Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The basics for blogging success

Hey hey all! It is GORGEOUS here today!!! Whooooo! I am so stinking excited to mow the grass later – isn’t that ridiculous? I’m so happy for the warmer temps. :)

I mentioned a couple times I recently took a quick trip out to Salt Lake City to speak at the Snap! Conference. It was lovely and I was so happy to get the chance to see bloggy friends I knew and meet new ones too!

I spoke with two lovely ladies – Amy from The Idea Room and Desiree from The 36th Avenue on basic blogging tips. We thought it would be fun to share some of our session with all of you! Well, those of you who are thinking about blogging, just starting blogging or have done it for a while anyway. If you aren’t a blogger you can read on for a peek into how we think. ;)

basic blogging advice

I wanted to speak about engaging readers because it’s near and dear to my heart – I feel like I have connection with you all and I don’t know if that can be explained into nice little bullet points, but here are a few tips that I think help! NATURE BRIGHT LAUNDRY BOOSTER & STAIN REMOVER

Here’s the thing – you can’t blog in a bubble. If you want to put stuff out there and welcome the emails, comments and responses – you need to be prepared to respond. And it will take waaaaay more time than you ever imagined.

I’m sure people who don’t blog still laugh a little to themselves when those who do talk about it being time consuming. It is. (Don’t laugh at me!) It’s FUN time consuming, but it can be busy. But it is so important to let your readers know you are listening (and appreciate them!).

I do my best to respond back to questions in my comments section (the “reply” option in Blogger makes that even easier) and most of the time will respond to that same question via email. So I’m answering it twice but I want the person who asked to see it and readers in the future. Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not. There is only so much time in the day. But I make a concentrated effort and I think that’s important.

Social media adds a whole other level to this though – don’t forget Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all that good stuff. I LOVE interacting with my readers on Facebook and I am pretty good at responding to questions there (it may take a couple of days but I do). It’s easier for me to respond there than to emails for some reason.

So respond – interact with your readers, let them know you’re there. Say thank you. Answer questions (as many as you can). You would be blogging to an abyss in the world wide web without them. :)

party

The linky party has become HUGE in blogland. If you are a reader and you don’t know what that is – an example is the before and after party I host at the beginning of the month:

beforeAndAfterButton

I like it because it’s a chance to give some traffic to other bloggers. You link up and visit each other and hopefully find inspiration and new blogs to get hooked on. ;)

I like linky parties that have a theme but with that you may not have quite as many link up. I mean, recipes would be hard to link up to the before and after party, you know? (Well, now that I think about it maybe not!) I know of some bloggers who do them once a week and some only do them a few times a year (or never!) and the timing is up to you. I would say be careful about having them too often because you’ll have a CRAZY amount of outbound links on your site which isn’t a great thing. You want to keep that somewhat under control to keep the SEO stuff in your favor. ;)

party

So here’s the deal. I operate my blog in a way that I would want to read one. Does that make sense? So if I get an offer (and I get a lot) that feels spammy or whatever, I don’t do it, even if they are offering a ton of money. If it would feel weird for me to read it on another blog, I don’t do it.

So the same goes for just letting your readers know what to expect – as human beings we crave some consistency. So decide how often you want to or can post and try to stick to it. (Try is the key word – I know life gets in the way.) If you want to post once a week you CAN! Just don’t post five times one week and then once a week for three. Readers will get hooked but then may fall away.

I post four times a week on average. During the summer it will probably go down to three – but I think consistency is key. No, you don’t have to pick certain days and stick to them. Just keeping the frequency the same week to week will help your readers know what to expect from your blog.

OK, here’s the thing – this next part is a struggle for me. My kid is cute people. I mean…Cute with a capital C. Precious!! But I decided long ago when I started blogging that I didn’t want to put many pictures of him on my blog. It’s absolutely a personal decision and there is no wrong or right one – it’s just important to me to have a bit of my life just for me since I share so much here.

That being said, sharing your family and precious pictures of your kids definitely creates a bond with your readers. Sometimes I wonder if I should just because my readers feel like friends and I want to share him with you all – but there’s a little nagging voice in the back of my head that still holds me back. (And if you’ve read for a while you know I do share pics of him, just not often and usually not a full shot of his face.)

book nook(In his book nook.)

Sharing personal information is a tough one – I still struggle with it. I want to write so many things and don’t because I don’t know if I want the world to know. (And that’s the thing – if it’s out there the world will know. It may be a smaller piece of the world if you’re just starting out, but you never know when your blog might blow up.)

I have tried to strike a balance because I know sharing our struggles in life ultimately HELPS so many. We learn from these things and come out with knowledge and experience that will be useful to someone else. That’s why I touched on some of my personal history last Thanksgiving here and of course I have shared our debt free journey here.

I did hesitate to share both of those but now the debt story especially has brought me great JOY – just the other day I got an email from a reader who won one of the financial peace packets we gave away and she was telling me how she’s paid off another debt and it is the BEST feeling hearing that.

So…you have to figure out what’s right for you. I love reading personal stories about bloggers I love, but there is a fine line where it’s too much information. Only you can decide where that line is for you and your family.

friends

I also talked about partnerships during the session, and a lot of what I discussed when it comes to advertisers I covered in this post.

But there is something I want to emphasize to bloggers – please don’t be afraid to share the love. When I started blogging I would hesitate to link to someone else because I was afraid my readers would see their awesomeness and forget all about me and never come back. And I would have cried. :)

But the longer I blog the more I realize you need to become friends with other bloggers, share with other bloggers, link to other bloggers – you get the idea? ;) As a reader of blogs, yes, I only have so much time in the day to read the ones I love. But if you have me hooked I’m going to keep coming back to you, and I’ll love you even more for introducing me to new sites I can fall in love with.

One of the BEST things people ever say to me is that they found “so and so” through my site – I love hearing that. As readers and bloggers we all share a sweet connection and I love how we remember things like that – who brought us to who.

So there you go – a little insight into what I think makes for a great blog. I’ve been at this five years and still don’t know html from whatever, but I do enjoy creating a connection with my readers and other bloggers. I’ll keep focusing on that and keep ignoring the html as long as I possibly can. ;)

And as always, thanks to you all for coming along for this ride! I couldn’t do it without you!

Head over to Amy from The Idea Room and Desiree from The 36th Avenue to see their tips on blogging as well!

69 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the tips. You have been my inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for summarizing your session for us here, since I wasn't there to hear you this year! I remember some of your blog tips you posted a couple of years ago, and I referred to them when I started my own blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm really enjoying this set of posts with you 3. I actually posted on the same topic today too. So many great things to remember. I like your info on sharing personal images of family. It's a struggle for sure. I had images of my kids taken & used for someone's fake life on FB. I thought about not posting images of them anymore. I certainly do it less & it was a huge part of why I started shifting my blog to more about food & projects. So hard to make those decisions sometimes but each person has to do what they feel is right for them. Great post today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gina I had that happen as well! It was just photos of my home, thank goodness, but it is not a nice feeling. :)

      Delete
  4. Thanks so much for the tips. I just started blogging, around 3 months ago, and have a long way to go! Your blog was one of the first I started reading regularly!!
    Anjana @ http://happyandharried.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sarah, thank you for this post. I've been a blog-reading addict for a long time, and I attended Haven 2012 as a non-blogger. I started my own blog in September, taking a couple of pieces of advice that you gave me in Atlanta. If you ever stop by, you will see that my biggest issue is consistency, due to my crazy (but good!) life. I agree that that’s something I need to work out.

    For those who are reading this and don't blog, I just want to say that I've experienced it to be a very sharing and friendly group! I really appreciate that more that they could know. xo

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like it where you don't share family pics. I just did cause we were together with the grands on vacation and didn't have much to post without them. I also have a tea time with them, specially because of the cooking and the china. I mostly tablescape and I'm a great commentator and I answer all my friends and of course visit the party guests. I guess I'm ok, but thanks for the tips anyway. Oh! I don't make a big deal when I don't get answers, as this is mainly fun for me, not a thing to upset me..so I take it lightly. There are some great bloggers I'd love to hear from, but I hardly do, and it's ok too! I'm having a great time and inspiring me so much from YOU all and that's what matters! Big hugs,
    FABBY

    ReplyDelete
  7. Really helpful article, I mean post! I've been blogging for a couple of years, but am still quite small, and that is okay. But you do like to know that people are reading and your advice about linking to other blogs and introducing readers to other great material is something I am taking away from this. Thanks a bunch.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful tips. They are truly appreciated! Angela @ HickoryTrail

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your blog is great because you do so much so well and you share it with good pictures and lovely words.

    And sharing yourself? Well I think it makes you even more lovely. I think it's never a mistake to share your story with the world because, well, what else is life? I always remember this song we sang in Sunday School... This little light of mine. You are great at letting it shine!

    I love your blog, and you just because of reading it for years.

    p.s. I still have not caulked and painted the bookshelves in the office!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great advice, Sarah! My blog is just in its fledgling, awkward stage, and tips like these really help. I will definitely link up at your next party; looking forward to it! :)

    Tara
    suburble.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. So great to finally meet you in real life! haha! Great recap and I really enjoyed working with you on this. You are an inspiration to me in so many ways. I am so grateful for my blog because it has helped me to meet so many others with similar dreams and interests! xo

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great tips! I definitely need to commit to how often I want to post and stick with it. I don't have that part down yet. THANK YOU!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for the blog tips! Your blog was the first home decor/DIY blog I started following and my favorite part (other than the awesome projects) was that you actually respond to comments. I know it's time consuming, but it really makes me feel like a valued reader. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you so much fro sharing your advice. I am always looking for ways to grow my blog, and I found what you had to say very helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you so much for this! I am still wanting to start a blog but am so scared!!! I am also computer stupid:( I don't even know how to get started!

    Christine

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great tips! We're also stingy with pictures of our kids. It's a tough decision, but at the end of the day, we want our blog to be about our work, skills and experiences and not our kids. Sucks sometimes though.. we just had a baby 2 weeks ago and we were talking for months about the preparations and we don't share even a picture of the newborn with our readers. Oh well. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for the tips! I'm still trying to figure out this whole blogging thing and am blessed with a husband that helps me be consistent and encourages me in it. I too post pictures of the little one infrequently. When you have family in law enforcement, you are constantly being told of the dangers of the internet. So very few pictures and no names for me!
    I'm not really sure how to go about getting to know other bloggers online, but hopefully soon I can make it to a conference. Just one on the East Coast. Can't go too far with a toddler!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Best advice ever. I mean it. Everything you said, I agree with - especially the comments thing. There's nothing worse than constantly sharing the love through a comment to a blogger only to never ever hear a thank you, or anything. Makes you not want to come back. We're all busy, whether you have 45 followers or 6,000 followers. Although, I don't know HOW you do it. Really! I bet it's a lot of work to keep up with the emails.

    XOXO,
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great post! I've been a reader for a long time now, but recently began blogging myself. I do it as a "hobby", but absolutely enjoy every minute. I'm always looking for tips on how to improve and grow, so thank you!
    Cindy @crazyloucreations

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lovin these tips you awesome gals have put together! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

    ReplyDelete
  21. I always welcome advice...and soak up every word! Thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
  22. You hit the nail on the head Sarah! I just very recently (like last week), took my blogging to a whole new level- changed my name ( for easier recall), and partied away like crazy! I've seen and read more blogs than I had in the past year or so! met a lot interesting people along the way, whom I hope will eventually be true friends. your right it is a LOT of work, but I do enjoy it, and I think the otehr important key to this is to just enjoy the ride and not get too pressured.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Fabulous advice! I think I have found that a general rule is that it takes some time and work and patience before a blog takes off, but you just have to stick with it and keep pressing forward, even when you think no one is reading or visiting. :) Candi @ Prepare Every Needful Thing

    ReplyDelete
  24. Such great advice - thanks so much for sharing!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Like many of your readers I too am trying to get my blog mojo back, so this advice is just what need. Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  26. thanks so much for the advice. This will help a ton! :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you for sharing these tips! I need all of the advice I can get. I know what you mean about putting yourself out there. I am working on a post that has photos of our bed and keep cropping all of the photos because I'm having trouble with the idea of putting photos of my bedroom on the internet! Have a good one,
    Kate

    ReplyDelete
  28. This isn't a comment about your tips (which are great) (although I'll NEVER be consistent...except in my inconsistency), it's just to say that I'm so bummed that I wasn't there to hear you speak! First off, you have to take blogging seriously to actually go to a conference, and then you have to PAY for said conference, and travel, and childcare and yada yada yada, and see? I'll never go to one. But OH. I just know you were fabulous. Cause you always are.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks. Those a great tips. I have been blogging for almost 6 years and it's been a journey. I think the most helpful advice I would give is to blog the way you want to blog and not try to replicate someone else's blog. The stress becomes greater than blogging and its not worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thank you so much for this... I've been looking here and there for more tips :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. funny I have been asking some of the people on my sidebar for their frank opinion...tell me what to change..I know my new buttons and know some of what I need to change...know my lapse of blogging is an issue( house projects really get in the way) so tell me what you think will make my blog better and I am tough you can be tough thanks for the ideas ....keeping this one

    ReplyDelete
  32. I loved loved your class, and learned SO much!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I enjoyed reading your advice and ideas on successful blogging. Apparently it works, because yours is great. Check out my blog. I'd love to be your friend. It's repurposed4life.blogspot.com. I hope you like it. My e-mail is moonbeam276@yahoo.com.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you for the tips. I started at this a month ago and do indeed agree with all of your points above - and it's so nice to know that other people feel the same way.

    It's a fine balance between sharing all and a little with your readers (I'm still struggling with that one), but I'll get there. I think it's important to do whatever you are most comfortable with.

    Love it - thanks for putting this together. it's encouraging to us newbie's!

    Cortney@organicallyopulent.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Really great tips! My husband will ask me why I blog and one day I sat down and thought about it. I don't expect to have the most readers or attract huge advertisers, I genuinely like sharing my projects - the good, the bad and the ugly. Some days I get a bunch of comments; others a couple but the more I blog, the more I realize it's a personal outlet that helps me escape from the daily grind. Plus I like showing my Mom what I've made. HA! =)

    Jeanine

    ReplyDelete
  36. These are really good tips! I have to admit that I normally shy away from "blogging business" because it usually goes way over my head, lol. These are nice and usuable tips. I love your link up parties and have found new blogs to stalk and friends through them. I never expected that! Initially, I just wanted a place to share all of my projects with people who are not looking for the nearest exit door when I get started, but it's turned into so much more. :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Sarah, what I love about these tips is that they are so honest and personal, and not the same canned information I see from time to time on other sites. I love that you hold back on some personal aspects and especially on pics of your child (I have so much respect for you for doing that), but at the same time, were willing to post some pretty personal stuff as far as the financial thing, and other things I've seen on your blog. I just read your Thanksgiving post, I'd not seen it before, and now I'm in tears. :,( At work. So thanks for that, LOL! I love your blog, but I think the thing I love most about it is your writing style, the fact that you are real and honest, and your personality which shines through in all your posts.

    Best,

    Kimberly

    ReplyDelete
  38. Your advice is fantastic, Sarah! I've always admired the way you post in such a genuine way and you "converse" with your readers which makes it all the more welcoming to visit.

    I just have a few issues (and I've been blogging for 4 years so it's not anything more than curiosity as opposed to experience). I've always wondered why some bloggers respond to readers in the comment section. I would never think or have the time to go back to a blog twice to see if my comment received a response from the blogger! I see it everywhere and it it really makes me wonder...

    Secondly, you pointed out that blogging takes up a lot of time. and you visit blogs that you love and enjoy. Just wondering how some of the bigger bloggers ( like yourself and many others that have a zillion followers) ever find new blogs to read and/or follow with time constraints? I follow so many blogs that are extremely popular and although I might get an email to thank me for a comment, there is rarely, if ever, a visit back to my own blog. Again, I know it's a time thing, but it's disappointing.

    I get so much information, inspiration and a lot of fun out of visiting your blog and so many other popular ones, you have that ability to be so down to earth and that separates you from the best of the best! I hope my point of view isn't offensive, I guess I just speak for the little fish in the big pond! :)

    XO,
    Jane

    ReplyDelete
  39. For a newbie like me these are great tips. I've only been blogging a few months but I love it. Im mainly hoping to connect and share to like minded people.

    Since I'm still new to the game I don't have many posts but if you ever care to come check it out (which if you don't I completely understand with how busy you are) you can find me at the life of Rylie and his crazy owner.

    Hope to maybe join a Linky party one day

    ReplyDelete
  40. I love your blog and your style of writing. I think I drive my husband nutty with all the changes I keep making in the house - influenced by this blog and your blog circle of "home improvers". :)

    Would you think having a good theme would help getting some increased blog success? I mention this because I run a site: http://wpresponsive.org. These themes work responsively (meaning they work on mobile devices) and are built for WordPress.

    As always, can't wait to hear what you're working on next!

    ReplyDelete
  41. This is a really genuine way of framing this kind of advice - thankyou! It's so important too to balance the best bits for you of blogging with what you want to get out of it. I'm really just starting, but for right now, the act of writing what I'm writing is more important and enjoyable to me than the time it would take to do the extra (social media etc) work I think I need to do to really promote it further. And that's okay by me - I don't mind being a quiet, hardly-read blog so long as I'm still having fun and have a balance that works for my life!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hi Sarah!
    I've been reading the three parts of this "blogging success" series as I came across it via 36th avenue. I really love what you've written about blogging - you're so realistic and honest and refreshing. It inspires me.

    I really hope that one day I can have such a wonderful, confident voice in the way that I share (but don't over-share) with the world.

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Such great tips! I love the first one - I think creating a community is truly the key. I totally know what you mean about people not understanding the time consuming aspect of blogging - like you just magically do projects, take photos, edit them , write the post, promote it, while responding to comments - obviously that only takes an hour or so ;) I don't even tell people about my blog - I just let them think I stay home and watch Mad Men while my kids are at school - not that I don't really do that - but usually it's with a laptop on the coffee table - so obviously I'm working.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Thank you so much for this great info. I have just started a blog recenty, and have been looking for ways to make it grow. I am having fun writing posts, but you are right, it does take more time than anyone would think. I love your blog, you have some great ideas. Thanks again for the tips.

    ReplyDelete
  45. This is very timely...I have been thinking about starting a blog. One thing I have been wondering, are there bloggers who blog as a hobby/pastime rather than a source of income? I have a fulltime job, but think it would be fun to connect and share ideas with others. Am I naïve to think this way?

    ReplyDelete
  46. Thanks so much for the great tips, Sarah. You were the first blog I ever came across, had no idea what a blog was. I remember reading your post and thinking, does she realize ANYONE can read this? I felt like a voyeur seeing pics of your home! :D But you got me hooked, and now I'm blogging myself and seeing what a huge time investment it is. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration and support. Will you be at Haven this year?

    ReplyDelete
  47. I don't have a blog, I just love reading them for inspiration. A while back I asked a question in your comment section never really expecting an answer and was shocked when you did answer very quickly! I felt like I had personally heard from a celebrity! So thank you for that and for sharing a little bit of you as well as your home. Yours is one of my favorites!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Thanks for talking about keeping pictures of your child private...I have three boys and I feel like I'm the only one that doesn't post pictures of my family on my blog. (I do very rarely like you and usually not their faces) I put off joining instagram for the longest time because of that as well. I struggle with trying to connect to my readers and share "me" with my own personal privacy.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Thank you for these tips. I started a new blog (with a new business and partner) three months ago. I would love to try a linky party but I am scared our blog is to new? Do you remember the first link up party you did? I guess I am worried there will be no participation. Stop by and check us out if you have time. I have really enjoyed following your blog. www.uptodateinteriors.com

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thanks for the great tips! I'm a longtime reader and new blogger. My biggest setback is how time consuming it can be. I also work full time, so its hard to get consistent posts out. Thanks for the inspiration :)

    ReplyDelete
  51. Just great tips, Sarah!! Thanks for sharing them with us. and yes, the bub is super cute!!

    ReplyDelete
  52. I love your blog and I love your decor!

    Brandy,
    http://basicallybrandy.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  53. I was so excited when I saw you were speaking at SNAP, and so BUMMED when I couldn't go, so I didn't get to meet you. Not sure if I would have because our classes were scheduled at the same time but still. :(

    Thanks for these tips. It means a lot to hear blogging tips from you. Truly.

    ReplyDelete
  54. This was a great post, Sarah. You were my FIRST blog and I have linked to many others because of you. But I still come back to you EVERY DAY to see what you have posted because I just don't want to miss anything. I also have referred folks to your blog because I still think yours is the BEST!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thanks so much! Still need all the help I can get!!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Thank you for this post. I love the last tip the most. Linking up to other blogs is my biggest fear right now and you've just pushed me over the edge. I'm going to link off and show my love of other blogs! Including yours.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Thanks so much!

    I am SLOWLY trying to start a new blog, and I have to admit it is time consuming, and I haven't even started!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Thank you so much for all of these tips. I didn't get to make it to this class but my roommates said how awesome it was. I am so happy that I still get to see some of the basic ideas covered in the class.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Not sure if this is my first visit to your blog or not, but I'm your newest Facebook follower and can't wait to read more! We are also moving into our new fixer-upper house next week, and so I'm happy to know about your before and after link party. I'll be a regular soon!

    ReplyDelete
  60. Thanks for sharing your tips! Great to hear the inside scoop from such an accomplished blogger like yourself :)

    ReplyDelete
  61. Thanks so much for this post. You have helped answers some of my questions I've been milling around in my head. Have a great day.

    ReplyDelete
  62. This is great advice and I hope every blogger out there reads it, especially the part on responding to comments. Every seminar I attend refers to the importance of comments yet it seems, lately, that many of my favorite bloggers have gotten too big for their britches, as my mother would have said, and are so busy that they are no longer responding and feel that blogging about their reasons for this make it OK. If you want to take advantage of the perks that come with having a successful blog then you need to continue the habits that made it successful in the beginning. I tell my clients, it does you no good to write a beautiful blog if no one knows it is out there. Handle your blog friends the way you treat your very best friend and your blog will reach whatever success point you are seeking.

    Thanks for sharing this great advice.

    ReplyDelete
  63. THank you for the wonderful tips! I'm new to the blog world and am having a hard time figuring out what to write about, how much to share, etc. and how to get more followers. Your tip about "Making Friends" is great!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Thanks for the wonderful info! I am fairly new and not very consistent, but what you said about consistency makes sense. Who knows I may even link up sometime!

    ReplyDelete
  65. This is exactly what I needed to read today. I am struggling to get traffic to my site but am totally focused after having my traffic jump from 40 to 4000 after a blogger shared one of my posts. I have always been concerned about pictures of my kids, but post them because I have few other pictures. (my kids are cute too). I guess as I get more experience I will bet more creative. I know this is an old post, but I really appreciate you sharing your experience.

    ReplyDelete

I LOVE your comments, thank you! (I read every single one.)

If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here! Be sure to check out the FAQs tab at the top of the site and my Projects page for paint colors and DIY projects as well.

THANKS so much for reading!