I love blogging, but I also love reading about all of the little things that other bloggers are doing to help when writing their posts, sharing them, etc. One thing I’ve found is that it can sometimes be a little difficult to remember everything, so I’m going to start sharing what I call “Blogging 101” posts.
Please understand, I don’t claim to be an expert on blogging, but I’ve learned a lot from some other bloggers in these past three years and can’t wait to share it with you! I spent my first year of blogging just writing content, pressing publish and then not sharing a thing – I thought I could just write the posts and instantly the people would start flowing in. Oh how wrong I was!
So for today, I’d like to start with one of the most basic parts and fundamental parts of blogging. Writing the blog post.
This list breaks down what I do for every post on my site. If you don’t want to follow each step on the list, that’s fine! I’d recommend trying most of these ideas and then narrowing down what seems to work best for you.
So here are a few tips to help you both before and after you’ve got that post wrote up:
1. Write a captivating title.
A good title isn’t just simply “Ham”, but it’s also not “5 Ingredient, Sweet and Smoky Smothered Ham with a Simple 3 Step Glaze That You’ll Just Love!” It needs to be the right balance of both informative and inciting, but also simple and well thought out. Sound scary and hard to figure out?
Here are the two basic parts to a good, effective title:
– It’s persuasive and makes the reader feel drawn to click.
– It contains key words or phrases (that will also encourage search engines to come to it as well.)
2. Use small paragraphs and bold the important statements
It can be frustrating to you as a blogger, the thought of people not sitting down to throughly read through your entire post, but that’s just the way that a lot of people seem to read today. I’m just as guilty as anyone else – If a post isn’t written in small paragraphs and almost “note-like”, it can be really hard for me to want to continue reading unless it’s extremely captivating!
Another way to catch the attention of “skimmers” is to put key phrases and points in bold print. Make them stand out and catch someone’s attention. If they read a phrase that catches their attention, chances are that they’ll continue reading that paragraph.
3. Use images
Something that can make a blog post hard to read is when there are no pictures to break all of the text up. In a list like this, it might be a bit distracting if there are a bunch of pictures. But in other cases, it can also make a post less enjoyable to try and read through if there aren’t any pictures at all.
I would recommend either taking all of your own pictures or using some free stock photos like you find on StockSnap. Copyright is a huge problem in today’s world and there are a lot of bloggers that have made the mistake of just using whatever image they can grab off of Google. I strongly encourage you to avoid Google images at all costs.
You can click here for one blogger’s story of how this mistake cost her $7,500. She has a great post about it and works to try and educate and help prevent other bloggers from doing the same thing themselves.
4. Link to older posts and/or another blogger’s post.
Linking to your own older blog posts is helpful in two different ways:
– It gives your readers more information on a subject.
– It will keep readers on your site longer if they’re clicking over to read something else about that subject!
Linking to another blogger’s post is also a good way to provide your readers with more information. I’ve been researching if a person needs to contact and ask permission to just add a link to someone else’s post, and what I’ve found is that no, you don’t need permission to simply share a link.
It’s when you start wanting to copy an image, video, or audio that belongs to someone else that you can run into problems if you don’t ask permission first. So it’s good to add links to your own blog posts and even other bloggers’ posts, but be sure you don’t use anyone else’s images, video or audio without their explicit permission.
5. Select categories and tags
Categories are those helpful little lists you’ll find on the sidebar of a lot of blogs. Every time you go to publish a post, you’ll have an option of adding it to a specific category or two. Tags are used when you’re labeling more specific details in your post, instead of just grouping a bunch of posts together in a category.
Some key things I’d like to point out are:
– Make your categories consistent! It can be distracting when a blog has their categories all over the place and not looking very neat or easy to look through. For example, some are capitalized, others are not; some are repetitive and some just don’t belong or fit on the site.
– Second, avoid adding one post to twenty different categories. If it’s BBQ Meatloaf, it’s a main dish. Avoid putting it in the categories main dish, bbq, meat, meatloaf, beef, etc. One is good enough!
– Tags are for labeling specific details about your post (bbq, meat, beef, meatloaf, etc.). Categories are for grouping together posts on a broad topic (main dish, beef dish, etc.) You can use multiple tags, but one just one category!
– Overall, tags and categories each have their own place in the blogging world, we just need to understand where that place is! Categories are helpful when someone is searching for a broad topic that covers multiples posts, tags are used when you’re looking for a very specific detail.
I have a feeling you’re probably laughing at this one.. “Sure, yeah, I proofread. Who doesn’t?” A lot of people actually! No matter how tired I am when I finally complete a blog post, I always make myself go over it again. And trust me, you will too if you’ve ever made a big blunder on your head title. It was embarrassing and yes, I did get comments about it! Or the time just recently when I forgot to add my white sugar in a recipe.. And it was called out.
So just take my word for it and don’t make that mistake of not looking over everything very, very carefully before you post it!
If, however, you don’t like to proofread or don’t feel very good at it, please feel free to shoot me an email and I can give you my rates for proofreading/editing. (Even though I made a couple of mistakes, I’ve learned from them and will be sure to go over your post many times!)
7. Share on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus
I spent the first year of blogging writing posts and waiting for the readers to come gushing in. The only problem was that my readers didn’t know I even existed since they couldn’t find me! Since then I’ve learned so much from other bloggers about the importance of sharing our content on the social media streams, and here are a few of the tips I’ve snagged these past couple of years:
– Starting with Facebook, most of my traffic used to come from only Facebook and Pinterest (now I’m working on other social media streams, so I have a bit more of a diverse audience) and I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a Facebook page. It doesn’t matter if you’re a business, an individual that just enjoys sharing things, or if you’re a full time blogger. When people find something they like, they look for it on social media so that they can follow it and learn more. Having a Facebook page where people can come and “like” what you share is key when trying to connect with your readers.
– Facebook groups are another great way to interact with other bloggers and readers. You can join them to jump into the discussion, share your posts, or find new inspiration by just seeing all of the other things shared in the group.
– Twitter is a whole other story! I’m still learning my way around it, but some of the main things I do to interact with others on there are:
– Follow lots of other bloggers or people that have something in common with what I share.
– Tag other people in something that interests them or maybe to thank them when they follow me.
– Twitter chats – This idea is one that I’m planning to implement within the next week, but haven’t found the time just yet! These are “chats” where people use a hashtag on every post that they want shared to the hashtag’s stream. There’s usually someone leading up the whole chat and asking the questions. You can find a huge list of Twitter chats and when they’re going on here.
– The last place I wanted to point out to share on is Google Plus. I’m not all together too familiar with Google Plus yet, but am slowly working my way around. To get started, I recommend joining some of the groups in there to share into them, and then commenting and liking on other posts. Also, start working on your GP profile. Sharing content, liking, following, etc. Treat it just as serious as you would your FB page!
8. Make a “Pin-worthy” image and Pin it! (And then re-pin it.)
Pinterest is becoming one of the biggest drivers of traffic these days. It’s not only popular with bloggers, but readers are also in love with it and it’s “visual aspect”.
Some of the things that I do for each post that I share on Pinterest are:
– First, create a “Pin-worthy” image. I use PicMonkey when creating all of my images or adding fonts for everything from my blog headers to my Pinterest images. While there is a royal feature (you pay for it) where you can create “Pinterest” collages, I’ve found that they don’t seem to work very well. Instead, I use the “Facebook cover” option and rotate it to stand vertical. This works so much better when I’m pinning on Pinterest!
– I pin my pins first to my “From Prairie Gal Cookin” board. This is the first board you will find when you view the PGC Pinterest profile and probably the most important. If you’re a blogger, a personal Pinterest board with only your own site’s pins is something you really ought to have.
– I also make sure to add my url to the pin and create a clear description as well. Sometimes I will also add a couple of hashtags to my description, but one thing I’ve been reading is that when you add a hashtag, it can take readers away from your pin if they click it. Instead, they’ll go view a bunch of other pins vs staying on yours. I’ve also read that Pinterest will dock your pin if there are too many hashtags in it, so be sure not to use dozens and dozens!
– I’m also always on the lookout for any new and interesting group boards! This is a great way to gain a new audience and promote your pins, as well as to interact with other pinners. After you’ve pinned to your main, personal board that we just talked about, be sure to pin that pin to several other group boards. This will also make your “repin” count go up as well for that pin.
– One thing that I’m always making comment of is that the more you give, the more you’ll get. Don’t only pin your own pins, but pin a lot of other people’s as well! Comment on pins, follow other people/boards and just try to be active all around.
– The last thing I make sure to do is to repin my pins after a couple of months. Some people say you should wait longer, some say you should do it sooner. I don’t really have a set time-frame (I try not to make things too complicated!), but I do it roughly every few months for certain pins.
9. Respond to Comments
For me, this was still up in the air a while back, but then I started reading more about it and decided it was something I needed to start doing! Responding to each comment makes your readers feel like you care about them and what they say, and also helps you to connect on a more personal, friendly level.
10. Optimize for search engines (SEO)
This is something that I still don’t understand all of the way, but I found this great plugin that Michael Hyatt recommended and it has really helped me with my SEO. It’s called All In One SEO. If you don’t understand search engine optimization (even though we need to!) but can fill in a few blank boxes with keywords and a description, this is the plugin for you! I just started using it a few weeks ago and my traffic from search engines has already really picked up.
Hopefully some of what I’ve shared today has been helpful to you and please feel free to drop a comment below to let me know what you think of the list. What you would or wouldn’t add to it, what has helped you, and any results you find after implementing some of these ideas!
Lastly, if you’d like to follow Prairie Gal Cookin’ on any of our social media, please do so! We’ll be dropping some more great step-by-step recipes and blogging tips your way soon!