It’s been more than 3 years since I started writing here. The site layout has changed, part of the focus has changed, and thankfully I am no longer in debt. Yes, three years is a really long time to keep putting your thoughts out on the internet and hope that people will read it.
I started out as an anonymous blogger because sharing the details of my finances wasn’t the most comfortable feeling. I also didn’t know anyone else who blogged, so it was a little hard having that discussion with others at the beginning.
That being said, it wasn’t hard getting here, I stumbled a lot, although I’m sure everyone else has as well. So in hopes of having you avoid my fate, I’m going to share the ten things that I wish I knew before I started blogging.
1) THIS IS YOUR HOME SO TREAT IT AS SUCH
People forget that your blog, and more specifically, your homepage is your home on the internet. Keep that in mind when bringing things in your home- this could be the topics that you write about, or things that you post in your sidebar. Not only is having all sorts of random things bad esthetically, but also horrible for SEO.
Apply the same rules of cleaning your house to your blog- unlinking all dead links, adding images to posts to make them more visually appealing, keeping your tags and categories at bay are all really simple ways to keep your blog tidy.
You only get one first impression, so make sure it’s a good one online.
I’ve met some of the most amazing people online. Heck, I even started a side business with some of them so I really believe in the power of social media. Please note that not every social media platform works for everyone, and you shouldn’t struggle to be on every single one. Spend some time and figure out what works well with your brand, and objectives.
For example- Thirty Six Months does not have an Instagram account. There is no need to have one for a small business, and personal finance site, HOWEVER, Chic Darling does have an account because Instagram is a great platform for a visual brand like CD.
I suggest looking at your analytics every month to see where your referrals are coming from, and see if you can tweak them. Pinterest is a great traffic source for everyone, provided that you optimize everything properly.
Social media helps you build your tribe quicker, and allows you to reach a larger audience. Some of the most popular social media platforms include:
3) SHARE- (SELECTIVELY)
I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve cringed after reading a post or a social media status. While I can understand oversharing on your personal pages, not everyone wants to read what you had for breakfast, the fight that you had with your boyfriend, or every thought in your head. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t share anything, but more that you should keep private things private.
4) GOOD DESIGN PAYS FOR ITSELF OVER AND OVER AGAIN
Investing in a web design for your site is almost always worth the money. Not only does it set the right tone for you and your audience, but makes your take yourself and your blog seriously. The best advice I can give when comes to design is pick a layout with TONS of white space. There is nothing worse than coming to a site with great content, but getting overwhelmed by the onslaught of random colours. Also, try to away from white text on black backgrounds. While you’re at it, figure out the right blogging platform to help you take you to the next level.
As you can tell, I’m partial to self-hosted WordPress, and started with that, but I can understand that cost can be an issue. At the end of the day, I would suggest re-investing a small chunk of what you make from your blog right back into it.
5) MAKE FRIENDS
Want to know that fastest way to grow your blog and not feel so lonely? Start reading other sites and contribute to what they have to say. I don’t mean leave 1 word comments, I mean read, and share, and add your point of view to further the conversation. There is no better way to making friends than that.
6) INVEST IN A CLASS OR TWO
Want to improve your photography? Need help with SEO? Want a learn a bit of code? Want to design your media? Take a moment to educate yourself. The return on investment is huge. This can be a class in person, through a webinar, at a conference, or getting a coach.
There are also a ton of tools that you can use online. Here are my favorite blogging tools to help grow your blog.
7) OFFLINE RELATIONSHIPS GROW YOUR ONLINE INFLUENCE
Meetups, launch events, coffee dates are wonderful ways to make new friends, and get to know the people behind the email addresses. Try to go to as many outings as possible without being an event groupie. I’ve found that opportunities increase when clients or PR reps have a face to associate with the name. On the flip side of this, don’t be that jerk who complains when they didn’t get invited to something. It just makes you look bad.
8) RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH
SEO is your friend, and will help you get lots of traffic if done right. Here’s the kicker, it’s not that hard. Spending 5 mins on the Keyword Tool before starting each post is the best thing you can do for yourself and your blog. It helps give your writing the guidance that it needs. Not only does it help with SEO, which in turn increases your traffic, but the Keyword Tool is also a great place to get ideas for content.
9)WRITE FOR YOURSELF
Readers come and go, but you’re the one who has to live with (and be proud of ) the content that you share with the world. So always be comfortable with what you put out there.
10)KEEP A LIST
Getting an idea for a post is gift that you can’t take lightly. Have a place to write down a list of post ideas near at all times. You never know when a casual thought can become your most popular post.