Granted – I’m no xoNicole or ForHarriet (two of my blog-inspirations). I took a small sabbatical from blogging after my son was born and stepped away from being engaged with the digital world for a while. When I returned I got back into gear. I started a new blog, a new brand and I’m in the works of launching my own creative services site along with another very exciting project in the works (stay tuned – 2016!).
Though my followers count is still building it’s way back up – I am still rightfully a “seasoned blogger”. I started blogging back when Blogger.com was considered a standard and social media marketing was kind of an unknown frontier. Ok…maybe I’m aging myself a bit, but I’m glad I started blogging when I did. Because I’ve had a chance to see the blogging community grow, stretch and change over the better part of a decade – and boy has it been an education.
Here is what I learned…
1 | Cut the Chatter
Sorry to say this but we all have VERY short attention spans and most of your readers are enjoying your content on their device…likely while on the toilet or at a traffic light, or on a lunch break or waiting in line at the bank. Your content is either engaging or completely skippable. If you have tips – make a list. If you have a wordy think-piece – break it up with vivid photography and quotes and pop (even consider a “Part I” and “Part II”). Don’t force your readers to endure you without a bit of mental lube.
2 | Other Bloggers Are Your Best PR
Not only is it FUN to exist in a community of other writers and digital creators, to appreciate and share each others content and watch as everyone grows and expands their brands – but it’s possibly the best exposure you can get. Engage with other bloggers, especially those who dwell in a similar niche. Follow their content, comment on their content and share their content! Give a little – get a little.
3 | Contribute!
Share your brand by contributing to other sources beside your own. Submit to other blogs, online magazines and print publications. Websites like Black Bloggers United or Medium are excellent places to contribute your own work. This may also prove to be an opportunity to write in a new style. (Stay tuned: I’ll be sharing where I publish my edgier content in a future post).
4 | Clean It Up
Treat your blog like you (should) keep your closet – neat, tidy and easy to find what you need. As much as you may want to have everything available on the front page, this is overwhelming to visitors. Have your most recent content easy to find, your blog’s navigation simple and clean and your viewers will enjoy breezily exploring your world.
5 | Don’t Believe the Hype…
…Safe as it may feel to rest comfortably into a niche – that won’t separate you from the crowd. Embrace your freak flag and build a brand around who you actually are. Quirky? Scatter-brained? Just starting out? Embrace it! Keep your content honest and fresh and readers will be drawn in. Cookie cutter blogs are a dime a dozen – stand out in the fray by daring to be a little weirdo.
6 | Bloggers “Buy” Design
Be conscious of what your blog (and brand) looks like. Take steps to make sure you are properly representing the message you want to get across to your readers/viewers. Make sure you have a color palette that engages well, a font theme that shows up on screens vibrantly, a logo that is well balanced and attractive and a posting style that is somewhat consistent. People don’t consciously pay attention to design, but they absorb it without even knowing they are. If your blog is off kilter, people won’t stay long. Seem a little complex? Consult an actual web designer! It’s a bit of an investment – but it will make a world of a difference!
7 | Camera, Camera, Everywhere!
My creative partner Marie and I have this thing where we try to remind each other to bring our cameras with us on every single adventure we have. Why? Because content, that’s why! Even if you aren’t blogging about your day trip to the beach – you might utilize a sunny, towel-lounging photo for a post somewhere down the line. You may catch some great shots of nature or street fashion that serve as your own personal supply of stock photos. You can never have too many images tucked away to choose from – so consider yourself attached to your camera henceforth.
8 | Sharing is the Mission
Of course each blog has it’s own targets and goals. But in this day and age one of those goals should be to go viral! Admit it…you want your content to be shared as much as humanly possible. So…create the kind of content you would share yourself. Eye catching, thought provoking titles, striking photos and engaging social media quips. No matter if you are a lifestyle blogger or a foot therapist (is that a thing?) – catch your audience by surprise as often as possible. People love to share that cool thing they just read with all their friends on Facebook…be that cool thing.
9 | Start Local – Go Global
I once thought thinking as big as possible was the best way to make a name for myself as a blogger. But the truth of it is – being locally identified has some very important perks. Pass your card around to local venues and businesses in your own town, search for and get together with other bloggers in your area (a great way to create new content – a bloggers meet and greet), engage with what’s happening around you FIRST, then expand to the far reaches of the universe. Even if you live in a city like San Francisco or Brooklyn growing locally first will ensure that you build a solid network in a familiar demographic with people who have something in common with you – where you all dwell.
10 | Learn a New Skill
Not great with logo design? Pretty much avoid the manual settings on you SLR? Take a class! Search tutorials on YouTube! Ask someone you know or admire to share their skill! Before you half-ass it or avoid it altogether – consider instead expanding your repertoire. Sites like Lynda.com ($$$) or Coursera (FREE) offer very extensive online courses which can help you get past any learning curves keeping you from stepping up your branding game.