Starting a blog is an exciting, liberating experience but when you’re trying to get your writing seen and read by others and when you striving to create and establish yourself and your brand – it can be bloody hard work! 😐
I’ve only been blogging for the past 8 months or so but there are a few things I wish I’d know from the very beginning which could of made things a LOT easier when I was getting started.
I know that some (clever!) people do all of their homework before starting a blog but I didn’t. I was just inspired one day, went home, opened a Blogger account (before later switching to self-hosted WP) and started my journey with no idea of what would be involved or how to get myself ‘out there’.
So, what would I tell myself if I could go all Marty McFly and hop in my time-machine-come-Delorean?
Join Facebook groups where you’re allowed to share your links
I have a list of Facebook groups that I go through every time I publish a new post. I stop by, write on the wall or the dedicated post share section with a link to my latest post, have a quick gander to see if there’s anything that I’d like to add to my own reading list and move on.
If somebody sees my share and likes what they see, the hope is that they’ll click through to the post and have a read.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need to read the rules of the groups before you do this as a lot of groups don’t allow ‘link-dumping’ whereas it is encouraged in the groups that I use for this purpose.
If you’d like an invitation to these groups please do let me know.
Comment on other blog posts
A great deal of my time is spent commenting on other blog posts and I’m sure that most bloggers would say the same – sharing the love is really important and also mutually beneficial.
Most blogs have CommentLuv activated which will pull up a link to your latest blog post when you submit your URL. The more sites that link back to yours will help to increase your Domain Authority and your Alexa ranking. In theory, more opportunities should come you way as your DA grows and I applied for a role the other day that was based entirely on my Alexa rank so it seems this is becoming increasingly important when monetising your blog.
If you’d like to check your DA (own URL only) you can use the Moz Open Site Explorer tool. I’ve also downloaded the MozBar chrome extension for my website browser which automatically shows the DA for every website that I visit and is a quick and easy way to check my own.
I quite often get a spark of inspiration when reading other posts and it can help to spur on new content of my own. Always a bonus! 😉
Get involved with threads
I know that some bloggers disagree with follow-for-follow or commenting threads and I completely respect their opinions. If you rely on these threads for most of your readership or statistics then you’re not gaining much of a true, organic audience which is, of course, the aim for most bloggers. You’re telling your story – you want people to be genuinely interested in what you have to say.
However, I believe that these threads do have their place whether as a boost to your readership or to give certain posts the extra love they deserve (they can be very useful for sponsored posts or reviews that you want to show off).
I’ve found some of my favourite blogs via these threads as I end up reading articles that might not have caught my attention otherwise and I quite often subscribe to make sure that I don’t miss another post.
Again, please let me know if you’d like an invitation to any of the groups that run sharing threads.
Add your posts to StumbleUpon (and make sure that you stumble other content as well)
StumbleUpon is quickly becoming one of my biggest referrers and brings lots of lovely extra traffic. It takes only a few moments to add your link to SU and tag the relevant categories so it’s definitely worth doing every time you publish.
I have heard that SU doesn’t appreciate it if you simply add your own links and don’t stumble other content which is where the SU threads on Facebook can come in handy…
Find your place in the blogging community
There’s a lot of good advice that is often shared about ‘finding your blogging tribe’. I don’t think it’s something that happens overnight and it’s only recently that I’ve begun to feel that I’ve got a small group of blogging friends that I can run ideas by, share opportunities with (if I have permission to) and rely on to help push my latest post or get involved with my newest ventures.
The key is to be friendly, put yourself out there and generally get involved.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been blogging for 10 years or 10 days, there’s a place for you in the blogging community. We’re all still learning and things change so often, nobody knows it all!
Run giveaways and competitions
Everybody loves a good competition and they’re a fantastic source of additional traffic, bringing new readers to your blog who are enticed by the initial lure of entering your giveaway(s).
I run all of my competitions through Rafflecopter (just the standard free version) and it has helped a great deal when it comes to growing my social media followings. I don’t generally lose many followers, even though a lot of them are compers, as people like often like to stay in the loop as to when any new giveaways go live.
Just a quick note – if you’re registered with TOTS/HIBS/FOODIES then you aren’t allowed to have a mandatory follow option for competitions as it can end up messing up the charts. You can still ask people to follow your accounts but it must be optional.
It’s also no use going to all of the effort to prepare your competition without sharing it in the right places!
The best sources of traffic I’ve come across for giveaways are The Prize Finder and Loquax so I list my new competitions on their websites first when they go live. There’s also tons of competition groups on Facebook for you to share your links with and some specific competition linkys for you to add your giveaways to as well.
Create pinnable images and share your posts to Pinterest
Again, quite like Stumbleupon, Pinterest is a fabulous referral source – especially for recipes, crafts and other DIY-type posts.
I create a pinnable image for every post (longer, vertical images are optimum) and I also use them as my featured image so my home page looks more organised and in order as this fits in well with my theme.
Participate in linkys
Linkys are a great way of sharing your latest content and discovering new blogs to read.
Quite often, the host(s) of the linky will choose their favourite post or posts from the previous week/month to feature and share on their social media channels which can help direct traffic to your blog and grow your audience.
I’ve just started a new linky this month called #TeaAndCakeLinky which is a chance for you to sit down and have 5 minutes to yourself whilst linking up and reading some of the longer blog posts that can often go by unappreciated. This month, my favourite post will win a gorgeous Accessorize cake plate! 🙂
The list below shows my favourite linkys at the moment and I try to get involved as often as I can. One of my new blogging targets is to stick to the same linkys each week to join in with that particular community and be consistent with my content.
My plan is to start publishing my reviews on a Tuesday so I can participate in #TriedAndTested run by Family Fever and We’re Going On An Adventure.
I’ll also link up my favourite post from the week before to Honest Mum’s #BrilliantBlogPosts.
I try to write a list on a Friday so I can link up to #TheList with You Baby Me Mummy and Mr & Mrs T Plus Three.
I usually link up the same post to Wafflemama’s #FriYAY Linky.
We all know that Sundays are supposed to be nice and easy so I link up my favourite photo from the week to Photalife’s #MySundayPhoto with a few words or a quick summary. This year, I really want to use this as an opportunity to improve my photography skills.
I’ll also be adding my photo to Super Busy Mum’s new photography linky – #DevelopingLife.
Each month, I try and schedule in a wishlist-style post (these are always so fun to make!) so I can get involved in Mummy Lala’s #TheWishlistLinky.
Aby over at You Baby Me Mummy has a ‘Linky List’ that she regularly updates which is really useful if you’re looking for new linkys to get involved with.
Post original, personal content on a regular basis
I fell in to the trap of taking on too many reviews – just for the sake of it. Just to show that I was getting work and to try and prove that I was worth collaborating with.
I saw every opportunity as a chance to show off what I could do but I was so busy trying to deal with outstanding work that I didn’t have the time to write about my own personal stuff or things that I really wanted to share with my readers.
So, I took a step back, dealt with my backlog and vowed not to accept any work unless it was suitable for the blog (without any doubt at all) and something that I really wanted to try, showcase or advertise.
I’ve found my balance, for now, and I’m really enjoying writing about the things that I want to and getting back to why I started blogging in the first place. I’ve had tons of positive feedback and I feel very happy with the direction I’m going in.
Find a suitable blogging planner
There’s so many blogging planners available from make-your-own printables, excel spreadsheets or specifically designed diaries.
I’ve tried a few methods and I’ve had the most success with the electronic spreadsheet but I’ve found recently that I just prefer writing things down manually.
At the moment, I’m using this weekly planner from Sainsbury’s which cost just £5.00. I’m able to write in the date myself and list the posts that I want to schedule for that particular day. At the top of the page, there’s also a ‘to-do’ list and a place for any additional notes.
I find that as your blog grows and the creativity flows, it’s essential to organise your thoughts and plan as you go.
A blogging planner is a definite must-have!
Be active on social media (and schedule, schedule, schedule!)
Your social media channels are an extension of your blog and platforms like Instagram and Facebook, in particular, are often used for micro-blogging.
Being active on social media will increase your Klout score showing potential brands and PR companies that your digital influence is worth its salt.
I find it difficult to schedule as much as I should and it’s one of the things that I need to work on going forwards.
If you’re using WordPress then it might be worth downloading the ‘Evergreen Post Tweeter’ plugin which allows you to automatically tweet links to your blog posts throughout the day (you can set the time and frequency as desired). You can also dictate an age range for the posts to be shared and which catergory(ies) you wish the posts to be taken from.
You can schedule your Facebook Page posts directly through the Facebook website or the Pages app.
Well, I hope you’ve picked up something new by reading this post whether you’ve come across a new linky that you’d like to join in with or any other tips that might help you on your way 🙂
It took *quite* a while to put this article together so if it has helped you in any way I would really appreciate it if you gave it a quick share? Thanks 🙂