Mar 3, 2010

Blogging Tips

This is a long wordy post about blogging so if you don't want to read it, scroll down to the bottom to see some pretty pictures! :)

I get a lot of questions about how I grew my blog and if I can share any tips. Since I'm always answering these questions, I thought I'd just make a post out of it. I want to mention that I'm certainly no "expert" at this, I haven't done my research on how to have a "popular blog" this is my experience and my take on it.

I answered this question on my formspring so I thought I'd expand on that.

1. Focus on your content
1a. Write about what you want to write, not what you think others want you to write.

A lot of questions I get are along the lines of "I'm starting a blog, what should I write about?" There is not one thing that I can tell you to write about that will instantly make readers flock to your blog. I write about what I know, I write about what I like, basically I write about whatever the heck I want to write about and just try to keep my blog as genuine as possible. Everything you read on this blog is truly me. It's not a persona I'm trying to keep up, it really is just me. People read blogs not because of the brilliant writing, (yes I do know there are some blogs with great writing but it's not the majority of blogs) seriously, I know I'm not a great writer I know you all aren't here because of that. People read blogs because of the people behind the blogs. So, the point is, just write what you are passionate about, write about what you want to write about and stop worrying about what you think other people want to read. It's not to say that you can't get feedback from your readers. I mean so many of my topics now are what my readers are requesting but to be honest, I don't post every request I get, only the ones that I think are relevant to my readers and that I want to post about. The point is, just be you and let people get to know the person behind the blog. Also, if you have an aim of blogging only for money or free stuff, it's not gonna happen. We can all tell who are those bloggers are and the thing is none of them are genuine. Did I have any clue that I would make even a cent off of blogging? Absolutely not. I had no idea that there was money even to be made! Now that I make a little bit off my blog, it's a perk but it's also not the sole reason why I continue to do it.

2. Comments are NOT the most important thing! Don't stress so much about getting comments.
2a. Install Google Analytics and Stat Counter so you can see and track your traffic.

My next question I always get is "How do I get more comments?" We will discuss how to get those in the next section but I just want to address how so many bloggers concentrate on getting those beloved comments. Sure, I like comments just as much as the next person because feedback about my posts are always great but do I write posts just to get comments? No. The focus of my posts goes to point 1 above. It's about my content not about comments. I've been tracking my traffic in Google Analytics and Stat Counter since almost the beginning of my blog and it's really helped me see how and when my blog has grown. In my opinion that's way more important than the number of comments on my post. My blog has grown a lot in the past year but the comment number stays about the same. Just this past month I had over 60,000 visitors. About a year ago, my monthly visitors were about 20,000. That's a huge jump but have my comments gone up at the same pace? No, they have stayed the same. If you are looking at getting advertisers or sponsors, nobody is going to ask you for your comment stats, everyone wants to look at these traffic stats. Comments are visible to everyone so I think that's why bloggers want more and more comments but if you truly want to grow your blog, concentrating on comments is just not the best way to go. Because of all the emails I get, I know that most of my readers are not bloggers and I don't expect them to leave comments. People that aren't bloggers are more comfortable giving feedback or asking questions privately which I think is great! Not everyone wants to put themselves out there with a blog or even their comments. Basically the group that actually comments is very very small out there compared to the actual readers of blogs. I'm not saying that comments are silly and "who cares about comments" I realize the importance of comments as it creates dialogue between bloggers and readers, so that's what we will cover in part 3.

3. Be a part of the blogging community
3a. Read other blogs that you are truly interested in, comment on them and leave meaningful comments that show that you've read the post and not just a generic comment that seems like it's been copied and pasted onto every blog.

So, you want to get comments but how do you do it? Basically, you get what you give out. If you go to 100 blogs a day and comment on them, most likely you will get quite a few comments back. Will every single blogger comment back to you? No. But a lot will and over time, you will continue trading comments back forth get to know each other through your blogs and maybe even form a great friendship. But the catch is, you can't just click on every blog and leave a comment like "Great blog! Please read mine!" It just doesn't work as it's not creating a dialogue that us bloggers enjoy. If you take the time to read the post and leave a meaningful comment than that blogger is more likely to click on over to your blog and comment on your post.

One comment that I received really sticks in my head as the person wrote something like "Your pick are just meh. I only like that one dress. Come check out my fabulous blog, it's awesome!" This was the first time that blogger commented on my blog and I mean, really, they just insulted my post and now they want me to check out their blog? hmmm... just doesn't work that way. So when I say read blogs and leave a meaningful comment I don't mean you should insult their tastes. I get a lot of comments where people like to criticize me on the very first comment they have ever left. I accept criticism fine from friends that have been commenting on my blog for awhile and that I feel like I know and trust their opinions. I don't mind if someone that I have gotten to know tells me their honest opinion, but if you've never commented on somebody's blog and you insult them right away, it's not the best way to start anything. Do you think that in real life, the first time you meet someone you would say "I don't like that shirt you are wearing." No, you wouldn't but over time if you became friends with them, you would tell them that. Obviously, not in so many words but you know what I mean. I feel like so many people throw all etiquette rules out the window in blogland but guess what, there are real people behind these blogs so treat them as you would treat people in the real world.

The best scenario I can think of is this, let's say you are at a party where there are tons of people around you chatting and having a good time. You are standing in the middle of the room thinking "I'm standing here and I'm fabulous, why aren't people talking to me?" Well, because you aren't making the effort to talk to anyone there so why would anyone even notice you? If you've got this great blog but nobody is commenting, take a step back and look at your own tactics of communicating and commenting with other bloggers. We are a community here and I've never met any blogger who refused to comment back with other bloggers. Give, give, give and you will receive, receive, receive.

I know that I've been terrible at this lately just because of my schedule, my blog reading time has been severely cut down. I can barely write a post, much less read other blogs. I truly miss reading my favorite blogs and leaving comments and I want to create more time but until my job and our business calms down, it's not happening soon. I also know that because of my lack of commenting on other people's blogs, my comments have gone down, but I'm perfectly okay with that. I know that getting comments is MY responsibility not anyone else's so if I don't make the effort than others won't either. I do my best when I have time to respond to anyone that comments on my blog, just the same with my emails. It may take me some time but I do try to get back to everyone. The point is, the only person that you can rely on to get comments is YOU.

4. Join Twitter and be active on it.
4a. Engage in conversation with people you follow, retweet others tweets that you like and share interesting content.

I have found many friends through twitter who's blogs I do not read and vice versa but I've still gotten to know them through twitter and create another sense of a community. The more people that you engage in, the more retweets you get and the more people get to know you which means more traffic to your blog. I currently have over 1500 followers on twitter. Do I know how I got that many? Truthfully I have no clue how it got to that number but I think a big part of it is that when I am on twitter I try to have a mixture of personal tweets and retweeting or spreading the word about other people's tweets and posts or even just general news stories that I think is interesting. The more I engage in other people, the more people see my name in their tweets and the more followers I get.

5. Have fun with it! I blog because I enjoy it and I wouldn't spend the amount of time that I do on it if I didn't truly love it.

I love blogging, I couldn't imagine my life without it. I've made some fantastic friends through blogging, I've gotten some of the sweetest emails in my life from readers that just makes my day, my week, my year. I have found so many woman all around the world to relate to and talk about the things that we enjoy talking about. It is an amazing sense of community and feel so lucky to have found it and be a part of it. Once this becomes a "chore" which I hope it never does I will stop, but I'm still loving every minute of it and that's the most important part.

If you want to read an article by the "experts" I highly recommend this one from copyblogger. Also a great read is Thoughts on Bogging from the brilliant Nubby Twiglet. Please also check out the new blog by my friend Ami (of Elizabeth Anne Designs/Living fame) called Edit and Post. She just started but has brilliant tips for blogging and business! I hope that helps and if anyone has other tips, please share in the comments!

I'll leave you with some pretty pictures that I took recently.

The flowers decided to bloom super early this year and I've been loving all the cherry blossoms around our place.
IMG_3436

I recently bought a macro lens and I love it. I've always loved taking pictures of flowers and it's so much better to do with a real macro lens.
I love my macro!

IMG_3357

Happy Blogging everyone! :)

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31 comments:

  1. Very gorgeous pictures of flowers.
    The second picture is amazing.

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  2. happy blogging indeed! I loved reading this - so very concise and helpful. It's true that people get so hung up on comments. the comments I get in no way reflects my actual traffic. I agree with you that it is so important to cultivate and maintain relationships with people. Of course you can't (or at least I can't) go and comment on other blogs every day...it's all I would be doing all the time but it's important to check in and let people know that you're reading. It's easy to do this now via twitter and FB and all that other social networking goodness. also, as you said, you make friends which I think is so amazing! I love meeting blogger friends in person after following their blogs.

    I also agree that you should just write what you know and what you like in your own voice. Just as it's not cool or fun in life to try to be something or someone you aren't, it's the same in blogging. Besides, I can usually see right through it when someone is being fake or dishonest or basically not genuine.

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  3. Love the photos! I was wondering, do you edit your photos in photoshop to give it that tone?

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  4. I love your voice and opinion on this topic - it's genuine and I can totally see you telling me this in person! LOL.

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  5. first of all, your photos are beautiful.

    this is a great post tiff:) i am so happy that you started blogging because i was able to find you! i can't imagine my life without it and am so grateful that i have become friends with you!

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  6. Yay!! I'm glad we're friends, blog or not!! I'm so glad you mentioned twitter. I would be lost without it, it's really such a great way to build relationships, and it does drive so much traffic to my blog.
    Also...amen on the comments. Yes, I get a lot-but I really care more about my traffic and stats too.

    Love you honey, I hope life chills the heck out soon!!

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  7. This is excellent. This is great feedback and nice to hear. As a new blogger, I have been recently introduced to this new 'community' that I didn't really realized existed until I started blogging! My friends have suggested blogs and I've come across many on my own (including yours) and NOW, I'm addicted. I have a list of favourite blogs, which I check on a daily basis and am getting a few followers on my blog too (which is sooo exciting!).

    I didn't even know Google Analytics and Stat Counter are until you posted this and I've done some research. That is a really valuable tip, and much appreciated. I will get getting that immediately.

    I think in the beginning, it's hard to not focus on the comments, and the thoughts that go along with that, such as, 'I have 0 comments, no one is reading'. However, what you said, really sticks with me, because of course 1. I post for myself, and what I enjoy, but at the same time, 2. I want others to enjoy READING it.

    Overall, great post. Your blog is great and it's one of my daily-blogs I check :) Thanks for the great tips and 'expert' advice :)

    www.amandalconquer.blogspot.com

    A

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  8. Thank you for all the feedback everyone!

    Linda - yes, I edit them in photoshop and I use some of the actions from Totally Rad Actions 2 to get that coloring. http://www.gettotallyrad.com

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  9. Great tips! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, I know a lot of people (myself included) find it very helpful :)

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  10. Thanks for the tips, especially about the comments! I installed google analytics on my blog about a year ago and was really suprised at how many people are reading. People are always telling me that they read my blog but I didn't know becuase they never commented. Because of that I've tried to be more aware of the comments I make (and do it more often). Everyone loves comments!

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  11. Great post Tiff!! I don't intend on blogging but I'm glad to see how popular your blog has become and there's new post almost everyday. I love seeing that you've updated when I check my google reader in the morning! I've followed you since your blog was a wedding blog.
    Your outfits aren't meh...they're fab! I just wish I can comfortably walk around in heels like you!!

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  12. hey tiffany! just wanted to let you know how cool it is to see how much your blog has grown from when we first became blogging friends! this is a great post for new AND old bloggers!

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  13. Hello Tiffany! I love this post and the part that you said to just be genuine and be yourself. Blogs are really about the personality, if I wanted to read just a fashion article, I would buy a fashion magazine!
    I just have a quick question relating to your picture on the sidebar of your blog: Picture of the week: 56/365 with the tree and the snow. I was wondering which lens you used to take a picture of the snow falling? I have a canon and whenever I take it out in the snow the pictures turn out terrible. That picture is stunning though, I would love it if you could share any tips about snow-photography with me! Thank you so much, I love your blog! :)

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  14. Hi Marz! I used my 50mm 1.2 lens. You have to make sure that your lens is fast enough to capture the snow when it's coming down. There's not enough snow in Seattle for me to give you some good tips as I don't have much experience (that picture was taken on a business trip to another city). If you give me some specifics of what is going wrong, like does it come out blurry or too dark? than maybe I can help you that way.

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  15. these are great tips, there are no tricks to blogging...I've learned to stop looking at the stats and just learn to embrace it for what it is

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  16. Hi Tiffany!
    Thank you so much for the tip! It does come out blurry, but I think a tripod may help in taking some snow pictures, so next time I will try that. I will look into the faster lens too as mine is the basic one that just came with the camera body (just got my camera in January!). Thank you so much for taking the time and responding, I really appreciate it. I love your photography so much so it really means a lot to me :)

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  17. Thank you for the tips! I just started my blog recently, and I've definitely been judging my posts based on how many comments I get. I think I'm definitely going to get a counter now to see how my blog is doing. I also like what you said about the quality of the writing vs. the passions of the person. Sometimes I have a good idea of something to blog, but I end up not posting it, because I'm afraid that I am not writing it well enough. Thanks again for the help :)

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  18. Great post. This is all great information for a new blogger, because I struggle with a lot of these issues.

    Thank you!

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  19. I don't know how you work and write such helpful posts all the time. You are awesome!

    I just met a blogger buddy IRL yesterday and we were talking about the same things re: what to blog about, commenting, etc! Thanks!

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  20. Thanks for all the info! I'm new to the blog world, and I really appreciate hearing your personal story. I've linked to you a couple times, mostly whenever I see a really cute post. Like those polka dot tights? SO CUTE.

    I've been lurking for a while. You are always so happy and enthusiastic, it makes my day.

    So, thank you. And I look forward to reading you everyday!

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  21. Hi, I just found you today and this post caught my interest even more than your terrific outfits and travel pics. Although I've been blogging for over 6 years, it is still an interesting phenomenon to me and I'm always curious as to why others blog.
    Even though I've been at it consistently since 2003, I don't have the kind of site that attracts sponsors or freebies, and that's fine with me. As you said, writing with the aim of profit just doesn't work.

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  22. I've been reading your blog via Reader for a long time now, referred by Jenna of That Wife (do you know her?) and this was a great article! I have started a non-personal blog this year (www.honeybearlane.com) and as I've gotten more followers, it's gotten so much more fun to blog. It is great to hear that you still love blogging after all this time and with how busy you are. You have great taste also!

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  23. This post is so informative! One of my biggest peeves is when a visitor leaves a comment about the post they supposedly read. I posted a picture of an Asian girl from the Sartorialist and if the reader had taken the time to actually read my post they would've realized the girl in the picture was not me...but either way she thought I looked great haha

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  24. your blog inspired me in so many ways including starting a blog. It's one of my fave reads daily.

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  25. Thank you for the helpful tips! I love reading your blog.

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  26. So, I know it's a year later, to the date, but I just came across this post and I wanted to thank you for your extremely helpful tips. The blog world can be very convoluted but your tips are fantastic and still extremely relevant, even a year later! Happy Blogging!
    (BTW, love those flower pics. I so want to get an SLR camera :)

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  27. thanks for the tips, they are very helpful as I have recently started blogging about fashion and design, something I am so passionate about

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  28. Just wanted to say thank you thank you for this awesome post about blogging. I just recently started a fashion-tip blog for young moms. It's VERY new and raw in the making and I wonder with each word that I type...."who in the world is ever going to read my blog?" But reading this post has resolidified the reason why I started my blog and I'm so happy to see bloggers like yourself who are honest about your experiences! Thanks for your awesome blog and your absolute fantastic lookbooks. They just ROCK!!!

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  29. Thank you for your insightful ideas!I am a new blogger and its very tough to figure everything out on your own.Its been great to learn from you.Thanks for motivating!Kindly go through my blog and give me suggestions:)

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  30. Wow, this is a great post. Thanks for your insightful tips :) I have been visiting your blog for about 2 years now, and have never left a comment. I just really love your style, and also all the feedback you always seem to give. Your blog is super fun to browse! Thanks for inspiring me to keep blogging!

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  31. wow this is such great advice and you have made me realize some mistakes I make with my blog that might be stopping it from growing, so thank you :)
    P.S: I'm new to your blog hence why I've only seen this post now....

    love your blog!

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