The Truth About Blogging: Things I wish I had done differently.
The Best Way to Start a Blog
So, when I started this blog 2 years ago I was pretty much flying blind and doing everything on a whim…..BIG mistake. I could have saved myself a LOT of frustration, do-overs, and headaches if I had just done some more research and set things up the right way the first time!
I have put together this post outlining the best way to start a blog to give you the most success….now, I’m not an expert and I don’t guarantee that you will be successful if you follow these steps– you determine your success….but by following these best practices you’ll be set up the best possible way…..I wish you all the best in your blogging journey.
1. Invest a little money into your blog…use WordPress.org…it will pay off in the long run!
There are free platforms out there for setting up a blog– I started out on Blogger…and it’s a great platform BUT if I knew then what I know now I would have started on a self-hosted WordPress site. Here’s the deal….I didn’t want to invest any money in my blog in case I failed BUT I didn’t fail…in fact, I really enjoyed blogging and once I decided that I wanted to make some real money blogging it cost me a heck of a lot more to fix my mistake and it was a nightmare! When you use a free platform, like Blogger, you don’t own your content– Blogger does– which means they can shut you down for no reason. Imagine putting in 3-4 months of hard work, lots of posts, building a following, and then you wake up one morning with all of your hard work GONE! It happens all the time!
Plus, if you plan on making money with your blog you will make more money on a self-hosted WordPress.org site than you will on Blogger– oh, and don’t use the free WordPress.com because you’re not allowed to make money with that site! Brands prefer to work with bloggers who are self-hosted…they pay more and you’ll get more jobs by being self hosted….not to mention higher ad revenues too. When I switched from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site I TRIPLED my income!
I highly recommend using Bluehost for your hosting. Bluehost has some great pricing for self hosting and is very dependable.
2. GET YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME!!!!
If you decide to go with a free platform then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE at least get your own domain name….if you start out with their domain name (it will look like: yourblogname.blogspot.com) you will loose ALL of your Google juice when you do decide to switch (to something like this yourblogname.com)….I had a Google PR score of 5 when I decided I needed my own domain and it dropped down to 3 after the switch. I know this doesn’t mean much to you right now but trust me…..dropping from a 5 to a 3 on Google WILL affect the amount of money you make blogging! To keep it short…your Google PR score basically decides where your site falls in a Google search….so would you rather be on page 1 or page 15 after you’ve done all of the hard work and have grown your blog. Again, you can get a domain name really cheap through Bluehost.
3. Make sure ALL of your social media names match!
You’ll notice that all of my social media names are a slight variation of Serendipity and Spice….this is because either names were taken or I had too many characters in the name…. it’s much easier if all of your social media names are consistent…it makes it easier for Brands and readers to find you across all platforms. As you can see…. my Facebook Fanpage and Instagram are both SerendipityandSpice. But Twitter is SerendipitynSp because of character limits. Pinterest is SerendipitySpic is because of character limits. Google Plus is +MelissaLlado because of rules regarding names. Everything is different which makes it difficult now because if someone tags me in one place it doesn’t show up in other places…..for example, when I pin something on Pinterest I like to tag the person and tweet it too….but if your Pinterest name and Twitter names don’t match then you don’t get tagged in both places (which helps with your Klout score)…make sense? So try to get all of your social media names to match.
4. Have your profile picture match across all social platforms.
People want to see YOU…so please pic a picture you love of yourself and use that one picture for all of your social media. You want people to recognize you and having different pictures can cause confusion if they have the right person. Plus, you’ll be building your brand with that image…the brand of YOU. 🙂
5. Don’t overdo it…use your scheduler!
If you start off trying to post 5-7 times a week you WILL burn out! I try to post at least 1 recipe, 1 craft, 1 linky party, 1 sponsored post, and 1 misc post a week….but I schedule them out. I may write like 6 recipes in one sitting but I don’t schedule them all to post right away or in the same week. I schedule one a week for 6 weeks….now I know that I have at least one post publishing a week for 6 weeks. I know you’re eager to pin them and get traffic on your posts but trust me….you’ll be happy you have posts prescheduled when life hits….and consistency is key to growing your readers and Google score.
6. Host a linky party.
Yep, I said it, many bloggers believe that there are more than enough linky parties and we don’t need anymore but I call bull&*^%. People LOVE linking up to linky parties….and many people like linking up to the smaller linky parties because there’s a better chance of getting your stuff seen. I would go to a smaller blog much faster than a bigger blog…I mean I don’t even bother linking up once there’s more than 150 links at a party because it’s a waste of my time. The parties that only have 50 or so links actually send me the most traffic because people actually see my link and the hosts are more likely to feature me.
Now, if you host a linky party you need to do it correctly. My Manic Monday Linky Party is the main way that I built Serendipity and Spice in the beginning….it’s still my highest traffic day! Linky parties do bring traffic but in order to build your community and keep people coming back you need to do it correctly….keep an eye out for How to Host a Linky Party coming soon. Basically, you want to get signed up for Inlinkz– use the thumbnail version…people like to see pictures….and it’s only like $2 a month. There are other link up programs but I’ve used Inlinkz since the beginning and it’s been perfect. Once you get your party set up make sure you give shout outs and visit everyone who joins. Now, it’s ok to invite people BUT DO NOT do a blanket statement like “Hi. I love your project, come by and link up to my party……”. It’s considered rude. Visit other linky parties and leave a THOUGHTFUL comment and let them know you’ll be starting a party on Tuesdays if they’d like to stop by….DO NOT leave a link….they will be able to click on your name and get to your blog. I’ll go into more detail about how to properly throw a linky party to grow your blog soon.
7. Write good content!
Content is key. You’re not going to make it very far in the blogging world if you don’t have good content that adds value to a reader. If your goal is to make money with your blog then you want to write useful content that random people want to know. Unfortunately no one cares that Aunt Jenny has a cold this week and the dog ran away. But random people would be interested in How to Fight a Cold Naturally or How to Explain to Children that the Dog Ran Away.
8. BIG Pictures are worth 1000 words!
DON’T use small pictures! People respond to BIG beautiful pictures….try to make sure they are the width of your blog posts….the standard is between 600px and 650px wide. You can check out 3 steps for how to improve your blog photos and if there’s no photo for what you’re writing then at least make a text picture….a quote from your post or the title.
9. Ask yourself…. “Would I Read This Blog?”
Well, would you? If you were reading blogs or scrolling through Pinterest would you stop and check out your blog? Does it stand out among the ocean of blogs out there? Make sure that you’re producing content that you would read if you didn’t know you….know what I mean?
10. Stay diligent.
Blogging is a marathon not a race! If you stay diligent and consistent in your writing then you will grow and you will begin making money if that is your goal. My first year of blogging I think I made $500. The second year I more than tripled that number. This year my goal is to make a decent part time income….it’s taken a LOT of work and diligence to make it to this point. There have been times where I just wanted to quit, there have been many times that I’ve gotten burnt out, but I just keep pushing forward. Over the last 2 years I have honed my blogging skills by reading, researching, and learning more and more…you can definitely tell the difference between one of my first posts and one of my current posts.
Veteran Bloggers: Do you have any best practices for the best way to start a blog?