writing about and that’s why people are reading your blog. Show off your photos and make them a bit bigger. Mine are 700 width now as that fit’s in with my blog template but they used to be 550 which is the minimum size I would go with.
- While we’re on the subject of photos, I take lots of mine using two big sheets of white card on my dining room table in front of the patio doors. Good light is important so I try to wait until the sun is shining when I can but camera wise, I often just use my iphone rather than my lovely DSLR. This is one I took the other day with a couple of props and although the light was really bad (think rain, cloud and late afternoon) I think the white card makes it look quite nice once I add the wording to it. It’s not a great picture by any means as it was took on a Winter day with next to no light but hopefully it gives you an idea of what I mean.
- Install something to track your stats and then try to completely ignore it for as long as you can. I got a bit stat obsessed at one point and ending up deleting them and withdrawing from things like blogging charts because I was focusing too much on my chart position and how many page views I was getting. I took some time to get my focus back on blogging for me and now I have a happy medium again. I started blogging for my own reasons and page views wasn’t one of them so once I got back to that, all was good again. Blogging charts are great though if you’re not going to get stressed over them and I’d definitely recommend signing up for the Tots100 though as long as you remember that there are something like 10,000 blogs registered so to be in the top 1000 is to be in the top 10% which is awesome. I use Google Analytics which was really easy to set up and gives some great insight (or at least it would if I knew what to do with it and where to look).
- Don’t expect it all straight away! It took me years to build my readership (is that a word?) up to what it is now and it was a year or so before i was approached by a PR to do a review or write a sponsored post. Every January a whole load of new blogs are set up with the intention of getting ‘freebies’ and they’re not great to read as it’s generally obvious that they were set up for that reason with posts mainly focused around reviews rather than giving us the chance to get to know the writer as a blogger first.
Image credit: Shutterstock, Maksim Kabakou