A Guide to Blogging
23 June 2013
From a good twitter response, I've decided to write up this blog post from my own experience with the things I've learnt and what mistakes I've made. I've been blogging for 3 years and it has been a rollercoaster. I'm not saying that I'm an established blogger or an expert in this field as I'm always learning and still make new mistakes. There is no right and wrong to this. So this is a guide to blogging and how to get your blog out there from my experience.
Layout is really important. It decides whether the reader stays or goes. A clean, organised design is what you need. Keep it simple and easy on the eye by having a colour scheme and keeping it throughout your blog. Many opt for a coloured background while others opt for an image. I would recommend a background pattern and have it fixed so it won't scroll when you scroll too. It is easy to place everything on the side bar and this can get very cluttered but use that sidebar to post important information like social links, archives, sponsors, followers etc. Anything else, you can make a page for it. Remember you have the footer space to put more widgets. It's all down to personal preference. You want it to show your personality. This is the same with blog banners. If there is too much of something, readers will get distracted away from your post.
Font is important! For the general text, go for a serif e.g. Georgia, Times New Roman etc or a sans serif e.g. Trebuchet MS, Helvetica etc. You content needs to be read easily. With the blog post heading, you can have a different font like a handwriting style. It just needs to be readable.
Natural day light is your best friend. That's where you get the most out of an image. You don't have to have a DSLR camera, a simple digital camera is all you need and even nowadays, a mobile phone does capture good quality photos. A photo cannot be blurry, grainy, pixelated. Try and avoid these at all costs. I use the Samsung MV800 digital camera.
For fashion bloggers, you don't have to be outside in a nice scenery to capture your outfits. There are plenty of established fashion bloggers who uses their wall as their background such as LLYMLRS and milkteef. Many bloggers end up getting their boyfriends, family etc with a degree in photography or something similar to photograph them. I just find it a fuss. A tripod is all you need and this becomes another best friend. Yes which means you'll have to run back and forth with the timer on but you'll have control. Just experiment with different angles, close ups etc.
For beauty bloggers, angles, swatches, close ups are what you need. You want to try and capture the correct colour and getting it close to real life as much as you can. Background wise, it can be on a plain background, or duvet pattern or on your dressing table with other products etc. You have just got to make that product the main focus. If its on your dressing table with other products, when photographing, focus on the product your photographing and the camera will blur out anything that's not within that focus if you have it on the right setting.
I use to use my desk lamp and knew how to set the correct settings on my camera. Some have studio lights but you don't need to splash out on expensive equipment just for blogging. With regards to photo editing, many people don't have Adobe Photoshop, but there are alternatives that are free. Here is a link to some recommendations.
Interact, Engage & Listen
You have got to interact with your readers, make them feel that they're a part of your blog. At the end of your posts, ask them a question that relates to it, like if they have tried this brand before, or ask for their recommendations, what they have bought, what they thought etc. Anything you can think of. It'll have a higher chance of them commenting on your blog answering your question or commenting in general. Reply to the comments especially if they ask you a question. Try and respond within 24 hours of asking as the chances of them coming back in that time frame are high.
If you're indecisive about a design or something, ask for their opinion and listen to them. This can be on your blog or social networks. I was indecisive about my banner the other week and asked my followers on Twitter which one they had preferred and went with it. Don't just talk to readers on your blog, talk to them on your social media accounts. You'll show them that you're friendly and easy to get along with. I have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and I post new blog posts on these. Not all readers have their own blogs and not all users have all the social networks you have. I use to be embarrassed in sharing my blog post on Twitter as I have a lot of friends following me too. I started posting it on Twitter in general maybe half a year ago? I have seen the benefits from people retweeting etc.
Networking is a big part of blogging now as there are millions of blogs, not only from the same country as you but around the world. Make new friends because who knows, some may actually turn out to be a best friend at some point. You could end up meeting up if they live nearby or visiting the area/country or you're visiting somewhere. I have people notice me when I was on holiday in Hong Kong and at university. It did feel strange at first to be honest, but you make friends with them and don't treat it like a celebrity status because it isn't. Far from it. Networking is an advantage and this is how blogs are spread and known. Just don't be up all in one bloggers face all the time and spamming them. They'll find it annoying. Spamming in general can get quite annoying. Please refrain from swearing on Twitter. I am guilty of this especially when I'm angry. Not everyone likes it and can give you a bad image. It's not nice in general.
Good Blog Content
To me, a good blog content has images and related writing. If it's a review, it'll have close ups of the product and the pros and cons of the product from your perspective. At times, especially when I post outfit posts, I don't have much to say on the outfit so I talk about anything interesting or new without blabbering on such as my shop, or a film I've watched, anything that excites me, a fact about you. Anything you can think of and that the readers can get you know you as well. Keep the content concise. Same layout for your blog posts so the readers can remember you. As well as the same style writing and images.
Don't expect everyone to enjoy your blog as it may not be to their taste and don't change just to suit them. It'll throw away your originality and uniqueness. Be yourself. 3 years of blogging with 500+ blog posts and 2000+ followers on my blog, that's quite an acheivement for me.
If you enjoy blogging, readers can see it and it makes your blog content interesting. If you don't and are just in it for the hope of getting freebies and getting known, then stop blogging from here. Some people feel that there is a need to be competitive where there is none at all! Some compete for the number of followers etc. It's ridiculous. When you first start a blog, it can take you a while to get your first follower, but as it gradually increases, it feels nice and you know that there is someone who enjoys it.
If you enjoy it, post often. I've had phases where I wouldn't post for months as I did lack in inspiration and was busy with university. When you start blogging again after a long break, you'll have to build it up again. Took me about a year to properly build up and blog often. This actually was last year. You'll see results from hard work. Don't be offended if you see a follower unfollow you. It's their loss. The number of followers isn't important. It's the actual blog content. Some days you'll have less comments than usual or none, just carry on. Just stick to it and you can see it paying off later one.
If you do make a promise to your readers, keep it and act on it. I had lost a follower because I couldn't keep a promise and she had been waiting over a year for a blog post which I still haven't done. In a way, readers have got to understand that this isn't a career, it's just a hobby and you do have other commitments etc. If it happens, you've got to move on. Learn from it.
Plagiarism is the worst thing! If someone puts in all that effort into one post and you take it and claim it as yours, then you need you to be slapped. If someone did that to you, how would you feel? Even recently, there has been a case where one blogger has plagiarised all the content on her blog from established bloggers and those bloggers have found out. Not naming and shaming this one blogger, but shame on you! You will get caught out even if you think you won't. Use other bloggers as inspiration. If you like their content, maybe just copy and paste a little bit, give credit and link back to their blog.
Giveaway is another great way to get your blog out there. You set your own rules and people spread your blog around. But only do these when you have reached a milestone or something. People see this as an easy way to gain more followers. In my opinion, having giveaways often isn't the way as it'll only attract readers who are only in it for the prize. They could just unfollow you straight away after it ends. They're not loyal. Loyal readers are the ones who actually enjoy your blog but giveaways could also mean that the new readers could become loyal. To me, this one is the easy way out and doesn't show what blogging actually is about.
That's all I can think of at the moment but I will keep updating it if I think of any more. Hope this is helpful. Are there any tips you may have? Or is there something I haven't talked about that you want me to cover?
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