Hey guys! Just wanted to write a blog post about my favorite blogging tips I've learned over the past 14 months on this blog. Thanks in advance for reading!
I started this blog in 2014, fulfilling a long-held wish of having my own blog/website. My first few wordpress blogs were utter fails as I only published around 3 articles before giving up. I'm happy to say that I've written over 100 blog posts on this blog!
My most viewed post is over 7000+ views and continues to bring traffic to my blog daily. This didn't end up happening until months after I wrote it (I'll talk about that below).
I hope one (or more!) of these tips helps you out, if you are thinking about starting a blog or already have on going!
Without further ado, my 13 Best Blogging Tips!
#1. SEO Matters in Blogging
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In summary, this means optimizing your content for search engines like Google to find it. I now work for a company that deals with SEO so I've been learning about that. 2 things I didn't know. #1. The importance of backlinks. #2. Keywords in the title are essential. The Search Engine will look at the title as the most important piece.
That piece I mentioned above (my most viewed blog post), the title is so distinct on Google (15 Best DIY Channels To Watch On YouTube), that one day it somehow moved up in the rankings so when people type in "youtube" "diy" "best" all together, my post is one of the top 5. Almost 80% of my traffic comes from google and that article alone does about 60% of my daily traffic.
#2. The big differences between blogger, wordpress.com, wordpress.org and squarespace and which ones to use (and not to use)
I'm currently blogging on a self-hosted wordpress blog and my videography website is on squarespace.
Blogger for the longest time was the unofficial favorite platform for lifestyle bloggers. Now all I see are bloggers wanting to get off blogger and onto their own self-hosted wordpress site.
When I first signed up for wordpress.com, I assumed it was the "wordpress" everyone had talked about. That is not the case. Wordpress.org ownswordpress.com and it is their free alternate and easier to figure out platform. After some time, you grow out of it and start wanting to add custom CSS, plugins, and your own URL, wordpress.com can be stifling. I ended up purchasing my new url, jennaredfield.com and moved by blog over (it was jennaredfield.wordpress.com). It is more clean and professional sounding and I was able to buy and add a new template and install plugins. It is more expensive than the free version, but 100% worth it.
Squarespace is what I would recommend for those who are not at all tech savvy and can spend $8 a month on a website/blog. That is where I host jcproductionsmn.com and I love how easy it is to figure out. My only issues are that the blogging platform is hard to figure out and there are only around 10 choices for templates. So I would choose either a self-hosted wordpress.org account or squarespace.
#3. The Power of the Genesis Framework and Premium Themes
When I first purchased my self-hosted blog in June, I decided on an impulse to buy an expensive template. I ended up hating it and went with a free one. Worst mistake ever. I'm hoping to use that template in the future since it is beautiful, but not for my blog (it's more of an e-commerce template). I've spent several months looking at options and the other day, decided to do the combo of purchasing the Genesis Framework and the Foodie Pro Child Theme. The Genesis framework is the "parent" theme that you install and many great templates and themes get installed on top of them (and don't work without them!). Many of my favorite themes worked on Genesis, which is a widely-used framework, so I decided to buy the combo. I think it looks great on both desktop and mobile and is easy to reconfigure.
#4. How important Twitter Chats are for growth
My love affair with twitter only started a few months ago. I had had an account for a few years but never used it to its full potential. That all changed when I attended an event called "Social Media Breakfast" while job seeking that was sort of like a mini social media conference every month in Minneapolis. During the talk, people were live tweeting using the hashtag. I started gaining followers with immense speed, 50-100 in one day. That growth kept happening throughout that month. Then I discovered twitter chats a few weeks later. In summary, a twitter chat is a chat controlled by a single user, for example the SEO company SemRush has a chat every week with the #semrushchat. It is 1 hour long at a specific time on Wednesdays. SemRush asks about 8 questions over the hour, labeling them Q1, Q2, etc.. The people in the chat answer each question with A1, A2, etc... and add the hashtag in the tweet so you can follow it on twitter, or a twitter viewer like tweetdeck. Some of my favorite twitter chats include #sitsblogging #creativecoffeehour #createlounge #fireworkpeople #blisschat and many others. This is now something I do at my new job as well so it's something that has taken over my life. In March I had around 225 twitter followers and I now have over 1,100. Crazy. I've made many friends along the way!
Another cool part of that is I've connected with twitter friends IRL! I'm going out to dinner with some of them for the first time this week. It's so incredible how much the internet can connect us to real people offline.
#5. How important Facebook Groups are for growth
I have been in Facebook groups since I first started Facebook but they were mostly for real life friends. I joined my first blogging group a few months ago called "Minnesota Bloggers". Within days, I went to an event and met a bunch of local people who I now chat with on a regular basis online. After finding a local group, I started uncovering dozens of groups for bloggers. These have changed the way I blog and I've gotten to know (and have started reading!) other blogs.
A Few of my favorites (for bloggers)
-Show Your Blog Loveandthe Blog Love Project (for traffic and engagement). These two groups are strictly for reciprocated traffic. If you are looking for people to find you, you can get followers on your Bloglovin, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Snapchat, FB page, etc.... as long as you do the same to the people that also list their links. This has been great (just don't overdo it!) way to get noticed!
-The Peony Project- a great christian community to post questions and prayer requests
-DYOB: Blog Beautiful-a fabulous source for the design of your blog. Learned SO much on this group
#6. The importance of having a Bloglovin' page
I heard about Bloglovin through Louise (AKA Sprinkle of Glitter on YouTube) but I had no idea what it was. I signed up about 2 months ago. I learned that the site was like a mix between an RSS feed and Pinterest. You can follow your favorite blogs and be notified when they publish new articles. You can also save (similar to pin) different articles you find on different boards to read later.
I've gotten traffic from there, but most importantly for me it's a way to collect and check up on my favorite blogs and hopefully people can check up on me!
Here's my link https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/jenna-redfield-14240585
#7. The importance of having a Facebook page for your blog
For the longest time, I posted all my links on my personal FB page. I stopped doing that and decided to create a page just for my blog & biz. That way, people I'm not friends with on FB could follow AND I wasn't spamming all my FB friends with my blog posts. It has been really great way to promote my page and share stuff on there instead of just my personal account.
#8. Content is key-but an awesome graphic will help people find your content
You see that image that most likely made you click on this blog post? The one above? I took that. For real! I just grabbed a couple of objects on my desk, grabbed my DSLR and my lights, lifted up my camera and took it. I think it might be one of my favorite macro photos I've ever taken! I'm definitely gonna try making more (who wants to shell out $60 a photo? Not me!). I might even give them out as freebies! (Let me know in the comments if you would want me to do that!) I found this blog post today that helps you take them as well and now I need to buy that table and reflector.
Graphics are easy to make on Canva and Picmonkey, and only those with great graphics are Pinnable! Good to keep in mind. Styled photos are available on Etsy as well as creative market, but it's much cheaper to take them yourself!
#9. Personal blog posts can be more popular than non-personal blogs, but use them sparingly.
When looking at my analytics, whenever I write personal blogs, they tend to be more clicked on from my personal FB account. Yet those are not the type of blogs that will grow your audience, unless everything is personal and you have no other content. For me, I want to have content worth sharing, which most people don't share personal blog posts unless they are a wedding or something. That is why those who have just personal blogs don't tend to have as many readers (theirs readers tend to be friends and devoted online friends with shared interests). I'd rather have my ideas help many people, but also share some personal stuff every once in a while.
#10. Write content worth sharing
Like I mentioned above, something that I've only been taking into to consideration recently is "Is this blog post worth sharing?" "If someone comes across it, will they share?"
That is my goal starting today. With my recent purchase of a new theme, I'm streamlining my content, my imaging and my font choice (another thing I've become obsessed with!)
I tend to click on blogs that have great images, but even if they don't, if their title interests me, I will click that as well. If it is well-written, I'll share it.
#11. Scheduling is very important
Whether it's scheduling blog posts, tweets or FB updates, scheduling can relieve stress as well as figure out and use popular posting times (the times when most people are online!). I'm writing this blog post at 6:00pm on a Saturday. I have to choose what time to post and I'm starting to analyze what time things do well. It's great to experiment. I love "TweetJukebox" as well. It tweets out random quotes for me, so it looks like I'm online when I'm not! (shhhhh!) I'm not quite perfect at knowing when my audience is online, but I'm getting closer!
#12. Quality over Quantity
In December, I decided to challenge myself and came up with the idea of blogging everyday called "Blogmas". I wrote a blog post everyday until Christmas. I decided to do it again this July and called in "Blogmas In July"
As much as Blogmas and Blogmas in July were successful (I gained more traffic, got better at writing, etc...), I got super burned out. At the end of July, I completely lost my passion for blogging. My content failed because of this. It became rushed, boring and pretty horrible quality.
I don't know how daily bloggers (or daily vloggers!) do it at all! I lost a large amount of my creativity for a while and it took me a few weeks to start gaining that brainstorming power back.
I've learned the value of a well thought out and well written blog post, instead of putting out a stream of subpar work. It's important to figure out the most meaningful way to spend your time.
#13. How much I love Blogging!
I've definitely fallen in love with blogging and the blogging community. I've been such a spectator of the internet for longer than most people I know, so it was nice to actually start participating!
My blog and my YouTube channel are huge parts of my life now and I couldn't be happier. I'm now learning how to earn some money by blogging, so I'll keep you all updated!
Here's to many more years of blogging!