I started blogging way back in ye ol’ 2010, before there were countless resources for education, before we really knew what a “good” blog looked like. Bloggers back then were flying by the seat of our pants, throwing things at the wall to see what would stick. There was a lot of trial & error, and a lot of self-teaching.
If you were to start a blog today, however, the story is a lot different. There is SO MUCH CONTENT out there that tells you “how to start a blog” or “how to build a successful blog”, and to be honest, it’s overwhelming. How do you know what to focus on right now? If you were to ask for my advice, these are the 8 Things New Bloggers Should Focus On in order to set themselves up for success.
8 THINGS NEW BLOGGERS SHOULD FOCUS ON
Blogging can be so much fun, but can also be very stressful. You have to love it, or you’ll fold under pressure. It’s easy to find resources to help you start & grow your blog, but the struggle comes when trying to determine which of those resources to use first.
If you’re a new blogger, or a blogger trying to turn your hobby into an income-generator, these are the things I think you should focus on right now.
#1 – Use an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is how to plan your blog posts, and every other piece of content you create, including social media & email content. Once you find an editorial calendar that works for you, use it.
Determine your posting schedule, then plan your posts ahead of time so you never feel behind in your posting schedule. I personally use a spreadsheet in Google Drive that has dozens of tabs on it to track everything going on with my business.
#2 – Learn Basic HTML
HTML is the coding that makes your blog look & function properly. It can seem daunting, I’ll admit, but it’s important to take the time to learn the basics.
For example, you should be able to add a linked image to your sidebar without a plugin, or how to create columns within a page or post, or how to embed code for various things like an email signup form. It’s also good to have enough HTML knowledge to know what you’re looking at when you look at a bunch of code.
#3 – Use Affiliate Links
Affiliate links aren’t reserved only for “bigger” bloggers, they’re for everyone, so use them. The best place to begin is by signing up as an Amazon affiliate, then incorporating those affiliate links into your posts. Every time someone purchases a product or service using your affiliate link, you earn a little piece of the pie.
Depending on your niche, there are other affiliate partners you can work with, as well as being an affiliate for individual products and services you use, like ConvertKit and Restored316 Designs. (Those are both my own affiliate links, by the way. And this is what you call a “disclosure”, which is also important when using affiliate links.)
#4 – Understand Basic SEO
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the difference between being found by new readers, or having only your mom read your blog. Keywords are like gold when used properly when it comes to improving your SEO.
Learn how to research effective keywords, write better headlines (I recommend CoSchedule’s headline analyzer), and where to use those keywords within your blog posts and pages. FREE TIP: Your image names should include your main keyword or keyword phrase BEFORE being uploaded to your blog’s media library.
#5 – Learn How to Use Pinterest Effectively
Oh, Pinterest, how I love thee. Let me count the ways… Pinterest is the second most popular search engine behind Google, which means it’s not just a place for you to pin pretty pictures – it’s a place for you & your blog to be discovered by its millions of users.
There is definitely a strategy to using Pinterest effectively, including having boards that fully represent your brand, using keywords (yes, SEO effects Pinterest) in your pin descriptions and board descriptions, etc. The first place to start? Make sure your Pinterest account is set up as a business account so you get all those juicy analytics.
#6 – Schedule Social Media
Social media is the tool that every blogger loves to hate – a necessary evil. You can alleviate a lot of the stress of social media by doing two things: (1) creating a strategy and (2) using scheduling tools.
I’ve been using Buffer for years, and love the $10/month Awesome plan. I also recently started using CoSchedule (<<affiliate link) and love that, too. I use Buffer to schedule Twitter & Instagram, and CoSchedule to help me manage my team of contributors on Sweet Tea & Saving Grace, and schedule recurring prompts to all of my Facebook groups. My VA now spends about 15 minutes each week on my social media, rather than 4 hours, which saves her time, and saves me money.
#7 – Improve Photography
Good photography speaks volumes for your blog before a reader even has the opportunity to read a single word, which makes photography worth investing in. If you’re like me, and write posts that are more educational, you might want to invest in high-quality stock photos. (I use & love Haute Chocolate << affiliate link.)
If you take photos of food, DIY projects, fashion, or anything else for your blog posts, spend time becoming very familiar with your camera, and spend time doing some post-processing. I recently shared my love of Lightroom for post-processing when I take photos of my projects for Sweet Tea & Saving Grace. It’s made a huge difference in my workflow and in the quality of my photos.
#8 – Start & Grow An Email List from Day 1
You didn’t think I’d get through a list of things bloggers should focus on and leave off email marketing, did you?
Let me make this really easy: If you have a blog, you need an email list. Period. Done. End of story. You need to start collecting email addresses from your readers immediately, and send newsletters, even if your mom is your only subscriber.
If you have an email list, you need to focus on growth, and content upgrades are your friend for strategic growth. Lucky for you, I have tons of resources for you.
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