Tips for Bloggers

I’ve been wanting to launch a series for bloggers for awhile. I’ve been blogging since 1999, back in the old days of Diaryland and LiveJournal. I started publicly blogging in 2009 when I launched the first incarnation of this site, Evolution You. Over the past fifteen years, I’ve learned a lot about blogging. I am by no means an expert. I have a relatively small following and a lot to learn. That being said, my advice will be especially helpful to new bloggers and to those who want to turn their blogs from “just a hobby” into something more.

I intend to share all sorts of resources in this series — from helpful tips, to useful websites, to time-saving tools, and more. This first post is going to be very basic — what I consider to be “the nuts and bolts” of blogging. If you have questions about blogging that you would like me to address in this series, please let me know in the comments!

Tip #1 – Consistency

I firmly believe that consistency is the most important element to keeping a successful blog. Whether you post once a month or twice a day, it is important to keep a rhythm. Your readers will come to expect your posts. Blogging is a relationship between the blogger & the reader and, as in any good relationship, you must hold up your end of the bargain.

If you keep a blog for yourself and have no intention of growing a readership, you can disregard this tip. But, if you are like me, and are trying to grow — or even monetize — your blog, then consistency is critical. If you consistently post once a week and then suddenly publish nothing for two months, you will likely lose readers. Personally, if a blogger that I read goes MIA (missing in action) more than a couple of times, I will unsubscribe from her feed.

If life gets in the way — think: a move, a wedding, sickness — that is totally understandable. It’s great if you can give your readers a heads up. If you can’t, it is likely that your readers will understand it once in awhile. But anything beyond that will not be good for the health of your blog.

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Tip #2 – Grammar & Spelling

Grammar and spelling are critically important for bloggers. In case you missed the memo: It’s not K00L to tYpE like DI$ n e m0re. Occasional typos and grammatical mistakes are understandable. (After all, few bloggers can afford to hire a full-time proofreader!) However frequent mistakes, spelling errors, and even slang can be a major turn off to readers. I don’t care how much I enjoy a particular blog, if the blogger types LOL after each sentence, I’m not going to continue reading it. Frankly, it’s tacky.

A couple rules-of-thumb are to keep your spell-check turned on and to proofread each post before you hit publish. Every post will not be error-free — I catch embarrassing typos in my own posts more often than I’d like to admit — but putting forth the effort will improve reader experience and give your blog integrity.

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Tip #3 – Photographs & Illustrations

Look at a successful blog, and nine times out of ten, you will see beautiful photographs and/or illustrations. The world — especially the online world — has become an incredibly visual place. Websites like Pinterst, Tumblr, and Facebook are brimming with prettiness, colour, and inspiration. When readers visit a blog, we want to read whatever the blogger has on offer, but we also want to see something. In many cases, words alone are not enough.

You do not have to be a talented graphic designer or photographer, but I do believe that the “visual” aspect of blogging is critical to the success of a blog. Whether it is food, travel, or parenting — readers want to see it as much as they want to read about it, if not more.

In the case of photographs, share well-composed and well-lit photographs. In the case of illustrations and graphics, images should be clear and aesthetically pleasing.

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Tip #4 – Comments & Engagement

I will now reveal my #1 blog pet-peeve: I absolutely loathe CAPTCHA comment filters. There is nothing more frustrating to me then to go out of my way to interact with a blogger & leave a comment only to get held up by a CAPTCHA comment filter. Sometimes I will go ahead and play the silly CAPTCHA game (which in so many cases is virtually impossible to read) and then it will tell me that I’ve entered the word incorrectly and have to try again. Sigh. Seriously!? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

In many cases, bloggers do not even realize that they have a CAPTCHA filter turned on. (I believe that it is actually the default setting for blogspot blogs.) So, take a moment and check to see if you have it turned on and if you do, turn it off. If you are worried about spam, it is much better to moderate comments as they come in. This puts the burden on you and takes it off of your reader. If you are serious about growing your blog, you won’t mind the few minutes per day that it will take you.

I believe that asking questions and encouraging readers to leave comments is a wonderful way to increase engagement and improve your relationship with your readers. Take the time to respond to comments, too! Maybe one day your blog will blow up and you will become so big that you won’t have the time to respond to every single comment — but for now, do the right thing. When a reader takes the time to comment, you should always take the time to reply. Additionally, it’s a wonderful touch to visit the commenter’s own blog (if she links to it) and leave a comment. I have gained so many beautiful friendships (and readers!) with fellow bloggers that all started from simply leaving comments for one another.

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Tip #5 – Content

It may seem wrong that I have left content as the last tip. After all, what is a blog without content? Of course content is critical — and great content is even better yet. Still, I know that many bloggers (or would-be-bloggers) remain silent because they fear that they have “nothing important to say.” Folks that feel that way are missing the point. Bloggers blog for many reasons — having something important to say is only one of those reasons — and even the very best bloggers don’t always have something important to say. I blog because I love blogging. I love sharing bits & pieces of my life with an amazing community of readers. I love sharing my photographs, my stories, and pieces of my life. I love helping people. I love meeting new people and hearing their perspectives, all the while sharing my own. Sometimes, I do have something important to say, but not always.

I used the phrase “very best bloggers” in the previous paragraph, but I struggled to write it. I don’t really know that there are “best” bloggers. So long as the basics are covered, I believe that every blog has the potential to be wonderful. Recently I was reading The Secret Life of Bees, and I came across this line: Actually, you can be bad at something, but if you love doing it, that will be enough. At the end of the day, this advice is true for so many areas of life, and certainly true for blogging. If you love it — if you let your passion and light shine through the cracks — you most certainly will be a very good blogger.



I hope that you enjoyed this first post in my For Bloggers series. Remember, if you have questions about blogging that you would like me to address in future posts in this series, please let me know in the comments. Many thanks.

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P.S. Why did I include photographs of Roman playing with the vacuum cleaner in this post? Because they’re cute. Duh! xo

19 thoughts on “For Bloggers: My Top 5 Tips for Blogging”

  1. I love this! I love reading posts like these lately! For a host of reasons, I’m not very good at applying myself and “getting things done.” I will say that I am proud of myself in many ways for putting myself out there with my photography and blog in different ways and accomplishing some things, but I am not very good at putting in 100% creatively!! Lately I have spent just a teensy bit more time reading about “blog stuff” and it’s amazing how much you can learn so quickly. I never really think about the technical side to blogging and how all these little things really add up! I love the points you’ve made here! I have learned a lot from you about blogging recently and I can’t wait for more posts in this series! P.S. Love the photos of Roman + the vacuum, of course.

    1. Thanks so much, Gillian. I’ve definitely seen amazing growth & openness in your blog in the time that I’ve been reading it. It really is amazing how much there is to learn when it comes to blogging — I love that it provides me an outlet to continuously share & learn.

  2. This post just scared me! I ran right to my settings and made sure I didn’t have the word verification on haha. I never would want that on but then you said it might be the default setting and I got nervous. I try and write professionally with correct grammar and spelling but then also with a bit of a comfortable tone. I want my blog to feel real and down to Earth and not stuffy at all… but then again that might come off tacky. I’ll definitely be taking this tips into consideration, thank you!

    1. You’re welcome. I hope that you find some of the tips useful. I try to keep a comfortable tone in my blog, too. I think that LOL’s & slang, etc. are quite alright, as long as they’re not overdone.

  3. Wonderful advice! My peeve is when no one responds to my comments on their blogs. I know when people get really “big” they don’t have time…but if I have taken the time to connect with someone on different platforms (blog, instagram, etc) multiple times with no response, I unfollow them. In “real life” that would be considered rude, right? Haha! 🙂 Love all these photos by the way…a beautiful look at an ordinary moment.

    1. Amen, sister! I agree with you soooo much. It makes me crazy when people can’t be bothered. I imagine that it must be difficult when you get “that big.” But still. I once sent an email to the biggest blogger that I know… she wrote back… and then WE HAD LUNCH TOGETHER. So, really. There’s no excuse. I feel like rude people are rude people — online or not. And eventually you can see their true colours.

      Thanks so much for the sweet words. 🙂

  4. Looking forward to what you have to say! I’ve definitely seen the growth of your blog in the short time that I’ve been reading. Kudos! That’s a lot of hard work. I’m always on the fence on how I want to push my blog, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work and time and I worry with that I’ll feel like it’s a chore. But I do love being able to connect and meet new people, new moms!

    I have been noticing that more and more bloggers post less ofter, but with more meaningful posts rather than, posting everyday with just half hearted stuff. I think this trend helps new bloggers feel that they too can have a successful blog and not feel the pressure of keeping up. And I love that! But you’re right, consistency is so key! (which i’ve been bad at lately!)

    Ha ha, I love when you point out to people (me included!) about the CAPTCHA. It’s like telling someone they have toilet paper on their shoe: )

    1. Toilet paper on the shoe! hahaha… I feel like I have TP on my shoe every time I catch one of my embarrassing typos after hitting publish. 😉

      Thanks so much for the kind words. <3

  5. Great advice, Dena! I’ve only been blogging for three years (with one giant year long gap thanks to a crazy schedule) but I love your tips. I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of capcha on my blog, with over 80k spam comments I had to enable it 😉

    1. OMG… 80,000!! That’s crazy? I love WordPress because it filters out so much spam for me. Then I can just moderate comments and weed out the spam that passes through. I love your blog by the way, Julie. Keep up the great work. 🙂

      xo

      1. Aw thank you! Its been tough getting back into after such a long hiatus. But, I’m regaining my followers back and its been so fun to do what I’m passionate about. Yes, 80k!! It was nuts, the majority happened while I took my break from blogging. I still kept my domain live and paid for my host, but in the meantime my spam got out of control. I’ve gotten it down to 50k, but it takes so long to go through and delete them all so for now I enabled the capcha. WordPress did not filter them for me very well lol.

  6. Hi Dena! I just read through many pages of your blog, discovered you from Gillian’s blog…anyhow, I love that you’re sharing blogging tips. Although I feel I read so much on this, its great to get new advice from others and have a reminder (I always seem to forget after a short time and fall back to old habits!). I look forward to reading your follow up posts!
    Also, I will have to try your kale Chickpea sandwich, that looks right up my alley, and Roman’s eyes…my goodness!

  7. Well of course I’d want to see Roman being his cute self while also reading some good tips. 🙂
    I just don’t feel like I have the time to post more often, but maybe when the boy gets a little bigger and more independent I can carve out a few hours a week to dedicate to it. I enjoy getting comments from other Mamas now that I blog about the baby. It’s always nice to feel your not alone! 🙂

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