Hey friends, I have a really special treat for you today! You know how you're always asking blogging method questions and for little tips and tricks, well Meagan from Because of Jackie is here to share a post chalk full of awesome blogging do's and don'ts-info that's going to answer so many of those questions! You're gonna want to take notes here folks, and don't miss the bonus treat at the end:) Here's Meagan:
Because of Jackie is wearing an Asos coat (similar); J Crew outlet shorts (similar); Target hat (similar) and sweater; and Hunter boots. And fleece tights, because do you SEE all that snow?!
When I began blogging almost three years ago (!), I mistakenly thought that all I had to do was push publish and that would be IT. It took me a long time, with lots of trial and many errors to learn lessons that aren't always out in the open. I found that I had made a lot of mistakes that are very common in the beginning stages of blogging, but that they are really easy to fix. The good news is this: some of these changes are free. (Yay!) The bad news? Other changes DO cost money, and if you are someone who is looking to take your blog to the next level, they are necessary.
Here are ten of the most common mistakes bloggers make (and how to fix them!)
1) Bad blog design is the number one reason I turn away from a blog when I first visit. Bad design can mean a lot of things, but for me it means any type of funky font (all italics or some other weird type), super small pictures that aren't formatted the same size, distracting colors or patterns that cover the entire space, and templates within Blogger that look like a sixth grade website. Should I mention now that I have done all of the above? We all have! We get excited and set up a blog quickly and mistakenly think that our writing and wit will be all we need. Unfortunately, people DO judge a blog by its website, and you are losing readers if you have a poor design. In my eyes, simple is best. Keep you blog design clean and uncluttered so readers can focus on who you are. I like a minimal site myself, but you can add some fun elements to make it look like you. If you are strapped for money, why not choose an all white background with a simple blog title in black? Hey, Natalie Jean is a great version of how this works. It's simple and classic.
Some web designers I love: Blog Milk Shop, Pink + Lola (my blog designer!), Envye Design Shop, and Melissa Rose Design.
2) Do you ever wonder why you comment on a blog post and never get a reply back? Did you know that you can get a reply back?! You are probably a no reply blogger. This means that when I get an an email with your comment and I go to reply to you, it shows up as no reply. Here's why this is important: most blogger's reply to each comment we get, but if you are set up as a no reply blogger we can't. That means we both lose on the community aspect of blogging.
THIS is a great blog post explaining how to change this problem.
3) It took me a long time to realize this, but comments are sort of the open secret of the blog world. It is very, very important to get yourself out there and read/comment on other blogger's posts. Start small in the beginning, find a handful of blogs you like and comment on them as often as you can. I have some I comment on daily, some weekly, and some more sporadically. When I get a comment, I can click on your bog name and find your blog, and I comment back. Not all blogger's do this, but it is such a great way to get your name out their and start networking. Befriending other blogger's in a sincere way is the best part of this whole thing, it creates a network of friends and gets your name out their. It's a win/win.
Here's the kicker: don't just comment to get it done. Blogger's can tell the difference. Just writing, "Great skirt, follow me back?" is a great way to make sure you are never followed back. Be sincere, read the post, and comment sincerely. You don't have to write a novel in each comment box, but it's also not hard to compliment someone and say something nice.
Also, please turn off word verification! It is super hard to comment if I have to squint to type in teeny, tiny little letters. It's easy to change and makes world of difference.
4) Photo size and quality are so important. Clicking on a blog and finding all small photos, or photos of different sizes, is really distracting. I think a post flows so much better when all photos are the same size and have a crisp/clear quality. Find out the width of your blog post area (mine is 600px), and size all your photos to this width. I take my photos in RAW format on my camera, and they are approx 2400 px wide. When I edit them (through Picmonkey), I resize them to 600px and then save them to my desktop. Then, when I put them into Blogger all I have to do is right click on them and click 'original size' and they all line up and are the correct width for my post size. This makes them look more professional on my blog and creates a nice visual. Check you camera setting and adjust the size of the photo before taking your photos. I like taking them larger than I need them, because you can size down a lot easier than you can size up.
5) It's easy when blogging to get discouraged when all the other bloggers around you seem to be getting all these great opportunities and you aren't. You can feel like a little fish in a big pond and feel that you need to compete in order to get ahead. I don't think this is true. There are so many ways we can all be successful, and there IS enough to go around. After you blog for awhile and network through comments and social media, these so called 'competitors' will become your friends. Just like you can be happy for your real life friends when they work hard and achieve what you want, the same is true for your online friends. Be happy for others' success, congratulate them and shout it out to the world. I believe niceness wins on the internet, and before you know it YOU will be the one with the good news to share and others will be happy for your success. I promise.
6) The biggest, best way to get your name out there and gain new readers is through sponsorship. I did not do this for the first year or so of blogging and never grew. It took me FOREVER to learn that you have to get your name out there through sponsorship (i.e. advertising yourself!) to gain exposure. You can do as much or as little as you want, just make sure that you are getting the most for you money, either though a feature post or giveaway spot. I feel that ads alone don't work, so be aware of what you spend your hard earned money on.
HERE is a post I wrote on growing your blog through sponsorship that explains more on what to look for when sponsoring!
7) It is so, so, so, VERY important to network when you are a blogger. One if the biggest mistakes I see is when a blogger doesn't use social media in connection with their blog. So many of my readers are those that I have connected with via Twitter and Instagram. Every morning I wake up and share my new posts through all my social media channels, and often repeat these updates during the day to catch different people. I reword my blog titles and come up with fun ways to draw readers in through my tweets or status updates. I also take the time to share who I am through social media as well. Folks want to know the person behind the blog, and social media is great for that. I personally love seeing Emily's Instagram updates, she does a great job of showing her life through images that keep me interested. I suggest having social media accounts that all have the same username, mine are all for my blog, with the exception of my personal Facebook page that I keep for family and close friends.
8) One of the easiest things you can avoid when blogging is to not have boring blog post titles. I don't know about you, but when I am browsing Bloglovin I will often click on the blogs that catch me right away with a fun title or catchy saying. Give your readers a reason to click on your blog daily! I find quirky titles work for me, as does anything that has a countdown of sorts. The same thing goes for when you are sharing your posts via social media, reword your title to draw readers in out of curiosity.
9) Something that tends to annoy me a lot when reading blog posts are when they offer all sponsored posts or a giveaways every single day. I get it, sponsored posts are necessary to make a profit and if done right are really informative, and giveaways are great. However, look at what you are offering during the week. My biggest hope for my blog is to create useful and helpful posts. I like to mix the sponsored posts and giveaways with more style and 'from the heart' stuff. I don't know the ideal mix of business and fun, but I don't like to do more than two giveaways a month, and I also like to space out my paid for posts. You want to create posts that are valuable to your readers. Think about your editorial content and what you want to convey with your blog. The key is to create a balance where you are writing for yourself and your readers, as well as creating content that earns you an income.
10) The last mistake I see often in email correspondence, social media, etc., is when blogger's aren't being professional. For me, my blog is my part time job and creates an income that I hope to increase. This is my job and I treat it as such. I believe I have an obligation to my readers and myself to treat folks that approach me (and how I approach others), in a professional manner. As your blog grows you will be approached by many people who ask questions, or who would like to work with you. Be kind! My biggest thing is that I do my best to respond to everyone who emails me, or connects on social media. It can be tricky as a blogger, we all hide behind computer screens and it can be easy to be unkind or ignore people because they aren't right in front of us. I think it is so important to create a positive atmosphere as a blogger, ignore the people that don't mean well (they're out there, trust me!), and don't burn your bridges. It's always better to take the high road. I'd rather be know as being super nice and helpful than anything else.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post, I know it's a long one and there's a lot to take in! Everything I wrote has been learned the hard way, and hopefully YOU can avoid some of these common blogging pitfalls. Please feel free to come visit me at Because if Jackie and say hello, I'd love to meet you;) For more blogging info, I also wrote a Blogging 101 ebook, you can find that HERE!
Thanks for that girl! So now as a way of helping you guys get better acquainted with Meagan and her blog, she's offering one lucky reader a $75 gift card to TARGET! You know I'm obsessed with Target, it's an undeniable fact, and as we've discussed many times I know you're obsessed too! So lets get on with it shall we? :)
Thanks again to Meagan for visiting today and sharing so many great tips, and to you guys of course for being here and supporting. Good luck with the giveaway, and have a great rest of your day!