Many people have asked me how I started my blog and whether I have any tips or tricks for them. I actually have many blogging tips to share and have read numerous articles and books to improve my knowledge. It has been a long trial and error process (which still continues) and I am happy to share what I have learned about writing and blogging over the last two years or so:
1) Use WordPress instead of Blogger
I started my first mental health and emotional well-being blog in Blogger. It served my purpose back then and I ended up with a very good following of loyal readers (around 10 000 per month). Blogger became quite stifling in the end though as Blogger.com owns the web pages and there are limits to what you can do on Blogger. If you plan to expand your blog and hopefully reach a wide audience and possible even make money from it in the long term, WordPress is the way to go. There are of course other options when it comes to hosting and websites but I haven’t used any of them so can’t comment. I host my own site (WordPress.org) and don’t use the free version offered on WordPress.com
I taught myself how to use WordPress. Some days were incredibly frustrating but it is possible to teach yourself if you are patient and have some basic knowledge on how to build websites. My primary job is as a Psychologist, I wouldn’t consider myself an IT person. There is loads of information to be found on Google and on the WordPress forums if you get stuck. I particularly like WordPress as you have flexibility with the design and layout, plugins-a-plenty and a wide variety of ways to use it.
2) Quality Content
In order to find a following, choose a niche that you want to target and consider your target reader. Almost every article I have ever read on blogging reinforces the fact that quality content is top of the list for creating a great blog. Writing regularly is also essential. Even if you only post once a week – keep to that routine. Be personable in the posts, readers enjoy the personal approach and will be more likely to stay loyal to your blog if they feel they are getting to know the person behind the writing.
3) Offer Value
This seems an obvious blogging tip. Offer your readers something, whether it is information or humour.Topics on Economics, Parenting, Career, Political, Celebrity and Social Media are among the most popular blogs out there. Do your homework but stick to something that you love writing about.
Search Engine Optimisation is important if you want your blog to be picked up by the search engines. Make sure that you use good titles and keywords. My favourite SEO Plug-in for WordPress is SEO Yoast. This is a comprehensive way to ensure that each blog post is SEO optimised. I love it!
When it comes to marketing – submit to directories, and enter your blog into blog carnivals. Comment on the blogs of others that are in your niche and offer to do guest posts on other people’s blogs.
Another incredibly useful website that I use to help in my marketing efforts is www.fiverr.com. It offers services for $5. I have used Fiverr for submitting my blog to directories as well as for help with social media distribution.
Connect your blog to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumbl, Stumble Upon amongst others and ensure that these websites also receive every new post you write. Spread the word!
5) Be Thick Skinned
When you open yourself up to the world, there will inevitably be people who disagree with you. Be prepared for negativity but don’t let it sway you from your cause. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Believe in what you write about. Controversy can attract more attention but there might possibly be a downside to this. Speak your mind, freedom of speech isn’t illegal but be prepared to dismiss negativity.
6) Ensure That Your Website is User Friendly
As much as possible, keep your site simple. If readers are bombarded with too much information they are more likely to click away to another site. Be clear and concise with an obvious ‘call to action’ on the front page. I have a pop up that appears after around 3 seconds asking readers to subscribe. I have also made commenting as easy as possible (after a few niggles!) to encourage communication.
7) Build an Email List
As I mentioned earlier, I have Â pop-up enabling people to subscribe. An email list is useful for keeping in touch with your readers and for sending them any promotional material and/or newsletters. I have found a good plugin/software for managing emails and newsletters called Aweber.
8) Be Patient
If you want a quick fix, fast success solution, blogging is unlikely to give that to you. There is so much ‘noise’ and superficial activity on the internet and it can take a while for a worthy blog to start to make itself known. Some experts estimate that you should anticipate blogging for at least one year to eighteen months with little or no reward.
I love writing and I love all things to do with human behaviour, the brain and emotional well being. This is my main aim. Life throws up inspiration for blog posts each and every day and I can’t seem to type it up fast enough!