I’ve been writing this blog tips series for over a year now (gulp!) and I’ve covered a lot of topics in that time. I still get quite a lot of general requests for “tips”, though, so today I thought I’d try to condense some of my best blogging advice.
These are the things I’ve personally found to be most important when it comes to growing a blog and making a living from blogging. Apologies in advance if some of these are a little repetitive to those of you who’ve read the whole series (and, of course, it goes without saying that these are just the things that have worked for ME: I’m not trying to write the blogging law or anything, here!), but if you’re a new reader, here are my best “tips”…
Possibly the best piece of advice I can give you is to write posts that help people in some way. That could mean simply providing outfit inspiration, or writing an in-depth tutorial, but the point is that while people enjoy reading random life updates and that kind of thing (and I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t write those too…), the posts that they tend to share, click on and come back to are the ones that offer THEM something, rather than simply being all about YOU.
With that said, I don’t recommend just turning yourself into some kind of impersonal advice-bot or pseudo expert, either. Most people respond best to advice/inspiration from people they can relate to in some way, and the personal touch goes a long way towards building reader loyalty. You don’t have to spill your guts onto the keyboard (that would be super-messy, quite apart from anything else), and it’s important to know where to draw the line, but if you can inject a bit of your personality into your posts, so much the better.
Analyze your stats
It’s fashionable for bloggers to say it’s “not all about the numbers”, but analyzing your stats is one of the best ways to work out what you’re doing right, and how to do it better. By looking at the posts that have been most successful for your blog, you’ll be able to analyze what your readers respond best to, and what isn’t working so well: and why wouldn’t you want to know that?
Take good photos
This probably sounds rich coming from me: I’ve said before that photography isn’t my strong point, and it’s a constant battle between me and the daylight right now, but the fact is, images are more important than ever now – especially if you blog about a very visual kind of topic, like fashion or beauty, say. You don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to take decent images for your blog (actually, I think good lighting is the most important thing, which is why it’s such a struggle for those of us who don’t get a whole lot of it), but strong, clear images will help draw people into your posts – and again, anything you can do to encourage more people to read what you write has to be a good thing.
Pick the social network that’s most successful for you, and concentrate on that
These days there are so many social networks out there that it’s really easy to get overwhelmed: to feel like you HAVE to be on every single one of them, and following each and every one of the tips you read about “how to make the most of X network”. I’m sure there are some people who are really good at being across all forms of social media, at all times (if you know who those people are, they’re the ones you should be taking tips from, seriously!), but for myself, I’ve found the thing that works best for me is to focus most on the networks that have the biggest pay-off for me (or which are simply the most fun, because it can’t be all business, all the time…), and not stress too much about the rest.
Right now, Pinterest is the network that sends most traffic to my blog, so I concentrate on it, and use WordPress plugins to automate most of the rest of them. I pop into Twitter every now and then, and I do love Instagram, but Facebook, for instance, just doesn’t appeal to me, and I hate the fact that it only shows my content to a tiny percentage of the people who follow me, so I don’t waste too much time on it: that time is better spent on something else – for now, at least.
Write about something you’re passionate about
This one seems too obvious to even mention, but I know quite a few bloggers who’ve started blogs on topics they think will be popular, rather than the ones they’re really passionate about, and it NEVER works. Blogging takes a huge amount of commitment: people who don’t blog always assume that it’s probably just a few minutes per day at most, but the reality is very different, and when you find yourself having to come up with fresh content, day after day, month after month, year after year, you’re going to get burnt out, fast.
The only way to avoid that is to pick a topic you’re going to WANT to write about day after day – and I’d also say here that it’s a good idea to build in some flexibility, too. Just because you love purple handbags NOW, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll STILL love purple handbags in five year’s time (or even 5 MONTHS time…), OR that you’ll be able to find enough to say about them to be able to keep generating new content about them. So pick a blog name that will allow you to grow and adapt (ILovePurpleHandbags.com would be a mistake, for instance…), and don’t be too rigid about sticking to the same subject forever.
Don’t compare yourself to other people, or try to do what they do
Be honest: how many people write gift guides because they genuinely feel they have something to share on that topic, and how many do it purely because they see everyone else doing it, and feel like they should be doing it too? (Or, alternatively, because they’re thinking, “I bet this will get tons of hits!”) I’m sure there are plenty of people in the former category, but I also know there are quite a few in the latter category too, and I know because I’ve been there myself.
I spent literally YEARS thinking, “Oh, right, its Awards Season: I better do some red carpet roundups, because all the other fashion bloggers do red carpet roundups, so that must be something fashion bloggers are supposed to do!” Now, the thing is, I’m not even remotely interested in red carpet fashion: in fact, I find it really boring, to be completely honest. Nevertheless, I sat there and I dutifully cranked out tons of posts about the Oscars, and the Emmys, and whatever other dull awards ceremony everyone was obsessed with, and while that content did OK, it didn’t do great, because the honest truth is that I didn’t do nearly as good a job of it as the people who were genuinely interested in that subject, and who actually WANTED to write about it. My time would’ve been better spent writing content I WAS interested in, and targetting the people who, like me, didn’t really care who wore what to where.
That’s all well and good, of course, but you’re probably wondering why I decided to start a fashion blog if I wan’t interested in one of the most important aspects of the fashion world? The fact is, though, there’s more than one way to be interested in “fashion” and there’s way more than one way to write about it. I love clothes, and I love seeing what REAL people wear in their day to day life, and I worked out that it would be better for me to focus on that, rather than trying to compete with all of the other fashion blogs out there, by doing all the same things they do.
I’ve said it before, but blogging is not a competitive sport, and if you try to make it one, you probably won’t end up winning the competition you’ve created for yourself, because there will ALWAYS be someone out there doing it better. So, you know, you do you. And on THAT note, I think I need some more coffee…