Monday, November 29, 2010

13 Tips for New Bloggers

Two years ago today I started this blog, not sure when I would be ready to have a baby. Now, I'm constantly hitting the "delete" key as my 5 month old daughter smashes the keys while she sits in my lap.

Last night I realized today marks two years of having this blog so I'm skipping a week of posting What I'm Makin' Monday.

I get emails almost on a weekly basis asking tips for having a "successful blog." While this is very flattering, I never know what to say because when I started this blog, I didn't set out for this to be where is is today.

I decided to sit down and think about what I've done and how after two years, I've ended up here. 

1. Do You
Be yourself.
Don't try to be like someone else.
Just write like you talk--Or how you think.

2. Make Friends
Interact with those who have blogs similar to yours.
Twitter and TheSitsGirls are good resources for that!
Visit their blogs, say "hi"
Thank your readers regularly.

Thank you!

3. Update Regularly
Be a little predictable.
Not in your writing, but in how often you post.
You don't have to post every day, but try to keep it regular.
Whether it's once a day, week, or once a month.
Keep it consistent so people know when to come back

4. Spell Check and Edit
Don't freak out about it. Just try.
It helps a lot, and shows you care.
But don't get offended if you miss something and someone points it out to you.
It's better than people secretly snickering. Thank them profusely and fix it.

(This has gotten infinitely more difficult for me since having my daughter, so some days it's worth it to write my post one day, then post the next after I have a day to edit it. I've accidentally posted too early before and it bothers me having typos, so I'm thankful for my friends who point them out for me to fix.)

5. Find Your Niche
What sets your blog apart from others?
Focus on that.
But don't be afraid to mix it up from time to time.
You never know if a new topic will spark a new focus.

6. Ask Yourself "Why am I Blogging?"
Are you blogging to have fun?
For family?
To get free stuff?
To one day write a book?
To try to make an extra income?
In hopes of quitting your day job?

Figure you why you're doing it and remember that's why you're doing it. If you forget why you started in the first place, it can make it hard to stay motivated.

Also, know this can evolve over time. This started as a diary where I could creatively express myself and has turned into more involving some reviews, and some researched-based posts. When I start doing too much of those things though I get bored with myself and miss my "diary days."

About "Sponsorships"
I get a lot of questions about getting sponsored for things, sponsors on your blog, or sponsors for giveaways, reviews, etc. This is something that's evolved a lot since my blog began. When I was getting ready to TTC, I would seek out sponsors to review their fertility products, and do giveaways on my blog etc. But by the time I was pregnant, I didn't need to write to companies, as I had formed my niche and people wrote to me, asking to be sponsors for different pregnancy products etc. Now, I have to decline most review requests, but I still accept giveaway request because I like to give back to my readers. So here's some tips:

7. Find Your Niche
Sound familiar? What's your blog about? What kind of things do you want to sponsor you?
If you're a mom with kids in elementary school, and would like to review learning materials, it makes sense.
But if you're a mom who blogs about fashion and reviews baby products, it doesn't make sense.
Well, unless you're reviewing baby fashion products. Get it?

8. Don't Feel Like You Have to Say Yes to Everything
If your purpose is to review anything and everything on an all encompassing "review blog" still, don't feel like you have to accept everything. I was once offered to do a review/giveaway of my choice of sex toy. While--considering the title of my blog--I could have twisted it fit in with "baby making," that's not something I write about, nor would I feel comfortable reviewing. So I respectfully declined.

I also don't write about cooking or cleaning products because I don't really do that stuff. But I will soon, so maybe one day I will.

9. Reach Out
The name of the game in LIFE is connections. Reach out and get connected with people who are doing what you want to do. I'm a strong believer in having a "mentor"--No, several! With anything you want to get better at. Find someone you look up to and reach out to them. Don't be offended if they don't respond, it's not personal, you know how busy life can get!

There are forums for moms who like to review things. I'm not familiar with many but I know MomDot has one, and Mom Bloggers Club.

10. Start Small
When you're ready to start doing reviews, don't go for the big fish right off the bat. Start small. You can contact companies about a review, but don't expect to always get a yes. Companies will look at your blog, your following, and want to know your statistics. But once you get some reviews under your belt, you can move up to "bigger things."

You can also start by reviewing products you already have at home. If you're wanting to get into electronic reviews, review your home TV, your universal remote, your new MP3 player, your Blue Ray, you get the idea.

11. Don't Wait to be Contacted
If you really want to review that new children's book on your blog there are a few things you can do. 1. Of course buy it and write about it. Or 2. Contact them and tell them about who you are, your blog, and why it would be beneficial for them to send you a copy to review and how doing a giveaway also would build even more excitement for it.

12. When it Comes to Advertising...
~Only work with those you can truly stand behind. It's not a good idea to accept a formula ad if you're anti-formula.
~Be realistic in what you charge.
~Don't expect to get rich. When people assume I'm making lots of money from this blog I chuckle. Ad space and reviews aren't where the money is. I have a full time job and that's how I pay my bills. I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying most people aren't making a living off of their personal blogs.

And finally...

13. When You Gain Momentum and Clout
~Know that people will be mean. There's a sweet blogger I read who has over 8000 followers. People get jealous and stoop to low levels to try to bash her. Calling her names and making fun of her daughter. She writes things just about any other mom would blog about, but when you are very visible it's easier for people to try to shoot you down. If they hated your writing/photos/opinions so much they wouldn't be reading, much less taking the time to tell you about it.

Keep doing you and ignore the madness. Well, unless you're Heather Armstrong aka Dooce, and decide to start Monetize the Hate--a whole separate site filled with ads alongside the hate mail she gets.

Remember, for every 1 hater you have 755Xs more people who love you (hypothetically speaking).

See #1!

Happy Blogging!

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