More traffic. More comments. Advertisers. Money.
Most bloggers desire at least one of these things, and many are hungry for the whole buffet. But when you’re new to blogging and have almost zero experience with blogging software, Web design, and social networking applications, how do you generate readership beyond your mom and BFF?
That’s this week’s Friend Friday* topic—baby steps to a better blog.
How has your blog changed over the months/years you’ve been blogging?
It’s gone from a very personal online journal to a fashion-centered lifestyle blog. It has also gone through several design changes. I really like where I am now. This space and feeling is a lot like my favorite black patent pumps—simple, comfortable, but eye-catching.
What was one thing you did wrong in the beginning and how have you changed that?
I was a little blogging island. I never read other blogs and and certainly never commented on any. My blog was actually just for me and my circle of friends.
Around the end of last year, believe it or not, is the first time I ventured outside of backyard, so-to-speak, and my blogging experience is all the better for it. I’ve made so many friends and grown my audience hundreds of times over. I visit and interact with others. The reason and the meaning of all this has finally hit me.
When you visit a blog what’s the greatest turn off? The thing that makes you close the tab?
Auto-play music. Long, verbose (and boring) narratives that aren’t presented correctly for the Web. Blogs where every other post is a giveaway of hideous stuff I’m not interested in.
How did you find your voice?
This is a fantastic question. As a writer, I wonder how one can’t? I don’t know, I just write like I think, like I speak. I’m a Southern Greek-American who is married to an Aussie, so there are nuances and colloquialisms that come out in my writing and speech that mix all that up.
I think the best way to truly find your voice as a writer is to be prolific. Write, write, write. Your writing does mature over time and you settle in. And good writers are usually avid readers.
If you had three pieces of advice to give to a new blogger what would those be?
- Ask yourself what your intention is with your blog, your ultimate goal.
Once you answer this question, it becomes much easier to choreograph the steps needed to achieve it. If your goal is to become a full-time, pro blogger, your next steps will be very different from a hobby blogger. You need to invest in a professional template, domain name, etc. You need business cards and a media kit, and you need to network like crazy. Your goal is to increase traffic to increase advertiser interest. You need to approach companies you want to partner with—don’t wait for them to come knocking on your door once you have the stats. You need to understand cost per impression, what is tax-deductible, and how to sell yourself to advertisers.
Hobby bloggers, depending on their goals, may only want to learn more about photography or they might strive to build a close-knit relationship with just a few other bloggers through regular commenting. But until you know what you want, it’s hard to proceed. You can’t hit a target you can’t see.
- Offer unique, original content.
For those who think there is no original content (I read this recently), you are dead wrong. Your perspective on everything is your original content. If you love the shows, then try to find an angle no one else is covering. Please do not post the same Givenchy 2010/11 Haute Couture images. We’ve all seen them a million other places.Here’s a tip: when the entire world media covers NY, Milan, and Paris shows, do you really think you can offer a unique perspective? Even I’ve posted favorite looks from a show, but I try to pick lesser-known designers or off-beat looks, because that is what appeals to me.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new.
New templates, a new name, a new blogging platform, whatever. Nothing will change if you don’t. So what if you’ve been on Blogger for years. If your platform is fraught with technical difficulties that affect your readers and comments, maybe it’s time to explore something else.Sometimes re-branding yourself or moving is a good thing
Recently, Brooke, whose blog was originally named Miss Jones & Me, renamed her blog to Brooklyn’s Britches, then moved it all to WordPress. She’s upgrading in iterations, striving for new things and a better experience. She just dove right in. Another blogger, B of Beautifully Invisible, actually reached out to me for a critique of her blog when she was still on Blogger. She not only took my advice to heart, she ran with it, moving to a self-hosted WordPress.org blog that is refined and professional. I didn’t tell her to do that. But she listened to my advice in terms of layout and her content strategy, what do you know…she’s making the IFB Weekly Roundup pretty regularly now that her stellar content is presented in a shell that says I am serious.
Change is scary. But if you want to grow and learn YOU have to do the work. If I actually got paid for the thousands of hours I’ve spent learning blogging and new technology on my own, I feel certain there’d be a new Birkin bag in my closet. The best way to improve is to continue to be curious, to explore, to try. You have to put in the hours. If you don’t take it seriously, no one else will.
Clearly blog improvement is something that is close to my heart, given that I just posted a virtual tome about what I learned from my reader survey. Expect to see more on blog improvement very soon.
*The Friend Friday project by Modly Chic is a way for fashion bloggers to share more about themselves and create a friendly connection with other bloggers. Join the conversation by joining the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group.