I get a lot of questions about blogging and how to start. I certainly don’t claim to be the expert on it… but I’ve learned a few things over the years that I wish I’d known when I started, so I figured I’d share them with you….
I first started blogging a couple of years ago because with little ones at home, I couldn’t meet one on one with as many clients as I wanted to, and it was a way to make the information available to more people. At this point, I was doing nutritional coaching and freelance journalism jobs from home, and there just wasn’t the time to keep both up.
Since my background is in both Journalism and Nutriton, blogging was a good way to combine the two.
It was also a way to have recipes, health articles and resources available… mainly for family members who used to call me a few times a week asking about a recipe or asking if something was healthy or not.
Nutrition had always been my passion (well, at least after my horrible diet in high school and college *cringe*) and I realized that there was a limit to the number of people I could help individually. With my husbands encouragement, I decided to jump into the blogging world.
I first started off on Blogger. It was free and was supposed to be user friendly. My Blogspot blog was my first attempt at blogging and at design and it left a lot to be desired. I ran into a lot of limitation on Blogger, and while it was easy to use, it wasn’t very customizable.
I then switched to WordPress.com, which was a little easier to use, and it was mainly my design work that needed the help!
I updated the design a little bit and my WordPress.com blog still looks like that today. WordPress was more user friendly (and I’d definitely recommend it over Blogger), but I ran into some brick walls with things I wanted to customize that couldn’t be changed without a self-hosted site.
I started getting what I thought was a lot of traffic (200 hits a day) and decided that I needed an updated design and the ability to actually own my site and blog name.
I bought a domain name, purchased the cheapest hosting I could find (I won’t recommend the company!), and had a friend explain how to install the WordPress software onto my new hosting account. I then found a free WordPress theme to use that I thought was cute. (Did I mention my background was NOT in anything to do with computers?)
After a LOT of headache and frustration, I was considering hiring someone who knew what they were doing to help. When I lost about 60 blog posts due to a glitch with my hosting service, and had a major theme issue, I found professional help (no, not the psychological kind…)
I found a web designer that was able to help me upgrade to better hosting, and pick a premium WordPress theme that wouldn’t have the issues my other one did. The green site on the left was my first “real” design after paying someone to help. He also suggested a WordPress video tutorial, so that I would understand how to use my site much better.
From this experience I found out that good hosting is very important, WordPress premium themes (meaning that I have to pay for them) look better out of the box and are easier to use and customize (and Google likes it too…).
All in all, I wish I had known then what I know now. I never would have used Blogger or even WordPress.com, and just gone straight to the self-hosted WordPress blog I have now. Not only am I getting much more traffic because the framework is more search-engine friendly, but it is so much easier to use.
Also, there are a lot more resources for bloggers starting out now than there were when I first started way back in 2006. If I was going to start all over again, I’d signup for this bundled blogging package of hosting, themes, plugins, and more.
Here are a few other blogging tips that I’ve found along the way…
- Be consistent: whether it is once a week or every day, be consistent in your posting if you want to increase readership. If you are posting everyday, it also helps to have a schedule of what types of post you plan to post on which day. For instance, I post recipes (mostly) on Mondays (one will post later today), Health related info on Tuesdays, Motherhood or other topics Wednesday, Natural Living ideas on Thursday, Fitness or Giveaways on Friday, and DIY or links on Saturday.
- Help other bloggers and establish relationships: I discovered inadvertently that when you link to, mention or recommend another blogger, (genuinely and because you actually like them) it will actually get you more traffic in the long run and can help establish a relationship with other bloggers.
- Use Social Media: While blogging does allow comments, it is still mostly a one-way street. Social Media lets you connect and “meet” your readers. You can ask them for input and posting ideas, answer questions and share things that you don’t want to post about.
- Write guest posts and let others guest post for you: On the tech side, this creates back links that can help Google find you better, but more importantly, they help you connect with other bloggers, widen the scope of the information you present, and get an occasional day off :).
If you’re considering starting a blog, this article has some good tips on how to do it.
Do you blog? If so, what is your best tip? Please share below!