7.29.2014

Tips for Beginning Bloggers

tips for beginning bloggers, blogging, tips, advice, community
Hey guys! Today I wanted to talk about something that has been on my mind a bit: blogging advice. There is so much of it out there and I know everyone has different things that work best for them when it comes to blogging. I don't consider myself an expert by any means, but I have been at this whole blogging thing for two years now, Foreign Room being one-and-a-half of those two years.

I never really thought I would be one to give others advice, but WOW, I have come a long way (Pssst! And am SO close to 200 followers on Bloglovin'!)! People (outside of my family) actually read my blog! And comment! And care about what's going on in my life! And care if I post here or not! When you start the journey of blogging, it can be a lonely thing, but is so worth it when people start to take notice of what you do and decide to stick around.

To be at a point where I am actually feeling pretty confident in all this is amazing. It takes a lot of work to get here, but I am so happy with where I am and want to share a little of that love with those of you who are just starting out in all this.

Here are some things that I have learned from others along the way, figured out myself, and maybe wish people told me when I was just starting out. Of course, these are tips for bloggers who are looking to build a strong community around their blog and maybe even earn a bit of a living doing so. For those of you who blog solely for your own pleasure, keep on keepin' on!

So, here goes...

+ Be genuine and be yourself.
If you only take away one thing from this post, I hope it is this: If you are not genuine, people will notice, and if you are not yourself, what is the point? Be yourself, be sincere, and people will notice. And guess what? They will come back. The internet is a big place full of people who will like you just the way you are. Of course, not everyone will like you, but there will always be people who do, so be yourself for them and to heck with the rest.

+ Connect with others.
This is what blogging is all about! Follow others on social media, reply to Tweets, comment on other blogs, don't be afraid to e-mail people to ask questions or simply say 'hi'. These are all great things you should be doing if you want to get to know others and build blogging friendships! And, hey, these are the people who will become regular readers of your blog, which is awesome.

+ Invest in a clean, streamlined design.
I'm gonna be really honest here: I cannot stand blog designs that are sloppy and look like a beginner put them together. Design and coding is not everyone's strong suit, I get that, but there are plenty of great (inexpensive) blog designers out there and even fairly cheap pre-made templates to choose from. If you are hesitant to invest the money into your blog, don't be! You are investing in yourself and your success, which is priceless.

+ Focus on community, not numbers.
I cannot tell you how long I agonized and obsessed over the stats page of my Blogger dashboard. It was unhealthy and I knew that it wasn't helping me be a better blogger, so I just stopped looking. I focused on writing, being sincere, and creating content I was proud of. People took notice and comments started coming, friendships formed, and new opportunities were presented to me. A community was forming, forming without me even keeping track of page views and visits (all that stuff is so confusing to me anyway). To me, the "success"of posts is now measured in comments. I am still giddy with excitement whenever I get a new comment on a post because it is an opportunity to build friendships and expand this community!

+ Proofread, proofread, proofread.
We all make mistakes here and there, but some writers continuously make errors that become down right annoying or distracting. It is truly one of my pet peeves! Please take the time to proofread and edit your writing so that you can share your very best! It really will only make you better in the long run.

+ Set goals.
Setting goals in all areas of life is the best way to ensure that you are moving forward with what you want. Blogging is something that I feel especially needs goals! Whether you make weekly, monthly, or yearly goals (or all of the above!), it is a great way to motivate yourself to keep growing and learning. Plus, it always feels great to know that you have accomplished something you want!

+ Reply to comments (& return the love back!)
Remember all that talk about building a community? This is how you do it. Reply to comments that others sweetly take the time to leave on your posts, show them that they are heard and cared for. Then, do your best to visit the blogs of those who have reached out to you, especially if you notice particular people continuously commenting. Boom. A friendship is now made, a friendship that holds endless possibilities! Also, honestly, if you are a smaller blog and people leave comments, but you never reply to any of them, it makes you look bad/snobbish/insincere. We don't want any of that!

+ Utilize a monthly editorial calendar.
This is something that has overall dramatically improved my blogging! I use a small, paperback monthly calendar that I got from Sugar Paper's line for Target at the beginning of the year, and simply put, I love it. It helps me to plan ahead, set monthly blogging goals, make notes, keep track of post ideas, and record social media stats from each month so that I can clearly see my growth. I highly recommend doing something similar for yourself to make things easier and also help keep yourself on track for meeting your goals!

+ Do your best not to compare yourself to other bloggers.
I'm not gonna lie, this can be tough to do, especially when you are just starting out. Blogging is hard and it is even harder to look all around Blogland and see others who already seem so "successful" or "put together." It is difficult to have confidence when you see all that! But, if you are going to give this blogging thing your all, you have to focus only on yourself and do your best to encourage others!

+ Don't let blogging get in the way of living your real life.
Sometimes a day or two (or three) will go by and you have not put any blog posts together. That's okay. You are out living your real life, one that doesn't always need to be narrated online. Readers get it. If you aren't feeling inspired or don't have the time to write a post, don't worry. We would all much rather you come back when you have something you can say wholeheartedly instead of just a slopped together post for the sake of having a post. Go live your life, guilt free! This is, after all, just the internet.

And there you have it! I often still think of myself as a beginning blogger since I know that I have so much more to learn, but I think I have experienced enough to share a bit of what I have learned (mostly through trial & error). I hope that this was helpful to all of you in someway!

What do you think of this advice? Do you agree? What would you add?

Also, thank you to those of you who come back to my blog time and time again! It really means the world to me! :)


47 comments:

Jess said...

I couldn't agree more with what you've shared. I've been blogging for almost 3 years now and I can't tell you how each thing you've mentioned has been something I focused on or worried about. If you stick to the advice you've shared, you'll be a fabulous blogger than folks love to read.

Jess said...

thank you so much for the tips! i only just recently became more serious about blogging so i always love hearing advice like this!

Jess said...

These are great tips! I'm pinning.

Jess said...

Yes, I actually paid for a graphic designer to design my blog layout before I even had a blog, so from day 1 I had a more streamlined design from the get go. I totally love commenting and connecting to other bloggers. Thats actually why I use disqus, I think it really helps to have conversations and interact.

Jess said...

Great advice!

Jess said...

Community and not numbers. Don't get sucked into the numbers game. Once you do that it's no longer fun and will turn into something bad. That's probably my thing I need to remember most! That and continuing to find the balance of posting what I love/vs what the readers love.

Jess said...

Love these tips! Especially about the not worrying about the numbers and focusing on the community.

Jess said...

I'm so with you on clean designs. What hooks me first when I go to a new blog is their design. If it's all over the place or unorganized, it's harder for me to want to read it.

Jess said...

I am a new blogger. It will be one year in September and I have come a long way, I think, but I would love if you would stop by and give me your opinion and advice. I am trying to figure out a new way to post my recipes on my recipe page. My friend, Amy, who is a member of SRC has sent me info on how to do this but I am not very computer literate. I am happy that she is going to be in town soon and I can ask her to show me...I am a visual learner.

Jess said...

I love these tips! I'm still working on the whole planning ahead thing. I'll do great one month and then terrible the next. I'm going to pin this!

Jess said...

Great advice! A lot of people try to start a blog or maintain one and just burn out trying to feed content into it. If you go by the motto: Life first, blog second. It's usually easier to manage.

Jess said...

This is great Jess,
I wish that I would have read something like this when I was just starting out a year ago.
It would have really pushed me - and made me feel a lot more confident.

Jess said...

This are so great! Especially focusing on community and not numbers and not comparing yourself to others. The more I tend to forget how many page views I get and start to really connect with those people who are reading consistently, the more I feel like my writing has purpose! Thank you for the reminder!

Jess said...

Great tips! I love the tip about being genuine.

Jess said...

These are great tips!

Jess said...

Good tips!

Jess said...

Thank you for the great info!

Jess said...

Replying and writing comments is the best tip in my opinion!

Chloe | Wanderlust in the Midwest

Jess said...

Great, sagacious advice!

Jess said...

Yeah, community is important! Tough to remember that sometimes.

Jess said...

Me too! I feel so awful to admit that I sometimes will leave a blog simply because it looks sloppy.

Jess said...

Thank you! So true. I think that quote really works here! Good to remember.

Jess said...

Haha yes always good to feel that way :)

Jess said...

Thanks Tanya!

Jess said...

That was a good move! It is really daunting to start a blog because there is just so much to figure out. I spent so much time figuring out the design before I even got to start writing posts. Yes, I totally agree about disqus! It is amazing.

Jess said...

I'm glad you like them! Thanks for pinning!

Jess said...

Yeah, it is always good to get advice no matter where you are in your blogging journey! Glad you like these :)

Jess said...

Thank you so much Stephanie! Your comment was so sweet. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has dealt with these things!

Jess said...

So true! Difficult to remember at times, but it really helps. Yes, also a good point about balance in posts!

Jess said...

You're welcome Annie! I'm glad it resonated with you :)

Jess said...

Thanks Britt! Well, at least you have it now! haha. I do think your blog is great though :)

Jess said...

Interesting! I care much more about Bloglovin' than I do the blogger dashboard. I guess to me, followers are an indication of community, which as you can tell I am a big fan of!

Jess said...

That definitely seems to be the case for many people! It can be hard to ignore numbers, but in the end it is worth it. I'm so glad you enjoyed these tips :)

Jess said...

Great, I'm glad you like them! Yes, planning ahead can be tough at times. I find that some months are better for me than others as well. It's about balance I guess!

Jess said...

Thanks Amber!

Jess said...

Thank you Dorothy!

Jess said...

You're quite welcome! :)

Jess said...

Yes, that is definitely important in my opinion!

Jess said...

Very true. I love that motto!

Jess said...

Thanks Karen! Being genuine is definitely one of the most important tips :)

Jess said...

You're welcome Jodi! Thanks for stopping by :)

Jess said...

Yes, I can definitely stop by your blog, Wendy! I don't really have much experience posting recipes, but hopefully your friend Amy will be able to help :) Congratulations for sticking with blogging for nearly a year so far!

Jess said...

Thank you Camilla! Also, thanks for stopping by :)

Jess said...

Yeah Im really bad at like html coding or whatever its called lol! So I figured Id never get it to look how I wanted. Honestly I found someone on etsy who was able to make my layout for a fair price. I didnt get an expensive package or graphic designer since I was just starting out but I think it was a good move to have someone else make it regardless.

Jess said...

Great advice! I am so proud of you and this space you created! I can totally understand what it is like to be growing a blog from scratch! You are doing great!

Jess said...

Thanks Jess, for all your sage advice. To be honest this blogging thing scared the bejesus out of me. I didn't know where to start, what to say, or what to do to begin. I read so many blogs and I always wondered how y'all started. What was your first blog? Were you scared? How did you do it? You have really made it seems easy. I don't know anything about SEOs and when I go on Google, it's all technical so I've given up before I've even begun. Thank you so much for not making me feel like a total idiot.

Jess said...

Love the advice! As a teacher blogger, but in a different way, I think I was SUPER scared and more critical of myself. All of your tips are amazing and I wish I would have read this before I started...good stuff!

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