Guess what? Being practical about blogging can be dull! I mean I have been blogging for almost three years now, and I think I only started to care about this stuff a year ago.
What do I mean when I say practical stuff? You know, the things that are the least favorite part of having your blog: seo, mediakits, analytics, Finally getting paid to blog! Well, they will not be your least favorite part for much longer!
Already getting nervous and planning to throw your laptop out of the window when reading about these things? I am still the same way! It frightens me, it feels like making a huge effort to learn about this, when all I really want to do is craft all day and blog about it.
So why is it so important? Because,
Don’t you want people to see all of your amazing work?
Or read the articles you spend so much time writing on?
And what if I said it isn’t that hard at all! All it actually comes down to is connecting with your readers. And how to do that is to create a nice blog layout or help them find you online.
So let’s learn together!
After blogging for a while now, I thought it was time to share all of the practical info I learned so far with you. Now you can learn from the mistakes I made and the positive things I discovered!
Take your time,(bookmark it, if you need) get a cup of tea, sit down, relax and let me do all the talking while you learn about 3 years of blogging tips in 10 steps!
1. blogger vs wordpress
I recently made the decision of migrating my blogger blog to wordpress. And unlike a lot of fellow-movers I was reading about, it is not because I didn’t like blogger. I actually waited a little too long because I liked my blogspot blog so much!
So why move? Because blogger has it’s limitations. The reason why I loved blogger so much is because it taught me how to write my own code, no actually scratch that: it forced me to write my own code. Blogger is an extremely simple platform without plugins, just a simple theme. What you see is what you get, unless you write your own code and change the lay-out all by yourself. Hard, frustrating but to me the best way to learn how to design my own blog without any help.
↑ blogger vs wordpress ↑
I guess it’s very personal, that is why I made a pro and con list on
blogger vs selfhosted-wordpress:
– easy for beginners. You pick your theme and you are done, it’s that simple.
– Blogger will host the pictures for you. No domain needed.
– You can start small learn how to use and write code.
– Blogger takes care of you: seo (how people find you on the internet), spamfilters,etc. it’s all taken care off.
– Writing and learning code takes time, you’l have to like doing it or else it will be no fun at all:)
– Blogger owns you, if they don’t like what you are doing you will not be a happy person.
– It eventually has it’s limits and I ended up deciding to use my new knowledge of writing in code to create my own website.
– You are hosting your website yourself, you are in control.
– Plugins instead of writing code.
– A lot of free themes to choose from and to make a pretty awesome layout.
– when you begin you can pick a theme, but still have to read through a lot of information to figure out what the options are and how to self host the website.
– It costs money to host your own domain.
– Plugins are needed for everything. You will need to keep up with what is needed.(spamfilters, seo,etc.)
2. WordPress Plugins that everyone forgets to tell you to get!
Oh, I wish someone would have told me this sooner: setting up a selhosted wordpress blog requires a lot of plugins you just wouldn’t think off!
I mean, I knew I needed plugins, but I still forgot some really important ones:
– Pinterest Pin It button – Because you will want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to share your work
– Subscribe to comments– This is one of those that you would not think of, but is extremely important! When you have a new comment, you will want people to know that you replied to them right?! Now they will receive an email!
– Backups – No, it doesn’t back everything up automatically ;)
– Wp to twitter – Now everyone will know straight away when you posted a new article!
– Google analytics setup & wordpress plugin – this is helpful to see who, when, where, and how people came to your blog. Read it, learn it and most of all use the info to improve traffic!
– SEO – Google won’t recognize how great your content is, you will have to let people know by yourself. Use this plugin to get the most out of your blog.
This one is still scary to me, I am still learning about it. For those of you that do not have a clue on what I am talking about. This website explains what SEO is in a cute way.
For now, I installed a SEO plugin that I heard good things about, and I don’t seem to have lost any followers or experience less traffic since I moved my blog from blogger to wordpress, so it seems to be working.. I will let you know once I learn more about it;)
4. Google Analytics will rule your world!
I mentioned it before: who, when, how, where and a lot more answers about your readers will come your way once you get hooked on google analytics!
Not only is it helpful to know your readers and which posts are doing well. Advertisers and companies will also be interested in these numbers during the collaboration.
I recently started a newsletter after officially canceling my feed burner account. What is the difference you say? They both let people subscribe to a service you offer, but a newsletter is more personal.
Feedburner will send an email to all of your subscribers every time you post a new article on your blog. That article will be in the email they receive.
I noticed that people got annoyed with the amount of emails they received on the weeks that I was more active in posting articles. And because the content of the post was already visible in the email, my readers didn’t have to visit my website anymore, resulting in lower traffic.
↑ my mail chimp account ↑
That is why I moved my subscribers to a newsletter. I created one through mailchimp (free if you have less than 2000 subscribers). And I just send the first newsletter last week.
In my mailchimp account, I can view who opens my newsletter, who subscribes, who unsubscribes and which links they open within the newsletter. It seems to be working well so far, and I love that I can send a personal note to the subscribers!
6. (finally) Getting paid for blogging
Now unto the stuff not many people ‘really’ talk about. Getting paid for blogging: the real story.
There are so many articles online about how to monetize your blog. I can read past those, because they are obviously sponsored posts. But what I can’t ignore are a small group of bloggers that are doing very well and will give advice on how they made money. Don’t get me wrong, I love those bloggers and I am a true believer of the blogger community and some can be helpful when writing about their stories, but most of the posts just make me extremely frustrated.
Here’s why: Most of the time I read things like: ‘contact people in your niche’ or ‘gain more followers’ or worse: ‘ post more content’.
Gaining more followers or posting more content doesn’t feel like a choice, you can be aware that they are helpful, but it’s not something you can control a hundred percent. They both take time and effort, and some people have fulltime jobs on the side;) You can only work so hard.
I get that what people are trying to say is that you should work hard and that readers will not just start following you out of the blue. Or that if you post one article each month it makes sense that not many people will follow your blog. (this, by the way is not an attack on bloggers that took the time and effort to write a helpful post, I am just trying to make a point by exaggerating a little bit- love to all!)
These tips and advice can come in handy, but it will not make companies knock on your blogdoor! In fact not many people have been knocking on my door by following these advices…
So how to make money?
I have to be honest here, I am making money out of my blog, but it is not enough to blog fulltime. So these are just things that have worked for me, but I can obviously not give you any guarantees.
– Advertisements – You can put advertisements on your blog. I use google adsense. The amount of money you make depends on the amount of clicks the ad receives. The more vistors you get, the more clicks you will get. I think you get the point;)
– Contact product companies – Be bold and set up a mediakit (see next item) and contact companies that fit the style of your work and blog. This is how I made most of my money and received free products. Once every so many months I search for companies that would make a nice match with the image and feel of my blog.(making sure they are affordable and I would actually shop at).
Than I do my research on the company and contact them. You could just have an email ready to send to everyone you want to collaborate with and email a lot of companies at once. But I prefer to make it more personal and write a message saying what I like about their products, I think it shows that you believe in their product (and you should!). To me this has worked a lot of times and I have met some really friendly and cool people that sell some fabulous items!
– promote your work/expertise on your blog – Have a section or tab saying how you can help people with your expertise. Let them know that you are for hire and that you don’t only make and post things on your blog, but that you can also be hired to help other people with those skills!
Like I mentioned above in step 6, contacting companies can really help you to monetize your blog. I mean why wait for people to approach you, right? Now you can pick the companies you actually like and match your blog! I contact companies by adding a mediakit to my emails. What did she just say, a what? Don’t worry many things are called mediakits, the one that I am talking about is very similar to a promotional ad.
↑ my mediakit frontpage ↑
You can simply set up a word document (or pages or indesign,etc) with information that you think is important for advertisers to learn about.
These are some things that will definitely have to be in there:
– Statistics and numbers – how many followers and visitors does your blog have?
– Contact information – blog url, email, etc.
– Images – what does your blog like? (you can never be certain that they will actually go through the trouble of going to your blog, so make sure they get an idea of what it looks like)
– Mission statement – what kind of a blog do you have, why is it special? Promote yourself!
– and most importantly: how do you want to collaborate? (advertisements, sponsored posts,etc.)
You can put more things in there, like something about yourself or other companies you have worked with, just make sure that it is easy to read through and that it is not too overwhelming with information and images, keep it simple. Oh and send it as a pdf file!(make it easy to open for your future collaborator friends;)
8. #Social Media
This has been a tricky one for me from the beginning. Because I love to be active on social media, but it also takes time away of actually writing content for my blog. That is why I have been struggling to find the best system to maintaining regular posts and share you more of my personal life and keep in touch on social media.
The way that I do things right now is not ideal, but I think it’s the best system I have worked out so far.
First off, these are the platforms I am ‘active’ on (and so should you!):
Facebook – I have a businesspage, to keep my non-crafty-close friends from being bombarded with my blognews:)
Pinterest – My daily source of inspiration. I have a ton of secret pages, for projects outside of my blog or for inspiration for future projects. I also love to see what my readers are pinning to see if I am still making things that they are interested in.
Instagram – I love this platform, but it is also time consuming. I have to scroll a lot to see everyones new posts. And I am very critical about the quality of the pictures I post, making me post less than I should..
Twitter – No images (sort of) but words. Making it difficult and easy at the same time.
My goals on social media are simple:
– Gain more followers
– Be actively in contact with readers and fellow bloggers
– Share my new blogposts
– Read more about you(!) and share more about ‘me’ outside of my blog
Not necessarily in that order;)
What makes it all a lot easier is to link some social media to one another. I linked my social media with the help of these:
Instagram to Twitter and Facebook account
Facebook to Twitter account
WordPress to Twitter account
Pinterest to Twitter Account
This way one post will reach more people! I still have and want to post frequently, but this way it saves time to reach everyone that follows the blog on social media!
And one extra note: whenever I have something extremely important to announce (like the launch of my new blog layout), I also share it on my personal Facebook. That way it will reach more readers!
9. Helpfull websites, because friends are the best!
I would not have figured anything out if it wasn’t for some fabulous amazing bloggers! After blogging for almost 3 years, I keep being amazed at the variety of incredibly talented people out there. Not only is it good to keep up to date with what is new, but it is also good to learn from each other!
That is why it is good to have a selection of your favorite blogs bookmarked, it will save you a lot of searching the web when you have selected some sites that will be able to help you!
By Regina – Oh my, how I love her posts! They look like she spends weeks on every single post and I have learned a lot from them!
By Dawn Nicole – her blogging tips page, (which she frequently updates) is amazing!
Fabulous Blogging – This blog has the best page on how to move your blog from blogger to wordpress!
JustK – A fellow Dutch blogger and an expert on social media (and a lot more things, just check out her blog and you’ll see!)
A Beautiful Mess – already extremely popular, so I am obviously not mentioning them to help them gain followers;) they are just gorgeous!
Studs and Pearls – Kirsten is the best in making unique and trendy projects!
I Spy DIY – Jenni dares to use colours and her projects always look like magazine worthy easy achievable DIY’s.
10. Treat yourself with: Investments & skills
Blogging is hard, takes time and costs money. But to me, it is the best job in the world! Because all of us started our blogs out as a hobby or a small side-thingy, it is practical to keep educating yourself. Invest in yourself! I for instance just gradated in my bachelor of Theatre Design. Not much to do with blogging about crafts or outfits; so you would think!
But having to photograph all of my projects myself helped to practice my photography. And I ended up doing a photography research for my graduation assignment. Without all of the practice I did for my blog, I would never even have considered doing photography without a proper course or study. But the blog gave me the confidence to go through with it.
The same goes for posing for photographs or sharing my work with you. I have always been very shy and hated to have my picture taken or show people my work, but it is slowly changing and all thanks to blogging!
So what practically can you do to invest in yourself?
– Equipment – I bought a new camera ( I saved up for a long time!). This made it even more fun to practice my photography
– Study your interest – Do tutorials online, watch video’s and use it for a certain article to give it a direct purpose. This way it doesn’t feel like wasted time and you end up with a better article and a new skill. (for example a photoshop tutorial or a tutorial on how to write a better blogpost)
– Food! – Are you a foodblogger? No words necessary I guess, tasting is part of the job right?!;)
– Try things out and dare to make mistakes – Some outfitposts only show about 5 images in the blogpost but cost me 300(!) photos to take. But who cares? Nobody will see them, but me! So scream, jump, go all out and crazy and I will promise you that it will give you more confident and spontaneous pictures!
That was it! You survived the 10 steps! I hope it was helpful and please leave a comment with questions or if you have something fabulous to add to the list!
Thanks for these great tips especially SEO, that has been the most confusing thing of all. Keep up the good work – Kelly
Thank you for your those kind words! I also find SEO the most confusing, I am sure I will eventually get the hang of it, you know next year maybe;)
I really enjoyed your article. Not only did it teach me (I still have a lot to learn!), but I love your honesty. I am very new to blogging and doubt myself every day because it is so overwhelming, but my brain just won’t stop giving me ideas so I know I have the ability to put it out there. I have TONS of questions, but I will just ask a few that have been invading my thoughts. I have read a lot about posting on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc. about my blog, but the one question I have is whether I should keep those accounts as the ones I have had for years (just for personal use) or if I should create a second account for a more professional look? I don’t know if my current ones will affect the readers u get or draw them away, so I’m not sure what the best route to go is. Also, I HAVE shared a few of my blog posts to Pinterest but have not gained any interaction or followers from it. Should I use more common hashtags? Or is it about the description I type under the picture? As you can see my brain is all over the place, but I appreciate any help you can give and found you’re post extremely helpful. Thank you in advance!
Hi! Thank you so much for your comment! I remember having the exact same questions in the beginning about social media. And even though I have been blogging for a few years now, I still don’t really have a solution. How helpful right;)
The reason that I gave myself an alter ego (Lana Red) is because I wanted to try to keep my personal life private. But after three years I realise now that that is just not really possible when you have a lifestyle blog. I learned that social media is a tool to connect with your readers, and you won’t be able to connect with them unless you give a bit of your personal life away. (you can decide for yourself how much you are willing to share) so using your personal accounts can be a good thing. However, the names of your accounts are pretty important. Because when your blog grows bigger, you will want people to find you, and if all of your accounts have different names, that can be a bit confusing.
I also suggest that you create a facebook business page, instead of using your private one. This way people can follow you, and you can direct what they see about you (no moms or friends tagging you in embarrassing pics)
And about Pinterest, I never really notice any difference with hashtags or genius descriptions. Some images people like, others they don’t. I usually get a lot of exposure when someone else with a bigger Pinterest following shares one of my images. So the most important thing is to follow people, and also pin their images. And to create boards and pin to them regularly. And as a personal note: I tend to unfollow people that will pin 30 images in a row to one specific board, filling my timeline with endless recipes or vacation pics. I love Pinterest because of the diversity, so I try to follow people that or not the most popular, because no one else will have seen those images yet, before you pin them.
I hope that this will help you a bit, please let me know if you have more questions! And good luck with your blog!xxx
I’m having some trouble with back-ups and Google Analytics, so I’m going to check out the links you mentioned to help me out. I started using Back-up Buddy but have found that using FTP and Filezilla actually works better. I’ll check out the plug-in you mentioned as well. Thanks for the great advice!
Hi Brooke! Yes, please check them out! And let me know how they work out for you. I am always trying to find new and clever back up plugins to save time (and a lot of stress;) and I am curious how these ones will work for you.xx Lana
I just started my blog and these tips were really helpful! I will be sure to come back to this and review some more of these tips when I need them. SEO is definitely something that is taking time to learn! Also I appreciate the NEW information about monetization!
My Pop of Color
Thanks for the comment! It’s always wonderful to hear that my tips are helpful :)
And good luck with the blog, it looks great!(awesome bucketlist by the way!)
Thank you so much, I greatly appreciate that :)
This was a great read! Social media is kind of hard for me to keep up with and is something I’m trying to work on. I try to use scheduling apps to help with posting to Pinterest and Twitter, but honestly I feel like I can’t think of anything to say on Twitter haha!
Hi Kelly! I know how you feel! There are so many social media channels, I seem to keep getting lost as well;)
As an absolute baby blogger trying to wrap my head around the basics, your article was by far the most helpful I’ve come across! Useful links and beautifully condensed information make it the perfect primer for beginning and experienced bloggers alike. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this.
Thank you so much,It’s great to hear that my article was helpful! And congrats on starting your blog, I am sure that it will be great!!x
Thank you for the tips, very helpful. I too went from blogger to WordPress but stopped almond the way with FrontPage and Dreamweaver.