On January 24, 2016 I mustered the courage to hit publish for the very first time and suddenly Read Diverse Books was born. It was a wonderful and magical moment for me. It was so special, in fact, that I have begun to refer to all events in my life as B.B. and A.B. – Before Blogging and After Blogging.
I may not say this out loud and in front of other people, but mentally, this is how I have decided to partition my life.
I published my very first post to nonexistent fanfare, which I expected. It just happened to be a review of Half of a Yellow Sun — one of my favorite books of the 21st century. However, to this day, the review has not received a single comment. And it’s only managed to get 11 views after all this time. I’m sure some of them are even mine when I forgot to view it as an admin!
At any rate, the review actually isn’t very good but I am proud of it because it marked the beginning of my life as a blogger.
By no means do I consider myself an expert on this blogging business. I am still mystified by many aspects of blogging and I seldom feel like I am doing anything just right. But somehow I have stuck around and posted consistently for 3 months. Once I reach the 6-month mark I will have blogged longer than 77% of new bloggers. I certainly hope to reach that point, so watch me!
I wrote this post for people who are thinking about joining the blogging community. I understand I’m still technically a new blogger, but I have learned so much since my first day and I would like to share some advice with anyone who may be considering starting a blog.
Blogger veterans, feel free to skip the post entirely. Or if you’re kind and friendly, please offer advice on how to survive the first year of blogging!
Below are 8 lessons and bits of advice I want to share with new bloggers. I hope you find them useful!
You will have no idea what you’re doing your first month – embrace the uncertainty and keep posting anyway.
Looking back at my first month’s worth of content, I can see that it was a big ol’ mess. I posted reviews without featured images, started and abandoned blogging ideas I thought would stick, and tried a host of other things I’m not particularly proud of. But it was all part of the learning process.
Eventually, I began to find my voice and I started to slowly envision what I wanted my blog to become. But in those first four weeks I posted whatever came to mind or what meme struck my fancy, though I was never really sure what exactly I should have been writing about. As a new blogger, you must write and publish new content despite the uncertainty. No one is going to read your work for the first month (or two) anyway, so write to your heart’s content.
Forget Photoshop – Use Canva!
I don’t know how to make Photoshop do what I want it to do. I tried, but failed miserably! Thankfully, I discovered Canva. It’s so intuitive and user-friendly, that you’ll be creating crisp and beautiful graphics for your blog in no time. The better your graphics look, the more traffic you will draw. So using Canva is a no-brainer if Photoshop confounds and mystifies you as much as it does me.
Post as much as you can for a few weeks to get content up on your blog, but then slow down.
If you’re a new blogger, you simply must publish content rapidly if you want to get noticed. Your SEO ranking is likely nonexistent, and will be for several months. But one of the best things you can do is publish something new every day. After a month of doing this, you will have a decent amount of pages you or others can link back to, which will help your blog’s Google ranking in a small but important way.
However, eventually you may want slow down your pace because posting every day can be exhausting and may result in lower quality content. Sure, some people are able to post something new and interesting every day, but it may be a better idea to focus on 2 to 4 quality posts a week. Posting less is a luxury you will be able to afford once you have gained a fair amount of followers. In my experience, posting 3 times a week as opposed to 6 or 7 lead to a traffic increase. But, honestly, blogging at your own pace is what’s important. I’m lazy, so I enjoy the freedom that posting 3 times a week brings me.
Be active on Twitter. Do not be shy. Follow everyone!
If you want to eventually get a decent Twitter following, you cannot be shy and worry about how many people you are following or following you back. Nobody cares about your following/follower ratio! It’s all in your head.
My advice is to seek out Twitter lists. Book blogger lists, like the one I linked to, are especially useful. Follow as many people as you can stand and start replying to their tweets. Retweeting is nice, but replies and quotes are more personal and appreciated. If you do this, some of them will follow you back and you will slowly build a Twitter following. Once you have a fair amount of followers, then you can start unfollowing people and declutter your feed. I suggest using apps such as Crowdfire to make the process easy and painless.
I also recommend using a social media manager such as Buffer to schedule your tweets in advance. I use it every day and I’ll continue to do so until something better comes along.
Actually read other people’s blogs and post thoughtful comments.
Don’t you want people to actually read the content you spent hours planning for and writing? Of course you do. So try to devote at least 30 minutes a day to reading other blogs and engaging with the blogging community.
You know that feeling you get when 20 or 30 different people comment on your latest post? Yeah, it’s amazing. Please be generous and help someone else experience that feeling. People will notice that you care and will reciprocate by visiting your blog and engaging with your content on a regular basis.
Focus on one social media platform to promote your blog and your brand.
If you have the time and luxury, you may focus on two or more. But for new bloggers, I recommend spending your energy on only one social media platform. It could be Facebook if you have thousands of friends and don’t mind sharing your blog with all of them.
Perhaps you have the skill to make professional and eye-catching graphics. If so, you can try Pinterest. If done well, it has the potential to drive more traffic to your blog than Facebook and Twitter. I recommend using this guide if you’re interested: How to Supercharge Your Blog Traffic With Pinterest. I have tried to unlock the secrets of Pinterest, but have failed. I’m sticking with Twitter for now.
Write more lists and resource-sharing articles – people love them!
I know everyone says this, but it’s true. Let me demonstrate.
Why do you think this post was written as a list?
Don’t worry too much about slow traffic and technical issues. Just have fun and blog for yourself.
Try not to be that blogger who obsesses over stats every day. For the first couple of months, my mood was dependent on the amount of hits my blog got on any given day. This seems like a silly thing to stress over, but I know others feel or have felt the same way. I have a much better attitude and perspective on it now, but I wasn’t fun to be around 2 months ago.
Honestly, who cares if my blog got 300 hits in one day or 30? It’s not like I’m getting paid either way! Once I stopped worrying over trifles such as blog traffic and technical difficulties, my experience as a blogger became increasingly more positive and the quality of my content increased as well. At least I think so.
I want to end with an infographic showcasing the “referrers” to my blog.
OK, I admit it. I’m still a bit fixated on stats, but in a healthy way, I promise.
What’s your biggest source of traffic? Let me know in the comments below.
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