Advice for New Bloggers – 6 Ways to Build a Better Blog

For the past two years, I have participated in the Let’s Get Acquainted Blog Hop for new bloggers hosted by Beth from Plum and June. This year I get to return as an alum and share some of my favorite tips and advice on how to build a better blog. :-)

(You can read my previous blog hop intro posts here and here.)

20140505_new_blog_hopHere are 6 Ways to Build a Better Blog:

1. Figure out Your Persona

This is my take on the common advice, “Just Be Yourself.” I would add – be the best version of yourself. Do you want to give off a nice, friendly, helpful vibe? Do you want to come off as a bit out of the box and edgy? Or do you want to just “keep it real”? All of the above are fine, depending on who your audience is and what you want to accomplish with your blog.

I look at blogging as practice for the best version of myself I want to become. I can’t edit myself in real life, but on my blog, if I write something that sounds a bit goofy, I sure love that I can go back and clean it up before I hit publish (and sometimes, even after the fact, too!)

2. Decide on a Regular Schedule

This can be as general or as detailed as you like. Do you want to blog 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday for example? Or everyday? Or once a week on the weekends? Setting up a consistent schedule for yourself will make it easier to blog, knowing what to expect. Your followers will appreciate it, too. But of course, be flexible if you need to be and don’t beat yourself up if you need to skip a post every now and then. Life does get in the way sometimes!

In my excitement when I started growing my blog, I put up new posts 6 days a week. I’ve now cut that down to 4 days a week, which is still a lot by some standards. I take the weekends off and I force myself to skip at least one weekday so that I can spread my content out over a longer period of time.

3. Brainstorm Blogging Topics

Whenever I have an idea for a blog topic I want to explore, I’ll add it to an ever-growing list. That way, whenever I’m stumped about what to write, I look at my list and pick what sounds interesting to me at the moment. I’ve also set up categories of things to write about. Some of my regulars are: my soap box posts, books and product reviews, tutorials, works-in-progress, and sew and tell. Sew and tell is one of my favorites because it’s not necessarily stuff I’m working on. If something catches my interest, I love to tell my readers all about it!

It’s also OK to schedule out posts ahead of time. I will often think of things to write that are not time sensitive. So if I get the urge to write, I’ll jot down a few thoughts and edit it over time, sometimes days or even weeks ahead. Then I feel like I’m on top of my game!

4. Take Your Camera Everywhere!

I always keep a camera on hand, whether it’s my digital camera, or my phone. You never know when inspiration will strike. So often I’m always thinking, “that would make a great blog post!” so I try to capture things in the moment when they happen. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so if I have a couple of great photos, that can generate a lot of blog content.

5. Keep it Brief and Stick to One Topic

In my free-lance writing work, I’ve learned that an average magazine-length article is only about 1000 words, and the average blog article should be around 500-600 words. So if you start getting a little too wordy, your followers may lose interest. If you have a lot to say (like I often do), break it up into 2 or more blog posts. That will keep your readers coming back for more, and will give you more coverage!

Moreover, unless you are doing a “roundup” type post, try to keep your blog post to one main idea. If you are excited to show us your latest 5 finishes, only show one or two per post. It will be much more interesting that way, and you can share more details!

6. Make it Easy to Find and Follow Your Content

This goes without saying, but at a minimum, make sure you have a link to your home page at the top of your blog and a search button somewhere on the blog. When you have more time, create a nicely organized menu at the top of your page so followers can browse your content. Although pretty buttons on the side of your blog are nice, they don’t show up when someone is viewing your blog on their phone, but menus do. And by all means include a link to follow via email and/or a blog reader like bloglovin’.

These are just a few of my top tips and this post is already getting long, so I will stop right there. If you have any advice to add, please do so in the comments!

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18 Responses to Advice for New Bloggers – 6 Ways to Build a Better Blog

  1. Great post Christa with wonderful information!

  2. Great advice, I love how you talked about content! This is one of my weaknesses, so I am always itching for pointers.

  3. Renee says:

    This is fantastic advice, and thank you for mentioning a search bar! Nothing annoys me more than when a blogger doesn’t have one! I usually leave and go find whatever it was somewhere else. Also good to know about the menus showing up on mobile devices, I didn’t know that! Glad I added that to my blog recently. :-)

  4. This is a wonderful getting started list, Christa! Great tips – I especially like #3 – that’s what I need to work on, keeping a list for those times when I’m between finishes and stumped for ideas : )

  5. Thanks, Christa. I am really benefiting from the blog hop this year, and I think you offer some great advice. I have recently been thinking a lot about post frequency, and I guess I am settling on my post schedule being content driven, but likely 4-6 times a week. I was worried that was a bit too much, so I am glad to know I’m not the only one who goes through start up enthusiasm! :)

  6. Beth says:

    Thanks Christa – those are great tips!

  7. JB says:

    This is great advice Christa. I participated last year and keeping it simple was definitely a good lesson for me. You can definitely cover more material and maintain interest with shorter, funny, large-picture-heavy posts. The browser tip is very good. Smartening up my blog and “branding” it was another good tip I gained from fellow bloggers.

  8. Stacy says:

    Such good advice Christa! I learned a few things. : )

  9. Katie Dold says:

    Thank you fot the great advice!

  10. Great tips Christa!! I’m just starting out my blog and really enjoyed your pointers and am definitely going to implement them! Thank you!!

    ~ Jess ~
    Everything Is Coming Up Rosie

  11. Anne Beier says:

    Great advice Christa. I wish I had this post to read about a year ago when I was just beginning to think about whether or not I was going to take my blog live or not. One thing I would add – after you do go live with your blog, check to see how it looks in all browsers, as well as your phone. At first mine looked exactly right on phones and all browsers, except Internet Explorer. Some tinkering needed to be done, and all was well.
    Thanks again for a very relevant post.

  12. NC Matheson says:

    I’m making baby steps here… At what point should menus be added? I’m getting ready for my third post. Thanks

    • Christa says:

      Yay for you! I would say add it when you feel like you have a little bit of structure and a few dozen posts – enough where someone will have to start searching through your info. Think about what posts and things you want to highlight, etc.

  13. Sarah says:

    Really good advice. My goal is to start a blog before the next Blogger’s Quilt Festival.

  14. Thanks Christa!
    Great advice…. I tend to get a bit wordy sometimes,
    Esther

  15. jenetamasson says:

    Fabulous! I enjoyed going through each of your tips to see ‘how I’m doing’!

  16. Vicki says:

    Thank you Christa! I love reading your advice.

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