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Blogging Tips for Beginners {If I knew then what I know now . . . }

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posted: 01/29/14

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Blogging Tips for Beginners | Tips, Tricks, Ideas, and Resources | All the things I wish I would have known when I started out.

Blogging Tips | www.wineandglue.com | Tips, Tricks, Ideas, and Resources

Sometimes I wish that my first year (maybe even year and a half . . . ) of blogging didn’t count. Like when people ask me when I started blogging, I would like to say January 2013. It was really November 2011, but I honestly had no idea what I was doing for so long!

So with the help of some other bloggers, I thought I would share with you the things I wish I had known when I started. Each of these points could be their own posts, so this is is along one. Feel free to leave comments asking questions, I will do my best to answer or find an answer

1. Photos Matter!  People are incredibly visual. Why do you think Pinterest is so popular?? I think sometimes that people enjoy just looking at dessert as much as they like eating it. Because of that, taking a good picture, with good staging, good lighting, and a good graphic overlay (done easily with PicMonkey.com), is important. You can throw a single cookie on a huge plate, take a picture with your phone and call it a day, but if you set four of those cookies on a napkin and photograph them in some natural light, they will probably seem much more appealing. A DSLR is expensive, but in the long run will provide you with the best photos. You might want to consider putting money away for it early on. Want a great resource for taking photos? Check out Pinch of Yum’s great tips and tutorials!food_photography

2. Social Media Matters!  I think I waited almost a full year before starting the Wine & Glue FB page. Umm what?? I missed out on tapping into a huge audience and making it really easy for people to follow me. Same thing with Pinterest. I focused on my personal account and didn’t necessarily want it attached to my blog because I didn’t want people to see what I was pinning . . . What??? Yes, I’m sure I would be judged for that pin about getting out pit stains {eye roll}. If blogging is going to be a business for you, make it a business RIGHT AWAY. And even if you don’t think it will be, set up accounts on all the social media outlets with your blog name RIGHT AWAY. They can always be deleted, but they take a long time to grow, so you might as well get a jump on it and let people follow you the way that is easiest for them.

Image Map 

3. Monetize Your Blog ASAP.  I remember I was about eight months into blogging before I even considered putting Google Adsense on my blog. At the time I started thinking about it I had a couple posts about Elliot going up, and I was terrified that people would think I was trying to capitalize on the greatest loss of my life . . . yeah. It’s okay to want to make money blogging. Blogging costs money (ingredients, craft supplies, time, etc.). I know plenty of bloggers who are kicking themselves for not setting up ads earlier because one day they got a SURGE of traffic and if things had been set up sooner they would have made a lot of money. Need tips on how to start making money? My friend Julie just wrote a post about it. Check it out.  {An added note from another blogger:  It’s very normal to earn only pennies a day in the beginning, if that. Don’t get discouraged!}

4. Work Pinterest.  Yeah, I know this is kind of the same as #2, but it deserves it’s own point. In 2013 a little more than HALF of my traffic came from Pinterest. It’s such an easy way to get a post seen by a lot of people. Posts can go crazy on Pinterest and drive a ton of traffic to your blog. My S’mores Fudge post was repined 12,000 times within three days of being posted. That’s insane. The key to Pinterest as a blogger is networking (joining group boards and pinning good content to develop a following) and GREAT VERTICAL photos. I wish I would have started taking vertical photos from the get go. For more Pinterest tips for bloggers check out this post.  And if you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, I’d love to have you!

pinterest_tips_and_tricks

5. Network with other Bloggers!  This blogging thing is not a competition, even though it totally feels like it sometimes. Everyone has something different to offer, there are plenty of readers to go around, and by helping each other we can all grow. {Want to hold hands and sing Kumbaya now?}  I’m totally serious. I wish that I would have started reaching out to and supporting other bloggers from the very beginning. They understand this crazy life, and they are more than happy to help someone else out! My friend Lisa recently referenced an article that suggested that for every post you do, you should comment on five other blogs. Such an easy way to do it! Comment. On. Blogs! Be nice. Don’t leave comments saying, “Come check me out,” because it feels disingenuous. Just be nice. And as my friend Cassie mentioned, don’t be afraid to ask other bloggers questions!

6. Google Matters.

UPDATE AS OF 2017:  There are literally hundreds of great articles out there about SEO and what you should be doing when you publish a post. Read one. Like now.

Ummmm . . . Google kind of runs the internet. So no matter how you feel about that, you might want to jump on board. Get a Google+ account and figure out how to use it. {My friend Jenny has some great tips!}  You also want people to be able to find your posts when they do a search. Before you name a post and give its own URL, you want to consider what people are searching for. Check out Google Trends. (I gave my posts some pretty ridiculous names in the beginning, but those are the URLs now and there’s no changing them.)  Even a small blogger can pull in Google traffic. Look at how my Skylanders Guess Who outranked the version made by the company in this screen shot!

skylanders_guess_who

7. Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Bloggers!  This is a great point that Kelly from Here Comes The Sun reminded me of. It is soooo easy to compare yourself to other bloggers, especially {cough} bigger bloggers. Here’s the thing, so many of the bloggers you are comparing yourself to have been doing it for longer and in blogging, time matters. Or they don’t have three kids at home, and you do! Or they don’t also have a job, and you do! Or they already have a DSLR, and that is totally not in your budget! Or they have a graphic design background, and you don’t! Or their husband is a computer engineer, and your’s isn’t! You get my point, right? There are so many pieces to the puzzle that it just isn’t worth comparing. The only person you can compare yourself to is last month’s you. Or last year’s you. That’s it.

8. Link Parties Are a Beginning Blogger’s Best Friend.

UPDAGE as of 2017:  No one is really using link parties anymore and unfortunately, I stopped hosting mine as well.

It took me sooooooo long to my find my first link party. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, a link party is something a blogger hosts (usually once a week) and other bloggers can add links to their own posts. You can almost think of it as free ad space! My friend, Cathy, grew her blog in leaps and bounds by religiously doing link parties. Her great posts would get noticed by the bigger blogger hosting the party and they would pin it or feature it on their FaceBook pages and it would take off! Want to link up with me? Wake Up Wednesdays starts every Tuesday at 8pm CST.  Want more link parties? My friend Julie has a great list!graphic_wuw_700

9. There is a Tutorial for Everything:  If you aren’t sure how to do something, ask another blogger. They very likely will be happy to help and probably know someone who has written a tutorial about it. Or google it! We like to help each other, so lots of times when we learn something new we write about it!

Okay, if you have made it through this whole post, you get four gold stars and a cupcake! {Cupcake and stars are virtual.}  Here are some other tips that friends mentioned:

Brianne from Cupcakes and Kale Chips:  Figure out how to prevent being hacked before it happens, it can be a huge headache to fix. (This is more of an issue if you are on WordPress.)

Christie from Food Done Light:   Bank up about 10 recipes before you start, because there is so much to learn in the beginning.

Kaylee from Couponing and Cooking:  Build your brand early. That way all your social media can be the same. In other words, all my social media accounts use Wine & Glue and have my logo with the same font/color.

Joan from Chocolate Chocolate & More:  Buy your domain name right away! Don’t wait until you have a post that goes viral, by that time someone else will have bought  www.yourblogname.com and will literally hold it hostage (my words, not Joan’s).

Joan also suggested that you set small goals for yourself in the beginning. Like six posts in a month and sharing something on FB (your content or a link to someone else’s) twice a day.

Stephanie from Binkies and Briefcases:  Copyright your name early and before you pick a name search the government databases and make sure that you aren’t using a name illegally that is already copyrighted (This actually happened to a friend of mine, she got a cease and desist letter from someone famous and had to totally rebrand her blog.)

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Danielle says

    Great post! I’m planning on starting a blog and this answered a lot of my questions ????

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m glad I could help, Danielle!

  2. Amy Thiessen @ These Wild Acres says

    Awesome list! I NEED to get it together with blog parties! :D

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Amy! I should update this post. I don’t actually participate in blog parties anymore, but I think they are still a great starting point for beginning bloggers!

  3. Keli Budnik says

    Great tips! I’m less than 2 months into blogging so I’m still reading beginner tips to make sure I’m not missing anything. Thanks!

  4. Cait says

    Thank you so much for this! It really helps! I’m confused about the link parties though? how exactly do they work?.. oh and another question you might know! I have been having problems pinning my photos. they get pinned but then i click on them and it sends them to my website but says error.. ugh. do you know why it would be doing this and how to help me? Id appreciate your feedback. You are awesome!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Cait! I really need to update this post. Most people aren’t doing link parties anymore :/ And as for your pinning problem, I’m baffled. When you look at the pin does it have the right URL attached to it?

  5. John says

    I love this post. I have recently just started blogging. I feel like I am trying to do too much at the beginning, with no real clue of what I am doing. I am trying to connect with other bloggers as I start building my blog up. Thank you for the helpful tips as I start this venture.

  6. Felicia says

    I definitely have a hard time with not comparing myself to other bloggers. It’s easy to look at the really big blogs and think I’ll never make it that far. You are right that we all have different strengths and challenges, so we just have to do the best we

  7. Bee says

    Thank you for this post. I like that you say do not compare with others.

    I started a blog in Mar 2020 focussing on oral care but I have turned to share my blooging tips and helping beginners blogging with setting up and learning SEO.

    I find Pinterest a lot to learn,esp about designing and scheduling.

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