Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tips for New Bloggers

Ashley from Precious Moments recently nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award with the question, "Why did you start blogging?"  I thought this would be a fun opportunity to answer her question and offer a few tips, which I hope will prove useful to new bloggers.
My blog began as a place where I could voice my opinionated political views. I quickly branched out to include devotionals, book reviews, photography, and posts about interesting experiences and places.  My advice in an early post on my first time welding in 2012 is advice I still give myself and others today: "Don't be afraid to try new things; you may make many mistakes, but never give up!"  

Here are a few pointers I've learned.  I'd appreciate any other useful blogging tips and advice in the comments. 

Content
Your content is most important.  Post often or you'll be forgotten.  Apologies and excuses for not posting do not interest people.  Be persistent and original.  Many people start great blogs but quit.  Never give up if you want to succeed. 
  
Blog Format
1.  Don't complicate your layout with too many colors, designs, or fonts.  Simplicity counts!
2.  Leave my mouse cursor alone!  I like it how it is...not as a puppy or snowflake.
3.  Normally, avoid automatic music.  Let the reader decide whether he/she wants to listen (click play) or not.
4.  Incorporate a read-more break if you write long posts.  Allowing new readers to see many subjects without scrolling too far will multiply their chances of finding something of interest.

Comments + Followers
1.  Turn off word verification for comments.  It is annoying to have to decipher illegible letters and numbers. People come to read your content, not train as spies. Alternatives: turn on moderation or disable anonymous comments.
2.  Use Blogger, not Google+, as your comment platform.  It is more popular and accommodating.
3.  Make sure you're not a no-reply blogger.  Gail recently persuaded me to stop being a no-reply blogger, and I found that many of my comments weren't intentionally ignored after all!
4.  Offer many following options to accommodate readers: Google Friend Connect, email, Bloglovin, Google+, and Networked Blogs.  At the very least, make sure you have GFC.
5.  If someone comments or follows your blog, return the favor!  It takes effort from both sides to create a friendship.
Real Life
Your blog is a reflection of your life.  Use it as an excuse to explore and enjoy life to the fullest.  Keep in touch with the people you meet.  One idea I adopted from Debbie at It's All About Purple is blog business cards.  I can easily give them to the interesting people I write about, so they can read about themselves.

Link-Up!
Link-ups are a great way to meet bloggers.  Best of all, there's a link-up for everyone.  The only two I've participated in are Good Fences, where you can find photos of fences from around the world, and Wild Bird Wednesday. A list of other link-ups is at my Resources page.  Blogging awards and giveaways can also be fun ways to get acquainted.

Find Your Own Blogging Family
If you comment and show interest in the blogs of others, they'll return the favor, right?  Not always.   You need to find your own niche/family of like-minded bloggers.

When I first started, I visited fashion, craft, Christian devotional, Catholic, political, international travel, homeschool, newlywed, family, and student blogs.  I found a few great blogging friends including Paige (fashion), Gabriela (Catholic newlywed), and Cryslyn (devotional/photography), but for the most part I didn't fit in.  Each niche has awesome people, but if you're not one of them, you may be ignored.

Finally I found gold when I ran across the blogs of adventurers, photographers, humorists, and nature lovers who like to see the beauty in everything, however small, just like I do.  They hold a firm but maturely beautiful perspective on life, and have become my "blogging family," always offering encouragement and kind words for which I'm grateful.  

Thanks for the award, Ashley!  Check out Precious Moments to read her cheery Attitude of Gratitude posts! 

All of my dear readers are nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award; feel free to answer here or at your own blog: 
What inspired you to start blogging?
What pointers and tips would you add (or subtract)? 

77 comments:

  1. interesting post. Blogging is a nice experience,..

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  2. excellent pointers on blog logistics, content, socialization, and community. :) i'm glad you branched out into various topics as i typically eschew religious or political blog topics (i get that content from news and other areas) and prefer to keep my blogging about the beauty around me (birds, animals, and, of course, fences!) :) i like the places and people you find to share with us, here!

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    1. Thanks Teresa! I enjoy your posts; you're always discovering something interesting to share with us!

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  3. So glad you branched out with your blog, Bethany. Much like TexwisGirl, I keep my blog about the life around me and the enjoyment I get out of it.

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  4. Congrats on being nominated and I agree with all of your suggestions. I also love the idea of blog business cards, I'll have to look into that.

    For years, I would come across so many great blogs that I admired. One day I thought... why not start my own and that was that... :)

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    1. That's a good reason to start! I'm glad you did! And...if you ever do create your own business cards, I'd love to see them!

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  5. Those are all great ideas, Bethany. I think the best one is that you just need to be yourself and not try to compete with others by becoming something you are not. I have modified my blog quite a bit since I first started but it is always basically the same- you came for me---that's what you get--with a good dose of kids, a recipe or two, and real life- where everything is not always perfect...where cords show behind furniture and there might be a fingerprint on the wall from some errant 2 year old.
    Great post! xo Diana

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    1. Excellent advice, Diana! The special thing about us is that, as an old friend of mine used to say, "We're not all made out of the same cookie-cutter!" God created each one of us differently to be ourselves...and sometimes it can even be the "flaws" that make us beautiful! My family used to collect stamps. We learned that it wasn't the regular/correct 1918 Jenny stamps that were valuable, but the inverted Jenny stamps that were worth about a million apiece! (Too bad we never found any!)

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  6. Great points, especially about automated music! Nothing drives me away from a blog faster than knowing it will wake up my finally-asleep baby. lol.

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    1. That's a good reason to avoid automated music if I ever heard one!

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  7. Excellent post, Bethany!
    Thank you for the pointers, I appreciated them. :)
    Enjoy your week coming up.
    Debbie

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  8. Congratulations on the award! I really liked what you had to say. I especially agree with the automated music and word verification. Both drive me crazy. I really like the idea of blog business cards, and yours are really pretty!

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  9. Lovely post! im going to follow some tips here...thanks friend

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  10. What a fun and interesting post! I should consider participating in this. Great tips for blogging. Most important one for me is to enjoy your blog and the people you circulate with.

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    1. Yes, I think the "enjoyment" factor is one of the things that make it most worthwhile!

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  11. Great post Bethany. I think you pretty well covered the the tips for beginners.

    I agree with you about finding your niche. My first blog was not my current blog and I deleted it. but with my current blog I have found a whole new blog family from around the world and through their photography I can see places through photographs I'll never get to see in real life, plus I can share my own beautiful state with others too.

    Thanks for sharing your great tips.

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    1. I love to see your photos, Felicia! There are so many beautiful scenes to be captured right around us!

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  12. I, also, really enjoy that you have branched out so much, your blog is "versatile" and I really like that!!! your tips for bloggers is excellent, and I think I agreed with every single one of them. as I read, I was nodding my head.

    it was fun to see myself mentioned here!! thanks beth, you have been a wonderful supporter of my blog and I always appreciate your kind comments!!!!

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    1. It's always fun to see the excellent ideas you come up with Debbie!

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  13. Great tips Bethany! I needed reminders about some things that I haven't done in a while/have never done before. :) Also, thanks for mentioning me.

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    1. Thank you for being a great blogging friend, Paige! :)

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  14. This is a great post, Bethany! I fully agree with most of your tips. I have been blogging for more than four years, and during that time I've "met" so many interesting people. The only "difficult" part for me still is the language - as a non-native English speaker I sometimes struggle to find the right words and that makes writing in English not quite as fluent and enjoyable as playing with words in my native language.

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    1. You do a beautiful job with your writing, Carola, even though English is not your native language. I really admire those who put forth the effort to learn another language fluently; it's not easy!

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  15. Super advice here! I wish all bloggers would read it. ;))

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  16. oh wow, blog business cards! what a smart idea. that's really interesting and i love the photo you used for them. actually, this whole post was interesting. i'm always quick to read about tips for new bloggers. even though i've been going for almost a year, i still feel new to this and i love to see others' takes on what's important.

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    1. There's always more to learn! I like to hear what others think of the topic as well.

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  17. Wonderful and interesting post. I agree with your instructions, are precious to me. I really like your blog because your posts are more interesting, but my language is for me an obstacle to good communication.

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    1. Language is an obstacle for me as well, Monika. Since I don't understand Polish, I use Google Translate when I read your blog, which more or less gives me the gist. It is nice that photographs transcend languages...I can see the beauty of your lovely Polish flowers without interpretation!

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  18. Great post! I laughed at the "leave my mouse cursor alone!". Haha! So true. Also, the one about the music. It's quite scary when you click on a blog and the music starts blasting through your speakers. ;-) I tend to follow a lot of blogs where I feel I don't "fit in". But I think that is the beauty of the blogging world. Each blogger brings their own unique perspective on religion, nature, etc. If I would add a tip, I would say - "don't blog for comments". Yes, they are quite nice (and sometimes make your day), but they don't define you or how good/bad your blog is! ;-) Thanks for counting me as your friend, friend!

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    1. True! Good advice Gabriela, and I am blessed to have you as a friend! I do think you are correct that variety adds a good element to the blogging world, but some blogging groups are rather insular to outsiders, and I'd much rather spend time keeping in touch with those who are friendly!

      And...glad to hear I'm not the only one who finds mouse cursor changes annoying!

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  19. I am so very glad that you found me and started a dialogue, Bethany :) I am enjoying getting to know you through your blog, and also getting to see the world around you through your lens and narrative. I appreciate you tips and have personally found many of them true for me as well. I follow several blogs that are business promotional sites, but are simple, not flashy or noisy. Their content and overall peace draws my interest and loyalty [and sometimes my business as well :) ]

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    1. That's interesting, Gracie. I generally do my little online shopping at well-known and customer-friendly sites like Amazon. Flashy and noisy business sites (especially the ones with "Do you really want to leave?" warnings) really turn me off. It's been great getting to know you as well...and seeing photos of the Pacific Northwest!

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  20. These are GREAT tips! I love visiting you and enjoy your writing style and wit. I started my blog to reminisce about my Cajun childhood, but some of it was too personal and painful to write about. A year later I bought my first big girl camera and the blog eventually morphed into a photo blog.

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    1. I'm glad, Gail, because I really enjoy your photos--especially of birds!

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  21. Fantastic pointers, dear Bethany! I laughed about the mouse cursor...how true! :)

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    1. Ha! right. Thank you, dear Linda, for being one of the wonderful bloggers who are kind enough to leave my mouse cursor alone!

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  22. Congratulations on your latest award Bethany! Can I just say I want to give that beautiful palomino horse at the top of your post a BIG hug right now? I enjoy sharing photos of the beauty I find outdoors and seeing others photos of the same, but I also enjoy it when fellow believers share something they are learning in their walk with God.
    Blessings,
    Aimee

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    1. Yes, it's good to hear encouraging messages as well as enjoy the photos! I still the award you gave me in my drafts folder and will get to posting it one of these days! Thank you Aimee!

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  23. My new favorite post of yours, Bethany. These tips are so useful to new bloggers. It took me a while to realize how annoying word verification was to readers. It wasn't until an email from one of my blog readers one day that I realized I needed to remove it. I love how we develop blogging families. By the way, I am thankful to have you as a blogging friend :)

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    1. Same here! It is kind when readers take the time and trouble to point out things we could improve.

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  24. Nice post, Bethany. Congratulations on the award!

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  25. Awesome post! Once again, I am impressed with your integrity and strength in spite of your young age. Your tips are great, and would be so helpful to any new blogger. I have to say, I too have strong patriotic views and I am a proud and happy Christian. I have found, however, that NOTHING with any political bent is ever appreciated on the blogs, and almost as little Christian content. Most bloggers prefer to keep the blogosphere their "happy place." I can agree that it is a wonderful place to escape the trials and turmoils of this life and all that is happening around us....but I have also found that people who totally avoid information regarding what is going on are completely clueless about things that are going to directly affect their lives. They just THINK they get enough information on their nightly news, and they are very wrong. I started a "political" blog separate from my main blog, and please take a look at it to see if we have similar concerns. If you do, you will see that even though I urged everyone to take a look also, I had very few takers, and I finally quit doing the posts. That to me is sad. In the meantime, I keep myself well-informed on issues of concern, post things on Pinterest about such things (as well as a bunch of fun stuff too!) and continue to enjoy the wonderful world of which I am a part, of my blogger friends with their beautiful animal, flower and travel photos, etc. I am glad to have found you....I am proud to know a young woman who is a freedom-loving patriot and Christian who isn't afraid to speak her mind. God bless you!

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    1. You're right, Marie. I don't watch hardly any TV, so not long ago when I was at my grandparents' place and watched the nightly news with them I was shocked at how biased it is. Basically the audience is told what they are "supposed" to hear. Of course, the nightly news isn't the only guilty party. Just about every news source will try to make you believe what they want you to believe. A person has to thoroughly research many sources (and on international topics, many sources/websites from various countries) if they want the whole truth.

      I just took a look at your political blog, and I would guess from it that we do have some of the same concerns. It often takes a strong stomach to read about current politics; I would write about it more if I could find at least a slightly humorous angle on more political topics.

      I'm glad to know you too Marie, and thanks for the encouragement. God bless!

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    2. I'm glad to know you too! Thank you for checking out my other blog, and I'm happy to hear we have some similar concerns. You are so right about the nightly news, yet most people ONLY get their information there. I am a STRONG believer in research! God bless you and your family!

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  26. Great advice! I started blogging because I was isolated in a small mountain town. now. I am so busy I. Hardly have time to post, and feel guilty because I sometimes don't have time to visit other blogs....Janey

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  27. Congratulations! Very handsome horse! Great tips for blogging, I still need to fix how people can follow me, I'm kind of confused with my Google account and blogger. I remember when I didn't linked up it was just my friends that didn't commented and my the cousin that got me into blogging. Linking up is soo good, because there is a common subject, I think. I'm glad you got nominated, you got a really cool blog!

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    1. You do too! I think you are missing the GFC follow button, but writing and photos are interesting enough that I added you to my followed list manually ;)

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  28. Bethany you are genius. Great tips for all of us, not only for new bloggers :)

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    1. Oh wow, Liuba...I wouldn't go that far! Thanks.

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  29. This is an excellent philosophy! Lovely horse, too!

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  30. Hi Bentley,
    Beautiful pictures of the horse.
    Very well photographed.
    I started blogging to my pictures that I make to the world show.
    Good information you give.
    Best regards, Irma

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    1. That's a good reason to start blogging! That horse is at one of my neighbor's farms, and I couldn't resist stopping to take his picture!

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  31. Interesting! I used to do many of the things you suggest, but I quit. Once I decided that I wasn't getting paid, I was fine with it. I had no idea that you were a political blogger. I have a back page for some politics just so I don't explode trying not to talk about what is really on my mind. One point that we disagree on is the "read more" feature. I seldom care about reading more because it makes the page have to reload. When reading as many blogs as I do, that just represents wasted time.

    Your photography is superb!

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    1. You have a point, Vee. I seriously debated the "read more" feature before I added it to my blog because I think it can be annoying for regular visitors who come straight to the blog home page (instead of clicking on the article title from a feed (like I do). However, it is a plus for new visitors (so they can see more)...and regular readers who visit from a feed will never see it.

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  32. This post is excellent! I definitely needed this today! It inspired and encouraged me to keep blogging! And I LOVE you photo of the horse! Ahhhhh, horses are a huge weak point for me! And its true....comments mean a lot! (Something I need to work on.) Thank you for stopping by my blog again! I LOVE getting to know my readers and getting feedback! Have a wonderful day! - Emelie Claire

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    1. Thank you Emelie Claire! Keep up the good posts!

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  33. Hello Bethany, I just wanted to pay you a visit! As you have been a very faithful follower on my blog! You are very wise and I think you will go far my friend! I enjoyed reading your post on some do's and dont's on blogging! Thanks for just being you ;o)
    Happy Thanksgiving to you! Blessings, Roxy

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    1. Happy Thanksgiving and blessings to you as well Roxy!

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  34. I remember when you first left a comment on my blog. I tried to find a way back to you but couldn't so I'm glad you left the tip about not being a "no reply" blogger.

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    1. I'm glad Gail thought to tell me about it!

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  35. Great tips Bethany they are very useful, I am definitely putting them in use :) thank you so much for sharing. Hope you are having a beautiful day.

    Blessings,

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    1. Thank you Laura! Have an awesome day as well!

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  36. The best part about blogging is that it constantly develops and changes over the years.

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  37. Very good advice Bethany. I have de-cluttered my blog since I started, with more plans to make the look a little simpler. I still feel like I'm getting my feet wet here, and trying to figure out what I'm doing. I love how helpful the blogging community is, sharing tips like you have here.

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    1. There are still some things I'm trying to figure out as well! There's always more to learn, but you are right: we have an awesome blogging community around us.

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