This month’s guest blogger to launch The Blogging Life, a new series at from the sticks to the bricks and back again, is Kimberly Bradley. Kimberly a blogger, photographer, wife, mother to three children (ages 4, 22, 24), a nana, a Christian, and a missionary and not necessarily in that order blogs over at The Narrow Lens. At The Narrow Lens she looks at life a little differently. In some of her posts she summarizes different perspectives into The Wide Angle View; The Narrow Lens View and the Focal Point. In addition to at The Narrow Lens, you can find Kimberly and her refreshing perspectives on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Without any further delay, I’m handing my blog over to Kimberly. I hope you enjoy her post: 5 Tips to a Successful Blog.
So you’re thinking about starting a blog but have no idea where to begin? Or maybe you’ve already leaped out into blogging land and are stuck on what to do next. Regardless of where you are on your blogging journey, there are a few things you need to consider in order to help your blog become more than just a name out in the World Wide Web. Here are 5 tips to a successful blog:
Choose a name wisely
I can tell you from experience that choosing a name is probably the most important thing you will ever do for your blog. Whether you are blogging to keep friends and family up-to-date on your travel explorations, or whether you are vying for a corner in your target market area, the name you choose for your blog can make or break it. I personally have had quite a journey with blog names before I landed on the one I currently have. Why so many? Because when I started blogging, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted to blog, so I got a blog. After a few fails and a lot of energy wasted on developing several different blogs, I finally sat myself down and really evaluated my reasons for wanting one.
After careful consideration I chose “The Narrow Lens” because I believe it conveyed what I was all about. I am passionate about photography and capturing the lives of the people we meet through our international travels and I am also passionate about living life differently and more positively and encouraging other women to do the same. So I combine those two passions and write inspirational and uplifting posts on faith, family, fun and photography. So my advice to you is this, take the time to really evaluate why you are blogging, who your intended audience is, and then use that information to choose a blog name that reflects what you’ve discovered. And for the sake of your readers, try to choose a name that is short and easy to spell.
Consider your blog platform
There are several options when it comes to which blogging platform you use. Some bloggers choose to use WordPress and Blogger because they are easy to use and quick to set up. Others choose to use platforms that are self-hosted so they can have their own domain name. What’s the difference? Well, it really depends on how involved you can be in the set up of your blog, as well as how you want your blog to be presented to the world. For blogs that are mainly used for business, some bloggers choose self-hosted sites because they believe having their own domain name will appear more professional to their clients. I am self-hosted, which means I use a WordPress.org blog and have it hosted through a hosting site. I use GoDaddy because they have been very good to me when I’ve needed help setting up my blogs and their platform is so user-friendly. Therefore, my blog appears to my readers as a website because they don’t have to put the “wordpress.com” at the end of my blog name. The only downside I have found with being self-hosted is that my blog posts do not automatically appear in the WordPress.com reader feed because I’m not directly connected to it. This could potentially affect the number of my followers. It just means that I have to work that much harder to gain more readers.
Craft your personal brand
Crafting your brand is actually a very important aspect of your blog. When you use outside sources to try to gain more readers, such as social media, it’s better to have a consistency across all of them so your readers can recognize you. For instance, my website header is the same on my Facebook page and my twitter account. Additionally, my profile picture is the same on all my accounts so if a reader happens to see my profile picture on say, Google+, they will immediately recognize that it’s me and connect with me through that medium. Think of it like a logo… when you see the Nike logo, you know exactly whose brand it is even if you don’t see their name. That is what you are trying to do for your blog. Find a way to make yourself recognizable and maintain it across all the mediums you are using to gain new followers.
Compose unique content
Composing unique content is critical to the success of your blog. If your posts are boring duplications of stuff that is already saturating the web, or just a recap of your recent experience at the grocery store, more than likely you’re not going to get many followers. However, if you put your own little spin on current events or on interesting and unique subjects, then your followers will want to come to your blog to read what you are posting.
Look at the blogs you are currently following. Why are you following them? What is that attracts you to them? Can you “hear” the voice of the blogger in their writings? Which blogs are your absolute favorites? Evaluate them and then incorporate the things in your blog that you like in theirs. This includes not only the posts you post, but also in the layout of your blog as well. How user-friendly is it? Are you highlighting your best work at the top of the page? Are you linking previous posts in your current posts? The whole point of having a blog is to have people read them, so make sure you do everything you can to get them to your blog and then keep them there.
Create a following
Creating a following of dedicated readers is probably the hardest part of having a blog. What good is it to post content to your blog if you have no one reading it, right? So the question is how do you gain more followers? There are several options, but the bottom line is…it takes time. And lots of it. But in order to be a presence on the web, you need to be present on the web. Take advantage of blogging events, such as Blogging University on WordPress.com, participate in specific activities in your genre (such as photography prompts, writing prompts, etc), join Facebook groups, visit other blogs in your field of interest…do whatever you can to get your name and your blog in front of as many people as possible.
When I decided to get serious about blogging, I started by participating in linky parties which is where you link one of your posts on someone else’s blog. It’s a great way to get your posts seen, but because most parties require you to visit 3 or more links from the party, it can be a little time-consuming. The linky parties are what really boosted my twitter followers so it can be a great avenue to gain new readers.
But probably the most important way to gain more readers is by visiting other blogs and leaving comments on their posts or pages. You know how good it feels to have someone leave a comment on your blog…well other bloggers like it too! And usually when you leave a comment, they will repay your kindness by visiting your blog and leaving a comment for you too. It’s kind of like an unwritten blogger rule. You may even gain a new follower if they like your content. My suggestion to you is this: schedule time daily, or at least weekly, and visit a specific number of blogs and leave them a nice comment. If you do this consistently, you will not only see a dramatic increase in your blog traffic, but in your comments as well.
I hope these ideas have encouraged you to reevaluate why and how you are currently blogging. I am confident that if you intentionally and creatively incorporate these tips into your blog you’ll be on your way to a successful blog in no time.
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.