I had my new column all ready to go for today, but I just realized I never wished myself a HAPPY 1ST BLOG-O-VERSARY! This past Monday marked my first year for starting Shop Sweet Things, and sometimes I still wonder if I’ve started blogging a tad too late. I’ve came across many successful bloggers who started a few years ago, and it makes me wonder, geez, am I going to catch up? Is there still a chance for me?
The truth is, there is. But it’s HARD work! And it was when I was doing a guest post on my “Greatest 2011 Accomplishment & 2012 Aspiration” that made me reflect on what worked for me this past year. So today, I wanted to take a detour and share with you my Top 10 Tips as a first year blogger (sit back, it’s going to be a long post):
1. BE CONSISTENT WITH CREATING CONTENT. I post daily from Monday to Friday. Even on the days when I don’t have anything to say, I would find an image that speaks to me and write a sentence or two about it. Getting myself disciplined to posting regularly was really the key that got myself serious about blogging. And when you are serious, people will take you seriously too.
2. TAKE TIME TO STUDY, NOT COPY. In the beginning, I took a lot of time to study many blogs and websites to see how people created original content. I did not have any editorial/journalism background, so this was an important step for me. I took notes on why certain posts/articles grabbed my attention, while others did not. And I would try to imitate those styles by putting my own spin on it. And after a while, I felt like I was finally getting into the rhythm of generating good content.
3. TAKE A BLOGGING CLASS. Taking Holly Becker’s Blogging Your Way e-course was the best decision I made for blogging. The course greatly reduced my learning curve, and it had put me on a fast track on creating a blog that worked for me. I’m sure there are other amazing courses out there, but this one, I truly recommend! Holly has another course coming up in April, and I am going to sign up again. Trust me, after you take this course, you will think Holly is a saint - especially if you’re new to blogging or looking for ways to improve your blog.
4. HAVE A GOOD BLOG DESIGN. If you’re serious about building your blog, invest in a good design. I looked at over 30 templates before choosing mine, and I’m still constantly making tweaks to get it to the way I like it. I’ve gotten many compliments on my blog design, and even though my content probably sucked in the beginning, it grabbed people’s attention. So, just like everything else, first impression matters!
5. GET PHYSICAL. By that, I mean get your butt out and network! Ultimately, you are your own brand, so get out there and represent yourself. I started by going to blogger meet-ups, fashion events, store openings, store anniversary parties, art shows, book signings, private shopping events, holiday parties…I mean, anything I got invited to, I was there. And it wasn’t because I was a social butterfly, in fact, I find myself socially awkward with a bunch of people I don’t know. But I made it a point to get out of my comfort zone and network. I know it’s not the most comfortable thing to do, but if you want to grow and get people to like you, this is how it’s done. Here are some good reads on How to Schmooze and A Broke-Ass Guide to Doing Your Own PR.
6. GET TO KNOW PR PEOPLE & EDITORS. These are the people who can really get you connected with brands and companies, get you on the list for exclusive events, and even land you on a TV spot! But first and foremost, get to know them, be genuine, and treat them as how you would treat a friend. There are some great people I met in that industry and I kept in touch with them even outside of events.
7. GET SOCIAL. I have to say in my last year’s experience, Twitter has helped me grow my audience a lot more than Facebook. While both tools were effective in growing my readership, Twitter has helped me so much more in terms of developing relationships with readers, peers, and brands. Aside from Twitter and Facebook, I am also on all of these social platforms and I try to stay active as much as I can.
8. DO NOT SUBSCRIBE EVERYTHING TO YOUR GOOGLE READER! This one is pretty straight forward. I made the mistake of subscribing to every blog I liked on my Google reader and all I ended up with was 1000+ posts to read. The result, I ended up not reading any. So, be picky and only subscribes to those you really admire. And plus, when I read too many blogs, I start to compare, I lose focus, and I become unoriginal.
9. GET OBSESSED WITH YOUR STATS. I know, I know, you probably heard other bloggers telling you not to get obsessed with your numbers, and don’t check it every day. But, I think this is easy for bloggers who have been blogging for a while to say. As a beginning blogger, I checked my stats everyday. I was on top of it and it was how I found out instantly if a particular post worked for me? If it sucked? Where my traffic was coming from? What key words worked? It also helped me understand what my readers were looking for and thus defining the direction of my blog – quicker.
10. SUPPORT, NOT COMPETE. As a new blogger, it was hard to understand why I would want to support other bloggers. We’re human, we’re selfish, and we want to keep every readers we have to ourselves. So why send them away to other blogs? I didn’t understand this concept until other bloggers started supporting me and introducing me to their audience. It’s really a technique to help each other grow and to show that you’re embracing this community. So yes, link your love away and introduce your favorite blogger friends to your readers. Trust me, the more you support each other, the more fun you will have!
As I get into my second year of blogging, I still need to hone onto the skills I developed the first year, while trying to learn new ones. My goals this year are to collaborate more with brands/companies, create stronger content, and to connect more with my readers. Your trust and loyalty are what I valued the most this past year, and I hope to continue this wonderful relationship by sharing with you what I love! Thank you all SO MUCH for tuning in to “my longest post” ever! And I promise the next one will be 50 words or less. :)
Hope you enjoyed this post and have a wonderful weekend, everyone! xo Jeanne