I’ve been asked to share some tips on blogging and growing your blog. Of course you could ask any blogger this, and they will probably have different viewpoints and angles and tips.
 
These, however, are mine.

So you’ve set up your blog and made it look pretty. Now what? 

The New Blogger:

Post. It’s that simple. If you cake the commitment to start a blog, then keep at it.

Once you start your blog, if you don’t post consistently, you will not garner a following. Simple as that. If you’re only going to post once a month or even once a week, don’t waste your time. 
 
Another vitally important thing you can do as a newish blogger is to mingle and socialize. Which can mean join blog parties. Or sharing on social media.

Please don’t add a list a mile long of blog parties you’re linking to for one post. It just looks tacky. Join up to three. That’s my limit. That way you have time to go visit other linked blogs.

What Do Readers Want?

Readers want consistency. You are like a column or a magazine or a TV show. They want to know when to expect you, and you’d be smart to show up.

I blog every single day. That is of course not mandatory. But it keeps you up in the Google rankings. And the more you post, the more opportunities you have to gain readers. 

Write well. By this I mean take note of spelling and make your blog look professional by showing that you care what you put out there.

Font Advice:

Skip the fancy script-y fonts for your content. You want your content to be as readable as possible. Take the lead of newspapers and magazines.

Skip the tiny fonts. Skip the light-colored fonts. And skip the black backgrounds. If you want my advice, use black text on a white background. 

If you love fancy fonts, save them for post titles or graphics or your blog title.

Should You Date Your Post?

I advise putting the date on your post. This sounds so easy. But the trend now is to not put the date on your post. What this says to me is: “I could have written this post last month, and you won’t know it.”

What do I do when I see posts without dates? I skip them altogether. 

If you can’t be transparent about when you are posting, then I’m not going to be a reader. Newspapers use dates, magazines use dates. Professionals use dates.

Navigation:

Make sure your blog is easy to navigate. It is these blogs that will have the most visits and gain the most readers.

Make sure the template you use is mobile friendly as well.

Writing:

Write from your heart. I don’t mean tell all your secrets, although you can of course tell as much as you please.

Write as if you’re talking to someone. As with everything else, the more you write, the better writer you become.

You can write in narrative, story form, tutorial-form. There are tons of ways to get your point across.

Photography:

Learn to take good photos. In fact, keep learning until you can take GREAT photos. Photos are super important. Crisp, clear photos. 

If you want to learn the manual settings, go right ahead. I choose to take photos the simple way, on automatic. But no flash. NO FLASH.

Photo Editing:

You can take your photos to Picmonkey and correct them. Make them lighter, brighter, sharper.

Picmonkey is my go-to place for editing photos and creating designs. I pay for the premium version to get all the bells and whistles.

What Not To Do:

DO NOT EVER start a post with something like: “I know I haven’t posted in awhile…” The death knell sounds.

I know from that one sentence that you aren’t really a serious blogger. And if you’re not serious about your blog, why should I make it a priority to read it? 

There are instances of course when there has been an illness which would explain your absence.

Casual Bloggers:

If you only casually blog and never plan to try and make money from it, then you set your own rules. You may want to eventually make money, so it’s important that you you consistently post.

If you find you’re not comfortable with the whole world reading, you can easily make it a private blog and invite only the readers you choose. 

Social Media:

There is lots of controversy when it comes to social media. I focus primarily on Pinterest. Pinterest is usually my second biggest referrer.

I blog because I love blogging and I need to support myself. Social media is secondary for me.

I’m not saying it won’t move mountains for you. But it’s a LOT of work. And subsequently, it can become overwhelming and cause burnout.

Many go to Facebook and try to direct readers over to their blog. Why not focus on great blog posts and grow them organically? Which means to gain growth from the original source.

Final Thoughts:

Here is a simple breakdown of things I find important to do as a blogger:

  • Post consistently. If that’s three days a week, then that’s when your readers will expect you. Show up.
  • Put your blog URL on all your email communications. Have business cards made and hand them out to get the word out about your blog.
  • Be available to your readers and other bloggers. If they ask you a question, don’t let it sit in your inbox a week before you answer. Manners, manners, manners.
  • Make sure your blog is designed well, is clear and concise when it comes to wording, and is easy for everyone to read. This doesn’t mean you have to hire a designer and pay big bucks. Simple is often quite beautiful. And easy on the eye.
  • Learn how to take great photos. Practice inside, outside. The more you practice, as with anything, the better you will be. Do not post fuzzy out-of-focus photos.
  • Comment, comment, comment on other blogs that you like to read. Comment on blogs in your particular genre.
  • Leave religion and politics off the table. You can cause a war in a short amount of time. 
  • Write as much about yourself as you’re comfortable with. Readers want to know you. But it is up to you at what point you draw the line. 
  • Be yourself. That’s what will make your blog stand out from the rest. There is no one like you who has your unique personality, sense of humor and style.

Blogging can be a lot of fun. You can get serious about it and make money. I have fun blogging as well as make money. It doesn’t get any better than that!

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74 Comments

  1. Thanks for this. It confirmed some things that I thought but no one was saying. When so many were moving over to WordPress, I thought I was one of the few enjoying blogger. It's hard consistently posting after almost three years but I still love it.

  2. Perfect advice for me from start to finish…. I think every new blogger wants to grow their audience but struggles to figure out how. I remind myself all the time why I do this….Not the numbers but the creating and sharing….Have the best day!

  3. I always appreciate your straight forward information. I truly enjoyed this post. I took dates off of my blog a few months ago on the advice of another blogger (not in my genre). I am glad to know that it bugs. Will change. Awesome advice….little pro!

    1. I just don't get this new trend with dropping dates. Sometimes Blogger somehow inadvertently leaves a date off a post of mine, and I have no idea how to put it back on a published post. But dates are important to me.

  4. Brenda, I am looking forward to your writing course, as I have always enjoyed writing. This was an exceptionally informative blog post that gave a lot to think about. Thank you for all the time you put in on it. Good luck with your CAT scan and future ankle victory.
    Sandra

  5. Wonderful tips Brenda! You've made some wonderful points, and a know I need to get better at some of these things. I have concentrated alot on my photos of late to the point that I am liking how they are turned out almost all the time. yippeee! Guess I can move on to other area's of improvement.

  6. Brenda…this is excellent. I have always wondered why bloggers have a list of parties a mile long that they are linking to. Back in the day you joined parties and then you spent some time visiting the other gals that joined. I met a lot of bloggers that way, many that follow me now and vice verse. If I know I'm going to be busy and won't find extra time, I don't join the parties. Simple. Another way to meet new bloggers is if a comment on a blog you're visiting catches your eye…something the person said or perhaps the name of their blog intrigues you, I go visit and we usually end up following each other.

    I tell myself to blog more often and I certainly have enough content in one post to spread over three!! My only issue with that is for the followers that may only get a change to blog once or twice a week. They will miss some of my posts, thus, less comments. The longer I have a post up, the more comments I get and they are SO important to me. What are your thoughts on that?

    Jane xx

    1. Well, it depends on how your Followers read your blog. If they get it via email, they will get all of your posts. Or Bloglovin or Feedly. Comments aren't that important to me. I have lots of readers that never leave a comment, and I have told them, when given the chance, to not feel compelled to comment. That they are reading is good enough for me.

  7. Thanks Brenda. Being a new blogger this was so helpful!!! You made many important points that rang true to me. I sometimes stare at my page wondering what to write. Writing like you are talking to a friend is simple, but powerful. I am not a great writer and struggle sometimes but using that technique will be helpful. I follow your blog and many others, I just fell in love with the blogging community and wanted to be a part of it. I do have to comment more, I have realized that. I guess I second guess myself if my opinion really matters. But I know I love when someone comments on my post, so maybe I should think that person feels the same way. Thanks again for your help. I love your blog and how real you are. I am a closed person, I don't really discuss what is really going on inside of me. I know I don't have to blog about my secrets, but I strive to be more open everyday. Showing my goofy and silly side.
    On another note, I hope the CAT scan is easily read by your doctor. I hope you don't have to go through another surgery, if you do I will certainly send you my prayers. Luanne

    1. Well, I have found several new bloggers by writing this, and that means I have more new bloggers for Welcome Wagon, which makes me a happy camper! Even though I only do it once a month now due to time constraints, etc., it is still my baby. Welcome Wagon is 5 years old this month.

      I think I will be teaching a writing course. I can't teach you how to be a writer. But I can teach you how to let go of the things that hamper you from better writing. It is mind over matter. People make it harder than it really is. I find that reading helps me be a better writer, for one thing. And I live in silence a lot. I don't have a TV on all day, or any of the day. Too much going on intrudes on my creative thinking patterns. Silence is a wonderful learning tool.

  8. Thank you thank you! I'm so glad to get tips from a successful blogger who is not touting every single social media vehicle to try and be successful!! I simply don't have time to be on all that social media as I would rather spend the time crafting, blogging, and I do Pinterest as well mainly for inspiration. I love all your tips and needed this blogging pep talk! Another blogger is always touting WordPress–but I just couldn't see the benefits. I'm perfectly happy with blogger. I just need to join a couple more linky parties and comment more on fellow crafters' blogs. Thank you!! Sandy Leigh

    1. If you ever have questions, email me and I'd be happy to try and help. I am a long-term blogger, but didn't write this because I feel "successful." I find success to be what makes you happy. And blogging makes me happy. It does not pay all the bills, but that is not why I started it years ago in the first place. I don't know how these bloggers do so many projects, be on social media daily, blog and have a life. You would have to be a robot, I would think.

  9. I agree with your suggestions. There is an issue I have with blog parties. Yes, they are indeed a great way to boast your readership. Yes there is a certain etiquette associated with these parties. While I think it is always polite to leave a comment thanking the hostess for the party, there are a few hostesses who never, ever return the visit. I feel like the party is a two way street. Yes, the party goer gets more blog exposure, but the party giver does as well. While I would not expect the party giver of huge parties to visit each and every attendee, it would be nice if they stopped by once and a while. The consistent party joiners is what is driving a good bit of their traffic. Are they expected to behave in a mannerly fashion, or is it only one sided? I am quite sure I am not alone in this thought.

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

    1. No, you are not alone. If I join a party and the host never reciprocates, I will not be joining that party anymore. Same thing with comments. If I comment on a blog more than a few times, and get nothing, I drop them like a hot potato. There are simply too many blogs out there to not be mindful of etiquette, and you should always be mindful of etiquette! I know of one big blogger who said they simply did not have the time anymore to comment. Then she needs to shut her blog down and do something else, in my opinion. Because that is unfair to every reader/blogger that helped her get where she now is. And she did not get there alone.

  10. Great tips, Brenda. Though I agree with Doreen (above) that I really don't care how often bloggers post. I've never paid attention if it's once a week, three times a week, or every day. I prefer quality over quantity, too.

    Another thing that bugs me on some blogs I've seen…photos that are too tiny. I don't want to be pressing my nose to the screen to see the details in the photo or clicking on the photo to enlarge it.

    Re. Photoshop…yes, that program is best left to professional photographers. My son is a professional photographer and that is the program he uses. It's not easy to learn…he started out taking classes in high school (and student-taught them AND also won a state award!) and took more in college. PicMonkey is great and easy to learn for bloggers.

    1. I got Photoshop with my computer, but never found it easy to use. I love Picmonkey, and it's all I need. I agree about the small photos, and I've addressed it many times. I can't use small photos when doing features for my party because the pixels aren't big enough for my sizing. As for quality over quantity, I completely agree. I think one notices it more if they're trying to make an income from blogging, and that was my main point. I should have been clearer.

  11. Thank you so much for this valuable information. I started blogging in August. I don't do social media and I don't want to put my kids all over the internet, so your advice on those two subjects are very helpful. I am still trying to find my niche and I struggle with how much personal stuff to blog about. I am trying to make it in the blogging world, therefore have not told friends about it…I want it to be about my blog and create friendships/followers that way…

    1. I just looked at your blog, but only the first 5-6 posts. I'll go back later when I have more time. You write about the farm, and there are lots of bloggers going the way of sustainable and frugal living and life on the farm. I think that will be one of the next big popular niches. Simple living where less is more.

  12. This is the best blogging advice I've seen yet.

    Bloggers offering tips is sometimes a double edged sword. Not everyone will agree to each technique. It seems WP vs Blogger is one of them. Many WP bloggers always try to convince you to switch. I started with Blogger and have no intention of changing.

    I'm always reading and researching tips; finding many are vague or list a few with a catchy title like "5 Best Tips" or similar. And these posts are from "professional blogging authors". I find it hypocritical when they post blog tips and they don't adhere to their own advice. I end up not following them or even reading any post by them forwarded by another blogger.

    You genuinely expanded tips on many topics. But again, that is how you write; always true to your word. Thank you for this post.

    πŸ™‚

    1. If you can think of any other things I did not cover, please email me. I tried to be thorough, but I realized I was writing a novel after a point, so I stopped. I've thought of many other things since I wrote it, so I will probably be doing a follow up. Glad you enjoyed it and hope it helps in some way. As I've said many times here, it is one blogger's opinion. And it will be controversial with some.

  13. I have a blog Brenda, these tips will be real helpful. I try to join parties, but have a difficult finding them. How do you go about finding the right party? How do you consistently make yourself go to the blog and write?

    1. I have started a Page on my navigation bar under my header on blog parties. Because I needed the room, I simply put "parties." I am trying to find more and more to put there. Every time I come across a new one, I add it. It is displayed by days of the week. Hope it helps. (It sure helps me keep them in mind!)

  14. I am not a blogger, but I love following your blog. Your advice about font style is very good. I have vision issues and your font style and spacing makes it so easy to read. A lot of backround pattern makes it difficult fot me to read. Thank you for keeping yours simple, because I love reading it!

    1. I have actually tried to make the font on this blog theme I'm currently using bigger, and I can't seem to get it there. Hope you can read it. I prefer bigger over smaller. If someone can't read a blog and drifts away, someone has just lost a reader, and that's not what they want.

  15. I agree with MOST of your advice, but not all. As a WP user since day one, nearly 2.5 years, I will freely admit I know nada about code. Admittedly, it would be nice to know but it hasn't held me back.

    Regarding consistency, your blog is the only one that I follow that I 'expect' a post evey day. I don't know how often the other blogs I follow post, and I don't care. I'm not really paying that much attention to it. If they post three times a week, once a week or even less, I don't care and it won't stop me from following them. Why would it? Quality over quantity in my opinion. You said if you post once a month or once a week, don't waste your time. There are some very, VERY successful bloggers that post once a week or less. While I'm not one of them, I will say that since going from 2-3 posts a week to 1 several months ago, my page rank actually went up with almighty Google. Go figure.

    1. There are exceptions to every so-called "rule." I was not really writing for bloggers who actually "began" on WP. I was writing for those who start out on a simple platform and then switch to one that has a steeper learning curve. I should have made that more clear I guess.

      For writers that post once a week or less, they must have a phenomenal following somehow. And they must not depend on the income, unless their numbers are through the stratosphere.

  16. Thank you for the post. I am always looking for ways to freshen up my blog. I am working on finding my niche. Also, need business cards.
    I can not wait to red your next post in this series.

  17. Really great advice Brenda! I'm working on getting more consistent in my blogging. Life changes have made it hard but I love blogging and would miss it! I'll stay on Blogger for sure. I do believe comments are so important when it comes to making connections in blog land!

    1. If you don't depend on the income from blogging, you can blog as much as you want. And since you are an established blogger, it won't mean that much. I was writing that for the newer bloggers who ask me how to gain a following.

    1. Well, take my advice with a grain of salt. Not everyone will agree with me, especially WP users. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm simply trying to explain how to blog without having to pay for it. If you make money, anything you have to pay decreases that. If you're new, WP is fine if you choose to use it, but not necessary. I say not necessary, because you have to pay fees and it's a steeper learning curve.

  18. 8. Leave religion and politics off the table. You can cause a war in a short amount of time.
    OH BULL CRAP : "DEAR LORD PLEASE BLESS BRENDA RIGHT NOW " ::) πŸ™‚

    What a fun post to read / I will have to re-read this one.

    And what a fun one to see when I came over to ask you to please see my email about a post! LOL!

  19. Excellent advice, Brenda. You touched on everything a blogger needs to know. Thank you so much for addressing fonts and font sizes and colors. There are 2-3 blogs I visit every day and while, I love the blog, I have to zoom in to read it because they use tiny, white fonts on a beige background. It's very frustrating for me. Thank you!!!

    1. And when I read a blog with tiny writing or barely there font color, I often email them and ask if they would mind making their font a bit bigger. Some will and some will tell me no.

  20. Build it and they will come. It is just my recommendation to link up to no more than three parties at a time. I see people add a whole slew of them all the time. I just find it tacky. I guess they don't. So take it with a grain of salt. So it may only be tacky to me!

    1. Brenda, I link with two or three blog parties usually if I think the post is appropriate. It doesn't seem to bring that much new traffic but it's fun. πŸ™‚

    2. Well, there are the exceptions to the rule. But I know when I was newish and joining parties and reading other links and commenting on their blogs, they would usually reciprocate, which brought about more traffic.

  21. Hi Brenda – thank you so much for writing this! What helped me the most from this article was the reminder to be consistent in the number of times I post each week and the encouragement to comment more on other blogs. In addition, I hadn't known it was tacky to link to several link parties on one post… your recommendation of only linking to up to three parties per post was helpful to me! I appreciate your willingness to share what you've learned. I hope it comes back to you ten-fold!

  22. Very good advice Brenda, but don't be a Debbie downer on wordpress! I think all have their flaws. You do write from the heart, and your advice to be your own person is so good. But some times that's hard to do. So I found it helpful when you said "write as if you are talking to someone". I will keep that in mind. As far as putting "a mile long list of parties to blog with". I use inlinkz for my parties, and it's too time consuming to change each day, every day. So I have one that list all parties I MIGHT link with. But I don't necessarily party with each of them, just some of them. Just a time saver for me! Can't wait for the next tip! Have a great night!

    1. I just want bloggers to understand what they may be getting into. You started out on WP, so there was no steep learning curve. Also, I believe thinking you need WP to write a blog is like ordering a semi when you only need a dump truck.

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