Four Tips For Newbie Bloggers

Blogging is a passion of mine that one day I aspire to make a living from. I always get a rush of excitement whenever a friend asks me for advice; Disconcur and Casadella probably regret ever showing me their blogs because I just Do. Not. Shut. Up. once I’ve caught even a whiff of interest! So, in order to spare them from my incessant ramblings, I’ve decided to share with you four tips for newbie bloggers who are looking to build an awesome community of like-minded readers.

Four Tips For Newbie Bloggers

Write With Purpose

Back when I first started Mama Needs Mana, I had an ambitious goal of writing a new post every day because I had read somewhere that it encourages visitors to return. But here’s the thing: without having any particular reason for writing other than my arbitrary deadline, my posts went down in quality very quickly. Writing for my pet project became a chore rather than something I genuinely wanted to do and my traffic suffered as a result.

When blogging as a hobby, you need to do what is right for you. Readers can tell when your content is forced and your heart isn’t in it. It’s also not going to be very fun for you, either! Posting at regular intervals is important, but quality content that is written with a purpose is arguably more so.

When looking at this issue from a business perspective, I usually recommend clients write detailed, well researched posts that are crammed with useful information for their target audience. This not only helps to establish their business as an authority in their industry, but it is also better when looking to convert leads into sales.

Don’t Paint Yourself Into A Corner

I weep when I look back at old traffic reports and how many comments my posts on Neri Approves got compared to this blog. However, Neri Approves is focused around World of Warcraft, and more specifically, guild leadership. When I stopped playing WoW, I no longer had anything to write about. Sure, I could have re-branded Neri Approves to be what Mama is today, but in the process I would have lost what made it so successful in the first place.

Work out who your ideal reader is and what their interests are, and write for them. Most of the time, you’ll probably find that your ideal reader is you. If one day you want to write about World of Warcraft, and the next you want to write about knitting, then go ahead! I would only recommend going after an ultra specific niche readership if you are looking to monetize your blog.

Presentation Matters

I am probably extra sensitive about this because a big part of my old job was making websites look pretty, but presentation is an important part of running a successful blog. Everything from your colour scheme, layout, widget choices, navigation, post formats and ad placements will affect how well your blog is received by your desired readership. You want your information to be easily located and read, with your most important assets such as social media, blog subscription options, etc. in prominent positions.

More important than all of that, though? Correct spelling and grammar. I know I am notoriously bad for hitting the publish button before triple checking that what I’ve written actually makes sense (My subscribers must laugh so hard at me when my typo riddled posts land in their inbox), so trust me when I say that this matters if you don’t want to look like a babbling idiot!

Professional blogger or not, it is nice to be considered an authority in your hobby of choice. Industry authorities do not mix up ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’, or misspell ‘Three’ in a post title (Yep, I’m guilty of that one). Triple check your work, then take a break from it and read it again another time with a fresh set of eyes. You will be amazed at what you miss when you’ve been staring at your work for hours on end.

Get Busy Networking

Let’s be honest here, as bloggers we like to know people are reading our stuff. My biggest goal with Mama Needs Mana has been to create a community of like-minded gamer parents, and so I share the posts that I do with the aim of sparking up a conversation. That’s a hard thing to do if people don’t even know your blog exists!

Do not be afraid to promote your work. If you don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account for your blog, get one now! Be brave and reach out to other bloggers and ask if they would be interested in an ad swap, listing you on their blog-roll, or even running a guest post you have written specifically for them. If you can find the time, leave comments on articles that are relevant to your readers, or better yet, write a response post on your own blog that includes a link back to theirs.

Speaking of comments, if a reader takes the time to leave you a response, they totally deserve a reply! Even if it’s just a ‘thank you’ note, it will go a long way to encouraging them to reply again in the future. Same goes with comments and tweets you get on your social media pages. Conversations are generally not a one-way affair. If you want to build a community, you need to engage with your readers!

In Conclusion

I imagine that some of you reading this may be doubting whether or not this advice is any good when I’m not exactly pulling in hundreds of thousands of readers a month. The thing is, I know that if I was better at life and I actually did these things on a regular basis, I would see my statistics improve.

Hobby or not, creating a thriving community takes effort and passion on your part. You will get out of it what you put in, it just most likely won’t happen overnight.

Want to learn more about creating a community? Check out a these posts:

What advice would you give a newbie blogger? Share your pearls of wisdom in the comments below.

Nicole

Nicole -- AKA Neri -- is a wife, mother of one (soon to be two), avid gamer, fashion disaster and wanna-be writer.

Latest posts by Nicole (see all)

  • http://www.thewyvernstail.com/ Daeaye

    Blogging frequently and appropriately titling your posts is important, otherwise your SEO will be full of holes and you’ll never get where you want to. Pictures are important for posts, too, because they make posts appear to have more content, keep the visual part of your mind busy, and gives your posts thumbnails, which are important if you’re using something like Linkwithin or Bloglovin’ like my personal blog does. No pictures = a surprising drop in interest. Plus with no pictures there’s nothing to pin!

    • http://www.mamaneedsmana.com/ Nicole R.

      Thank you for bringing up post format! I think WoW Insider are pretty much spot on with how they lay out their posts. Headings, pictures and well constructed paragraphs. Great for keeping the attention of the tl;dr crowd :P

      Speaking of pictures, I’m forever forgetting to include alt tags and a description in my images, which is a big no-no for SEO best practices! I’m also terrible for optimizing their sizes. Some web consultant I am! Do as I say, not as I do :P

  • Syrco

    Very useful post and good tips! Thank you for writing about this :) My blog Syrco Owl is 3 1/2 years old now but I’m still struggling with inspiration and ideas for good blog posts from time to time. And it took me a long while to get a nice design for my blog and I just recently created a Facebook side for it. I have around 200-300 visits every day which I’m fairly happy with. I’m not sure what I should or can do to increase my number of visits and comments. Would love for you to take a look and give me some feedback if you got time for it.

    • http://www.mamaneedsmana.com/ Nicole R.

      Great choice in blog theme! ;)

      Having a quick look over your blog, I think you are doing a fantastic job so far of growing your community!

      Here are a few things you could try that should help you build your audience:-

      – Reach out to other bloggers with the kind of readership you would like to attract to your blog and offer to write a guest post for them. They get some unique content they didn’t have to write, you get exposure to a whole new audience!

      – Write a few posts that solve problems/answer questions that your readers may have. Your Secrets of Azeroth is a great example of this! People love guides.

      – Expanding on the previous point, try writing a few posts that encourage readers to share their opinion. If there’s something controversial happening, write about it! WoW Insider would be a great starting point to find out what has the community buzzing.

      – Run a competition. When I was writing on Neri Approves, my monthly Transmog Tournament was a massive hit! I used a voting system to encourage participation from my audience (as well as giving participants more incentive to share the posts with their followers). If you wanted to build on your social media followers, you could also try running a giveaway through something like http://www.rafflecopter.com/ but I’m not sure if that’s compatible with WordPress.com hosted blogs.

      – As Daeaye mentioned below, SEO best practices will go a long way to bringing more search engine traffic to your blog.

      – Don’t just use social media to share your posts and that’s it. I love sharing random tidbits that I think my readers will find interesting all the time, which not only helps spark conversation, but increases my page’s ‘reach’.

      If you’re super dooper serious about building your audience, I would highly recommend working through this guide: http://www.quicksprout.com/2014/01/27/the-complete-guide-to-building-your-blog-audience/ It’s a lot of reading, and a lot of it may seem irrelevant to you, but I can assure you that you’ll learn a lot from it :)

      All the best with your blogger endeavors!

  • Gemma Moore

    Excellent points Nicole and a good reminder as I try to set myself a blogging pattern.

    • http://www.mamaneedsmana.com/ Nicole R.

      Thanks, Gemma. I’m glad you found it useful :)