Welcome back to Tell Me Something Tuesday. A weekly meme hosted right here at Rainy Day Ramblings. It is a chance to discuss a bit of everything from blogging tips to books. Feel free to participate whenever you like. Grab the question, post the answer on your blog and link up!
This week's query:
What are some of your tips for building a successful blog?
I think for anyone who is thinking of blogging or started a blog to know some of the ins and outs as well as proven ways to get your blog on its way to being successful.
- First and foremost, before you start a blog you must ask yourself a few simple questions. How serious are you about blogging? Do you want to just dabble in it and post here and there mostly for yourself and friends or do you want to try and create a big blog that hopefully one day match the success of some of your favorite blogs? If you are more of a recreational blogger, just do what makes you happy and have fun. Don't let anyone deter you from the joy of blogging! However, if you are looking to build up a successful blog with a large following, I am going to share a few tips on things that I found helpful, and hopefully some of you other bloggers will share your tried and true secrets, either in your own post or leave them in the comments!
- Once you have decided to start a blog, before jumping into it do as much research as possible. Being informed will help you to start out right and eliminate issues down the road. Read blogs, ask questions, do some internet research. For instance, if you are a serious blogger consider your blogging domain. If you are just blogging as a hobby, the free Blogger template or Wordpress domains should suit you just fine. If you are intending, though, to be a serious blogger, it is in your best interest to look into the upgraded fee for service blogging sites. Many a blogger will tell you their horror stories of moving their blog after it is established. Moving a blog not only is a hassle, but it can disrupt your posts and you may even lose followers. Another factor to consider is that the free blogger blogs can be marked as spam and deleted at any time, regardless if you own your domain name. If it is on blogger it can be marked as spam and deleted. I have run across a couple of bloggers who have had this happen to them. The latest thing to hit is WP blogs are being hacked see my friend Kristens' post on this. So my best advice, do your research! I personally, am grateful to my husband for doing all the research before I started blogging. He selected Typepad because he liked the layouts and he thought it was the easiest to use. Typepad also has terrific customer support. I have been pleased with my selection.
- Selecting a name and design: If you have spent any time around the blogosphere you will know that some of the best blogs have eye catching banners and backgrounds. Again, if you are thinking of building a big blog it pays to get a good design. There are many many designers out there, but be aware that some of them have waiting lists six months or longer! Shop around and find a design that is suited to your taste. Don't be afraid to ask your fellow bloggers, most are more than happy to help. My banner was designed by Regina Wamba at Mae I Design.
Try and keep your blog neat and organized. If you have too much going on in your sidebars it makes your blog slow to load, and let's face it, in this busy world if your blog takes forever to load people aren't going to be patient. Keeping your blog clean will help this and it will make it easier for readers to locate everything. It is extremely important to have your follow buttons and such all in one location so people can follow you via Twitter, Facebook etc. easily. One of my biggest pet peeves is trying to find out how to contact a blogger. If a publisher or author cannot easily find a way to get in touch with you, they will move along. It is best to get an email button and include it with your follow buttons. It is always a good idea to periodically check your follow buttons to make sure they are linking properly.
- Have a detailed review policy in place. Be specific about what you will review and won't. This will help eliminate a bunch of requests. Make sure you detail out your rating system and what to expect with your reviews. I always tell authors to read some of my reviews before I accept a book so they are comfortable with my reviewing style. Be sure to include your contact information again in your review policy.
- Be sure to start Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads accounts, etc. The more ways you have for people to follow you, the more you increase your traffic. Most blogs make it easy to connect your blog to Twitter and Facebook so once your post goes live it will automatically update to these additional pages. Bloglovin' and Pinterest are some of the newest ways for you to increase traffic. I have had issues with Bloglovin' not updating my feed, but thankfully after over a month of issues the CEO contacted me and is helping me fix the problem! My fingers are crossed that it will soon be rectified! Pinterest is another fun and addictive way to spread the word about your blog. Typepad made it easy for me to hook my blog up. They provided a footer inclusion so each and every post can be pinned to Pinterest. At this point it is still manual, which is fine because I don't pin everything.
- Content content.....when you read blogs what do you look for? Do you enjoy reading blogs that have interesting discussions (such as this meme), lots of book reviews, author interviews and guest posts, contests and giveaways and such or are you more inclined to read blogs with lots and lots of fillers. i.e. book blasts, cover reveals, and memes? Most people choose to read blogs with interesting content. Think of it like this, do you pick up a magazine to read the articles or the ads? I realize that some people like the ads and that is fine. Just be sure to fill your blog with content that you personally want to read and find interesting. I have already discussed my views on book blasts, blitzes cover reveals and filler in previous posts so I won't go into that here. I try hard to provide interesting content on my blog. I know that not everyone can post three to four reviews a week, so if that is the case just be sure to try to fill your blog with interesting stuff. The key is a nice healthy balance a good compromise between the articles and the advertisements.
- Comments: I am sure that many of you out there are under the delusion that if you build a great blog,you have a terrific design and you write fantastic reviews, that people will immediately be flocking to your blog. The mentality of "If you build it,
they will come." Unfortunately, any seasoned blogger will tell you that is not the case. Blogging is a lot of work and a big commitment. Building a successful blog does not happen overnight or in a matter of months. It takes dedication and lots and lots of work. The comments you see on blogs are because bloggers take the time to return comments and address the comments on their blogs. If you want comments on your blog, plain and simple you have to give in order to receive. Once you start commenting on other blogs, you should find that most bloggers are happy to return the favor and comment on your blog. Over time, you will build friendships and connections by the repeated comments you receive daily from bloggers. There are so many bloggers who visit my blog daily. You all are fantastic and I appreciate you so much! Thank you! Bottom line... if you are not returning the comments and taking time to comment on other blogs, you won't get comments. A sign of a healthy blog is the number of comments per post! Be sure if you are particpating in a meme or event where the host asks you to link up, leave a comment when you add a link. Not leaving a comment is rude. Also if you are participating in one of these events and someone leaves you a comment through the linky, return the comment it is the polite thing to do. If you have no intention of being an active participant in the event or meme, meaning you won't return comments, then Don't add your link! It is rude to the others! Finally, be sure that when you leave a comment people can click on your name and have it link back to your blog. That means signing up for Google Friends Connect, Discus etc.
- Participate in blogging events. Take time to join read alongs, blog events, tours and
giveaway hops. Taking part in these varied events will help you form connections and build a following. See my above notes on comments if you participate in these events. For instance I am participating in Kimba's Clean Sweep Challenge and the Spring Carinval. I will be hosting a couple of events as well watch for Apocalypse! in July and the return of Something Wicked in the Fall.
- Network, Network. Reach out and get to know your fellow bloggers. The wider you span your net, the greater success you have. You can build your network via Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and visiting other blogs.
- Make a schedule: I am guilty of this. Even though I took the time to research and build a blog properly, I failed to get organized. So for the first months of my blog I was flying by the seat of my pants. Accepting requests, taking in all kinds of books and in a nutshell, I bit off way more than I could chew! Set limits and pencil everything in on your calendar. That way you can not only keep track of what you are posting, but you know when and where each review needs to fit in. You will be amazed at how much easier it makes your life and at how quickly your blog will fill up. This way you will no when to say no!
Here is a sample of my crazy blog calendar for May!
- Have fun! Blogging is a big undertaking but it is also very rewarding and fun. Do what you love and have fun doing it.
I am by no means an expert. I am still learning things every week about blogging and the blogosphere. These are just few of the things I have learned along the way that helped me. Please feel free to share your tips! Don't forget to add your link so I can visit your post!
Next week's question:
Summer is coming. What are some of your most anticipated books for the summer season?