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When I started blogging in 2006, I didn’t even really know what blogging was. It seemed like a normal progression from those livejournal entries of my high-school days and the written journals I kept before – and after – then. I stopped journaling about the time I started dating my husband, unfortunately.
Most people today know what a blog is; I presume many have read one or even read one or two on a regular basis. So I think people who begin blogging probably do so with a purpose. Is it to inform your friends and family of what’s going on in your life? Voice your opinions for the general masses? Try to make some money?
If your purpose falls into those latter two categories, here is some quick advice that I wish I had received five years ago.
Ten Tips for Beginning Bloggers
1. Buy your domain.
I was shocked at Blissdom ’09 to find out that it only costs $10 a year to own your domain. Ten dollars! (Now it appears to be $12 if you want a .com and less if you could deal with a .us, .me, or .org.) It’s super easy to redirect your site to a domain. I am always flabbergasted at the amount of sites that still have “.blogspot” in their URL. “Vanderbiltwife.blogspot.com” just doesn’t have the same ring as VanderbiltWife.com.
2. And while we’re talking titles, choose something with zing. Be original. What makes you uniquely you? What exactly is your blog about?
3. Make yourself accessible.
Please, please make it easy to e-mail you from your blog’s homepage. See that little “e-mail me” button on the sidebar? I wish everyone had one. Because sometimes I just have a burning question about you or a post that is too long to post in a comment, or maybe too personal.
4. Set up a profile on Blogger (whether you use Blogger or not) so it’s easy to comment on Blogger blogs. MAKE YOUR EMAIL VISIBLE. (If you use gmail or other Google apps, you already have an account ready, I think.) Lots of blogs are Blogger-based (like this one), and it’s a pain for a blog author to compose a whole e-mail reply to someone who commented just to realize that their e-mail is not there.
I would respond to nearly all my comments if their e-mails were available! (I try to respond to many as long as that e-mail is visible. PLEASE MAKE IT VISIBLE.) Blogging is about conversation and we authors want to respond!
5. Blog hop. See what other people are doing. Leave comments. See if others want to guest post on your blog, or do a series together, or just chat on e-mail. Follow lots of people on Twitter, if you use it. Share links. Be generous. Be genuine.
6. For the love of Pete, unless you are Ann Voskamp (and that’s still iffy), do not have music auto-playing on your blog.
7. Install Google Analytics. At some point, you might want to see how people are getting to your blog, what they search for to find you, or how many pageviews you are getting. Go ahead and do it now! I wish I had!
8. Apply some simple SEO (Search Engine Optimization.) This is MUCH EASIER to do on the front end than after you have 900 posts. (Not that I would know. Cough, cough.) Tara has two excellent slideshows with easy tips.
9. Link to carnivals. You know Menu Plan Monday, Top Ten Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday? Those are carnivals. Linking will bring you a little traffic and checking out others’ links will expose you to blogs you might never have found otherwise.
10. Don’t underestimate your worth. You probably don’t have The Pioneer Woman‘s traffic, a book deal like MoneySavingMom, and the striking good looks of Jill. That doesn’t mean you should settle for a toothbrush as payment for a review, or bend over backwards for a company that does nothing in return. Determine your worth and stick with it. Only do what you really want to do. And don’t force yourself to write when you don’t want to … the content will never be as good.
If you’re a veteran blogger, what would you share? If you’re a newbie, are these tips helpful at all?
Added to Top Ten Tuesday at OhAmanda.