I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to research. I research all of my vacation destinations months before I ever book the trip. You can find my top 10 packing tips here!
Whenever I try something new, I find out all I can about it before I take the plunge. My family says that I (and my youngest daughter – mini me) have to know how to do something before we ever do it.
So, if you ever want to ask me a question, feel free to do so. If I don’t know the answer, I will research the heck out of it until I find out. That’s just how I am.
So naturally, when I started blogging, once I kinda, sorta, knew what I was doing, I started researching. I’ve heard it said that[Tweet “If we study something for an hour a day, we will be an expert on that subject within 5 years.”].
One of the goals I’ve been working on lately is learning how to blog like a pro. What about you? Do you want your blog to look more professional, polished and less amateurish? Want to know how to blog like a pro?
1. Photography Matters
Take a photography class. (There’s a great online class listed at the very bottom of this page.) I had to really work on my photography skills. My daughter (a photographer) helped me tremendously by giving me constructive criticism. I’ve come a long way, baby!
Photos should ideally be about the same width (or a tad smaller) as your blog content. Here’s a great tutorial. Photos that are poor quality and too small just scream amateur. Don’t make people squint to look at your pictures!
Food photography can be a pain in the behind, especially brown food! Use props. Garnish to make it pop. Make sure you don’t over edit your photos.
There have been times in the past (especially as a beginner) when I have scraped an entire post because the pictures were such poor quality. Don’t become known as the blog with the bad photos! If you need a picture that you don’t have (a world map, for example), get it (for a small fee or sometimes free) from a royalty free site. Never steal photos!
Never post a picture on your blog that you do not have permission to use. Using someone else’s photo without permission is illegal! You could get into some serious trouble.
Note: Some bloggers/websites are flattered when you use their photo and credit them as the owner of said picture, but get permission first. Lots of websites and photographers are not very pleased to see their work on someone else’s website, especially if the website is claiming it as their own or making no claims whatsoever. That’s called stealing.
Helpful Hint: Did you know that you can go to TinEye and do a reverse image search and it will show you where the image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist and if there is a higher resolution version. Bottom line: You can see if any of your photos have been stolen from your site! And other sites can see if you’ve stolen pics from theirs! 🙂
I hate to be right in the middle of reading a great post and then see a gorgeous picture and I’m thinking that they really know their stuff before I realize that the picture is from an online “big name” magazine that I doubt they have permission to use. Read this to learn more! This article is helpful, too!
Here’s a few Free Image sites:
– Dreamstime (Most of my pics are taken by me. When I need a map, etc. I grab them here, usually for a small fee)
– Morguefile (Must give credit when using a pic from this site)
Bonus Tip: If you don’t have a DSLR camera, it’s possible to get great photos with your phone! Learn how here!
2. Social Media Advice
When promoting your blog post on social media, especially your Facebook page and Google+, don’t use the photo that automatically pops up when you enter your blog URL. No, no, no! Upload your photo from your computer or photo hosting site. It will be clear, formatted to fit and will get a lot more notice than just the blurb about your blog and that tiny picture that pops up.
UPDATE (2016): Social Media algorithms are constantly changing. Now it seems it’s better to leave the blurb and photos that pop up when you enter your URL. Does it matter which option you choose? Turns out it does. Facebook has found that users generally like to click on link-format posts because those give more information. Times, they are a-changing. It pays to stay up-to-date.
Let your fans know that you are a real person! Interact with your fans besides telling them that you have a new blog post. One of my favorite interactions was when I asked my FB fans the following question: “Camo swimsuits? Yes or No?” I received some of the wittiest responses, such as “Does it camouflage fat?” Loved it!
3. Content is King!
Do you, as a blogger, ever get tired of hearing this? On one hand, I do. On the other hand, it causes me to pause and think about my content. Is it relevant? Is is something that people care about or want to know more about?
Think about that blog you visited “once” and the content was so boring that you never went back. Don’t be that person.
I can think of blogs that I “tried” to follow and just couldn’t because all the blogger ever posted was things like “today I swept the floor, cleaned the house and took care of the baby.” That’s great! But millions of people did the same thing today and it’s not really newsworthy. It reminds me of a Facebook status that says, “I’ve got the house cleaned and the lawn mowed.” Big deal. The rest of us did the same thing today. To know that someone swept their floor is just not interesting to me.
Unless . . .
The thing that would interest me is showing me how to save time cleaning house or helpful time-saving tips when spring cleaning. Get it?
When I first started blogging, I thought that my readers would think my stories about growing up in small-town Georgia BORING, but I get more comments on those stories than any other posts! Don’t be afraid to venture out!
Don’t compare yourself with other bloggers! You are not in competition with others! As a blogger, we’ve all been there! We’ve all heard the annoying chirp of crickets! Even the big name bloggers started off just like we did. Dare to be different! And dare to be yourself! Don’t be a copycat, be an original![Tweet “Be a pro! Know your stuff and strut your stuff!”] (Are you pumped up now??)
Bonus Tip: I don’t know about you, but I’m always trying to improve my blog. When I first started blogging, I would have tiny pictures all over the place! One would be on the left, then one on the right and the next one in the center. Looking back, it was a big hot mess! And when I have a little time here and there, I go back and revisit those first more-than-a-few posts and fix them so that they will look more professional.
Also, as you probably know, most readers of your blog (and mine) scan your post and they don’t read the entire thing. I know! I know! They are missing some great content, but let’s face it, people are busy. Make sure your posts are easy to scan by using small paragraphs, easy to read fonts and using a bold font for important information.
I tried so hard to read a post a few days ago that was written with no paragraph breaks. There were no breaks in the entire post. I couldn’t do it. I tried to read another post by a different blogger and the background was so busy that I couldn’t see the written words so I had to leave the page unread and I’m sure it was a great post!
I’m going to tell on myself: A few weeks ago I was visiting some of my favorite blogs in a limited amount of time. Before long I found myself scanning some parts to get to the good parts (pictures). Because of that, I scanned over an entire paragraph that named me as the winner of a prize a blogger friend was giving away.
After commenting, my blogger friend asked me if I had missed something. Talking about embarrassed! I had totally missed the fact that I had won some cool stuff! I decided right then and there to slow down and read every word! Here’s a shout out to Kristen and her blog, The Road to Domestication. Go tell her hello! Follow her on all of her social media sites! Send her flowers! I’m still slightly embarrassed because she has a great blog and I scanned the first paragraph.
Have you ever had someone comment on your post and you could tell they didn’t actually read it? I have!
Another Bonus Tip: You don’t have to be a computer genius to be a blogger. I love to write and share the tidbits of information I’ve learned from just living life. I am not a computer geek (I wish!). I learn as I go and if it gets too difficult, I call in the big guns (like my web designer). I learned a long time ago that my time is valuable and if I have to spend some money on a graphic designer to save me time and frustration, it’s worth it.
We are all lifelong learners. When we stop learning, we stop growing! What about you? Any hot tips you would like to share? What kind of posts do you like to read?
One more thing . . .
I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it, if people have to jump through hoops to comment, most people just say no. Lose the captcha (jumbled up, hard to read letters and numerals) and install the Akismet plugin (WordPress) – spam problem practically solved! You’re welcome!
All opinions are 100% mine and I did not compensate myself for said opinions.
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What’s your hot tip?