I got a fortune cookie today and the fortune read, “Someone is looking up to you. Don’t let that person down.”
Well knock me over and help me up. I’ve felt that way a lot, whether it was from working at a summer camp, or through this blog. I don’t mind being a role model. I also don’t mind ruining children’s Knock Knock jokes.
Kid: Knock Knock!
Me: Come in!
Bam, ruined. They have no comeback. Try it! The look on their face is hilarious.
Alright, let’s get to it.
We are gathered here today to join you and your blog in holy blogimony. I hope you’re wearing something nice, but if not, pyjamas will do.
This post is going to be my attempt at providing tips to new bloggers and old bloggers, I don’t discriminate, unlike the Pres…NO. I will not discuss Politics. Only Paulitics.
These are things that I’ve noticed other bloggers do/not do over the years that I’d like to help them correct.
That’s why this post is called, “Blogging 307”. Blogging 101 is too cliche and Blogging 202 is too logical. I am neither cliche or logical, so here we are – Blogging 307.
Phones away, brains out. – That’s what teachers should say.
Use these tips at your own discretion. I am not a Doctor. I don’t even play one on TV.
1. Make sure your URL is correct, so people can click your name when it shows up in their notifications.
This one normally impacts the bloggers who have changed their blog name and have changed their URL to match it. When you do that though, your old link remains attached to your name when it appears in someone’s notifications.
When that happens, I click on your name and am taken to a page that says your blog doesn’t exist
and you’re an alien. A “Follow” button doesn’t appear under your name either, so I can’t even follow you and try to find you in my Reader.
How do you fix this/make sure your URL is correct?
Step 1: Click on your Profile Picture in the top right corner.
Step 2: Click Account Settings
Step 3: Type in your web address under “Web Address”.
Now, people can click on your name in their notifications (and comments section) and be directed to your proper site.
2. Put a link to your blog on your Gravatar page.
The idea I’m trying to get across here is – you want to make it as easy as possible for other bloggers to find your blog. Throw them a bone, so to speak, if you like dog analogies.
Step 1: Click on your Profile Picture in the top right corner
Step 2: Click on “My Profile”
Step 2.5: While here, you can type a short description about yourself which appears when people click on your photo, or hover over it.
Step 3: Scroll down to “Profile Links” and click “Add Site”.
Now, when people click on your photo when they see it on someone else’s blog, they can see your Gravatar page and proceed to click the link to your blog and become your best friend.
Note: You can also add links to your social media pages under “Profile Links” by adding URL.
Tags are essentially hashtags that you should include on every post. If that didn’t make sense, I’ll put it in different terms.
Tags are topics that reflect what your blog post is about.
In the Reader, we can search for tags and find blog posts about that topic. Therefore, it’s important to tag properly.
CLICK HERE for a list of tags you can choose from.
This isn’t Twitter or Instagram where long tags (that often serve as a punchline) work. They don’t.
From what I’ve read, the WordPress rule is that you’re allowed up to 15 tags on each post, but you don’t really need that many.
For instance, on my blog posts where I give a full episode recap of The Bachelorette, I’m tagging that post with things like: Thoughts, Opinion, Humor, Funny, Love, Relationships, Dating, TV, The Bachelorette, and People.
That casts a big net and all of the tags make sense. You have to think in terms of what people will search for in their Reader.
Many posts you write will share the same tags – Thoughts, Opinion, and Life can be used for most things.
If you’re writing a post about yourself, tag it with things like: About Me, Identity, Personal, or if you’re telling stories – Anecdote.
I love digging through the “About Me” tag. It’s a great way to find new bloggers I might have something in common with.
If you’re wondering how to tag a post, here’s how.
And I do apologize if this sounds like I’m dumbing it down, but some people don’t know, and that’s okay.
When you write a blog post on a computer, there is the main section for writing the post and then to the right is a place where you add tags. You type in your tags, hit enter, and they’re added.
Okay, recap: Use tags – relevant ones. That’s how bloggers find you.
4. Fill in your About Me/About page on your blog.
This is different from the About Me section in your profile. This is an actual page on your website.
To fill it in, you just have to click the page and there’s an Edit button right there (at least for mine, there is).
I hate going to a blog, especially one that has been around for longer than a week, and it still has the default message from WordPress of something along the lines of, “This is where you explain who you are etc.”
It’s like showing up for a Christmas party and the hosts are still cleaning the toilets.
Erase that. Put your own words.
I haven’t been happy with my About page since I started this blog, so I’m not going to give advice on what you should say in it. You probably already know.
Introduce yourself, explain why you’re blogging, etc.
This brings me to my next tip!
5. Believe in yourself.
Nothing blows out my birthday candles more than reading a blogger describe themselves as “Just another blogger who will be writing about (insert your topics here).”
No. No. No. No. No.
You’re killing me.
You are not “just another blogger.”
YOUR ADVANTAGE IS THAT NO ONE IS LIKE YOU!
Why would I follow “just another blogger”. We are all unique. Use that to your advantage. Stand out. Say something that catches people off guard – that gives a glimpse of who you are.
“I really enjoy a pickle with a hard crunch.”
“Blue is my favourite colour, but my bedroom is red, and my newspaper is black and white.”
There are two examples. If I read one of those lines on your About page, I’m clicking the Follow button. Simple as that.
6. Make it easy to click around your site.
If I read one post on a blog, normally I’d like to have the option of seeing what else the blogger has to offer. I can’t do that in an efficient manner, if the only way to see your older posts is by scrolling endlessly.
This is where menus come into play and I’d love to explain them, but it’s a headache to do that. But if you need help with them, let me know in the comments.
In addition to menus…WIDGETS.
Look at the right side of my blog. The badges, follow buttons, recent posts, calendar, Twitter feed, tag cloud, and more, are all widgets.
Step 1: To add widgets, go to your blog homepage and click the “Customize” button that should be in the bottom right corner.
Step 2: Click “Widgets”
Step 3: Click “Primary Widget Area”
Step 4: Click “Add a Widget”
From there, you can add whatever you want. My suggestion, at minimum, would be to add the “Recent Posts” widget so people can see what you’ve written lately.
Also, include a Follow Button.
Make it easy for people to follow your blog.
Make it easy for people to click around your blog.
Bonus: Make it easy for people to read your blog. I’ve come across some blogs with size 8 font. Sorry, but I can’t.
Only you can see the behind the scenes of your blog. Click around. Explore things. Hit buttons. WordPress is your playground.
7. Write Write Write!
You can sit and complain about your stats page until the cows decide to stroll back into town. We’ve all been there.
But, people can’t read your blog if you don’t give them anything to read. If you have four posts, write a fifth. If you have twelve posts, write a thirteenth.
If you take a hiatus, fine. When you return though, you don’t need to bring attention to the hiatus. If I found your blog by searching for a tag in my Reader, I don’t really want to read about how you’ve neglected your blog for 3 months because you forgot about it.
That doesn’t make me want to follow you. I’m sorry. Just hop into the blog post. If you’ve been busy with school, or travelling, or life, fine, mention it. Just don’t give the impression that your blog is something you don’t care about. Because then why should I care?
Don’t feel like you need to have a specific niche. If all you want to write about is makeup, or food, or movies – go for it!
But don’t let that hold you back from writing about anything you want.
The theme of your blog is you.
8. Find people through the comments section on someone else’s blog.
This is why it’s important that your Gravatar links to your blog.
If you’re a new blogger and are wondering why no one is reading your fantastic posts, it’s not because other bloggers think they aren’t fantastic, it’s because they don’t know you exist.
You have to be your own outreach program.
Find a blog, click on their posts, read their comments. This is how you can find other bloggers you might want to follow. And then blog hop. Bounce from blog to blog by clicking on people’s name/picture.
You won’t follow everyone – not everyone’s blog will interest you. But this is an easy way to surf around.
Don’t be shy. Follow blogs you like. Like posts you like. Comment!
Please be genuine about it, though. That’s my pet peeve. I’ve received my fair share of 8 likes on 8 posts in 8 seconds by one blogger, who really has no other motive than making sure I see them in my notifications.
Yes, ending up in someone’s notifications is beneficial to you because people like me will click on your name and go look at your blog, if we haven’t “met” yet.
But don’t spam people.
Bonus: I added a widget on my blog where it randomly lists 50 of my followers (normally the ones who were most recently active on my blog). That’s not for me. That’s for my followers, so they can click on those photos and be introduced to other bloggers.
9. *Don’t link people to your blog.
I’ll explain the asterisk in a minute.
I received a comment the other day on my tribute post to Chester Bennington – the singer who killed himself.
I got a, “Great post, Paul. Go check out my latest post about online dating tips. (Insert link here).”
I marked the comment as spam. Are you kidding me? Get outta here.
I’m not easily offended, but that offended me. It was so inappropriate. You just don’t do that. If the same comment appeared on one of my poems or literally anything else, I’d let it slide.
But on a post where I talk about someone who just died? That doesn’t sit well with me.
This is where the asterisk comes in.
Unless you’re linking me to a blog post that relates to what I’ve written about, I don’t want a link to your newest post. Sorry.
There are some bloggers who I’ve reached a level of friendship with, where either of us can say, “Okay go read my new post now” and it’s fine, because we have that relationship. If you’re a new blogger coming out of nowhere, we can’t have that bond yet.
I got a nice comment on that same post about Chester Bennington from a guy who said he also wrote a tribute, if I wanted to check it out. I did want to check it out. Because it was related to my post and allowed us to bond over the same thoughts.
That was fine. I don’t mind that one bit.
Listen, if you take the time to follow, like, or comment on one of my posts, I will go look at your blog. You don’t even have to tell me. I’ll do it because I’m curious and always looking for new bloggers to interact with.
But when I get the impression that you’re only playing nice so I can go give your blog a view, I don’t like that.
10. Be Yourself.
This is a blog. This is not your university essay worth 35% of your mark.
Have fun here.
Tell a story as if you’re on a road trip and are telling the people sitting in the back seat what happened to you when you spilled your drink in an elevator with six strangers.
We’re not going to pick on you for your grammar or spelling as long as you put in an honest effort and don’t type like a 12 year old on MSN.
If you come across someone’s blog and really like it, tell them! It’ll make their day.
I always used to worry that my words would be misinterpreted and people would get offended by the things I type. Then I realized that I was acting stupid.
I don’t ever sit down and type with the intention of offending anyone. I don’t try to offend people in real life, either. I know my words are genuine and well-intentioned, so if someone wants to take them the wrong way, that’s not my fault.
They can go write their own blog post about it.
That’s all I got.
I hope this blog post was helpful. If you didn’t learn anything here, sorry, your deposit is non-refundable. Oh yeah, I should’ve mentioned, your payment for this course (Blogging 307) is one pizza slice.
For those of you who want to be a teacher’s pet, that label is attainable via payment of an entire pizza.
PLEASE, if you have any questions about anything blogging related, ask me in the comments below.
If you have questions about anything unrelated to blogging, I’ll entertain those as well.
Oh yeah, one more tip just came to mind: Pay attention to other blogs. Take the best part of their blog and use it for your own. Look at the tags they use. Look at their widgets. Look at how they interact with other bloggers. Look at their diction and verbiage.
I just used the word “verbiage”. That’s how I know it’s time to end this.
Thanks for reading.
@CappyTalks on Twitter
P.S. I write how I speak. The voice in my head is the voice on the screen. I had my filtration system removed four years ago and it’s worked wonders. Remove your filtration system. Remove the voice in your head that says, “This sentence doesn’t sound good enough.” It makes a big difference.