10 Important Lessons I've Learned About Blogging

This March marks the one year anniversary of this blog (woo-hoo!). Although I've blogging on and off since 2006, last March was when I finally buckled down and decided to stick with it no matter what. And let me tell you, there were so many times I wanted to quit. Blogging is hard! Writing itself is second nature to me. I've been writing stories since I was a child. But blogging is a specific type of writing that comes with its own unique challenges.

I'm no expert, and I'm still growing as a blogger, but I've learned so much in the past year alone. I want to share with you 10 lessons I've learned.

1. Write about what interests you. One of the main reasons I enjoy blogging is the ability to choose  my own content. You generally can't choose your topics when writing for a magazine or newspaper. I know lots of people advise you to cater to your audience, but the reason you were able to attract that audience is because you wrote about what interests you to begin with. Your readers visit your blog because you provide a unique insight on the topics they care about. 

2. Write the way you talk. My conversation style is a weird mix of proper grammar, "long words", and slang. So that's how I write. When you read one of my posts, I want you to feel like you're talking to me face-to-face. You always want to make sure you are using correct spelling and grammar, and that your sentences make sense, but ultimately your blog should reflect your voice. Some of my favorite bloggers, such as The Bloggess and The Londoner, write the way they talk.

3. Post consistently. You can't expect to have a following if you don't give people something to follow. You don't have to post every single day, but you should post regularly. Of course, how often you post will depend on your schedule and obligations. Just bear in mind that readers will lose interest if you are only blogging sporadically. Maybe, if you're not going to post everyday, you could post on 1 or 2 specific days of the week, so your readers know when to visit your blog. I try to post 2-3 times a week on week days. Sometimes it's less, sometimes it's more, but I try to remain consistent. 

4. Use good photos. Personally, I'm more likely to read a post with an attractive picture. So are most people who read blogs. It's a hard truth. You don't even need an expensive DSLR to take good pictures. You can use a point and shot or even your smartphone! You just have to be aware of details such as light, composition and subject. If you don't know much about these things, the internet is a wonderful source for photography tips. There are also services where you can buy stock photos and others that provide them for free. I strongly advise against using a photo you found in a search, without obtaining consent first. Even if you credit and link back to the source, the owner of the photo can still take legal action against you. If you are going to take your own photos, there are free online tools that can help you with editing and adding watermarks. 

5. Follow other blogs. I've mentioned this in another post, but following other bloggers is vital. I've learned so much about blog design, writing, and photography just from following other bloggers. I've also learned so much from bloggers who cover the same topics. Reading other blogs will not only help you grow as a blogger, but it will inspire you and give you ideas on how to improve your own blog.

Did you ever see that episode of Friends where Joey, who played a doctor on Days of Our Lives, is being interviewed for Soap Opera Digest? The interviewer asks what soap operas he watches, and he replies, "Oh, I don't watch soap operas. I mean excuse me, I have a life, you know." The interviewer raises her eyebrows, and nearby, the rest of the gang are shown wearing expressions of disbelief.

So I repeat, follow other blogs!

6. Join blogging groups. In the blogging world, they are often called "tribes". A good group acts just like a tribe by providing support and encouragement, and helping you grow. These tribes are good for meeting other bloggers, learning about blogging and even getting a larger following. I'm in three blogger groups. My favorite feels like a community. I can go on there and ask questions, vent, promote my latest post. I would even go so far as to say that I consider some of these folks my friends, even though we've never met in person. You can find such groups on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

7. Use social media. Social media is another way to promote your blog, but that should not be your sole purpose for using it. Blogging expert, Julie DeNeen, does an excellent job breaking down how to use each platform on her blog, Fabulous Blogging. When used effectively, these different platforms will reveal different aspects of who you are and what your blog is about. Remember your blog is personal. Your blog represents you!

8. Attend blogging workshops and conferences. Blogging workshops and conferences are a great source of education and information. I learned so much at the NEPA Blog Con, from self-marketing and branding, to SEO and analytics. They're also a great place to meet other bloggers. When I attended the NEPA Blog Con last October, I was shocked to find out that there are so many bloggers in the area. I'm still in touch with many of the people I met there.

9. Stay up to date in your niche. Once you figure out what your niche or niches are, it's important to stay informed and up to date in those areas. You can do this by following bloggers who cover the same topics, by reading magazines and books, and talking to people who are experts in those areas. You can also create a Google alert so that you receive an email every time there is a new story about your niche. This enables you to blog accurately and honestly. A post that is full of incorrect or even outdated information is the quickest way to lose a reader.

10. Keep learning. This last one encompasses a lot of the previous lessons, but is important enough to list on its own. You need to continue to educate yourself—about your niche/s, about blogging, about blog design, about technology, and so on. As with all things, the only way to become a better blogger is to keep learning and evolving.

Again, I am not an expert, but I hope you've learned from this post.

Is there anything you'd like to add? Are there any that have or haven't worked for you? Please let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!
NaBloPoMo March 2014

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