Every Thursday for the next couple of months, I’m featuring a 1st year blogger to tell it like it is. The following post was written by Cyndi Calhoun fromhttp://pictimilitude.com. I first met her on Hubpages in June and found her to be funny, inspiring, and quite creative. She blends photography and writing on her personal blog. I invite you to check it out!
One other thing to note about Cyndi. She has her photos under a Creative Common License, which means if you need to use her photo- you can! Just be sure to attribute it to her. She deserves the credit too…she’s very good.
10 Things New (and Seasoned) Bloggers Should Know
I’ll tell you a little secret. I’ve been blogging since 2008, but I had no idea what I was doing and though I would write regular posts on my old blogs, I never got more than a couple followers. That is until July 2012.
After writing for nearly a year on HubPages, I decided to make a go of my photography/writing blog, Pictimilitude. I started on Blogspot and once again, I didn’t know much about blogging, but I figured that diving in yet again would garner me some much-needed experience.
Not too long after that, I found the Bloppy Bloggers group, shortly after Julie formed it.
It changed everything.
Now, I will tell you that if you’re blogging without a support group, you must find one. Come on over to Bloppy Bloggers if you want!
Mandatory requirements aside, having a support group helped me so much. Suddenly, I wasn’t talking to myself in cyberspace anymore, and I had instant commenters and followers. That does wonders for a blogger’s ego. It’ll do wonders for yours, too.
Then, I decided to buy my own domain. I really wished I had done that in the first place, because the 20 or so followers I had on Blogspot all but evaporated. I had to start all over: with followers AND with Google.
If you aim to make a living at blogging, you really should just get your own domain. It’s entirely customizable and it’s fun making little discoveries that make your blog look awesome – like the “snow falling” plugin or the fun galleries you can create. Blogspot has its purpose for sure but I discovered that having your own domain really is worth it.
Now that I’ve been seriously blogging for about six months, I can tell you that I’ve learned a thing or two about HTML (it’s pretty easy, actually), that if I ever need to make changes on my blog, the first thing I should think of are the plugins (it took me a while to realize that those cool “you might like” thumbnails at the end of people’s posts were an actual plugin), and that you need to have the patience to sit down and have full-blown arguments with your theme, layout, links, and posts to make them look right.
I have fought and fought. Though I’ve lost some of the battles (right now I’m in an “affiliate” battle…I mean HOW in the world do you get signed up for those things in WordPress?) I’m winning the blogging war.
I sat down a couple Saturdays ago and had it out with my blog. I held up my index finger and declared to my computer screen that the theme was going to be beautiful and conducive to a visual person like me or else I would plug away at it until I got old, or until my pajamas soured.
Yeah, I stayed in my PJ’s most of the weekend, and even forgot to shower so I could make my website look awesome. It was worth the hygienic sacrifice. I won that battle.
I’ve learned a few other things along the way and if I could give any advice to the newer blogger, the following ten tips would be it:
- Get your own domain and use WordPress.org as your platform if you don’t have a blog, yet. Many people use WordPress and if you ever write for someone else, you’ll be familiar with the platform. If you don’t want to pay the $100 bucks or so for the year, and you’re established on Blogspot for example, then keep going – there are plenty of successful Blogspot and WordPress.com blogs for sure.
- Find a blogger’s support group. Participate and reap the benefits.
- Don’t be afraid to try things with your blog: subject matter, themes, plugins. Yeah, there will be screw ups along the way, but you’ll learn and be that much better. If you have your own website, it pays to contact your hosting company if you need a little help. HostMonster has been very patient with me.
- Try to be consistent in your posts. When people do find your blog, they’ll know what to expect and follow you because, you guessed it, they’ll know what to expect.
- Make your posts visually appealing. One image is better than none; the more the better. Use bold type, italics or bullets to break up the text. Polls work well, too. If you have a page of just words and there’s no white space, it can be a little intimidating for your readers.
- Use categories and tags. Even if you don’t want to. You just might create menus or groupings that will make your life easier later on. Besides, Google likes those tags, too.
- Comment on others’ posts, especially if they’re related to your blog or if you have a regular commenter from another blog. I’ll definitely scratch your back if you scratch mine.
- Sharing is caring. Tumble, Stumble, Tweet, Digg and Rumble. (I have no idea if there’s really a “Rumble” site, but it rhymes.) You’ll get blog love in return.
- Have fun with design. If you’re the least bit creative – if you’re into blogging, my guess is that you are – have fun with photo-editing, buttons, headers and stuff like that. Sure there’s a learning curve, but hey, even Einstein failed 4th grade math.
- Have fun. Your readers will pick up on that. If you’re not into what you’re writing, it will show through. Find and express your passions in your blog and people will love you for who you are.