What I wish I’d known when I started
I’ll admit, I was pretty clueless when I started blogging. I thought that since there were other popular homeschooling blogs out there, all I had to do was talk about homeschooling (even though my kids were barely old enough to even start) and make a few witty remarks and voila, I’d get popular quickly too. Um, nope. Go figure, there’s a lot of work to building a blog!
Here are some of the things that I wish I knew when I first started blogging.
1. SEO basics
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a bit of a scary term. Basically, how well do search engines find and share your site. I knew nothing about any of this when I first started, but it’s important to know the basics if you want your site to be found on search engines.
2. Blog hops
I knew absolutely nothing about blog hops or linkies when I first started blogging. I first saw one on a very popular homeschooling blog and it was a while before I realized that anyone can host a linky! Even little ol’ me. There are lots of linky tools available, both free and by payment.
Personally, I pay for an Inlinkz subscription so that I can have thumbnail images in my linkies. They also offer a free service for text-only linkies (though they do give you a free thumbnail linky to try out!)
Hosting and taking part in blog hops is a great way to grow your online community and make new blogger friends.
3. Linking back to previous posts
It never crossed my mind for the longest time to link back to previous relevant posts when I wrote new content. This is a effective and easy way to guide readers to previous posts you’ve written that are along the same topic they’re reading now but might have missed before.
How do you do this?
If you’re writing a post about say, marriage, you pick a few key words in your post that you add a link in to a post you wrote about marriage a while ago. (Did you notice that in #1 of this post, I linked back to a series of SEO how-to posts that were published last year?)
4. Keep categories to a minimum
When I first started blogging, I tried to use every key word I could think of that might draw in a reader for each post. As a result, I ended up with dozens of categories (or labels, if you’re using blogspot.) Many of these categories only had 1 post assigned to them, and my tag cloud was huge.
Try to only assign categories that you know you’ll use multiple times. It’s much easier for a reader to navigate your blog if they can click one category title that interests them and find several posts about that topic, instead of having to browse through dozens of categories with only 1 or 2 posts assigned to them (which most readers won’t bother doing anyway.)
5. To be myself
Yes, this may seem obvious.
But I admit, I fell into the mindset of “I need to be just like the successful bloggers in order to succeed.” Yes, there are some qualities that the more successful blogs all share, but these are all pretty general things.
They post often, they engage with their readers, they make good use of social networks, and they are passionate about the topics they write about. It took me a while to realize that I can grow my blog just by being me, instead of trying to do what all the “big blogs” are doing.
What tips do you have for new bloggers?