Funny … this is the way I felt about starting a website/blog.
Up until last year, I knew very little about blogs. I still don’t know a lot about blogging, and I actually wouldn’t call myself a “blogger.” Maybe that is because there is a lot of information I am lacking. I’m sure I’m not the only one … I’m so excited to share this interview with Sonia, who will be sharing some awesome information!
Hello and welcome, Sonia! Would you like to share a bit about yourself?
My name is Sonia and I am the creator and founder of LogAllot.com. My website can be found at http://www.LogAllot.com where I help new bloggers with Blog Tips with Common Sense. I believe in always being straight-forward and tackling issues some bloggers just won’t address. My goal is tell anyone new trying to build an online presence to use their own head and think for themselves.
What is the number 1 tip – the first thing you would advise business owners, artists and new bloggers to do before publishing that first post?
Ask yourself: Is this post going to actually help someone or is it a post of me just ranting? What I have found after 3 yrs. of blogging is there are different types of blogs out there. They all don’t have to solve a problem, but a reader should walk away knowing he or she learned something or it evoked enough emotion inside to leave feedback.
If you blog about pets, are you blogging about all kinds of pets or just dogs? The more “narrow” your niche, the easier it will be to focus on topics related to problems that matter to others.
What mistakes do you most often notice in the blogs of newbies, business owners, authors (or artists in general)?
Blog design. When you are new, you really don’t have any type of design expertise, but newbies are so quick to want to throw up a website that they forget how it really looks. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but in the blog world, it’s not as forgiving.
Before you take a dive, sign up for either WordPress.com or Blogger (whichever you prefer) and learn how it functions. This gives you the opportunity to play around with it, how to create a post, and add image etc. Use the Free themes first and teach yourself the ins and outs of how using a theme works.
Once you are serious and have an idea of what you want to blog about, then invest in a WordPress self-hosted (like BlueHost or Hostgator) and buy your WordPress theme or stick with Blogger and design it slowly. If you buy a theme, shop sites like: Elegant themes, Themeforest or StudioPress for reputable themes. If you use a theme that is free, remember, there is NO SUPPORT when problems happen down the line.
Some Free themes have gotten better, but why would a developer spend a lot of time helping people for free? Maybe some will, but you get what you pay for. And last, keep your banner ads to a minimum: Do you want readers to focus on your banner ads or your content?
Having a poorly designed website is the #1 factor for losing potential readers.
Does size matter? As an author, I know that when writing, I can be wordy and ramble. Should posts be long and informative? Should they be short and sweet? In your opinion, where is the happy medium?
Bloggers debate this all the time and at the end of the day: it’s your blog, write the way you want. This is where I stress to new bloggers to “blaze their own trail” and do what works for them. You can’t make everyone happy, but if your posts are short, make sure your content makes an impact. If you don’t want to write, create a video tutorial to shake things up.
Don’t get inundated with all the advice given by so many bloggers. Learn to think for yourself and use common sense. You wouldn’t jump off a bridge because some blogger said it’s the right idea for your blog would you? Use your head and make decisions that are right for YOU.
Do you have any favorite author blogs, websites or Facebook author pages that newbies could browse to gather ideas?
When I first started, TheSitsGirls and Kikolani.com was my muse for a long time. TheSitsGirls really hits home with a lot of “women bloggers”, while Kikolani breaks it down further and gives you the real “meat on the bones” type of posts.
What about pictures? What is your advice/what are your go-to websites for free images?
This is a touchy subject because some bloggers don’t give credit where it’s due. I use either free images from Flickr Creative Commons (free) and credit back to the photographer. Another site I use is iStockphoto.com. They aren’t free, but once you buy the image, it’s yours to do whatever you wish. If you see images from sites you frequent a lot, send them an email asking if you can use the image and link back to their website. Its good manners and it’s the right thing to do.
Off topic, what are some things artists and entrepreneurs can do on Twitter and Facebook? What would you suggest regarding drawing people in, instead of incessant marketing and plugs?
Twitter – It’s a fast conversation. The second you tweet something, more tweets have surpassed yours in seconds. Keep the conversation lite and use it to share other content (not just your own) and network. Don’t run after bloggers like a lost puppy trying to belong, but a simple hello or sharing their content always works. Give it time to build a following and don’t BUY followers.
There are websites out there for unsuspecting bloggers looking to build a following and you will look like an idiot with fake followers. Follow people in your niche or like-minded bloggers and read their blog. Don’t just follow people to get a follow-back. I see mom bloggers do this all the time and professional bloggers don’t ever do this. Read other blogs, comment and share their content. It’s that simple.
Facebook – Facebook is another animal all its own. I can’t say I have mastered mine, but it depends on where you focus your time on Social Media outlets. On Facebook, share your content, but get in the practice of sharing other posts, your readers might find useful. Talk to them, about life and not just about blogging or social media.
If your blog niche is about Cupcakes, share recipes, pictures of unique cupcakes, run a contest for the best cupcake photo etc. If you sell something, offer it for free to a few lucky winners to get honest feedback. They can give you testimonials about its content and they will be your best salesman without you saying anything.
What is SEO and what tips or references do you have?
I was never an expert in this field, but use plugins like Yoast SEO (WordPress) to help optimize my website. Use alt-tags for your images (use keywords: seo-for-newbies). Newbies don’t know that your images also come up with in searches and is another source of driving traffic to your website. Or you can use plugins like ScribeContent.com to help you with keyword selection (not free).
Heartfelt posts, limited views and nonexistent comments – have you ever found these things discouraging? What do you say to those who find themselves on the brink of giving up?
I feel your pain. Been there done that. Some bloggers will go on and on about how to get blog comments, but they don’t tell you the meat and potatoes on how to actually do it. For myself, I joined a Secret Blog Comment group on Facebook 1 year ago, joined Triberr and I started networking like crazy. The blog comment group was a group of like-minded bloggers that visit each other’s blog in the group daily (time-allotted) and comment on every blog in the group. You leave a comment, share and tweet after. Come back to the group and write done and move on the next. What this does is put your content on other blogs and when they comment on your blog, they SHARE YOUR CONTENT TO THEIR READERS.
With Triberr, I didn’t understand it for a long time and the creator finally broke it down for me. You sign up, join a tribe (type in keywords and join a tribe that interests you). You tweet other posts that your readers will appreciate and the blogger sees that your shared his or her content.
You are free to comment (doesn’t hurt), but the point here is that when they RETWEET your content, your post is shared with their readers. So your “Reach” starts to build and before you know it, your post has been retweeted dozens of times. Hence: if the tribe you join has a lot of members. If there is only 5 members in the tribe you joined, it might not get tons of retweets.
Example: Let’s say you join a tribe about Food. There are 50 members in this tribe called: Food Bloggers. Your blog is about food so it’s a perfect fit. See what I mean? You wouldn’t join a Marketing tribe because no one will retweet your cupcake recipe to other readers.
You’ve been amazing, so much information to look over!! Thank you so much for your insight. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Networking – I can’t stress this enough, but if you start networking: Be genuine. People can smell “fake” a mile away. Some bloggers I want to slap on the forehead because they come off cheesy or only about their own blog. I saw one blog that stated if you don’t comment on my blog, I won’t comment on yours. Don’t be that guy or girl.
If you see content you like and it compels you to comment, then do so. If you like their blog and want to subscribe to their posts, then do so. Don’t do anything for the sake of getting something back. Some bloggers get butt-hurt when a popular blogger didn’t respond to their comment. Really? Just be yourself and if they don’t like you, keep it movin’.
Thanks, again, Sonia!! For more information, tips, or to connect with Sonia, visit: