I have a special guest for you guys today! Angie, who blogs at My So-Called Chaos is a seasoned veteran at blogging. She knows her stuff, and has graciously offered to share the expert tips she's learned along the way. Seriously, you guy are going to love this post, so I'll let Angie take it away. After you're done reading, we've teamed up to give away ad space, so make sure you enter the giveaway. I'll be giving away ESPN sized ad space, and Angie is giving away her biggest, in-post spot, the Caffeine IV!
Hello readers of Venus Trapped in Mars! I'm so excited to be visiting today and want to send a huge THANK YOU to Sarah for letting me take over today.
My name is Angie, and I've been blogging over at My So-Called Chaos for over six years now. I'm a single twenty-something (OK, lets be real, I started my last year as a twenty-something this past Saturday... Next year I'm going to be a thirty-something. Whoa.) creative type living in Salt Lake City, Utah with my cat Emma. I work full time in technical support, am going to school part-time to pursue an English degree (I want to be a writer, who'd have thought?), I manage a few blogs and a small handmade shop, and I'm currently in the process of becoming a first time home buyer. Whoa. I suddenly feel so grown up.
One of my favorite things to write about on My So-Called Chaos is tips for bloggers. I love sharing my knowledge, so I started a series called The New Blogger Series (though it's really good information for bloggers at any level) in which I offer all sorts of tips. Anything from Understanding Blogging Lingo to Basic HTML for Bloggers. So today I've prepared a post about 10 of the most common blogging mistakes I see when I visit other blogs, and I've provided some ideas to help you resolve the mistake for yourself. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions!
Mistake Number One: Not Listing Your Email
There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to get a hold of someone but being unable to find their contact information. By not listing a contact email on your blog you are keeping other bloggers, possible new friends, and even companies/possible business arrangements from getting in touch with you.
But what about contact forms? Contact forms just don't cut it alone. It's okay to use a contact form, but you should also list your email somewhere nearby as well. Why? Contact forms are not always reliable-someone can submit a contact form and be unclear on whether you're actually getting it or not. Coming from someone who has used Contact forms both to send and receive, it gets to be frustrating. I've personally moved completely away from contact forms.
But what about spammers? Spam email is a legitimate worry for most of us who post our emails on our blogs-and I wont lie-they do make it through; however it's not nearly as often as you'd think. The majority of spam emails are caught by my email provider's spam filter, and the rest are easily ignored/reported/deleted. If you're really worried about it, create a separate email for your blog and personal life. You should have an email address that implies it's connection with your blog anyway.
Mistake Number 2: Not Responding to Comments
Not taking the time to reply to the comments that people leave you on your blog is a big faux pas in the blogging world. People take the time to leave you a meaningful comment in order to engage with you, and if you never engage back with them they start to feel like you don't care and they stop commenting... Eventually? They stop reading your blog at all. Whether it's a direct reply or an email response-you should definitely be letting them know their input is valued.
The best solution? Install a commenting system that allows you to reply directly to their comments in the commenting section, especially one that notifies them of your reply. I personally use Disqus and I love it, but I also like when people use CommentLuv because it also has the ability to show the last blog post from the person commenting-making visiting them back easier,
Mistake Number 3: Ignoring Social Media
In this day and age social media is so much of what you're doing. If your goal with your blog is to grow and to reach more people, you need social media. You need more ways to connect with your current followers, with future followers, and more ways of contributing to your brand.
Yes, your blog is your brand-and any good brand this day needs at least a Facebook page and a Twitter profile. Other than those two I would highly recommend you also have an Instagram account and a Pinterest profile-but why stop there? There are so many places you can leave your mark, Google+, Tumblr, Stumbleupon, Bloglovin, etc. Those are just my main recommendations. The more places you're connecting with people and sharing your content, the more views you're going to get and the bigger/faster you'll grow.
Want to learn more about Social Media? Check out this post: New Blogger Series: Social Media
Mistake Number 4: Not Making it Easy to Share Your Posts
Allowing your readers to share your posts is a very good idea, because then your posts aren't only being seen by your followers, but all of theirs as well. Make your posts easy to share. Include an image that can be pinned/add a pin-it button, and add other share options to the post.
Mistake Number 5: Being Inconsistent with Your Branding/Design
Human beings are very visually oriented. A good blog should have a consistent design that also carries out across your social media platforms. This means using the same fonts, color scheme, and some basic imagery across the platforms. Make it easily connectable with your brand-you want people to see something come up in their feed from your page and instantly be like "oh that's this blog!"
The same can be said for social media handles too. Make your usernames for your social media profiles match your blog in some way. Personally, with my blog being My So-Called Chaos, I use the handle mysocalledchaos virtually across all platforms. This makes it easy to associate it with my blog and people know what they are getting.
Mistake Number 6: Making Posts Difficult to Read
This is a big one. The main point of writing blog posts is so that people will read them-but what if they're hard to read? Well, people will eventually stop even trying... All but those nearest and dearest to you. How can you make your post readability better? Try these simple tips:
- Make sure the words pop out from the page. Light/white writing on dark/black backgrounds, or dark/black writing on light/white backgrounds. Boom. Easy to read. Honestly? Don't ever use Highlighter Yellow for your basic text... It's awful. I guess any bright neon color should be avoided for main text-use these colors to accentuate certain things if you must, but keep your basic text color simple and easy to read.
- Use a simple font. Yes, there are so many cutesy curly curvy fonts available to post in-but don't. Use those for adding to your graphics or possibly your post titles, but keep your main text a good clean simple font. Reading long blog posts in those fancy fonts can hurt one's head.
- Make your text a decent size. Don't post everything in super-tiny or super-large fonts. Stay between size 10 and 14 for your main post, and make your title/header larger so it stands out.
- Always use proper formatting and paragraphs. Don't write one massive block of text-in my experience people tend to just skip most of it or give up half way through. Formatting is your friend.
- Add an image. Again, people are typically very visually inclined. A great image not only allows someone to pin the post, but it provides something visually appealing to look at-try and make all of your images the same width in your posts, and big and well-fit is best! For more information on sizing/positioning photos check out THIS POST from my new blogger series.
Mistake Number 7: Violating Copyright/Using Other's Photos without Permission
This is a very common one, especially for new bloggers (I know I've done it in the past). You see a photo you like on the internet, on Pinterest, in Google Images-and it just fits so well with the post you've just written. Surely it can't hurt to include it in my post? It can hurt. I've heard of bloggers getting sued for using photos that aren't their own-and they lost lots of money over it.
What if I give credit? That wont always work. The only time I use someone else's photo is when I'm linking directly to their shop/site/article where the photos is used-and only if I'm specifically talking about them. Otherwise I use original photos or stock photos from people/sites that have released the rights on them. For example, all the photos in this post come from Unsplash. But there are so many other sites out there with both free and inexpensive stock photos available for your use.
Mistake Number 8: Using Pop Ups that Make Your Blog More Trouble Than It's Worth
No matter how big and well-read your blog is, if you have constant ads or banners that pop up and make the page unusable until something is done about them, you will lose readers. It's just the fact of the matter-no one wants to click on a link for your meatloaf recipe and be bombarded with pop ups asking them to subscribe to your newsletter or view the ad. If it happens often enough, they'll just stop clicking on your links because it's more trouble than it's worth. Re-think your strategy there-maybe set up a system where the pop up only comes up once every ten visitors? Or just stick it in your sidebar and let people decide for themselves.
Mistake Number 9: Putting Too Much Stuff in Your Sidebar
This is easy to do, and I've been guilty of it so many times... There's just so much stuff you want to share with people, how do you narrow it down? Unfortunately you have to. If your sidebar is crazy full of junk it makes your blog seem really cluttered and people will most likely discount anything in the sidebar at all.
What can you do instead? Focus on the important stuff. The ways to follow you, your sponsors, popular posts, etc. Figure out the most important things you want people to see and then narrow it down to just those things in your sidebar. If you have to, create a separate page for other things like your favorite links, buttons, etc. and just put a link to it in your sidebar or navigation. That way they see the important stuff, and can go look at all the extra stuff if they really want to.
Mistake Number 10: Not Knowing Your Own Value
This is probably one of the biggest mistakes you can make, and it doesn't just keep people from reading your blog or finding you like a lot of the others, but it hurts you. Not knowing your own value can cause unnecessary stress and burn out, and the way you value yourself teaches other people how to value you as well.
Knowing your value is 100% necessary if you're going to be a for-profit blog or accept any kind of money/advertising on your site. You work really hard to build your brand and provide good content that brings in the page views, so don't take less than you deserve for that hard work. Don't let companies take advantage of you and don't de-value yourself by accepting content that doesn't fit or that you can't support. This is your space.
If I had a dollar for every time a company contacted me and tried to get me to write about or promote their company for free-I'd have enough to pay for several years of hosting. When a company emails you to say that you could write about their product (without compensation or anything in return) and that in turn it will bring you good publicity-they are full of it. A company with enough publicity to bring you the amount of publicity to make it worth your time can afford to pay you-if they can't afford to pay you then they obviously don't have enough publicity to do you any good.
That being said, just because a company offers you compensation to write about them, does not mean you have to accept. If it's not something in line with your beliefs or something that fits with your blog, turn it down. You don't want to feel like a sell-out, and you don't want to flood your readers with products you don't actually support. So know your worth, both in terms of deserving compensation, and in not having to accept something just because it's a paying gig. You deserve it!
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