Even though I have been blogging for 5 years now, I am always learning new tips and tricks. One of the biggest thing I have learned is that what works for one person may not work for another. From what platform to use, to how often to blog and where to share, all these are determined by you and what your mission is with your blog. Recently, the Tampa Bay Bloggers hosted a #TampaBayTuesday Twitter chat on blogging and I wanted to share some of the great tips and tricks we discussed.
What platform to use?
WordPress and Blogger are the two most popular. Which platform you use depends on what your blog will be used for and your needs. Both WordPress and Blogger have different terms of service and both offer different features. I started with Blogger and while it worked fine for my first year of blogging, I quickly realized that WordPress was a much better fit for me. The widgets, plug-ins, and ease of use were key for me. Also, switching to self-hosted was a big step for me, one that I likely would not have done if not on WordPress.
How do you build an audience?
This takes time and can be one of the most stressful things about blogging. I went into writing it just for me. If someone happened to read it, that was fantastic. But it was an outlet for me. As I began to grow and my blog took on a life of it’s own, a following grew with it. Here are some great tips for building an audience.
- Follow other blogs
- Write engaging content
- Interact with other bloggers
- Promote your blog with social media
- Guest host on other blogs
- Join blogger groups
Which social media outlets are best?
Depending on your blog content, pick the platform that works best for you. The most popular are:
You can use these platforms as a mini-blog to build followers and lead them to your blog.
Let’s talk plug-ins….
I highly recommend WordPress for the plug-ins alone. There is an endless selection of plug-ins for many tasks, services, and more. Depending on what your blogging goals are and your content, you can find a plug-in that works for you. Some of the most popular are:
- Jetpack (for stats)
- Click To Tweet (allows readers to easily click and tweet within your blog and share to their followers)
- Shareaholic (allows readers to easily share your post to different social media platforms)
- Yoast SEO (helps you optimize your blog posts based on the important areas of your content and keywords)
- Akismet (anti-spam service)
- Revive Old Post (share old posts on Twitter and Facebook to get more hits for them and keep them alive. You can also alter settings to not share old posts that have giveaways)
How often should you blog?
This is one of the questions I hear people ask most. One of my favorite things about MY blog is that is it MINE and I can determine when I want to blog. I never want to blog because I have to. I blog because I want to, when I want to. Certainly, there are times I need to blog about an event or a product but I work that into what I am doing. And most importantly, I never make up content. If I don’t have something to blog about,I just don’t.
How often you blog is dependant on your blog and your content. The more you blog, the more relevant your blog will be as far as keeping your name active on social media. But, I also believe that writing more relevant content a couple times a week is better than writing just to write every single day.
Do what works best for you and stay true to that.
Use time-savers for social media shares.
I am all about time-savers, especially when it comes to sharing posts. Some posts might be a one time share and that’s it, but others need to be shared more often. Having to remember to share a post can be stressful and time consuming. Fortunately, there are sites that can help with this. Here are just a few:
- Hootsuite – this one is my favorite. You can schedule social media shares on the social media platforms of your choice. Spending an hour on a Sunday scheduling shares out for a couple weeks in advance is a huge time saver for me. There is also a Hootsuite iPhone app which is great for when I‘m on the go.
- Tweet Deck
Idea list or editorial calendar?
Some bloggers swear by editorial calendars, others just fly by the seat of their pants. I prefer keeping a list of blog post ideas in my planner. I then fit it in when I feel it works best. If you want the structure of an editorial calendar, there are plug-ins that are very easy to use.
What is the best way to monetize your blog?
The first year of blogging for me was all about writing. It was my little space and that’s all that mattered to me. As my following grew and as I began to share more about things I love, I decided to look into side-bar ads and affiliate links. Depending on your blog content and your target audience, there are many out there. Here are a few:
What is the best way to network?
Find a local blog group and network. One of my favorite things is being a part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers. I have made several friends through my blog and this group. We share a common interest in that we love to blog and having that is helpful when you have questions. It also opens the doors to many opportunities that you may not have otherwise.
The world of blogging is always changing. What works for you and your blog right now, may not work in six months or a year. It is good advice to go through your blog, plug-ins, widgets, etc… a couple times a year and see what needs updating. If you have outgrown a feature, than replace it with one that might be more relevant for you at that time. Stay true to your blog and your brand and enjoy the ride!
There are many other tools out there. The ones mentioned here are just a few. I’d love to hear if you have any favorite tools or plug-ins that work for you!