Bloggy Guidelines for New Bloggers
I'm not exactly sure why, but these past few weeks I've had at least five or six new bloggers email me and ask me for tips and suggestions to help them grow their blogs. I can't be sure, but I think it's because I've been doing several guest posts on other blogs, and also because of my weekly feature Monster Mommy Moments. These two things together have allowed me to meet lots of new bloggers and find new great blogs to read.
I have responded back to each blogger that's asked me individually, but I figure if there are a few bloggers that are asking, there are probably other people out there wondering the same things. I'm no expert , I've only been doing this for a year, but I have learned some things along the way.
Awhile back, I wrote a post with some suggestions for new bloggers to get started on growing their blogs. You can check it out here.
If you're a seasoned blogger or you've been blogging for six months or more, you probably won't find anything on this list that will surprise you. But if you're a new (or newer) blogger, you might be able to incorporate some of the suggestions into your own blogging.
You Must Have....A Back Up of Your Blog
Unless you want to worry about the possibility of losing all of your hard work, I suggest you back up your blog regularly. If you are using Blogger, you can check out Liz's (a belle, a bean, and a chicago dog) post over at Our Mommyhood about how to back up your blog in just a few easy steps. I haven't made the move to WordPress yet, but I asked on Twitter how to back up a WP blog, and you can check out the link I got here.
You Must Have....Contact Information
You wouldn't believe how many bloggers have an "About Me" page instead of a contact page... but they don't have any contact information anywhere on their blog! I'm a new follower and want to ask you a question or tell you how much I love your blog -- how can I do that if I don't know your email address? I'm a company that wants to ask you to do a product review... no contact info, no go. It's super easy to have this information accessible, now go make sure you have it!
You Must Have....A Way For People To Like/Follow/Subscribe To Your Blog
Whatever you want to call it, the bottom line is that people that visit and like your blog want to be able to find your blog again. If you use Google Friend Connect, people that follow your blog will automatically receive your updates in Google Reader. But you should also offer a way for people to subscribe to your blog, either by email or by an RSS feed. The choice is yours... but make sure you are offering choices.
You Must Have....A Profile That Has Your Email Address Instead Of A "No-Reply" Address
If you expect people to respond to your comments or answer a question you might ask in a comment (on Blogger blogs, now WP), make sure your profile has an email address! Without it, bloggers have to go through several steps to hunt down your email address -- and for bloggers that get 20, 30, or 40+ comments on a post, it's almost impossible for them to do.
You Must Have....Share Buttons, LinkWithin, And A Facebook/Twitter Follow Button
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I go to a blog and love it, and then want to follow the person on Twitter/Facebook... only to not be able to find a "Like" for Facebook or a "Follow Me" Twitter button. Get one. It's the easiest way to make sure that you are getting exposure on more than just your blog.
As for the "share" buttons, there are so many different ways you can share a post with the entire world. You can Stumble it, Digg it, Tweet it, make it Delicious...and just about anything else you can think of! Make sure you have the buttons available to people to make it easy for them to share your posts.
Last but not least, check out LinkWithin. When you are on a blog and see "You Might Also Like" suggestions at the bottom of this post, that's LinkWithin. It's a fantastic way to keep people on your blog. What it does is scans posts similar to the one you have posted, and it gives your readers a few posts that are similar to it. It doesn't get it right all of the time, but it will help keep readers reading.
You Must Have....The Willingness To Pay It Forward
Believe me when I say that you are going to need help, lots of help, to grow your blog. You'll need people that will answer your questions, hold your hand as you write your first post full of emotion and who you are (it might even be about something you've never shared with anybody else), and you'll need people to introduce you to other bloggers.
A blog tribe is a group of women that come together and support each other and help each other deal with the craziness that comes with blogging. Tribes change; they grow, they expand or reduce, they dissipate. But just like in life, you need people for certain stages of your blogging. Find one. You might already be a part of one and not know it -- who are the bloggers that you talk to regularly? Who are the bloggers that you share secrets and fears with?
But after all is said and done, you need to pay it forward to bloggers that start after you do. Remember the time a "big" blogger answered your question or got you help that you needed. Remember the time that a "big" blogger gave you a shout out on his/her blog... or on Twitter. Remember the time that you were lost and a blogger, maybe one you never even expected knew who you are, helped guide you down the path and get you back on track. Pay it forward. Don't forget to do it.
You must NOT have...Word Verification On
For the love of all that's pure and holy, please, PLEASE turn off word verification (captcha) if you have it on your blog! Unless you are Dooce, the Bloggess, or Scary Mommy, you probably only get a handful (if any) spam comments every day. It takes seconds to go in and delete them. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY HATES word verification.
Do me a favor, if you think you must have it, just turn it off for one week. 99.999% of the time, I bet you won't turn it back on.
You must NOT have...A Black Background
If you have a black background with white lettering on your blog, change it. Now. It's nearly impossible to read, and people are so turned off by it that when they see it, most people will click right away from it.
You must NOT have...Spelling Errors
Grammatical errors are a big no no, but we aren't all English majors. I get confused about where the punctuation goes with quotes, how many commas I can use in a sentence... you get the idea. But there is really no excuse for poor spelling. Spell check your posts. Of course, occasionally you might accidentally use "there" instead of "their" or "its" instead of "it's." But spelling is something that most people catch and don't like to continually see wrong.
You must NOT have...Content That Isn't Yours Posted On Your Blog
Maybe you are visiting blogs and see a fantastic "how to" do something blog related (like Liz's post on how to back up your blog). Instead of copy and pasting Liz's post directly to this post, I told you about it and then included a link back to her original post. If I would've copy and pasted her entire post here that's a no-no, and illegal if her content is copyrighted (which you should definitely look into -- check out MyFreeCopyright.com to find out how to copyright everything on your blog!). If I copy her content directly to my blog, it's called blog scraping. Don't do it! Link away -- every blogger loves link love!
You must NOT have...A Hoarder Attitude
You found an awesome widget or plug-in that it going to make your blog bad ass. Don't hoard the info! Share it with your friends, your readers, your tribe! Along the lines of paying it forward, don't forget to let others know when you find the next coolest blogging tool/trick/tip. The only thing a hoarder attitude is going to do for you is to get you noticed, but not in a good way. Share the love, people!
Do you have any questions? Suggestions? Ideas? Tips that I didn't mention? Share them in your comments below!
Natalie writes at Mommy of a Monster and Twins about her day-to-day life and the chaos that comes with raising a 3 year old and 1 year old twins.