10 Tips for New Bloggers

July 12, 2012

A get this question via email and it also came up at a recent luncheon with a good friend.  Dun dun dun, get ready, this is it!  “What do you think are the keys to blog success?”  My friend Natalie was the one to ask it most recently.  She and I met working in the same office 13 years ago and she told me she was thinking of starting a blog and my response was “Great!  Absolutely!”

Natalie is that gal who not only has impeccable taste but also painted her own two story house all by herself  without any help and while the babies napped because she couldn’t stand that the house they bought was salmon pink and she wasn’t going to shell out thousands to a professional.  I love that kind of gumption.

Natalie threw a few questions my way, good questions, ones that I’m sure a lot of new bloggers have so I answered them and I thought I’d repeat them here.  If you want to start just a hobby blog then by all means ignore everything I say but if you’d like to see yours grow to a business or you’d like to work with brands in your niche, then here are ten tips that will improve your chances for success.  10 tips for new bloggers

1.  Be Clever. Pick a good name that sums up who you are.  This is increasingly difficult these days since all the common words and their combinations are taken, so you have to put on your smarty pants cap.  You can have a .blogspot or .wordpress but I think it’s better to research whether the .com or .net is available first, and also check the USPTO to make sure the name you like isn’t trademarked already.

2.  Be Smart.   Speaking of trademark, seriously consider securing a trademark for your blog name as you build your brand.  I know bloggers who’ve been perfectly fine not doing it, but I’ve also heard plenty of sad stories of bloggers having to change their blog name upon a cease and desist letter, and getting one of those is “zero fun” as my kids say.  So do the research up front to avoid that hairy situation.  You can trademark your brand for somewhere in the $400 range with a company like LegalZoom.

3. Be Unique.   Write like you think and like you speak, because no one else can do it in that way.  Write about what you know, what probing questions you have about the universe, or about your fixation on (fill-in-the-blank).  Personal experiences are unique so start there.  Even if it’s just a few tips and you’re not an expert, a little experience is valuable information, so share it.

If you’re a niche blogger (photography, fashion, design, food, etc.) stay mostly on topic, but don’t be afraid to mix it up with snippets of your life, something random, or a self deprecating moment, readers love when you share the personal side, we’re all human! If you’re stumped or have writer’s block, here are 50 things to write about to push you through.

4.  Be Patient.   Producing good content that is unique and useful is the most valuable thing you can contribute.  Be prepared to write that good content for six months and go completely unnoticed.  Once you’re discovered, you’ll provide readers with a lot of good content to share, and they will share it, if it is unique and inspiring, so keep your focus there.

5.  Be Visual.   Good writing is great, but pretty pictures are killer.  We’re blogging in a Pinterest world and there’s no denying the power of that social media phenomenon.  Having shareable images is one of the best tools for getting your content out in the world and pretty pictures always always help!  Wanna take better pictures?  I learned how.  Here are my ten basics for better home photography.

6.  Be Clean & Organized.  Your blog design should not be too busy or distract from your content.  White space is calming and gives the eye a place to rest with all the commotion going on with content or ads.  Consider a white backdrop or subtle wallpaper, nothing glaring or flashy or too bright.  Your blog layout is a reflection of your style – clean and simple always trumps busy or cluttered.  Make sure you have an About page with a picture and a 2 to 3 paragraph narrative, we want to know who you are, your interests, why you’re blogging!  Absolutely have a Contact page for readers to connect and for future opportunities (see #9)!  Also, I really like this article by Katrina of Pugly Pixel on Ten Tips for Blog Layout.

7.  Be Nice.  Blogging is not high school, there is zero tolerance for meanness.  It’s best to treat others with kindness and respect in your comments and your writing.   Encouragement not criticism has always been my motto, be gracious and give people the benefit of the doubt before judging.  Unless judging is the main theme of your blog, then by all means, do your thing but expect opinions to fly!

8.  Be Social.   Make friends in your niche by socializing through comments or joining link parties or tweeting or commenting on Facebook.  Most of my blog friendships were initiated through comments online but solidified when we actually met at a conference, so once you’ve been blogging a few months, consider attending one, they’re a wealth of information, inspiration, and it’s great to match faces to blogs.

9.   Be Professional.  In the online world, you can get noticed pretty quickly if you do something unique and it gets circulated in social media, so if you do get that email from a magazine editor or publisher, be quick to respond and do so with courtesy and professionalism.  They are always looking for high resolution quality images so considering taking photographs with that in the back of your mind!

10.  Be Passionate. So cliché, but so true.  Don’t blog to get rich or make money, blog because of your desire to share your skills, thoughts, passions, quirks, and your unique take on the world.  There’s plenty of room for blog success, just be sure you stay true to who you are, or really, what’s the point?  :)

Whether you start on Blogger or WordPress is completely up to you, personally I think Blogger is more user friendly and you can jump right in.  WordPress has more bells and whistles but also learning curve to go with it.  Be sure to install a Statcounter, or Google Analytics in the beginning, it’s the best way to track where your traffic comes from and those stats will come in handy in the future when you seek sponsors, advertisers, and the like.

A final note, be realistic about time management!  Others who you live with have to tolerate your blogging, so set up boundaries from the start, how many hours you plan to dedicate to your new blog.  (I wrote about balance and time management in this ‘Growing Your Blog’ series).  Managing a blog can quickly absorb every aspect of your life, so keep it in check, and be sure to step away often because that’s where the most “blog worthy” material comes from – inspiration from living life!

Got technical questions?  I recommend these two sites: ProBlogger and Blogging with Amy.  They’re both great for learning the ins and outs!

 

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110 Responses to “10 Tips for New Bloggers”

  1. I am new to blogging and I create unique content with my own photographs almost always. But, there are times I must use lots of pictures to prove a point or illustrate an idea for the richness of a post, which is best done if I use more photographs, that are practically not possible for anyone to have as a bunch. I have seen that you use, pictures from different places and link to them. How does this work? How do you deal with copy rights?

  2. Virginia says:

    Kate,
    Thanks for such a phenomenal article! I love it! Such great advice from someone who’s accomplished such great things! :)
    Virginia @LiveLoveDIY

  3. MJ Robidoux says:

    Kate,

    Thanks for the great article. I am a newly wed and my husband and I just purchased our first home together a few weeks after we got married. We live in Manitoba, Canada and I always had a dream of starting a successful blog. I started my blog in June and I would love for you to check it out! http://www.alliwantisblue.blogspot.com. I explained why I named my blog All I Want Is Blue in my first blog post.

    Thanks again for everyday inspiration!

    M.J.

  4. Christina says:

    Thanks Kate for the great article. Your tips are helpful and inspiring to a new blogger like myself. Your tips helped give me the push I needed to start :)

  5. Hilary says:

    Thanks for all the great tips! I have been blogging for 3 years now, but I am always looking for new ways to move my brand forward.

  6. Thanks for the tips. :)

    Even for existing bloggers, this is a great article to learn from, but to help me stay focused on what I love to do.

  7. I began blogging a little over 1 month ago. I was just wondering the other day how long it would take to get a following other than my Besties and Parents–lol. Given all the time blogging takes, it feels a little discouraging putting things out there for no one to notice. I’ll keep the faith though…not looking to make a living blogging it just would be nice to have someone recognize my work:)

    Thanks again!

  8. Dawn says:

    Thanks for the great information, Kate! My business partner and I are just starting out and this post, along with the others you have linked to, have been so helpful!!! You are a very talented and inspiring woman. Thank you again!

    Wishing you the best!

  9. Priyam says:

    Good information. Thank you! I am a new blogger and I really liked the information you provided. Though I created my blog a few years back, I just recently actively started posting.
    I would love if you take a visit and provide feedback.
    I am not a very good writer and I am still working on it…:) but I like to showcase the little projects I do.

  10. Navi says:

    Thanks! I just started my blog & these are great tips, I’m now thinking about changing my background to something more subtle.

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