12 Days of Christmas…to a Better Blog in 2011

The fashion blogosphere totally exploded in 2010…don’t you all just love it?! I know I do.

We connected. We learned. We tweeted. We grew. With all those accomplishments, it’s easy to rest on our laurels. And rest during the holidays, we should.

But while you’re sipping spiked egg nog and sashaying your fabulous selves around town, I hope you’ll think of oldie-but-goodie Christmas carol, The 12 Days of Christmas. Why? Because it is your guide to an even better blog in 2011…

♪ On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

♪ Twelve Drummers Drumming: Blogroll, please!

If you don’t have a blogroll on your blog, add one. It’s a great way to show other bloggers that you’re a fan…and they are likely to return the favor. If you already have a blogroll:

  1. List blogs alphabetically in a single list, or alphabetically under categories (for example, “Street Style Bloggers” or “Foodie Blogs”). Is your list a hundred miles long? Say hello to my little friends: The Alphabetizer and i-fubar. The first alphabetizes text, which you can then copy and paste into your post and handcode links. The latter will alphabetize links in HTML…brilliant!
  2. Test to make sure links are all functional, and behave the same. By that I meant that all links either open in the same browser, or a new one. Even I need to take the time to tidy up my list…I’ll admit it.

And  by the way, the effervescent Bella of The Citizen Rosebud, coined the drumroll blogroll, please! expression.

♪ Eleven Pipers Piping: Toot your horn!

Have you been featured on a fashion site or another blog? Have you contributed content or published elsewhere? Be sure to include a section on your blog for tooting your own horn. A simple list of links to features or other publications (like my IFB contributions page, for example) is not bragging—it’s like a blog résumé and demonstrates your cred as a fashion blogger.

And on a related note: You need a visible blog archive. The “older post, newer post” links that are automatically embedded at the bottom of your posts are not enough. New readers may want to explore your blog, so an archive that offers up posts by date, category, or even tags is a must. Without an archive to pique deeper interest, newer readers may not be able to get a feel for your voice and content by clicking through just the last few post using previous or next links.

♪ Ten Lords-a-Leaping: Take a leap of faith!

Image via www.majoiepress.com.

So you’re petrified about changing blogging platforms, but you’ve outgrown your current home. Hey, you’re not the first to be afraid of losing all your work and you’re not the first person to make the switch. Arm yourself with tutorials (like Blogger-to-WordPress how-to’s from B of Beautifully Invisible), techie friends, martinis—whatever it is you need—and take that leap of faith!

Change is good. Plus, when you change platforms, your old blog stays in tact until you either delete it or redirect from it, so really, you have absolutely nothing to lose. And I promise, you’ll learn a lot in the process.

♪ Nine Ladies Dancing: You can’t dance around a copyright statement!

A copyright statement makes it abundantly clear to the world that your content is your intellectual property, and no one else has the right to pass it off as their own or profit from it without your permission. Make sure you have a clear and visible copyright statement on your blog, especially in light of the recent Ellegate scandal involving Jill of Polka Dot. Read Protecting your blog and copyright by Suze of Miss Vinyl Ahoy.

♪ Eight Maids-a-Milking: Milk your real estate for all it’s worth!

Real estate? Yeah, your blog real estate. When someone clicks over to your blog, everything they see in the first screen (aka above the fold) is what determines if they will stay. Maximize your blog real estate by using a trim header (no more than 1/4 of your browser window), and place your most important right rail/sidebar items at the top—e.g., social media and RSS icons for following your blog, search, your Bloglovin’ badge, your most recent posts, etc. If blog sponsors are paying you for your premium space, that is a different story. Memberships and anything that points a reader away from your blog should reside below the fold, or toward the bottom of your sidebar(s).

♪ Seven Swans-a-Swimming: Don’t leave your readers lost at sea!

What the hell does that mean? It’s simple. Don’t leave readers swimming around your blog looking for a retweet or share button. Make it easy for readers to follow you and share your brilliance with smack-’em-in-the-face-obvious RSS, social media, and Twitter icons. Even if you don’t tweet or share (though you should), other people do. So make it a fast and easy process for others who want to toot your horn. Read RSS and Sharing for Dummies—and Lazies to learn more.

And another thing…if you’ve already employed a sharing mechanism on your blog, make sure you tweak Twitter settings so tweets display at optimum level. That means using a URL shortener like bit.ly or tinyurl.com, and fine-tuning the verbiage that displays with your tweet.


  1. I LOVE IT!!! This is awesome advice!! One of my goals next year is to do more guest posting and have guests on my blog too so I’m heading over to myblogguest.com right now! Thanks V!!! 🙂

  2. Love all these tips! I’m detoxifying myself cyber self right now. Hope to be refreshed with new ideas come the new year!! Have a great Holiday! and BTW thanks for recommending Appearex! My nails are ridiculously long!!!

  3. This is BRILLIANT, V! I linked it on my sidebar (‘must read’) and only afterwards realised I missed the part where you mentioned me, so thank you. (Elle Hell nearly over, I hope: I’ve got a lovely lawyer, Lucia, in Madrid, preparing the documents as we speak – and she found me thru my blog!)

    I’ll be referring back to this again, I’m sure. I especially want to find the post from Beautifully Invisible about the blogger-to-wordpress tutorial: one of these days, I’m taking the leap!

  4. I love this post! Very informative and I must say I’m semi proud of myself because I already follow a lot of the tips you suggest 🙂 I honestly don’t know where you find all the time and energy to write your articles when you have a full time job, but I admire it! I should give myself a good kick in the butt and be an even better blogger and more active in other aspects of my life 🙂

    1. Thank you Kim! It is touch finding the energy, I’ll admit. It’s taken me many days to finally complete this post, and I almost abandoned it, but I’m glad I didn’t! Sometimes not finishing a post in one sitting gives you the clarity you need to crank out the rest.

  5. Wonderful Job V. This was very fun to read!

    When I moved from Blogger to WordPress I never got around to readding my blogroll or fixed up my archive. Fixing my archive is going to be a lot of work because I have two blogs now, one that merged into another… Thanks for the reminder though! I do need to work on that.

    1. Thank you Annie! Good luck on your blogroll move. Hopefully you can just use the existing functionality for your archive. It may require some re-categorization and tagging, though. WordPress usually makes it pretty easy to bulk edit.

  6. Merry Christmas to you too, G&G! Thanks for this great list. I agree with a lot of the tips you’ve provided here, and you’ve reminded me of a couple of things I should be doing/updating. You’re right–it’s not good to rest on your laurels.

  7. Thanks for the shout out lady! I definitely learned some new things from this post. No surprise there! We’re planning on doing some cleanup over the holidays!

    1. No worries, Kristin! You two run a pretty tight ship, and a very good blog, so of course I have to give you props. I AM surprised that you learned anything new with this post…you seem to have a very good handle on all this stuff already.

  8. Ah, V. And yet ANOTHER, ANOTHER perfectly brilliant and helpful post. I LOVE YOU!!!! So many good pieces of advice, and all but the self-host on wordpress one I will follow dilligently. Thanks for the mention: not just of me (but thanks) but of so many wonderful bloggers, whose blogs I read whenever I can, many I count as friends. Thank you for taking the time to share this information, written so well and with such love. Happy Holidays to you and yours lovely Vahni. Until next year, xo. -Bella Q
    twitter: @citizenrosebudz

    1. OMG, thank you for that AMAZING comment, Bella! You are just too good to me. I am so very honored by your words and friendship.

      Best to you as well!

  9. Oh, how wonderful. I’ve been feeling that exciting rush of inspiration that comes with New Years, and most of it seems to be directed to revamping and renewing my blog – now I just have to get all my ideas out of my head and make them work! This list is going to be a massive help.

    1. Thank you Casee…you are so creative and have such a good blog…you really are on the right track. But sometimes a fresh look invigorates us more than our readers! Looking forward to seeing what you have in store.

  10. Festival and helpful! Could there be a better combo in a blog! Love the advice, especially the bits encouraging bloggers to reach out and connect with others and to acknowledge other bloggers’ hard work! That’s so true. In fact, I’m heading over to tweet this post right now! Brown-noser, much? Yeah, totally guilty.
    Good job!

    1. Vanessa, thank you are welcome! Forgive me…don’t recall you ever commenting before, but I’m chuffed to have you and to have seen YOUR interpretation of The 12 Days of Christmas! http://bit.ly/e96Fij

      Please try to add some sharing mechanism to your posts…this series is great!

      Thanks for a lovely comment!

  11. Such a clever post as always! How very seasonal of you! 🙂
    \i think there are some fantastic tips within this, for new and older bloggers alike. I definitely will be adding a copyright statement on my blog, I have no idea what to write but will check out the link in a minute!!
    Thank you for the shout out also, you have indeed been my mentor since starting! 🙂
    All the best for Christmas, hope you have a faaabulous time!

  12. Thank you, thank you for this post! Fantastic tips. I’m still new to blogging and I feel I learn so much whenever I come to your site. I especially love your spirit of generosity. What a wonderful thing any time of year, but particularly now. Thank you for being a mentor to me! Merry Christmas and Happy 2011!

  13. amazing post. you need to write a blog how-to book, seriously. i’d buy it.

    i tried to visit your IFB contributions page, but I got a cute 404 message instead haha.

    1. Yikes! Thanks for the heads-up on the link. Fixed it. And thanks for your comment. I’m actually seriously considering a book. But I lack the discipline!

  14. There is so much good advice in this post, a lot of which I need to heed on my own blog. It’s easy to get too focused on developing content and forget about the other little things you can do to improve your blog and your presence. Also, I can’t thank you enough for featuring me and Ashley. Truth be told I had a pretty awful day, and this made it a whole lot better. Here’s to better blogging for all of us in 2011!

  15. You’ve broken it down perfectly. Seriously, Vahni, you are one talented woman and you’ve grown in this community beautifully. We all look to you for guidance and what a blessing you’ve been! Thank you for putting me in the mix, I’m so grateful! I look forward from more Grit & Glamour in 2011<3


    1. Thank you Christina! Wow, such an incredible comment (and compliment) you gave me. I am so honored, I really am.

      Of course I had to put you in the mix…you’re doing great things!

    1. Thank you Ali!

      YOU have a lot to learn?! Um, I think it’s the other way around! You’re doing some things on your blog I have never seen before, and I am totally impressed.

      The little Twitter feed at the top of your blog…do tell! And your photo scrolling. Wow. I am so digging it!

  16. Wow V!! Such great ideas! I admire your blog so much. Whether you know it or not – I consider you a blog mentor for me. I really need to spend some time working on my blog it seems. Earlier today I broke it and now I think I have fixed it. After I am all prepared for Christmas – that is just what I am gonna do. 🙂
    Thanks for these suggestions.

    1. Thank you Yvonne, I am very honored that you would consider me a mentor.

      Sorry to hear about your tech problems…I’ve had them in the past too. The thing about blogging is that just when you think you’ve mastered it, there is something new to learn! I swear! Just keep at it. Practice does make perfect.

  17. These are so great tips to follow… and not a lot of people wouldn’t help others the way you do!
    You are fabulous..
    I have forward your site to a few of my readers regards in how to make a blog or look better.
    You are the best person.
    Thanks Vhani

  18. Finding you in the blogosphere is the best thing that happened to me this year.
    Your posts are not only informative, but witty and beautiful.
    I couldn´t agree more with you in all the points you make.

  19. Well you’ve done it again V! Not that it comes as a shocker! This is a must-read for everyone. I still need to cover almost all of these points on my new blog. You can bet I’ll be using this as a reference. I agree with Stephanie (The Loudmouth) that you need to write a book. So many people can and are already benefiting so much from your advice and to top it off it would be such an entertaining read! Please host a book signing! xx

  20. OMG this is great! Like always I will need some note taking but I am proud to say I have done most of these so far! I def need to delve more into Twitter for sure and I am deathly scared to change from blogger to WordPress but it is also a goal!!

  21. You seriously give the best blogging improvement tips I’ve seen. Definitely taking some of these into practice, and already did some! Happy holidays right back at you! =)

  22. Awesome tips! They’re all easy and do-able…it’s amazing how much the fashion blogosphere has expanded. There’s so many blogs out there, and taking some of your advice would be really beneficial for any blogger.

    FYI, as far as guest posting goes, I’m trying to put together a “Guest Post Group,” which is a group centered around–you guessed it–guest posting! It’s tailored specifically to the fashion and style blogosphere. If anyone’s interested, we’d be glad to have you! More information here: http://2eyesinthemirror.blogspot.com/2010/11/introducing-guest-post-group.html

  23. I am so glad you share your knowledge about this stuff. Your tips & tutorials (this and those in the past) always seem pretty right at my level – it’s not basic stuff like “make sure your head is in the picture” but it’s not stuff that is so far above where I am (like “when Coach emails you asking you to model for them, here is how to deal with it”). Admittedly I haven’t taken all the tips to heart yet but I have a pretty good plan to implement a few of them coming up soon!

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I appreciate it, even though I’m not a frequent commenter.

  24. This is my first time here and I’m officially hooked. First, you’re writing is truly captivating and secondly those tips are brilliant. I look forward to reading more and learning more from you! ~ Gigi {Happy Holidays!}

  25. Thank you, all of you, for your sweet and amazing comments! I just did not have enough time to repsond to all of you individually, but I appreciate your time, support, and all the sharing/tweeting of this post!

    Happy 2011!

  26. What great advice! I’ve already started implementing some of it on my blog. Now I’ve got to figure out the twitter stuff. I’m on twitter, but other than sharing stories and retweeting my favorites from my followers I really lack in the knowledge of how to use it.

    Thanks again for all the great advice!

    1. Thank YOU, Heather! Glad it has helped you!

      Twitter is pretty easy. Study the structure of other tweets and you’ll get the hang of it. I know you’ve got the RTs down!

  27. Great theme!
    Once again “V,” another brilliant post that I am immensely inspired by, and definitely will execute some of these that I have not already. Thank you for sharing this much needed article about better blogging/techniques. You’re blog really is the gold medal-encyclopedia of a successful blog (not just fashion & style, or food related, but these are great notes for every blogger.

    1. My goodness, Madison…you are so very generous with your compliments! Thank you! I don’t know how others define success when it comes to blogging, but I have such fabulous, loving commenters and supporters that it sure feels like a success to me.

    1. Thank you Jaclyn. I’ve found that every time I’ve tackled something I knew nothing about for the sake of my blog, I learned so much and it made me a better blogger. So go for it!

  28. Thank you so much for this meaty yet organized list of tips! I don’t normally do New Year’s Resolutions, but I think I will this year, and your list is it — a thorough examination of each point once Christmas Craziness is over, and application as I fine-tune my blog.

    Have a fun, cozy holiday, Vahni…and spiked eggnog sounds really good. It’s after noon somewhere, right? I’m off to dig in the fridge for the bottle.

  29. Sorry I’m late to the party as you know I’ve been a bit behind when it comes to commenting from my manflu. But any how a fantastic post that had some excellent points for anyone new to blogging or who has been blogging for a while. I certainly learnt a thing or two.

    I mean I can’t believe I’ve never thought of adding a blogroll before I know blogger accounts come with them automatically so I should have known they potentially would be useful.

    I also agree with you about switching to a self hosted blogging platform from wordpress. It was a bit of a headache when I first started as I ended up customising my design myself. Something I’ll only ever do once, but the flexibility that comes with it is well worth it.

    I may have to play about with sexy bookmark’s settings as I use it on my own blog but have never delved deep into the settings.

    2011 for myself I know I need to reach out a little more and try and do some guest blogging. My main goal for 2010 was to get the thing up and running and try and get a few people checking out with some regular posts.

    1. You are always so thoughful in your commenting, Arash…I really appreciate it. Glad to know that some of this post was enlightening for you. And I always love when bloggers admit that moving to WordPress was beneficial. Not that Blogger is bad…but eventually *most* of us outgrow it. So I’m trying to get bloggers to move before they get too deeply entrenched in their current blog and and feel like they have too much at stake to do it later.

      Thanks again!

  30. WOW Thank you!!!

    I just started blogging and often I feel lost in a sea of possibilities, styles, advices, do’s and dont’s and so on. I am also not getting tons of feedback yet so not always I know what I did wrong and what right.

    This post is really a light in the dark, I already feel like I have my head more organized and got a few ideas for the future in terms of collaborations.

    I will never thank you enough, I’m so glad you are on the IFB links à la mode this week so that I could read this post!!
    I am definitely following you, your tips are great.


    -The Red Dot-

    1. Fabienne, thank you! I am so elated that you made a comment so I could discover your blog. Your last post is amazing. In fact, I shared it on Twitter:

      Ladies, this is a must-read: The House in the Clouds, a small style blog: Shine your light on me http://t.co/6O34xl1

      Are you on Twitter? If so, look me up! I couldn’t find you.

  31. excellent, helpful advice! i love posts like this.
    i’ve been on twitter for just over a year and it did take me ages to “get” it. i have two accounts- one for each of my blogs (my other is for my art career). anyway, i highly recommend twitter for getting the word out. plus, it can be fun- like blogging itself.
    merry christmas, V! thanks for all your wonderful posts.

    1. SO, thanks for your comment. I was managing two twitter accounts before, but I’ve since scaled back to one…it’s all I can handle! But I agree…such a fun and effective way to generate readership and dialogue.

      Merry Christmas to you too!

  32. this is an insanely helpful post. some of these things i’ve never even thought of! i’m definitely going to be utilizing these things in the new year and i’m so glad you took the time to write this.

  33. Wow, another amazingly inspiring post, and you`ve mentioned me in it! you are right, the heart does flutter a little 🙂 thank you for all of the love! Whenever I work on my blog now I think what would Vahni make of this lol, and actually I would love to get some feedback on the user-experience of my blog, I still have lots of work to do on it, and just the right amount of ego to keep going AND see constructive feedback for what it is :).

    I do feel that refining the core of my blog as you point out was an important step for me, I have tried to keep it simple and accessible, making the most of my first impression on new visitors. I have been blogging for a year soon, and have learned tremendously, and am exited to see were I can take the blog next. I do hope to be able to build a business sewing from it after a while, am working on a business plan 🙂

    How are you though? Recharging your batteries I hope. xx Anika

    1. Anika, you always make me think “awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!” You’re so, so sweet…see! Your parents gave you the perfect name, didn’t they?

      I think you are totally on the right track. Even I’m constantly tweaking and refining G&G behind the scenes.

      I am well, thank you for asking. I did take some time away from blogging and have had such a lovely Christmas break…plus snow! Hubby’s been getting a real kick out of it since it’s only the second time he’s ever seen snow in his life.

  34. Fantastic post, so many ideas for me to think about and implement in the new year. I totally agree about interacting with your followers and being active in the blogging world. I set myself a target to leave five thoughtful comments on blogs a day for two weeks and I have found so many great blogs to be inspired by, sparked up online friendships and gained a few new followers.

  35. V, I am not entirely certain you could rock more if you tried! I love G&G and how you share your very productive ideas, thanks so much, I’m sure we all want to be better bloggers! My New Year’s Resolutions will be up soon, and a lot of them have to do with the great advice you’ve posted. Thanks so much for commenting on my knitting blog, it means so much to me that someone took the time to check it out and give me their thoughts, you made my day! Happy Holidays and I hope you got everything you want and deserve!!

    1. Oh my! Thank you honey! But I have so much I want to do…I’m always looking to expand my skills and make G&G an even better experience.

      Looking forward to reading your resolutions! Hope you have happy holidays as well!

  36. Thank yo for the wonderful information, as a new blogger both fashion and travel, I intend to use many of the tips provided!!! Happy New Year and again Thank you for the very helpful tips!
    ♥ Noemi ♥

    1. And thank YOU, Kristine, for your kind comment. It’s always so rewarding to know that something I have crafted is actually helpful to someone else!

  37. Thank you so much for those helpful 12 tips!!! I just started my blog a couple of months ago and I have sooooooo much to learn. Again thank you so much for breaking it down for the newbies 🙂

  38. really i CAN NOT stop reading your posts and tutorials,i’m addicted!:)) everything is so helpful,and what is the most important for me-extremely hopeful!!:)))
    greetings!!enjoy your day!!

  39. Bless you!! This post and so many others you have written are extremely helpful to newbies like me. Thank you for taking the time and sharing your knowledge!

  40. Thank you for this! I’ve been wondering about how to copyright my blog. I’ve just read upon it and acquired the CC badge. I shall definitely return to the other advice I haven’t tried before. (Tweeting, sigh, it seems like I’ll have to take the plunge sooner or later!)

    You give great advice on blogging! I keep finding more and more content on your blog I find useful. Thank you!

  41. Wow this is a really helpful post. I’ve been thinking of starting my own fashion blog so thanks for this advice!

  42. This is such an informative post. I’ve been telling and teaching people to do more of the above. Networking is so underrated. People don’t understand fully how to do it effectively. Thanks for breaking it down. I shall RT this pronto!

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