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I have read a lot of blogs and posts in 2013, and I think I can honestly say I have learnt a lot.
I started Mad Lemmings back in mid-April of this year, while I was at home with my leg in the air recovering from a skiing accident! If you have not read about “why I blog”, you can read that crazy story here.
Since that faithful day, I have come a long way. So I wanted to end the year with a post about some of the lessons I have learned in 2013.
I have divided it up into simple to digest lessons, under two sections – neither is more important than the other.
I hope you find some gems in here. Or at least find out you are already doing it all perfectly!
If there is one thing you have to learn on your blogging journey, it is that you cannot do it alone!
Ok, you can. If you really must, but you will not get as far, or so fast. There are so many people in the world who can help you, if only you asked.
I have found that as you progress during your blogging career, it tends to accelerate. And the effects do to. Offers for guest posts. Interviews, Product reviews. And so on.
If people know and trust you, they will give you more and more opportunities.
With all the things that you do in blogging, I have found that it pays to be consistent. What do I mean by that? Let me explain.
First and foremost, post on a regular and predictable basis. You do not have to post daily, or even three times a week, but whatever you do try to get into a routine.
As your audience grows, you will find that they stick with you if they know both what, and when, to expect something from you.
The same can be said for posting and interactions on social media. So don’t start on a platform only to be absent for weeks. It will get you nowhere. I can tell you from experience.
Post regularly and consistently, taking into account the platform you use (lots of tweets, a few Facebook posts, a few pins and so on). You will notice the difference.
If you take a close look at your Google Analytics, you will probably see that quite a few of your readers use mobile devices to reach your blog.
For me it is about 25%.
Make sure that your website works on the most common tablets and smartphones, and on a few other brands if possible. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure you are using a responsive design or theme. This ensures that your readers can still read your content on these “crazy” devices, and that it looks good too. Now that would be awesome wouldn’t it!
I know many of you claim you are not artists. And I know that finding and working on images takes a lot of time. But people really love them. You only have to look at sites like Youtube, Pinterest, or the stats on Facebook to know that images come first.
A picture is worth a thousand words. And even if it is not, it is more interesting to look at.
So spend a little time searching for quality images for your blog post header, and also put a few within the post to help break up the monotony of all that text. We are not at school anymore (at least most of us) so reading slabs of text is boring, intimidating and puts people off.
If you are struggling to find and work with your images, pop over to my image page where I have loads of posts on where to find images, how to work with them, and what creative commons licensing is all about!
Get visual or bore your audience!
If you are blogging with any intention of making money, then you better get serious about your email list. Even ignoring money, as a serious blogger you want relationships with your readers, and this is one of the best ways to do it.
I started way too late with my list, and without taking this issue seriously enough I am still suffering the consequences.
So mark my words young man (as my Grandfather used to say), go get your list sorted now!
If you have not started on your list yet, stop reading this now (ok, read a little further, you are more than half way) and head over to this post to see what email service you must use.
Then, start thinking about what freebie you can make to offer your readers. They unfortunately need incentive to join your list. I know, sounds a little sad, but it’s all about “me” these days. Why do you think you give your name and address when you enter to win that sexy car at the mall?
No one rides for free my friend, so pull you socks up and get thinking. Offer them some information you as a pro know about your niche. Or a few emails (one a week for a few weeks) with detailed tips they can try out. There are many many ways you can do this, so just give it some thought.
You will benefit from it in the end.
As well as keeping the general ideas above in mind, it is also important to pay attention to detail. Here are a few examples of things I have seen that are small, but have a big impact.
Many people add the option to subscribe to their blogs, via a checkbox in their comments (I do too). It is a great way to get interested people (who obviously commenters are) to subscribe to your blog.
But a big mistake many people make is to set this checkbox to “yes” by default and surprise their commenters with a “please confirm your subscription” mail. I don’t know about you but my finger heads straight to the delete key!
It is nice to be offered an opportunity to subscribe easily. It is another to be forced.
If you do this, please turn it off by default. You will win more friends, and create fewer enemies.
I see a lot of bloggers falling into this trap. They are too busy. They have an appointment to get their hair done, or their back waxed, or their shoes shined. Or perhaps they are just out shopping for christmas presents? Who knows?
But after working so hard to get a few comments on their posts, they let them whither and die. Like an unwatered rose in the desert sun!
Don’t be that blogger.
Reply to your comments, preferably all of them. Sometimes I miss a comment or two, but I read, and reply to 98.382% of them. I promise!
Why, I hear you ask?
And I know there are many many more reasons, if only I had had another coffee, I could think of them all. Forgive me.
I am pretty sure most of you have social media buttons on your posts. After all, there are about 1.6 billion of these plugins for WordPress. If you don’t have them yet, then pop over to this plugin list to find one.
Assuming you do have them, a big mistake a lot of people make is to not check that they work properly. (I know, I have better and more fun things to do too.)
And recently, I have read 4 similar posts entitled:
Where is your Twitter Handle? I won’t tweet your stuff without it.
Since reading these posts, I have noticed quite a few blogs that have this issue. And if I see it, I usually let the owner know.
Why is it so important?
There may be some other reasons my tiny little brain can’t think of (let me know in the comments). But 3 is enough, so go and check your tweet buttons!
Another minor, but important point about social media buttons. Make sure people can find out how to connect with you – easily.
If I like what I am reading, and want to connect with you on the social media platforms I use, show me how.
Don’t hide your social media buttons in your footer. Put them either:
I know this post is getting out of control, so this is the last point. But you are going to really benefit from this one, I promise!
Do you have an About Page and a Contact Page?
Yes! Then move on to the end of the post.
No? Then put it at the top of your to do list!
Why? Here’s the thing. People come to your blog not only to read your awesome writing and content, but also to get to know you.
Crazy I know. You thought you were living in an internet fortress and did not have to communicate with anyone. Wrong!
About Page: tells us why you rock at writing this content and also a little about you (what do you do on the weekends? what do you absolutely love?)
Contact Page: there are 1322 reasons why I might want to write to you, privately. Give me that option. Not all your chats should be carried out on Twitter!
So if you don’t have either of these pages, spend a little time and add them as soon as you can.
It has been a busy year for sure, and these are just some of the many things I have learnt about blogging.
I hope you have either:
Have a great break over the holidays, it has been great meeting you in 2013!
I won’t be posting much in the next 10 days, because I am taking some time off.
See you in 2014!
Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).