Last year when I started blogging I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time. I knew two things: 1) I loved to talk about hair and 2) I loved to write. I actually launched my first blog back in 2010, which was a hot mess. My Crown & Glory (click on the link so see how far I’ve come lol) was created out of the need for a creative outlet for myself beyond my corporate 9-5 job where I worked for an insurance company and looked at excel spreadsheets all day. I wrote a post, hit publish and maybe told 10 people about my new blog. I don’t even think I was on Twitter that much at the time and I’m pretty sure I didn’t even post the articles to Facebook. Quickly that ended because I figured I didn’t know enough information to share with others. Fast forward to last year, I decided to give this blogging thing another try only this time I knew I had to go about things differently. When I say I’ve learned soooo much within the past year I’m not exaggerating. My eyes have been completely opened into this world (and business) of blogging. Here are some of the top things I’ve learned during my first year of blogging.
1. Know Your Purpose for Blogging
Why do you want to blog? So many people have told me: hey I want to start a blog! My first question is always “Why?” This may sound like a typical question but deciphering your purpose early sets the foundation for everything that will follow. Do you want to make money? Do you want to establish yourself as subject matter expert? Do you want to write about an industry you love? The strategy you use to build and promote your blog to your target audience is different for each answer. However, if you are not passionate about your main blog topic you might want to reconsider this whole blog thing all together.
2. Know Your Audience
As the marketing saying goes…”If you target everyone, you target no one!”. There’s no way your blog can be everything to everyone so get specific! Who is your audience, why do you think they will want to read what you are saying and most importantly are you providing any value? Knowing and understanding your audience will guide you when writing so you are speaking directly to them. Before I write any post I ask myself: “will my audience care about this?”
3. Get Serious About Your Email Early & Have Something to Offer In Return
Before I started blogging I was one of those people who hated signing up for email lists…until I became the person who needed an email list! Start building your email list from DAY 1 by having readers subscribe to your blog and offer them something in return. Trust me, people will not magically scroll on over to your blog just because you have a domain address. Not even your momma or your best friends. You have to DIRECT them to your blog and REMIND them to read. That’s where an email comes in handy. Your email list is your direct source of communication to your target audience outside of your blog. If Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all crashed today and there was no way to let your readers know you are still alive, at least you will have an email list.
Now, people just don’t sign up because you tell them to either so offer them something in return. When I offered the Textured Talk Healthy Hair Growth Guide as an opt-in gift I gained 250 subscribers in 1 week!
Content SEO is KING
Content is King…yes every blogger has heard that before. And don’t get me wrong content is extremely important but SEO, in my opinion, is just as important. If you don’t have great content then back up and work on that first. However, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is what you need for more people to find your blog through random google searches. 90% of my blog traffic comes from random google searches because I’ve made SEO a priority in my blogging strategy. If you are lost and have no idea where to start with SEO, download the YOAST SEO Plugin for WordPress and thank me later!
5. Get Into Google Analytics
After deciding WHO your audience is, confirm if your assumptions are right by getting into google analytics. I love this because it also lets me know where most of readers are from and I can analyze city by city. Top states for my blog are Texas, New York and Georgia, which doesn’t surprise me. Google analytics will also let you know who’s reading from a mobile device or desktop. This is important to know so you can make sure your website is mobile responsive for all phones, tablets and computers. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve been to where the screen doesn’t automatically adjust, which is the quickest way to loose a reader.
6. Share, Share, Share…and Then Share Some More.
Many new bloggers make the mistake of thinking their job is done once they hit the submit button, when actually the job is just beginning. How do you expect people to read the content you just spent hours slaving over? You must share and I mean share everywhere! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus. Most importantly share more than once and during different times, creating what is known as a drip campaign.
The easiest way to do this is through the plug-in I love – Co-Schedule. This plug-in allows you to schedule posts, tweets and messages for share across all your social media platforms. After using Co-Schedule for about 3 months I used google analytics to compare Textured Talk in April 2015 vs October 2015. I was able to increase my page views from about 5,500 to 30,000 and now I am on track to reach about 50,000 page views this month. My #of monthly readers went from around 1,800 to about 7,500. Why? Because my content (old and new) is constantly being shared around the clock for people to read. Also because I have content that brings value, I know who my audience is, etc….one thing continuously builds off of the other.
7. Have A Top 5 List of Bloggers Who Can Help You Grow!
As a new blogger who had no idea what I was doing a year ago and I craved information! I wanted to learn everything I could to get better and continue to build my platform. Luckily, I’ve come across some amazing women who just have this blogging thing DOWN. Tip: look for bloggers outside your blog category for a fresh perspective. Here’s my top 5 blogger pro list…check them out. By the end of this list you will have your whole blogging life together.
- Regina Angeliou of by Regina
- Tamara Floyd of Natural Hair Rules
- Maya Elious of MayaEllious.com
- Mattie of Mattieologie (it’s really a crime how good the sister-sister duo of Mattie & Maya is!)
- Kate of Secret Bloggers Business
8. Supporting Other Women Is Dope
#7 rolls right into #8. Support other people! There are about 10 million, ga-billion (yes I just made that up) blogs in the world. Chances are you will need support just as much as the next person. Over the past year I’ve often found myself supporting other bloggers simply because I really liked what they were doing. I have a long list of blogger boos and favorites where whenever something new is published or a video posted, I’m sharing, commenting and liking every post.
9. Do As Much as You Can Yourself…You Will Thank Me Later
Building this website is by far one of my greatest accomplishments and trust me it has taken me SO far as a blogger. CSS, HTML, SEO and plugins may sound like a second language to you but I whole-heartedly believe understanding how your blog works from the inside out makes you a stronger blogger. Period. Are there people who design websites for a living? Yes of course, but if you don’t know the basics of your blog take some time to learn a thing or two.
10. Consistency is EVERYTHING!
This is by far the most important thing you must do during your first year of blogging. As I sit here putting the finishing touches on this post all I can think about is going to sleep but…I’ve consistently posted new content for 52 weeks straight and I refuse to slack off now. Stay consistent! If someone scrolls across your site only to see you haven’t posted anything in over a month, chances are they will not have a reason to come back to your blog or take you seriously as a blogger. At the MINIMUM, if you want to be viewed as a serious blogger, you should post new content once a week.
What are some key things you learned during your first year of blogging? I would love to know.
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