Wow! Time sure flies when you’re blogging! I’m celebrating the second year anniversary of Intentional Dabblings and with that, I have blogging tips to share from year two. If you missed the blogging tips from year one, you can find those here. I outlined exactly how I’d start a blog and proceed with the first year if I had it to do all over again. It would be a huge time saver for someone starting a blog in the new year.
Blogging Tips to Help My Fellow Bloggers
I’ve learned a lot this year and I’ve had my share of struggles and epiphanies. So without further ado here they are:
There’s Two Sides to Blogging
You can’t have one without the other and there’s a balance to be struck between the two. They are: Content Production and Content Promotion. I’m still working to find the right balance because I enjoy the content production MUCH better than the promotion. So the epiphany this year is that the promotion side of it really needs to be taken just as seriously. The time MUST be invested in both.
Get Involved with Blogging Communities
Promotion has everything to do with being social. I’m still navigating this world of getting to know other bloggers and figuring out where I fit. But here are some of my favorite blogging resources and communities (there are Facebook groups associated with these) but be warned, if you click any of these links, you can spend hours diving into the rich content on each of these pages:
Link-ups Are Good
Getting involved with link parties is a great way to get to know other bloggers in your niche, get comments on your blog posts, and the additional traffic and opportunity for potential shares is a nice bonus. The key is finding active link-ups in your niche, being one of the first to post, having a great image, and participating. Check out The Ultimate Link Party List to help you get started.
The Yoast SEO Plugin Rocks
If you have a WordPress blog and don’t have the Yoast SEO plugin, you need to get it today. Even when I fall flat on my social media activity, I’ve started getting regular search engine traffic because this plugin teaches me exactly what I need to include in each post to maximize search engine results. It’s a checklist built into your blog that makes sure you haven’t forgotten any of these components for every post or page you publish. Don’t publish your next blog post without the green light from Yoast SEO.
Having a Focused and Consistent Brand is Important
My blog is very broad in scope which isn’t good, especially for someone who posts only once a week. If you’re a serious blogger, you have to post more frequently and you should also have a focused niche. People visited my blog and they were confused on what it was about. There wasn’t anything about it that stood out. So this year, I worked to focus my message and build a blogging brand around the idea of living a happier life by giving up perfectionism. I still write about topics of the home and the family but I try to keep it relevant to being a recovering perfectionist mom, wife, and housekeeper.
I used the Entreleadership podcast episode with Donald Miller on branding your story as my guide. Donald Miller argues that your brand should tell a story and he provides a framework for rethinking and redesigning your brand. He took all the components of your typical storybook and applied it to businesses. It’s fascinating stuff and works for blogs.
Graphics Don’t Have to be Complicated
I have a horrible habit of over complicating things. I think it’s the dying perfectionist in me. I was using all kinds of tools to create one image and after all that they were sub par graphics. Lightening struck when I watched this YouTube tutorial on using PicMonkey for bloggers. Simplified my life.
Here’s an example of the crazy things bloggers do for a good photo:
That’s right! You set up the shot outside where the lighting is good, the kids are running around, and the neighbors are walking their dogs and wondering why this crazy woman is taking pictures of her table. Imagine the time I took a picture of a pastry on a plate while lying in my driveway. It was classic.
I do a lot of photography for my blog, this ensures that the images are unique to you and your blog. But you have to learn a little bit about photography. You can go a long way with the right lighting, some decent props, and the auto setting on your camera. You can build your own lightbox for indoor photography or rainy days.
But to take your photography a little deeper, I found an awesome tutorial on camera settings. I didn’t know what the numbers and symbols meant for aperture and shutter speed. By reading this article, I got a good gauge on what the symbols were (f for aperture) and what “high” and “low” meant. The number 22 seems low enough but when you’re talking about aperture it’s very high. I had no clue. They give examples of photos, the goals they had for each one, and the settings they used to achieve that goal. It really helped give me a baseline to begin experimenting myself. It was practical. Reading the camera manual did me no good because I didn’t know what settings to use to achieve what I wanted to achieve.
When taking your own photos just isn’t an option, I’ve started using some of the free-open domain stock photos. I typically use Pexels for free stock photos but when they don’t have anything fitting, I’ll visit this blog post that covers 17 Amazing Sites with Breath Taking Free Stock Photos. The picture I used for this post came from picjumbo. It’s faster and easier to use stock photos and you can purchase some if you want them to be a bit more unique to your blog without investing the time of taking your own photos.
With a little photography know-how, stock photos. and PicMonkey, creating blog graphics got a whole lot easier (and higher quality) this year.
Ignore Referral Spam
When you’re deciding what sort of content to create, it’s good to consult your analytics to figure out what you’re doing right and do more of it. You see which pages are getting the most traffic and begin writing more on those related topics. But it’s also good to look at your analytics to determine where your traffic is coming from so you can maximize your promotion efforts. If Facebook is referring the most traffic, then you’ll want to learn more about maximizing your Facebook strategy.
It’s as simple as that, but I over complicated things (again) and got caught up in the referral spam showing up in my reports. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to stop referral spam from screwing up my analytics. This is the kind of referrals I’m getting according the Google Analytics:
I can assure you, these guys are not sending legitimate traffic to my blog and seeing them in my reports was infuriating. It seems like it’s virtually impossible to stop referral spam altogether and the energy spent trying to stop it would be better spent ignoring it. You can put exceptions into your google analytic reports so that those referrers are ignored but you have to put them in for each of the spam referrers and they have many unique names.
If you want to fight the battle I used this post on Battling Referrer Spam. I also installed the SpamReferrerBlock plugin. If you know better ways to stop referrer spam, let me know in the comments. For now, I’m choosing to ignore it.
I hope these blogging tips were helpful for you and that you learned something new. Leave a comment below if you have anything to add or any thoughts about this post. Best wishes on your blogging pursuits.