It has been three years since I started the Building Bluebird blog and dang, there is still so much to learn! Today I am sharing 5 tips for all beginner bloggers so they can avoid my mistakes. Starting a blog is hard and scary. For most people starting a blog, you have to learn an entirely new skill creating a website. Along with learning this new skill, you have to be vulnerable and open when writing about your experiences. Learning to tell a story in your own voice is harder than it looks!
BUT! It is also so much fun and the perfect creative outlet for so many people who want to share what they are passionate about with the world. If you are starting a blog, please take my advice below!
5 Things I Would Do Differently Starting a Blog Today
When I first created my blog, I set it up through Squarespace. Squarespace is a great platform to use and is very user friendly, however, WordPress offers WAY more features in terms of plugins. I finally made the switch after attending the Haven Blogger Conference and realized I wasn’t speaking the same language as everyone else. The presenters were talking about these awesome plugins (which I didn’t even know what that meant at the time) that I wanted to use but couldn’t get through Squarespace.
A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website.
I switched platforms and it was honestly like night and day. I could ask my new friends quick questions around the platform and they knew exactly what I was talking about! My favorite new plugin (there are thousands to choose from) was Yoast SEO. This plugin essentially rates your blog post on readability and search engine optimization (SEO). At the end of your post you will get a red, orange or green score – green being the preferred score to reach for each post. If you are orange or red, they tell you what to change in your post to improve the user experience. IT IS AWESOME!
Change my Writing Style
When I started my blog I wrote in diary form (see an example here). This was a great place for me to start because it helped me to develop my voice and writing style. While reading about my home projects can be interesting, it doesn’t necessarily bring the masses to my blog. I needed to ask myself, why does my audience care? What are they getting from this content? How am I helping them?
I still write some diary form posts but I try to mix it in with tutorials (ex: How to Tile Backsplash)and useful information that would bring people back to my site again and again. I also try to use as many links as possible that will help my readers find what they want. Sourcing products and linking previous posts that are relevant to content not only improves the user experience, but it helps with search engine optimization.
Learn SEO Basics
Let me first start by saying, I am NOT an expert in the SEO arena yet, but I know a lot more than I did 3 years ago.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) = The practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results
My first big mistake was in my post titles. It is important to think about what your readers want to know! What are they searching for on google? In the beginning, I tried to get cute with my blog titles like, “The Time Traveling Bedroom” because my sons bedroom had lots of decor from Chris’ childhood bedroom. First of all, who is googling that phrase?! Second, if someone does google it, is the the type of person that would want to read my blog? NO!
Even now I struggle to write really great SEO titles, but I will continue to work on it and improve with every post. I have tried to go back to the previous 100 posts I wrote on Squarespace and improve on the titles as well, but I still have some work to do. Now when I write titles, I try to think about how I would search for it in google. What are the most popular keywords for this topic? My latest blog post is, “Things to Do with Your Kids in Toledo” – this is a phrase I would type into google.
Using relevant keywords to your topic that users frequently search is important too. The more relevant keywords you have on your main topic, the higher it will rank in google. There is so much more that goes into SEO, but if I had to do it all over, I would start learning SEO from day 1.
I use Canva to create beautiful pins for Pinterest. Here is a pin I created for a blog post tutorial for making dried orange holiday garland. This was a fun trend over the holidays that was really popular on social media and Pinterest.
This is a great way to drive traffic to your site. If you have a tutorial or tips on a specific topic, adding text and using multiple images can attract potential readers to click on that pin and learn more. Canva is free and is super easy to use. I also create simple mood boards using this app.
Use Better Images
My best blog posts and social media posts usually involve professional photographs of a project or space. If you can budget for a photographer once a quarter, I would recommend it. With some planning, you can come up with a handful of spaces, projects and headshots for the photographer to take and have a file of beautiful images to use!
I also use free editing apps like Lightroom to improve the look of my images. There are pre-made filters that you can purchase as well to achieve a similar look with all of your images. I have three filters that I use to keep my Instagram grid pretty consistent with the look and it saves me so much time with editing!
Running a blog is fascinating and frustrating all wrapped into one. On the one hand, I love the challenge of trying to improve my blog stats and crack the code with viral content, on the other hand, it is often information overload! If you are thinking about starting a blog or in the early stages – stick with it, don’t give up, you are already way further along that I was when I started my blog. 🙂