Tips for Beginning Bloggers

portrait of Bartolomé de Las Casas
Detail from Portrait of Bartolomé de Las Casas

Note: in preparation for my upcoming workshop at the Highland Park Public Library on blogging, I’m updating this post on tips for beginning bloggers. I plan to add comments to the post if relevant to the discussion.

Are you thinking of starting to blog? Whether you are blogging for business, for pleasure or for a favorite cause, there are two major aspects beginning bloggers need to think about:

  1. Technical: What platform will you use to blog? WordPress.com? Blogger? Tumblr? Self-hosted WordPress? Or perhaps some other platform.
  2. Content and Readership: What will you blog about? How will you find readers? How will you get responses (i.e., comments) from readers?

If you are blogging to promote your own business or to sell affiliate products, then that is a third aspect for thought. This post will mostly talk about developing your content and readership.

• • •

I asked some of my favorite bloggers on Google+ the following question:

What is one piece of advice that you would give a beginning blogger?

I organized their comments into categories, and I added a few of my own comments.

Why are You Blogging?

Jack Steiner:

Sustain your effort and understand why you are blogging. That is critical for personal and business bloggers. It takes time to build your platform and to find your voice. Give yourself the time to do so and understand that it is ok.

It is all about realistic expectations.

Haim Cohen:
Blog for a purpose, even if that purpose is to journal privately.

Get Your Content on Your Blog

bloggers

Bennett Ruda: be prepared to invest the time to post on a regular basis.

Praveen Rajarao: As a beginner myself, it was very tempting to achieve overnight success by signing up for all sorts of affiliate programs and try to make money fast.

I later realized that to be a successful blogger, I will need to write content which has NOT been seen or read elsewhere and try to get other bloggers to notice you and your blog.

Jacob Alonzo: 1. Focus on 1 piece of qualitative or quantitative piece of information. A blog entry should not be generic. A blog entry on a recipe on American apple pie can be identical to all others except maybe in how you make or decorate the top crust. But, the reader is left with a singular or valuable piece of information that will stay with them.
2. A beginner blogger needs to blog for themselves alone. Forgo any thought of a follow-ship/readership initially!

Haim Cohen: People like content, so if it is relevant to them, consistent, as well as informative, you should get an audience.

Jeannette Paladino: My piece of advice is make a commitment to blog regularly. Don’t even start a blog if you think you can just post an occasional article. There are literally millions of dormant blogs floating around the internet. You do your reputation no good if a new reader stops by and sees a post that was published six months ago. Blogging is hard work!

What NOT to Write

Catarina Alexon: Search engines record everything and forget nothing. So you should never write anything that you would not want all human beings to read, including your parents, boss or spouse.

Respond to Comments

Responding to comments on your blog is not only good etiquette, it can also expand your readership.

Emily Seuss: Respond to comments so that you can meaningfully engage with your readers.

Bennett Ruda: Following up on what Emily wrote, it is also important to engage with bloggers of similar interests:

  • Leave comments on other blogs of similar interest.
  • Link to posts of other bloggers and quote them by name.

Haim Cohen: If you want comments, make it as easy as you can for readers to comment on it, but obviously stay clear of just allowing anyone to post.

Choosing a Platform for your Blog

Note: choosing a platform for your blog (Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.) is a topic for another post. I will argue if you are interested in making money through blogging, whether selling your own business products or services, promoting affiliate products or using ads, go with self-hosted WordPress.

Suzanne Fluhr notes: If you think there is any chance that you might ever want to self host your blog because you may want the opportunity to monetize it or make it seem more professional, at a minimum, buy a custom domain name and use it from the start (I did this on blogger eventually before I switched it to wordpress.org which let me import the content from the Blogger blog). Be aware that if you start out with a blogger or WP.com domain name such as JoeSmith.blogspot.com or JoeSmith.wordpress.com, you may find that the domain name for plain JoeSmith is already taken.

I leave you with one insightful comment on Google+:

Haim Cohen: Google+ at this point is about to take over for ease of use. Links are public, share able, and have great SEO, and engagement value.

In response to Haim’s comment, I would add that I find some intelligent, educational and inspirational conversations (and lovely imagery, too – many photographers have taken to Google+) occur on Google+. Also, as he notes, the search engine Google picks up the information on Google+ and it receives priority in search engine rankings. A downside would be it is not your own platform with your own name or brand, as self-hosted WordPress would be (or WordPress.com with your own domain name).


As an experiment, I decided to link to each of these people’s Google+ profiles instead of their blogs. I’m wondering if they will attract some new followers on Google+ as a result. If you would like to circle me on Google+, I’m Leora Wenger.

Your Turn, Please

If you are an experienced blogger, how would you respond to my question? Also, if you have any responses to the bloggers’ comments, I would love to hear those, too. What else might you tell beginning bloggers? Thanks!


More posts like this one:

business blog benefits
Biz Blog Benefits
Twitter bird
Twitter Profile
girl stares at laptop
Blog Improvements
Please share:Pin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn

42 thoughts on “Tips for Beginning Bloggers

    1. Glad you liked the format of the post – thank you so much for contributing to the original discussion. I’m finding some very intelligent and willing conversationalists on Google+ – a promising platform for making good connections.

    1. Thanks, Emily. I’m finding Google+ is where the intelligent folks hang out – opportunities for good learning conversations abound.

      Your writing contest announcement is tempting.

  1. Well, I suggest you get your own domain name and set up a blog, while I know that some people cannot afford it, blogger works just as well, but there is a draw back for me with them. You have to log in and if I have to login to a blog, I tend to not bother and move on. While I do, myself have several blogger blogs, I really am not looking for comments…but I did get my first one just the other day on my recipe blog, which I need to go reply to 😉

    But, I prefer easy access — respond and move on.

    It is very important to respond to your blog posts as it helps with your Alexa rankings, actually.

    The way I find other readers is by blog hopping (visiting other blogs and commenting) and hoping they come back to me.

    Great question and about Google+ – I hardly ever go there.

    Linda
    Linda recently posted…Ever Heard of Tradebit? A New Place to Sell Your Products!My Profile

    1. Thanks for all the comments, Linda. I think a good path for beginners is to set up a site on WordPress.com and then set up a domain name. If they really like blogging, later they can move to self-hosted WordPress with its many advantages (and already be familiar with the WordPress platform).

      Agreed about blog hopping!

      Google+ doesn’t yet have masses of people – what it does have is highly intelligent, conversational people and great SEO.

    1. Sharon, most of us learn by making mistakes as we go along. In fact, if you had just been “told” how to do something instead of living it, it probably wouldn’t sink in as well.

      Thanks for commenting on Websites for Small Biz!

      Best wishes,

      Leora

  2. Knowing your purpose can’t be stressed enough. I can’t tell you how many times I ask potential clients what the purpose of the blog is and they can’t give me an answer. Some people just seem to get a business blog because it seems like the right thing to do but they have no idea what they are trying to accomplish with it.

    Secondly, I would say new bloggers need to be prepared to market their blog. After all, you could have the most amazing content but no one will read it if you don’t market it in some way.

    1. Terri,

      Great words of wisdom! It sounds like you do a great job of helping a business think through the blog process. Sometimes, just having someone who has “done it already” can provide a path to move forward.

      Thanks for leaving a comment,

      Leora

  3. Have the following advice for new bloggers:

    1)Use WordPress.org
    2)Write about a subject/s you truly understand
    3)Learn to write like a journalist to get read

    and above all always keep in mind that:

    Search engines record everything and forget nothing. So you should never write anything that you would not want all human beings to read, including your parents, boss or spouce.
    Catarina recently posted…Would you read an article about yourself?My Profile

    1. Excellent, Catarina. I’ll add some of these to the post (probably later this week).

      Personally, I would suggest someone who is posting as a hobby to go with a free platform at first. It’s easier to walk in slowly that way. For a business or business-related blog, it makes sense to go with self-hosted WordPress. Lots more options and more credibility.

  4. This really resonates with me. I have learned a ton since I first ventured into the world if blogging. All that is said here is spot on. No your purpose, be willing to change when you see the need. Learn all you can, the online landscape is constantly changing. Engage with others and your readers. Be consistent with what ever you do. Always, always strive to write the best content you can. Just my takeaways and thoughts. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Woodbridge Moscato Wine 2012My Profile

    1. Great advice, Susan. I love the idea about learning all you can and the warning on how the online landscape is constantly changing. Some have a hard time with those changes – they want to know how to do it once and that’s it. But that’s not the way the web flows.

  5. These are great tips, practical and easy to understand. I also think a whole lot of patience is required. It takes time to find your rhythm in blogging and there is so much to learn no matter how long you’re been doing it that you really have to just be open to learning.

    1. Different points of view is an important key – there is more than one way to blog. Each person develops a unique style – it’s the individual, identifiable voice that usually attracts repeat readership.

  6. I wasn’t getting anyone stopping by my old blog. I joined bloggers helping bloggers and hired someone in this group who helped launching our new blog site. The biggest lesson I am learning which is not forte is to be patient and understand it takes time. As with all social media blogging is a work in progress.
    Arleen recently posted…Evian Dancing Babies | Benefits of Drinking WaterMy Profile

  7. If you think there is any chance that you might ever want to self host your blog because you may want the opportunity to monetize it or make it seem more professional, at a minimum, buy a custom domain name and use it from the start (I did this on blogger eventually before I switched it to wordpress.org which let me import the content from the Blogger blog. Be aware that if you start out with a blogger or WP.com domain name such as JoeSmith.blogspot.com or JoeSmith.wordpress.com, you may find that the domain name for plain JoeSmith is already taken.
    Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) recently posted…Canadians — or at Least, Ontarioians? Ontariesquers? Ontarianites? People from OntarioMy Profile

    1. Excellent point, Suzanne. A friend started her blog on WordPress.com. She was excited about the idea of monetizing, but she hasn’t gotten down blogging regularly. I should make the suggestion of buying the domain now. In addition to the domain being taken, your traffic can also get used to the “correct” domain (meaning, the one you will use when you eventually monetize).

  8. I think the 2 most important things a beginning blogger should focus on would be to write–especially to write on a regular basis & don’t overthink or overwork your post; just get it up for people to see.
    The second thing is to set aside time every day or two and connect, read and comment on other blogs. Use Triberr, or other blogging communities to find blogs and writers you enjoy and create a connection.
    Ann recently posted…Shopping with the Target Beauty ConciergeMy Profile

  9. I too wish I had of read this when I first started out.
    It is nice to read other bloggers thoughts and what they have learned. It’s also nice to know that you are doing things right 🙂
    Becc recently posted…Its been a buggerMy Profile

    1. And when you concentrate on one area, another area may be growing with information! Hard to keep up with it all – but we can help each other out by teaching what we know.

  10. Leora — excellent tips from fellow bloggers. My piece of advice is make a commitment to blog regularly. Don’t even start a blog if you think you can just post an occasional article. There are literally millions of dormant blogs floating around the internet. You do your reputation no good if a new reader stops by and sees a post that was published six months ago. Blogging is hard work!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Should Booz Allen Use Social Media in Managing its Crisis?My Profile

    1. Speaking of which, I need to write a new post and add some of these wonderful new comments to this one. Luckily, I have an interview that just needs to be formatted – next week’s post.

      Thanks, Jeannette, for teaching us with your comment.

  11. I noticed that the bloggers mentioned to have a purpose for your blog even if it is just to personally journal, but I also believe your blog should have a focus as in one particular thing it is geared too. Maybe you are really into biking. You could center your blog on biking and fellow biker enthusiasts would be more likely to return to your page than if your page jumped from biking to your children to recipes to health struggle to planning your wedding ect. This isn’t to say that your blog can have several different categories, just make sure they go hand in hand like fitness and healthy eating. Also, make your focus unique. As mentioned in the content portion, you want to write something original instead of something everybody has already read and doesn’t need to know.

    1. Mary, I believe the term is “niche” – blogs that have a set niche are often more successful. In terms of writing something new, if you feel “everything” has been written already, you need to tell it in your own way. Your way of teaching will be what is unique, even if you are repeating what is said elsewhere.

      I appreciate all your thoughts and ideas on blogging.

  12. I think a lot of beginning bloggers haven’t invested enough time really learning about what a blog is and how it should function before they begin. I know I didn’t. I was just so ecstatic to be writing again that I dove right in. I suppose that’s one way to get started, but I had to do a lot of backtracking because of my zealousness. If only I had started reading blogs before I began my own, I would have a better idea of what to include on my own. Simple things really matter… like where are your follow, share, and subscribe buttons. I go to a lot of writer’s blogs who don’t have those in place. Or with book bloggers, it’s really frustrating when they don’t post how to contact them for reviews. Also, a new blogger should start with at least five or not ten posts already on their blog.
    Jeri recently posted…Where to Find Images for Blogs, etc.My Profile

    1. Jeri, most of the social media stuff didn’t exist when I started blogging! I suppose one could leave subtle remarks in comments to explain about buttons and contact links. But that would only work if they have commenting open.

      Yes, certainly write a bunch of posts before sharing the blog with the general public!

  13. Lenora,
    I would reiterate Jeanette’s comment that blogging is a commitment. Whenever anyone asks me about blogging, that’s the first thing that I tell them. The only way to build a blog is to regularly post content that meets your target reader/customer/clients needs. Whether it’s to find information, buy a product, be entertained etc., you have to give them a reason to visit your site.

    Your “site”! That’s when I make sure that they realize that a blog is a website. Then, I reinforce the “target” reader aspect, talk about goals and (if their goal is business related), I steer the conversation towards strategy. (Sorry I got long-winded. I’m passionate about this. 🙂 )
    Sherryl Perry recently posted…Friday Finds – Facebook Hashtags, Google and CommentLuv do-follow LinksMy Profile

Please leave a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge