Blogging isn’t hard, and once you get the hang of it it can certainly be a treat, but when you first create a blog it can be a little challenging to consistently publish new posts. You may be all excited about your blog, but if you don’t channel that energy into creating posts and interacting with the community, the excitement may soon fade and your blog may end up like one of those abandoned construction projects, a house beautifully envisioned but which, due to the mismanagement of resources, has been abandoned to the whims of the weather.
Don’t get me wrong – WordPress.com offers us one of the easiest ways to create a blog. But after that, after your blog has a name and a theme and the Hello World page greets your eyes, it’s up to you to choose topics, create posts, and find your pace.
In my last post, I wrote about 15 Damn Good Reasons to Blog in 2016. Now I’d like to share with you some blogging tips drawn from my 3+ years experience with WordPres.com. Every now and then I receive messages through the contact form on this blog from bloggers who are new to WordPress.com and ask for advice; I try to help them as best I can, but I realize that a list like the one below can be more useful to them than a few suggestions in an email. Without further ado, here are a few tips which I hope will help you attract new followers and breathe life into your new WordPress.com blog.
Write not just for yourself, but for others, too. While blogging is personal, it is also inherently social, which sets it apart from diary-keeping. We love to hear about your problems, but I can tell you from experience that people will be more attracted to your blog if you address those problems in a constructive, positive way, and share other things, too, such as musings, experiences, and advice, or if you discuss books, films, music, and anything else that’s of interest to you. Leafing through my older posts, I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve bitched about my love problems, health problems, and other things on my blog. People were supportive, and through their comments, they really helped. But I also published a lot of other content on this site, and most of it, I dare say, tries to be useful in some way.
Whatever you blog about, however you do it, be candid and true to yourself. You don’t have to be impartial, not even when you talk about the news, because your blog is not a news channel. Goethe said, “I can promise to be candid, not, however, to be impartial.” That’s so true for bloggers! People in the blogospere are open-minded and can understand anything, even sympathize with you. Whatever dwells within you, whatever wants to come out, your blog helps you express it and, in the process, better understand it yourself.
Read, follow, like, share, and comment on other blogs. Blogging is not a monologue. It’s a conversation. After you write your first posts, you have to encourage people to discover them. Leaving thoughtful comments on blogs similar to your own, or blogs you simply enjoy reading, is the most effective way to do that and gain new followers. You don’t have to drop a link to your blog in your comments – the comment is just enough.
Post at least once or twice a week, preferably on the same days and around the same hours, so you can build a sense of expectancy. Not posting weekly will make it difficult for you to attract readers, at least in the beginning. I would also caution you against posting too much: it can become tiring and may even make your blog feel like an obligation, taking the fun out of it. The crucial thing is to find your own pace.
Create an inviting About page. That’s the page that usually gets the most views on your blog, and where I invariably end up when visiting a new blog I like. You don’t have to write your autobiography on your About page – a few words or sentences and an image are enough. But please don’t leave it blank! It’s easier to connect with a blogger when you know a little about him or her. What about my About page? Do you like it?
Use a real Gravatar. I am camera shy and don’t really like to see my photo on the web, so when I first began blogging I didn’t use a Gravatar. It felt so awkward to see a blank avatar next to my comments though that I eventually added one it has sure helped! A real Gravatar adds a lot of personality to your blog, and makes the author easier to believe. Whether you have a beard or not doesn’t really matter.
Add good, relevant images to your posts. Images help catch the eye in the Reader stream, and besides, they make your blog look good. To find great images, look beyond the first results on Google’s Image Search; try Pinterest, too. And don’t forget to give credit to photographs/paintings/illustrations.
Encourage comments by asking relevant questions at the end of your posts. Again, blogging is not a monologue. Your post expresses your views, but there are people with other views, or who can contribute to the subject by sharing their own experiences and insight. You don’t want all your comments to be like “Great post!” or “Thanks for writing!” but to actually expand and enrich the conversation.
Write engaging titles. Good titles promise something. Take the title of this post, 15 Blogging Tips For Beginners New Bloggers. It’s by no means extraordinary, but it does promise you some useful information. Blog titles that work usually do that, or are beautifully creative or enticing or intriguing.
Insert the Read More tag after your introduction. This hides everything below the tag – the rest of your post essentially – so that people who discover it through the Reader or through an RSS feed app have to click the Read More link and visit your blog to view the full post. More than winning you another blog view, the Read More tag invites readers to discover the rest of your blog.
Link to older posts to remind people about them, like I have done above. You can do it through the little link button in the post editing window. I myself don’t do this nearly as much as I should.
Choose a responsive theme for your blog. A responsive theme adjusts itself depending on the screen size of the device on which it is viewed. It ensures your blog displays well on mobile devices. Many people like to read blogs on their smartphones and tablets, especially when they are on the go. Without a responsive theme, mobile users may not be able to really enjoy your blog.
Go for a theme that suits your primary type of content. The guys at Automattic provide hundreds of themes, some free, others premium. But some themes are better for photography blogs than others, while certain themes are better for writers. If you choose a theme made for photographers for your diary-like blog, you can make it harder for people to find their way around your blog.
Use widgets you need and don’t use widgets you don’t need. Just because WordPress.com offers you a score of widgets doesn’t mean you should put them all on your blog – the less cluttered your theme is, the easier it will be for readers to focus on the content. You’ll find Widgets under the Appearance tab in the Dashboard. They can help you integrate into your blog an Email sign-up form or a Twitter feed, showcase a list of your most viewed posts, and more. As you can see, I’m using on my blog a sidebar with a custom HTML widget that mentions a book I published on Amazon.
Proofread your posts. A few typos and grammatical errors won’t offend anyone, especially if you’re not a native English speaker and blog in English – you’ll find plenty of typos in my own posts… They just sneak in! The fewer errors there are, however, the smoother the reading experience, and the more credible your blog will be.
There you have it, 15 blogging tips. I hope you’ve enjoyed them.
If you are new to blogging… Do you find the tips above useful? Let me know!
If you are a seasoned blogger… Can I ask you a favor? Would you please share a blogging tip with us? New bloggers reading this will thank you!