Guest Post: 9 Tips for New Bloggers by Tiffany

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

blog tips for new bloggers
Hi beautiful people! I'm Tiffany, and I blog over at Endless Bliss, which is a happy lifestyle blog where I share inspiration and happiness along with my love of books and my lust for travel. I'm subbing in for Olivia today to share some of my favorite tips to give to newbie bloggers. I've never considered myself an expert on anything, and blogging is no exception, but after two years, I feel like I've picked up a few tricks here and there. While in some aspects, I still consider myself a newbie (don't ask me any HTML questions - yikes!), I have done enough trial and error to know a few things that can make your blog go from being unnoticed to having frequent visitors. 

There aren't enough words for me to tell you how using Google Analytics has completely changed my blogging game. I was using the Blogger Stats page to tell me how well my blog and individual posts were doing, only to find out several months later that all of that data is pretty much inaccurate and irrelevant. Not only does Google Analytics show you more accurate data for pageviews, it also shows you where your traffic is coming from (social media, Google searches, etc.), which of your posts are getting the most impressions and visits, a live feed of people that are viewing your blog right this instant, what keywords are bringing people to your blog, and so, so, so much more. 

Back when I first started blogging, I thought that using Blogger labels was going to help bring my SEO up (not that I knew what SEO was back then, but since I do now, I can put a words - or words - to what I thought it was doing. For those that don't know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization). In other words, I thought that the labels I used on my blog posts were going to help people find my blog posts in Google searches and such. Boy, was I naive. I used about 10-15 labels on each post, and they were obnoxious. Now that I know that labels are for internal use only, I limit my labels to 1-2 per blog post, and I make them pretty general, such as "books," "travel," "inspiration," etc. For more info on using labels properly, you can check out this handy tutorial-ish post

When I think about how my blog got started, I'm embarrassed to even talk about it, but since we're friends... My blog started off as a rant blog, essentially. It was pretty much my passive aggressive way to let the world know about the little nuisances that I dealt with in my every day life, whether it be about friends or my job, or my dissatisfaction with life in general. There's really no wonder why I didn't have any readers back then. 
So what changed that for me? Making friends in the blog community! How did I make friends in the blog community? I joined blog networks and communities! There are so many different ones out there. Some are just general groups, some are for social media engagement, some are by niche or age group or location. Every blog community operates differently, but for the most part, it helps you discover new bloggers and make connections with people you may not have been able to otherwise. The blogging world is huge, and you can make it a little smaller by focusing on the blogs in a certain community or group. If you're looking for an awesome blog community to join, check out The Blogging Elite!

I'm still struggling with this one, but I've narrowed it down a lot since the beginning. My rant blog became a lifestyle blog, and within my lifestyle blog, the main things I blog about are books, traveling, and inspiration. While other topics may come up, for the most part, those are the main things that people come to my blog for. 
Picking a niche will not only help you stay organized, but it'll also help people find your blog and keep coming to it. If someone finds an awesome recipe on your blog, they're likely to come back to find more recipes, but if you only talked about recipes and food that one time, and you never talk about food or cooking or anything of the sort again, then that person will probably never come back to your blog again. 
A handy way to pick a niche is to look at the labels that we talked about two tips ago. Which labels are you using the most? Use that as a factor, because apparently, you're writing about that a lot. 

You know what totally sucked about my first few blog posts? I showed absolutely zero personality. I was half-anonymous, just ranting about whatever I wanted, and it could have been anyone on the other side of my blog posts. I didn't see a spike in engagement on my blog until after I started showing my personality. I realized people wanted to get to know me, the person behind the blog, and it's the same for you! 
If you're blogging about something and not showing your personality, then it's likely that no one will come back to your blog. You didn't make an impression on them. Showing your personality is what makes your blog interesting; it's what makes it unique. Don't write about something that you don't want to write about. Don't write about something that you think you should write about just because everyone else is writing about it. Write about what you're interested in and let that interest and passion flow through your fingertips onto your blog post. That's what's going to keep people coming back. 

You know when you read a blog post, and you keep thinking "me too!" after every single sentence. Create content like that. Create blog posts that make people think "me too," because if someone can relate to you, then you've pretty much made a new best friend. 

One of my biggest blog regrets - not starting a Facebook page for my blog from the very beginning. I feel like I missed out on so many opportunities for sharing posts and creating loyal readers by not having a Facebook page from the very beginning. All of my other social media pages (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) started as personal profiles and kind of morphed into a personal profile/blog profile. Facebook was the exception. 
I know other bloggers who have separate social media accounts for their blog, which is fine, but if you want to do that, you should definitely start the social media accounts ASAP! The more social media, the better. Why? Because people love choices! Some may prefer to only view blogs on Twitter. Some may prefer just looking at bloggers' Instagram accounts. Some people may like to have their Facebook news feeds filled with nothing blog updates (not me, but each his own). Whatever the case may be, have social media accounts along all avenues so people can view your content on their website/app of choice. 
Social media accounts to have: 
-- Bloglovin: essential for all bloggers!
-- Facebook: fan page - not a group or a friend account
-- Twitter
-- Pinterest: most of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest!
-- Instagram: I don't use it for my blog much, but I still have it listed on my blog and have my blog site listed on Instagram. If you're a fashion blogger, Insta is essential!

Okay. This was a hard lesson learned for me. Not hard in the sense that I got sued or anything. More like hard in the sense that I had to get rid of a lot of photos on my blog. Apparently you can't just take any photo you want off of Google. Nope. Those are all copyrighted, guys. My advice would be to take your own photos or use stock photos. (Check out this awesome round-up of stock photo sites here!) Alternatively, you can go through the avenues of asking for permission to use the photos and listing image sources on your site. But the moral of the story is: Don't take random photos off the internet to use on your blog. 

When people started saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" and "It's what's on the inside that counts," they weren't talking about blogs. As artificial as it sounds, blog aesthetics do matter. If I visit a blog that isn't aesthetically appealing to me, I'm unlikely to visit again, especially if something's hard to read or find. 
You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on a blog design. If you know HTML, you could design a few things yourself using free sites like PicMonkey or Pixlr. If you don't know anything at all about HTML or design, you could find a relatively cheap blog template on Etsy for $20 or less. There are also some blog designers out there who are either trying to build their porfolio or don't charge an arm and a leg to build someone a simple blog design. 
Just like you take the time to do your hair and make-up and get dressed in the morning for work or school or to run errands, you should take the time to do the same for your blog. Dress your blog up, and make it look nice. A pretty blog design will go a long way. 
I hope you found these blog tips helpful! You can find more tips and tutorials on my blog by visiting my Blog Tips page. If you want to see more from me (or become my new BFF, because you can never have too many), you can visit my Facebook page or follow me on the Twitter