My Top 10 Blogging Tips for Beginners

 
I’m excited to finally get this post written!  I frequently get emails asking for blogging tips for beginners, and I always wish I had the time to respond with a really helpful answer, more than just a paragraph.  And, now I can direct readers to this post.  There’s obviously a lot more I can learn about blogging, but I definitely have a few thoughts I can share.  One of these days I’ll do a post about blogging, beyond the basics.  Until then…

1.  Write about what you love.  Stay true to your blog. 

What is your blog about?  Cooking?  Parenting?  Crafting?  Government?  Boogers?  Whatever it is, make sure it’s “you.”  Maintaining a blog is a lot of work and if you don’t love boogers enough to write about them several days a week, until the end of time (or you quit), don’t start.  If you don’t have the passion for your topic, you don’t have much to offer your readers…and, they will soon be gone.

I personally LOVE coming up with ideas and giving advice.  I always have.  It may sound weird to some, but that is “me.”  When I get a phone call from a friend in need of ideas or advice, I get a rush.  Really.  That’s how much I like it.  People ask me all the time I ever worry that I’ll run out of things to write about, or ideas to share on the blog, and I can easily say “no.”  I feel confident that I can spew out ideas for the rest of forever, assuming I’m never bound by duck tape and gagged with a smelly sock.  That may be a big assumption.  Clearly, a blog about ideas would suit me well.  And, it has.

So, think about where your passion lies, and blog about it.  One word of caution I have is to not get caught up in the linky-party or giveaway trap, in an effort to gain readers.  I’ve seen several great blogs quickly go downhill, because they become obsessed with hosting giveaways and linky parties.  Their content suffers and I don’t know about everyone else, but I take off, in a flash.  See ya.  It’s fun to host giveaways, every once in a while.  It’s fun to host linky parties, every once in a while.  But, unless you are a blog dedicated to those things, that is NOT why the majority of your readers are coming to you.  They are coming for your content, to revel in your passion.  Don’t leave them hanging.  What you want is readers who LOVE reading what you write about, not readers who sign up because they have to, in order to enter the giveaways.  That’s not how you build an audience.  I do giveaways now and then, as a treat to my readers, to build some excitement, and hey…to get some free stuff for myself.  I may do a linky party someday, haven’t yet.  But, I want to keep it minimal.  I know that’s not why y’all are here.

Anyway, my whole point…write about what you love and stay true to your blog.

2.  Be different.

Whatever you choose to blog about, the truth is, there are probably already a zillion other blogs on the same topic.  So, spend some time thinking about ways your blog can be different than the rest.  If you’re doing a craft blog, see if you can come up with some ideas that most other craft blogs don’t do.  Recently I stumbled on a craft blog that was dedicated to little boy crafts.  I thought that was so clever, because really…lots of the crafty stuff we see if more appealing to little girls.  Look at other blogs, in your same genre, and change yours up a little.  Maybe if you’re doing a cooking blog, you could host monthly reader submissions, where they submit their recipe for say…lasagna.  You try it, pick a winner, and give them a prize!  That sounds fun…never heard of any one else doing it.  Ya know what I mean?  Maybe the premise of your blog will be basically the same, but just see what you can do to come up with something different, like the submission contest I just mentioned.

For me, I knew there were a ton of women’s blogs giving their readers “ideas.”  Nothing new.  But, I decided to do a few things different…first, I wanted to have a post ever day, not just a couple times a week.  Second, I wanted to give even new and undiscovered bloggers a chance to share their ideas on my blog.  As opposed to only accepting guest posts from superstar bloggers.  Third, I wanted to address topics beyond just cooking and crafts.  If I wanted a post on infertility, potty training, or complimenting people, I would do it.  I wanted each day’s post topic to be a surprise to the reader.  So, that’s that.  That is what my goals were, as far as “setting myself apart,” and unless I’m delusional, I think that my readers have liked it.

3.  Write the same way that you talk….unless, you talk like a moron. 

I love reading a blog where the personality of the author shines right through their written word.  You feel like they’re right in front of you, sharing their thoughts.  The posts are more engaging and easier to read…is that redundant?  Either way, let your personality shine through.  Let your readers build a connection with YOU, while they read your content.
I get emails, all the time, from professional writers wanting to offer their content.  Now, they obviously have their place in the blogging world, but their professional articles don’t fit here.  Part of my vision for this blog is to have people feel comfortable.  To have women introduce themselves, and share with y’all, just as a good friend would.  Nearly all of us are women, many of us are mothers.  There is a lot that we can share, to help each other out.  When a post is overly professional, it is hard to relate to, and not an easy-read.  So, my advice…keep it casual.  People will love it.  That doesn’t mean to be a foul-mouthed yucky, just be you, in a good way, casual.

If for some reason, you have really bad spelling, can’t remember the difference between “lose” and “loose,” or have a hard time organizing your thoughts, maybe you should wait on the blog-thing.  Readers are fairly forgiving of misplaced commas, and the likes.  But, don’t you dare mix up “their,” “they’re,” or “there.”  You’ll be in a world of trouble from the grammar-police.  There all over the internet. ;)  …did you catch that?

4.  Good content is key.

Write content that YOU would want to read.  Avoid the painstakingly obvious.  It stinks to get really excited about a post title, only to find the content so obvious and worthless.  Hmmm…I don’t know, I imagine that someone, somewhere, could think that about any given post I write.  You’ll never please everyone.  But, really put effort into being creative.  Let’s say you are doing a post called, “5 Great Games for Kids.”  In my mind, I’m like, “sweet!”  I open the post and suggested is:  Ring-a-Round-the-Rosie, Mother, May I?, Simon Says, Hide and Seek, and London Bridges.  “Okay, really???  That’s what you have to offer??”  No, thanks.  See what I mean?  The internet (and, magazines, for that matter) tend to be full of the obvious.  Make your blog stand out with GOOD, creative, helpful, inspiring content.

5.  Improve your photography skills.

If you want your blog to grow, your photography skills need to improve…unless, you’re already a pro.  Looking back at the posts, from the first year I blogged, my photography sucked (to put it lightly.)  I had no idea how crappy it was, until I got better.  And, still…sigh…I have a LONG way to go.  But, I can’t tell you the wonders that good photography will do for your blog.  You want your readers to share your content.  If it’s super great, with crappy pictures, they will still share it.  But, they will share it a hundred-fold, if you’ve got attractive photos to go along with it.  Think of recipes.  The best recipes could have the worst pictures, and some of the worst recipes can have some of the best pictures.  But, guess which ones people are most likely to make and to share?  That’s right.  There are lots of great photography books out there, online tutorials, and classes you can take.  Here’s a link to some free online photography lessons, from Two Peas in a Bucket.  Also, you could just do a Pinterest search, and find some great ones out that other people have loved.  The more professional your pictures look, the more professional your blog seems.

6.  Nice formatting is more inviting.

The more time I have spent blogging, the more I have become opinionated about formatting.  So, maybe some of you don’t care at all.  But, to me, I love a post to be aligned to the left, with the pictures centered.  (I used to love centering all of my posts, but then realized it looked like I was writing poetry, which I was clearly NOT.)  Posts that are aligned to the left are just easier to read.  Also, using headings (with large font, bold, or underline) can help readers follow your post, and jump back around to key points.  For example, you’re explaining how to make Bacon Stuffed Bacon.  Sounds good, right?  Well, make a little heading for all the ingredients needed.

Ingredients Needed:

Bacon
Bacon

another example…

Bacon Fried Bacon

Bacon
Bacon

Directions:  Fry your bacon.  Wrap it in more bacon.  Fry that bacon.

Headings help separate key information or explain what is about to be read.  They also break up long blog posts, and make them seem more readable.  They’re great.  I love them.  It seems like common sense, but I still think headings are under-used.

Something that makes me absolutely queasy, is a blog post that rapidly changes font colors.  I would avoid that.  Try to convey your cute personality through your writing.

7.  Do your research.  Study other blogs, and stop when you start to feel lame.

One of the best things you can do to help your blog grow, is to study bigger blogs.  What are they doing that you like?  What do you not like?  Look at lots and lots of them, and take notes.  Maybe they have some cool widgets that would be helpful to you.  Maybe they are running a contest that is really exciting their readers.  Maybe they are using an advertising agency that you’ve never heard of, and want to look into.  There are so many things you can learn!  Obviously, you don’t want to copy every thing someone else is doing, but pick out your favorite things from several different blogs, come up with ideas of your own, and even learn things you would never want to do.

But…sometimes just when you’re feeling excited about your blog, you decide to check out some other ones, and then you start to think, “Gosh.  Mine stinks.  I shouldn’t do this anymore.”  That’s when you get off their blogs and focus on your own.  Blogging is not a competition.  It’s a fun way to express ourselves and share our passion with the world.  There’s room for everyone.  Maybe your blog will never be HUGE, but it can still make a huge impact on your readers.  So, focus on that.  The minute I start to try and mimic someone else, is the minute I suck.  You will always get the best response when you’re being yourself.

8.  Fake it ’till you make it. 

Is that lying?  I guess, in some situations.  But, more what I mean is put your best foot forward and be overly confident.  It can get you far.  Your blog may be as small as a pea, but make it look as big as the best.  Obviously, money can be an issue.  But, just do what you can to have a nice layout, and an attractive header.  When this blog first started, I designed it all myself.  I read lots and lots of tutorials online and learned how to make a header, do a custom layout, and such.  It was great for my beginning blog look, but eventually I realized I needed to step it up.  I started shopping for blog designers, and found one who suited my taste.  I think it ended up being $600 dollars.  Another year later, the time came again when things had to change.  I had learned a few things and decided the blog would be more efficient and professional if it was designed differently.  I hired a blog designer and spent about $1000.  A year later, I wanted MORE changes.  I know!  I think it ended up being $2500.  And, now my friends… I’m having it done again.  It sounds crazy, maybe, but the more time you spend with your blog, the more you realize what changes will help it grow.  The other half of that is, the more time I’ve spent with the blog, the more money I’ve made, enabling me to only use my blog earnings to pay for my blog designs.  Back to the point, each time, I always felt like the blog looked better than it really was!  :)  But, it kinda forced me to rise up and improve everything else.  Besides motivating you to continuously improve your blog, a professional looking blog attracts more people.  It makes them think, “there must be some good stuff here.”

When this blog was new, I didn’t have any advertisers, of course.  But, I didn’t want advertisers to think my blog wasn’t worth advertising on.  Boo.  So, I faked it.  I advertised for my mom, my brother, and all of my friend’s small businesses.  For free.  I made it look like a potential place to advertise, for some of the small-time businesses, like small Etsy shops.  And, it worked.  I had some small shops advertising on my blog, and as the blog has grown, I’m now able to get some bigger fish.  And, there is more growing to do!

When the girls on the morning show, Good Things Utah, noticed my blog and emailed me.  They asked if I liked to cook.  The truth was, I kinda did.  Kinda.  The blog hadn’t been around that long, and I hadn’t made lots of recipes, ever.  I would have never considered myself a “cook” enough to go on a TV show, that’s for sure.  But, I took a deep breath, and faked it.  I said, “With my eyes closed.”  I was scared out of my mind.  But, it worked.  Not only did it help my blog, but it boosted my confidence.  I started cooking, like crazy, and now…as you’ve noticed, the blog has tons of recipes!  And, I’ve done several other TV appearances, and had many other opportunities, which have all been fun.  I could literally tell you several stories about times I’ve had to pry myself out of my sweatpants, into my fancy pants, to seem impressive.  Inside, I’m totally unsure of myself, but I suck it up, put on my confident face, and things are better because of it.  I learn a lot, get new opportunities, and things improve.  Try it.

9.  Be a force for good.

There are so many super great blogs on the internet.  There are also a lot of crappy ones.  And, by crappy, I don’t mean new and undeveloped.  I’m talking depressing, bitter, foul, make-you-wanna-die blogs.  And, sometimes I can’t believe how many followers those blogs will have, until I remember that “misery loves company.”  Sure, everyone has a bad day or a rough patch, and it feels good to let out a good rant.  I do it myself, sometimes.  It’s just so disheartening to stumble upon these blogs that are dedicated to their bitter attitude.  Sometimes it’s super blatant, other times it is a constant underlying theme.  There was this great quote being passed around on Pinterest, that said it perfectly…”Promote what you love, instead of bashing what you hate.”  Blogging is a fantastic platform, use it for good.  And, whether you believe in luck, karma, or blessings, remember that goodness brings about goodness, not only to others, but to yourself.

10.  Make friends.  Be kind, be personable, be humble.

Remember, never find yourself too cool to respond to your readers questions and comments.  Your readers will love to hear from you, and will be impressed that you addressed them specifically.  Interact with them on your social media networks, like Twitter or Facebook.  Visit their blogs, if you can, and leave a comment.  Be complimentary and humble, and all of those good things.  Not only does it make you a better person, it makes people more likely to want to read your blog, and tell others about it.

Last of all, have fun!
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A couple other blogging tips for you…


How to Safely Use Pictures That Aren’t Yours
Adding a Favicon to Your Blog

Mariel

Mariel

Owner & Author at Or so she says...
Mariel (mahr-eeee-elle) is a mother to six, wife to one. Loves homeschooling, golfing, cupcakes, traveling, cuddling, non-fiction books, gardening, James Taylor, and family time. This is her blog. Enjoy!
Mariel
Mariel




Comments

  1. Love all the advice…thank you!

    I particularly loved the section on linky parties and giveaways. I agree that the occasional party and giveaway is MUCH better. It’s as if they become impersonal. I would rather they not post at all if they don’t have good content, and just fill it with a party or giveaway.

    Now you made me want to go pull out my Costco bacon, thanks to your tip on that a while back……mmmmm bacon.

  2. This is really a great post…I love that you talked about formatting…because a blog that isn’t formatted drives me insane!

  3. Shasha Andrews says:

    Thank you, Mariel, for this wonderful tutorial!  My “up and coming blog is probably in need of help, and I don’t write every day.  Don’t know if I wanna, not on the blog I have up now, anyway…  So, that leads me to pose a question: If I wanted to blog about myself, as just a little journal, I would want to separate that from the blog about my nail (polish, acrylics, etc) obsession, would that be a safe bet?
    Any advice you have would be welcome!  Thank you!

    • orsoshesays says:

      Well, if you want to do a blog about nails, I would say it’s okay to mix in personal posts, as long as the nail posts were the majority. Most likely people would be reading your blog for the information you give about nails, so you want to give them THAT at least 75% of the time, or you will lose them. But, on the other hand, it’s always fun for your readers to be able to get to know you a little bit. So, sure…do some random personal posts, but wait until you have something really good to say, so that it’s still enjoyable for them to read. And, if you want to have a separate blog for a journal, that you can blab about whatever you want, whenever you want…do that too. You could even put a link to it on your nail blog, if people want a more in-depth look at your personal thoughts. Best of luck!

  4. Great blogging tips!

  5. This is great!  I’m at the thinking about doing it point in my blogging life and you’ve given me some wonderful advice!  Thanks!

  6. Colby Vlietstra says:

    Wow! I’m a new blogger and by new I mean super new. I still have yet to figure out everything in the blogging world, but I’m really enjoying all there there is to learn. Thank you for this post it really helps beginners like me know where to start.

  7. Came over from Blogher from reading this post. Absolutely amazing, thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks for this!  There’s always so much to learn about how to be a better blogger and you have some great tips.  I think photography and formatting are so important.  While content is always important to me, a lot of the reason I like or don’t like a blog comes from my impression of it.  I am doing the design on my own and it’s fun, but it’s challenging!

  9. Great advice, exactly what I was looking for! Thank you from an itty bitty blog that would like to go far. ;-)

  10. Always remember that blogging isn’t a competition – that is easy to forget when you delve into followers and so on!

  11. What an amazing post!! Thank you for all the wonderful tips!

  12. I just started my blog and have wanted to to do it for a few years now. Thank you for all the great tips!

  13. Debbie Thompson says:

    Thank you so much for writing such a thoughtful post. I’ve only been blogging for about 6 months now, but I found every point helpful. Some of them I had figured out on my own, but it still served to confirm my suspicions. I’m glad to hear your perspective on link parties and giveaways. I had gotten the impression that doing those meant you were a really big, successful blog. But when I stopped to think about it, you’re right. I do get turned off many times when a blog is constantly having giveaways (and all the hoops you have to jump through if you want to enter). And I have become a little jaded with link parties too, when a successful blogger told me that most people who link up don’t take the time to visit others. Anyway, just thanks. I appreciate the advice. Have a great day.

    Debbie

  14. I love this so much! Great post, it was what I needed. I am currently on a blog vacation and revamping everything. You just gained a new follower! Thanks!

  15. Thanks for the great tips! This is SUPER Helpful!!!

  16. Mariel, I found this post as I was coming to your link party. It beckoned for me to read it, and I’m so glad I did! I love that you are real, and do all of these things you wrote about. You featured my ribbon shamrock post a few weeks ago, and made comments on my blog. I can’t even describe how much encouragement that gave me as a very new blogger. Thank you for reminding me to keep it real. You are great!

    • orsoshesays says:

      That’s really sweet, Nancy. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Best of luck to you and your blog. Have fun with it!

  17. Thanks for the great post! Your tips are very practical…my biggest struggle with my blog is writing things down as good as they sounded in my head. I’m working on it! LOL

  18. Lisa Hagans says:

    Thanks so much for the detailed and sincere post. As I delve into the bloggy universe I will keep your advice in mind. Thanks again.

  19. Thank you so much for the information that you have out together. I still only post twice a week and for now that is plenty. As a mother of three kids and a small business owner I need to make the most of the time I spend on my blog . I am very grateful for all of the experienced bloggers who are so generous with advice and information. I also blog about a little bit of everything and I think it keeps my work from getting stale. I have also found myself typing up a post without realizing how negative my attitude is at the time. I have made it a habit to not post without giving at least a couple of hours between writing and rereading and posting. it really help to maintain a positive perspective.

    cabinofbows.blogspot.com

  20. Thank you so much for this post! I found it on Pinterest and it was a great read! Very interesting and inspiring! I loved what you said about going on other people’s blogs and stopping when you start to get depressed about what you are doing! Great advice! :)
    http://www.facebook.com/loveaverage <3

  21. Love your tips! I do have a problem staying in my niche, (and I think I may be slightly ADD – lol). I’m pretty much all over the place in life so I go all over the place on the blog. Too many interests, too many ideas, too many sparkly distracting things.

  22. Thanks for the advice. I found your post on Pinterest and found it very helpful.

  23. Hi! I just sort of started my blog. And am I glad I stumbled upon this through pinterest! This post is a gem. Thank you very much for all the insights.

  24. David Smith says:

    Thanks for the tips. I just started my blog on DIY stuff for the home, computers, cars and anything else you might be able to fix yourself. I hope to get more posts soon because I don’t have hardly anything on it right now. I’m definitely still learning and setting things up, but I think I’m at the point where I need to concentrate on postings.

  25. Thanks for sharing these useful tips. I started my blog little over a year ago & I really love it. But I’m seriously struggling to find more followers. It’s really nice when your family & friends like your blog, but still it would be nice to know that more people are reading and enjoying my blog. I’ll sure see whether I can use some of your tips!
    Greetings & good luck with your blog, Naomi

  26. Love your blog! Thanks for you helpful hints. Bookmark for sure!

  27. Thanks so much for this post! I will put the ideas to work for me! I really have bloging troubles. From ESL issues to plain content! thanks again!

  28. Valarie says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing this post! I am about to have our youngest start school and have been waiting for this opportunity to delve into the blogging, etsy, putting my crazy life, thoughts and crafts out into the world! I am now learning as much as I can about creating a blog before I begin this journey and your post lifted my spirits so much today after many hours of reading! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your amazingness!!!

  29. Hi Mariel. I was so happy to re-read this! I only launched my blog in late May and your post confirms that I am on the right track! I always wanted to create a place online that was uplifting where I could share all of my creative inspirations and spotlight the thought leaders, mavens, tastemakers & creatives who so brilliantly showcase their unique stylish flair that I adore. I am all about celebrating women so it’s not all about me, although I was pleased to hear readers who know me say that they definitely hear my authentic voice throughout the blog!

    I love to turn the spotlight on others to build a community! In the arena of being different, I am not looking for advertisers to clutter my blog, rather I am looking to form partnerships with brands that I love as well as creative collaborations which will take time as I grow my readership. I am just doing what I love and trying to create an online party where women can join in on the conversation and be inspired. Your blog caught my attention and I’m happy I found it! I’m also looking forward to reading the Book of Mormon you sent me now that summer is here! All my best, Adrienne

    • What a fun comment! Have so much fun with your blog! There are definitely times that my blog becomes un-fun for me, but I can usually trace it back to getting caught up in ‘keeping up’, comparing, or simply over-doing it. I’m constantly giving myself a reality check.

      Yay, for The Book of Mormon! That book is amazing. Keep me posted on your readings and let me know if you have any questions!

  30. Thank you Mariel for your great and honest advices!! I started my blog in April but I’m struggling sometimes because I don’t have enough time to learn and write at the same time… Well, it will take one step at a time :) Thanks for helping me out!!
    theteaspoonblog.wordpress.com

    • Oh, you’re so welcome! I hear ya on the time thing… it can be hard to squeeze blogging in. But, hopefully you enjoy it when you do. Good luck!

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