Thursday, May 14, 2015

Build a Successful Blog

 
By no means do I consider myself a blog guru.  Stringtown Home is still a little blog in the big ole' blogging world.  But, I have been blogging for a few years now (what?!), and have learned some things that are good to do, and a TON of things not to do, along the way.  Let's work toward building a successful blog, together!
 
 Here are a few quick tips that I've found to be beneficial:

NETWORKING:
(a)  Find other bloggers who you have common interests with.  Blogging often is an, "I'll scratch your back, if you'll scratch mine..." kind of sport.  Visit their blogs.  Comment on their posts.  Let them know that you are still in blogland, and that you're interested in what they are writing.  Many blog readers are bloggers themselves.  If you show them some love, they're likely to show some in return.  Don't stretch for it, though.  If their blog is truly not interesting to you, don't force a relationship.  If you do, you begin to look like a politician seeking votes.  Find other bloggers who discuss topics similar to what you write about, and forge an online relationship with them.  You'll find a dedicated audience, and often friendships that you'll cherish. 

 


 
(b)  Find brands that fit your plan for your blog, but limit your acceptance to things that will interest your audience.  Have you ever been to a blog that seems like you're reading a grocery ad?  The posts are one advertisement after another?  You'll lose your readers.  You have to share quality content that keeps them coming back for more.  Sprinkling in a few ads will only enhance your blog appeal, as it will be obvious that you're choosing what you share with them, and not simply using your site to make a buck (even though we all know that is what we are striving for - income - in the long run).  Think about this - are you more likely to pick up and really read a magazine or a sale paper?  You may glance through the sale paper to see if your favorite brands are on sale for the week, but you probably won't be spending hours perusing through the ads (well, maybe if you're an extreme couponer).  Magazines, though, with gorgeous photos and great content can capture your attention from cover to cover.  Guess what?  There are ads in magazines.  But, they're sprinkled between the great pieces - the things that draw you in.


 
(c)  Social Networking.  I spend a couple of hours a day on social networks.  Some may see that as wasted time, but if you are running your blog as a business, you should devote a work day to it.  Even after spending a couple of hours on social media, and a couple of hours on my blog, I still don't spend the amount of time that I did working an 8-5 job.  Did you know that Facebook allows you to schedule posts throughout the day, so that you don't have to sit in front of the computer for long lengths of time?  Yes!  Your page can be posting while you're working on something else.  As a matter of fact, I typically will schedule my day out the night before.  I begin scheduling posts for around 3 AM, and have a post shared every hour until around 10 PM.  I have seen a great deal of traffic increase since I've done that.  Keeping followers engaged is huge.  I have also begun participating in Twitter parties.  This is a great way to get your name in front of major brands, and there are usually some great prizes offered!  Its a win, win!

Also, use your time wisely.  Schedule quality social networking time (schedule Twitter parties for your little one's nap time, etc.), so that you can really focus on what you are doing, and generate great response.  **Side note - I've noticed the most response from social media posts that are scheduled for early morning, and 3-4pm in the afternoon... perhaps more people are online, then?  Who knows?!**

Social media advertising isn't for everyone, though.  If you aren't comfortable with it, or haven't seen much success from it, don't waste your time.  Move on to something that works for your site, and spend your time pursuing quality audience engagement


 
Focus Your Efforts
You all may have noticed that I went missing for a bit.  I found that I was spinning my wheels, trying to force content for my blog, and I was burning myself out.  I understand that faithfully posting is crucial for a blog following.  As a matter of fact, when I came back, I really felt like I had to start completely over, because many of my followers had moved on.  But, I was not doing well to begin with.  If you aren't even interested in what you're writing, why would anyone else be?  I took time to refocus on where I wanted my blog to go, and forced myself to not randomly post throughout my break.  When I came back I was able to do so passionately, and with more purpose.  If you do go through a period of writer's block, maybe search for prompts to help get your wheels turning.

Regardless, stay true to yourself.  If you are really enjoying what you are writing about, it will show.



Don't OverExtend Yourself
You've heard the old saying, "Too many irons in the fire.."?  That is truly applicable for blogging.  When I began Stringtown Home, I saw all of the wonderful things that large blogs were doing, and I wanted a piece of the pie.  I began to host a weekly linky party, a tour of homes, tried to whip out a craft everyday, build a social media following, comment on hundreds of blogs a day, etc.  It. was. overwhelming.  (Like I said, I burned myself out, quickly.)  While it is a great thing to get your name out there and to be recognized in the blogging circle, if you can't do one thing really well, you certainly cannot do 100 things well.  In other words, focus your efforts on a few key components of growing your blog (networking, social media, finding your niche, etc.), and the rest will come.



As I said before, I am no blogging guru.  I have so much to learn, more so of the "what to do," and less of the "what not to do"... or so I hope, haha!

But, I hope that these few tips that I've learned along the way help you in your journey to start blogging.  Wherever your journey takes you, make sure you enjoy the ride, because THAT is what it's all about.

Do you have any tips for building a successful blog?


Carpe diem, y'all!
-Heather



PS - I've got a great Pinterest board that is full of blogging tips... check it out!

 

Follow Stringtown Home's board Blog on Pinterest.

14 comments:

  1. This is great information, and very useful. I have a question for you: I've noticed that you have some blog design styling skills on your sidebar that I'd love if you'd write up for my blog tips blog. Would you consider it? You know some things that I just don't. Of course I'd link back to you.
    Brenda

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    1. That sounds great! I'll send you an email, and we can work it out... :)

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  2. Great tips, Heather! I would add.... just be yourself and don't try to be someone you're not. People don't like phonies online or off and they can usually spot them from a mile away ;)

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    1. Absolutely! When you aren't being yourself, it shows!

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  3. This was such great info! I needed to read this today as I'm a new blogger feeling overwhelmed! btw I love your site!!

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    1. Don't get overwhelmed! Remember to have fun with it, and take it one step at a time. You'll do great, I'm sure! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words... I'll be by to visit your site, soon! :)

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  4. Hi Heather! I'm popping by to let you know that you were one of Linda's Features for tomorrow nights Party! Congrats, my friend! Thanks for sharing with us!! I look forward to seeing you there!
    Hugs,
    Theresa

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    1. Thank you! I'll definitely be by... love your weekly linkup! Have a great day, friend!

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  5. Hi Heather,
    Found you at Shoestring Elegance. I have been sporadically writing a blog for the past year and trying to figure out what to do with it or where I should be focusing my efforts. Thank you for sharing some of your experiences and lessons.~Jolena

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    1. Jolena, Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your kind words. The most important lesson I've learned is to be true to yourself... :) And, have fun, of course. LOL! Have a great day!

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  6. You're right about not being able to do it all and focusing your efforts in certain areas. Listing your blog goals and priorities really helps you stay focused.

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    1. Yes! Listing goals always helps me when I'm focusing on something. Good tip!

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It makes my day to get a comment from readers... like you! Let me know what you think... if you've tried it before... and any tips you may have!