When I started writing for the web in January 2006, a blog post about blogging tips looked very, very different. Back then, I was a brand new blogger with just a year of experience in dabbling with Blogspot, html and comments. Social media was new enough to ignore (at least for another year or so), my first personal blog was a few months shy of getting its own dedicated domain and the only people I know who blogged were people I connected with online. Needless to say, much has changed in that time.
Over the last decade, it is safe to say that I have learned a lot about blogging. Technical things, mistakes to avoid, the wonders of community… even (painful) lessons on how easy it is to kill a blog. This learning curve is exactly what makes the process so amazing though. It’s also what makes it possible for me to share blogging advice that may be helpful to those who want to prevent making the mistakes that I made.
Blogging Tips: Tools, Mistakes & Other Lessons
Here are some of the most important things that I have learned about blogging over the years:
1. Blogging is a constantly evolving, changing medium. No matter how much you think you know, you will ALWAYS have a lot to learn. I have been working with WordPress blogs since getting my first domain in the middle of 2006, and have always customised and managed my sites. But as new technology, plugins, tools and processes emerge, I am still learning as I go.
2. Security is without a doubt the most important thing ever. My 9 year old work blog and website (this one you’re on right now) got hacked in 2015 – so badly that I had to completely kill it and start over again. My old posts were saved, but my rankings took a serious beating. Now, I use a few different security plugins, including Succuri and BulletProofSecurity.
3. Community, comments and followings require dedication. When I first started blogging, I spent a lot of time building a loyal following. It was awesome; allowing me to make friends, engage and connect. Sadly, after work and a lack of time caused me to retire my personal blogs, that little community died off, too. Now I am slowly building a new community from scratch with Roxb, which will take a long time. It is totally worth the dedication and time, of course. But like anything else in life, the best things take time and effort.
4. You will soon learn which metrics matter the most to your goals. For some, page views are the business. For others, it is users. There are those who count email subscribers and those who count social media followers. Over the years, I have considered all of these metrics. For Roxb, the ones that matter most have included messages sent through my website contact form, direct emails and organic searches via Google. Those are the ones that have almost always converted into valuable leads. The rest are icing on the cake.
5. If you build it, they will (eventually) come. I learned this the first time around, and again after rebuilding this site. As I continue to work on my site, provide new content, make tweaks to improve user experience and work towards rebuilding my community, traffic is slowly starting to pick up again. No, it does not happen overnight. Yes, it is worth continuing to invest in your blog to start seeing results. When you do achieve your growth spurt, it will be through your own hard work and effort… not a short cut or cheat.
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6. Learn from other bloggers, but don’t try and emulate too much. What works for one may totally bomb for another. In fact, what makes someone successful may be exactly what makes them unique – trying to copy that ‘it’ factor might just be the worst thing ever for your blog. There’s a big leap from being inspired to being unoriginal. Being yourself, as cheesy as it sounds, is always the best bet… in life, blogging, business, love and everything else.
7. Don’t get caught up in FOMO, drama and nastiness. Sadly, there is a lot of that around. FOMO (aka Fear Of Missing Out) can make your own blog pale in comparison to that amazing blog you saw on Pinterest. It can also make you doubt your own efforts and lose your originality and spark. Likewise, drama, nastiness, comment bullying and other comparisons should be avoided like the plague as well. Stay kind, stay polite and stay out of catty Twars, social slanders and blog comment bully attacks.
8. Educate yourself about keywords, SEO plugins and other things that help you grow. I’m lucky to have an advantage, being a professional online copywriter by trade, but even if you blog about pink poodles, you too can benefit from a bit of SEO understanding.
9. Blog graphics and/or branding are more important than ever. As WordPress and other platforms continue to evolve, making your blog look pretty has never been easier. With tools such as Pinterest continuing to grow as well, visual marketing is essential. I recently revamped my branding, including blog graphics and design elements, to a look that tied in to who I am and what I love. Before I integrated the lovely vintage botanical elements that I have on the site now, I had generic, dull stock images that I did not love even a little bit. My love for nature and art is now expressed through my site, and now, making blog graphics is a lot simpler as I have a bank of beautiful public domain images that I simply need to update when creating a new post.
10. When all else fails, just keep swimming. Of all the lessons I have learned, the biggest one is that trends will come and go, blogging tips will keep changing and whatever you know now will be redundant in a few years. There is no secret formula to blogging success. You may be able to increase rankings, get more comments, get more followers and thrive online, but you may find that you don’t get any of that… but you still get leads from your blog in ways you had not expected. Or, you may fail. It happens. Whatever the case, the number one thing to do is just keep swimming. Try new things, experiment, and most of all, keep learning as you go!
So, there you have it. These are my own blogging lessons that I have learned over the course of the years. I’m sure I will have even more to add to the list by the time the year is over.
What are YOUR biggest lessons learned from blogging?