Last month, my friend Angelica from Gardening in High Heels got together with two other bloggers and vowed to post every day of May. It didn’t matter if they were feeling inspired that day. It didn’t matter if they were incredibly busy. All that mattered was that they were blogging on purpose. Some of you may have a blog of your own, so you understand that fitting posts into your day when you have work, significant others, traffic, dinner, friends, the gym, etc. to tend to is difficult.
At the end of May, these bloggers looked back on what they had accomplished and found that their blogs and their lives had benefitted from taking on the challenge. They were so thrilled to have gained momentum that they decided that they would create a challenge of their own. And so, #BeABetterBlogger was announced, and I quickly jumped on board.
Each day, I’ll use a prompt from the #BeaBetterBlogger ladies to share my take on the topic. And there is no better time to start than now. Today’s assignment?
Tips to Be a Better Blogger
I like that this doesn’t say, “A good blogger,” or “A great blogger,” because I truly believe that just as everyone has a favorite genre of music, anyone can have their own idea about what it takes to create a great blog.
While the MySpace years were filled with the creation and then deletion of blog after blog for me, I was finally inspired enough to allow one to stick in 2011, when I wanted to chronical my move from college life to big (well, medium) city life. It was called “They Call Me Jess” and you can still find it on the internet, even if you’re not looking very hard. It was the first blog I created a custom header for, and if it had a single purpose, I might be writing from it today. But when I got the idea to create “Signed, Sealed, Posted,” my old blog fell by the wayside, which is eventually what happened to SSP before I got the idea for In Pursuit of Simple in 2014.
My point is that while there are many amazing blogs out there, I know a thing or two about the blogosphere. My tips for those of you just starting out on blog number one?… or three?
1. Write About What You Love
The key to having a blog that stands the test of time is basing it on a theme or topic that you are truly passionate about. Something that you can talk about for hours or the thing that inspires all of your Netflix shows and bookmarked pages. And it can’t be a passing interest, either. While I’m sure many people could have built blogs around Tamagotchis and why freshman year is the BEST YEAR… good luck writing about those topics for a decade.
2. Say No
Once your blog is established, something incredible starts happening. Companies reach out to YOU and ask if they can give you free samples in exchange for coverage on your blog. While it’s tempting to say yes to every opportunity that falls in your lap (or that you earn after 3 months of Twitter stalking your favorite clothing company), you need to think about what fits your blog and your audience. If you have a health blog, you probably shouldn’t accept that lifetime supply of M&Ms, and if you have a blog tailored toward men, a deal with Playtex isn’t going to get you far. If it isn’t a good fit, say no. The right opportunities will come to you in time.
3. Read Before You Write
While I blog for fun, I am a professional writer by day. And as someone who relies on writing to pay her bills, build her wardrobe and fund her Starbucks habit, I can tell you that the first step to being a good writer is to be a good reader.
That is particularly important in the world of blogging, where reading and commenting on the posts of other bloggers is highly encouraged. Seeing what others are doing will inspire you to build the best version of your blog. And luckily, the blogging community is an extremely friendly one.
4. Ask For Help
Speaking of friendly community, it’s incredibly important to ask for help when you need it. I’ve asked for help many times, whether that meant asking someone what plugin they were using for functionality on their blog or asking my graphic design friend to look over my code. I’m also in a mastermind group with three other female bloggers, who I can go to for their opinions on topics, information on local events, or to vent with about blogger burnout.
Forget about diamonds, an editorial calendar is a blogging babe’s best friend. Even if your idea of an editorial calendar is just a list of upcoming blog titles that you hope to bring to life, winging it just won’t cut it. Keep a notebook around you at all times or find a note-keeping app you love. For me, that is a tie between Wunderlist and Keep. Just don’t let those amazing ideas get away from you. You never know when a fleeting thought will turn into a major traffic driver for your blog.
Well, that is all of the sage advice I have for tonight. And the end of my post was perfectly synched with me spilling wine all over myself, so I’m off to resuscitate a sweater. I’ll be coming to you with a new post tomorrow!