14 Apr 2011

Didn't You Get The Memo?...Top 10 Newbie Blogger Tips

So I thought I'd try something new on here. I'm not normally all that good with change but, after having a few days off and then coming back to a wonderful reception to my post last night, I wanted to give you guys some more (hopefully decent) content.

I try to give back and share as much as possible, so this post is about all the stuff I wish I'd known back in January. If you're an experienced blogger you'll probably know most of the below - but there might be some good links for you! After the tips there are also a couple of questions that I got asked earlier today about blogging. And remember, if you've got tips to share or other questions to ask please post them in the comments part.

Tip One - Don't expect to get it right first time.
This applies to content, blog layout, lots of followers, jargon, gadgets, the lot!
It took me a little while to tweak my blog layout to just how I wanted it and to add the gadgets I wanted. Not all of them are suitable when you're just starting out IMO anyway - I didn't want to set up a Facebook page in the first week, when about 2 people were reading my blog - and one of them was my mum. Make sure that when you do add gadgets they are relevant to your blog as well.
PS By gadget I mean the stuff on your blog that's not the actual writing - like top 10 posts, archives, pictures, links, blog rolls etc

Also take the time to figure stuff out in the early days - you probably won't have that many viewers, so it won't matter if you muck up a couple of times! There's so much helpful advice out there - take it. I would particularly recommend (as ever) Novel Publicity for their advice on blog layouts, using social media and how to set up FB pages. Check it out!

Be kind to yourself - there's no one watching you or judging you - your blog is your domain and what you say goes! Which brings me on to......

Tip Two - Be Yourself
Don't write for other people, write for you and what you're interested in. Easier said than done I know. I was really scared when I started blogging, I thought WTF am I doing this for (see here)  - there are so many bloody bloggers out there, yes really! but I kept going (see here) because wow, people started reading the blog - and commenting - and asking me stuff. So I realised that there was an audience for my writing and that other bloggers were not the enemy - we're all unique. So keep writing - someone out there will like it. I found it helpful to write a set of rules for the blog, to remind me - and my readers - what I was all about. And maybe it was a bit silly, but I wanted to have a little integrity on my blog - after all, I bare my soul on here to thousands of people, all over the world.

Tip Three - Play Nicely
Okay, repeat after me....Read...aaaaand SHARE. Read....aaaand SHARE
You know when someone sends you a funny link and you just have to share it? Well the same goes for blogging and links and cool websites. Share. A lot. All the time. This is kind of the point of blogrolls - a way of showing other blogs that you're into, but for me, I try to regularly do shout outs in my posts of cool sites, places I've been to, books/blogs I've read, music/films etc - you get the picture. It's about sharing the love. Also what you like doesn't have to be hugely popular. I love giving newbie bloggers a shout out on my blog - because established bloggers have done it for me. It's kind of pay-it-forward in blogging. On the plus side, if you do mention someone - let them know - sometimes they'll link to your blog on a tweet or even, their blog. However this is not the main reason to do this.

I also like to read + follow lots of other blogs - just because I am truly fascinated by other people. I read a wide assortment of blogs - from management to weddings to campaigning to writing to climbing....and I love it. I feed off this information. And it reminds me to stay true to what I do as well. So once again.....read...aaaand SHARE!

Tip Four - Plan Ahead
If the thought of writing regularly with no real idea of what to say scares the living shit out of you.....welcome to being a blogger. I know 'zactly how you feel. It's crazy, why do we do it? It's like choosing to write a mini essay several times a week with no title. Except there is a solution.....schedule stuff. And by this I mean have regular slots for stuff on your blog. If you like doing book reviews, schedule them on a particular day of the week. If you like having a general ramble/weekly round up, schedule that for a sunday night maybe. If you've got a bunch of photos to share, schedule those. I've found it works so well and I'm never at a loss for what to write because I need to think of something specific be it a word, a list topic, a photo essay subject or an interview (these are pre-planned though).

Theoretically you can even write blog posts in bulk but I'm not so good at this!

Tip Five - Labelling
Label your posts (otherwise known as tags) and then add a label cloud to your blog. Then every time you blog about say music, label the post `music`. When people visit your label cloud they can click on a label that interests them and it brings up every post with that label. Clever huh! A word of warning, only use labels that you're going to use regularly (like writing, photos, WoTW, Top 10, front bottoms....!) otherwise you end up with a label cloud full of one off labels, which are no good IMO

Tip Six - Commenting
Short and sweet - if people take the time to comment on your blog ALWAYS FRIGGIN REPLY. Simples. Even if it's not straight away, still do it. It builds up a blog community (tho 'tis weird when your mum chats to a regular commenter through the comment box...)

Tip Seven - Jump Break
Kudos to Emlyn Chand for this one. You know when someone (!) writes long blog posts and you can't be assed scrolling down their entire blog for the next post? Well if they'd inserted a jump break after a couple of paragraphs it neatly cuts off the post with a `read more` click through and then you can keep scrolling down to the next post if you wish. Cunning!

Tip Eight - Profile
Maybe I'm weird and/or uber nosey but I always look at people's profile's first when I check out their blogs, hence mine being right at the top of mine. I guess it's kind of like a shop window, welcomg people into to your shop (blog) It helps people see the person behind the words and what they're into. I think you should always have a picture of yourself as well - itt doesn't have to be totally awesome but it paints a picture of you and helps your readers get to know you and well, like you and your blog.

Tip Nine - Stats
Watch 'em, they're not just there to remind you how few people visited that post you wrote late at night that was utter drunken twaddle... No, they are handy - they show you which posts are most popular, which gives you an idea of what content your readers like. For example 6 of my top 10 most popular posts are top 10 lists that I've done - so I know you guys like lists :) It means that I keep going with lists but maybe not so much with another type of post. The stats are also good to see where you are getting visits from - mostly these will be from initially probably twitter (am assuming you put your link on your twitter profile...) but if another blogger lists you on their blog roll and you get a hit, you'll be able to see it. Then you can say thank you! Finally you can see where in the world people are reading your blog - this completely fascinates me - it makes the world seem much smaller and is oddly comforting to me.

I'm sure that you can also, with the help of the stats, figure out what time of day your blog gets the most traffic etc, but life's too short for that kind of maths :)

Tip 10 - Common Sense
It's something that I don't have a lot of, but I do try to apply it to my blog. It goes without saying that your blog should be free from typos, spelling errors, txt spk, grammatical bloopers and anything your English teacher would tell you off for (btw this is a case of do as I say not do as I do...er...)
Also just think about what *you* like when you read other blogs, what catches your eye and equally what really pisses you off and makes you not bother to keep on reading. Use that to help yourself understand what you want on your blog. It's supposed to be fun!

And that's it for the tips......now here are some questions I got asked on Twitter....

@allalejandro: I'm a wannabe blogger, but find it hard to attract any sort of following. What do you think catches peoples attention?
I think it comes down to:

  • a simple, non fancy layout, i can't stand blogs with lots of pictures and ads and flashing stuff and tons of gadgets + apps that IMO detract from the actual frickin blog posts.
  • having good content. And by good I mean interesting and personable. It doesn't have to be great literature, I make no claims to that, but I like blogs where you can see the person behind the words.
  • hate to say it, but post regularly
  • also, as I'll come on to, make it easy for people to follow you....

@copperhobnob + @ethel_74: we would like to know how you get so many followers?

By making it easy for them to follow you. Sorry, that sounds a bit (dohh) but it kind of is. 
There's two kinds of followers, first of all there's getting people to visit your blog...

The main way I've done this is through Twitter - massively so. I've followed a lot of people on twitter, I've used hashtags, I've spoken to them, I've asked their opinion, I've read *their* blogs and I've checked out other tweeps who write. My general rule of thumb with twitter is, if they look interesting, follow them - tell them you're following them - and start chatting.
My biggest bug bear with twitter is when people follow me AND DON'T TALK TO ME!  I'm human, I don't bite - I'm here cause I want to talk to you. Once you've built up these relationships - particularly if they like the same kind of thing as you - they're most likely going to want to check out your blog anyway.
I would say *always* have a link to your blog on your twitter profile. Outside of twitter, I sent the link to my blog to a few friends, but really, I liked having people I didn't know IRL reading my blog - it seemed to help.

Once people are reading your blog, you want them to stick around and read every damn post! So make sure you have a Follow Me gadget/RSS feed/twitter button high up on your blog sidebar. My RSS + follow me gadgets are 2nd on my side bar after my profile bit.
Once people are reading your blog, you might notice that they add you to their blogrolls too which helps with traffic. Another way of generating traffic is to comment on other people's blogs - if people like your comment, they can click on your name to check out your blog. 

To be honest this advice is nothing new or special but I guess what's been really important to me when blogging is to be able to reach out to people and talk to them as if they were right there in front of me in a coffee shop or a pub or a party or wherever. So I guess make sure you're talking (and listening).

So that's all for tonight -  hope you liked the Top Tips. I'm thinking of doing a Top Tips - guide to publishing next time round in a few weeks, so maybe stay tuned for that? As ever please comment below and let me know what you thought - and if I missed anything reeeeeeeally obvious (it is possible, I am still sick)

Thank you and good night

Stupidgirl has left the building


  1. I love this! And it's completelt different from all the 'do and don't' lists I've read before. Gonna read it, share it, and use it for myself, I should think!

    Thank you for sharing this :D

  2. Love it, lady! Very good suggestions - I am amazed and impressed by bloggers who manage to put out posts multiple times a week - if not every day.

    The most I can handle is once.

    Still, everything you suggested her applies. I think the best example YOU set is having a clear voice. You sound like YOU. And that is huge.

    So sleep well, sweet dreams, and I'll catch you in the morning xo

  3. Oops. Mean suggested HERE. Not her. Perhaps I'm in need of a nap, too -

  4. I am rubbish at replying to comments -*note to self do this more!*

  5. Great tips :)
    I'm yet to come to terms with the gadgets on blogspot, I can't really figure them out. Do I have a "follow me" button? I'm better with wordpress for sure.

  6. Boy did you cover a lot of details. Thanks for mentioning all the other sites with helpful information. I don't have any idea how you find that stuff. When I try, I get lots of marginal material that just manages to miss the mark. I agree about pics and visuals...It's just that I don't know how to do that. I always want to experiment, but I'm afraid I'll make it worse. Since my material is essentially fiction, it's easy for me to just sit down and start the engines. I just 'go' and that's it. But I am learning a bit about non-fic. Google Ezine.com (a web magazine) submit material to them. It is easy...I DID IT!..I don't know how many 'hits' they get, but links appear onn many sites and it got me MANY HITS (for me) 4 times what I was getting before. I believe about bloggers helping bloggers with retweets and mentions too. Sometimes I do this thing where the next tweet that scrolls up with a 'personal' link automatically gets retweeted. Also, if anyone needs or wants a RT just ask. I LIKE doing that. Thanks for getting us all thinking, as always...Still can't hold down mouse and drag and dump text though. I don't know why. I'm fairly adept, but a bit of a muggle when it comes to that useful preceedure. .....Idea.....with warm days approaching, fill us in on British seashore towns. Everybody likes to hear about vacation spots...a great escape!

  7. Excellent as ever me dear :D

    And so true...Did you follow me first on Twitter or vice versa? I can remember but Im so glad we hooked up..I now read every post you write and love them all. You're interesting, sassy and fun to talk to...hurrah for Twitter! :)

    It's also reminded me....must write a new blog post ;)

  8. Ha see....bloody type in the first sentence...you can thanks darling dtr for THAT one....sleepover...four teenager girls..Im sure you get the drift.

    anyway I CANT remember who followed who first *sheesh*

  9. Ha!! Thats TYPO.

    Im old, Im knackered...I need my bed

  10. I really like your advice about a schedule, and writing certain kinds of posts on certain days. I first saw that on your blog a while ago, and I started doing it on mine several weeks ago, and I was amazed at how people were reading my blog on those particular days; they got used to and liked the schedule pretty quick.

  11. Excellent basis, there are a few bits I have changed my view on in the last year.

    1 - blog rolls and linking, too many people do it just to get a reciprocal link - do you read all the ones you link to, each week? I do, and those I don't or just "go off" I unlink, like on twitter, if I don't like what people say on a regular basis, the unfollow button is right there!!

    2 - Stats. The heroin of bloggers. "Have to get more, do better, more hits every week." I had to break the habit and now will only allow myself to look weekly, or if I get a lot of comments / RTs etc.

    3 - Ads - agree with you, even good blogs I soon stop reading once people try and monetise it with links and ads everywhere. Blogging is not a business ;-)


  12. I cannot tell you how proud I am to be forever linked to the 'front bottom' tag :D

  13. Wow, yikes, wow!!! Thanks for all the comments....working backwards....

    KT - you know how I feel about you and front bottoms. Frontbottoms4eva!! (People, KT writes the funniest blog ever!)

    Simon - stats, oh yes, heroin. Even my counsellor challenged me not to check them as often as I do wahhh. Re: making money from your blog - I wouldn't but there are lots who do - and if it's the main way of promoting your business then that's fair play IMO. However at this stage in my blogging, it's totes innappropriate for me to do it.

    Michele - I know, it's weird isn't it!! I kind of view the blog scheduling as like tv shows - you know when to tune in, if that makes sense. Pleased that it's working for you!

    Sage - I can't remember, I think I followed you first, you were recommended by someone (MyLittleRedPen ???) Anyway, a match made on er, twitter xxx

    Will - thanks for the heads up about the e-zine, I'm going to check that out. Yes, I wonder, if you're posting fiction on your blog, if you need different tips - wanna do a guest post for me on that? Re: sites - I just read A LOT!

    Nicole/Demon/Dooba - thanks! If you ever have any queries just DM me and I'll try to answer them!

    Julie - thanks for your lovely comments. It's weird to be liked by lots of ppl I don't know. Loving your blog also too

    Thanks everyone!

    SG x

  14. Just wanted to add a bit of context on my point 1.
    The previous blog I read was a musician who was writing about a gig he had just played - he had about 100 people who had clicked on Facebook to say they would go, but only 2 did - that is what I was meaning, like twitter, I follow over 500 people, but only talk to about the same 50!!

  15. Thanks, a really useful post! And a word cloud...oooh I hadn't thought of that...

  16. aw thanks - glad I could help. Word clouds look pretty too :P

  17. Thank you so much for all these tips! I have now set up a FB page for my blog and will probably join Twitter! Top tips - fab. Many, many thanks :-) (Nik - DW)

  18. yay, join twitter! And glad it was helpful :) What is the FB page for your blog btw? x