Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers

woman bloggingMy very first blog post was written in 2004 on the now defunct AOL Journals. (I know, right?) Back then I was known as the Mad Secretary, and I wrote a lot of ranty, angsty crap about how much I hated clerical work. Since then I’ve had 3 different Blogger blogs, 1 blog and 1 Typepad blog.

Then about a year ago I bought and started Suess’s Pieces. And you know what, guys? I think this could  be my blog’s forever home.

Anyway, doing this blogging thing for seven years has taught me a lot, and I’m going to share what I’ve learned with all you noobies out there.

Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers

  1.  Accept your blog for what it is. Free blogs are great, and fulfill a very important purpose. But there’s a chance you’ll  end up with blog envy after about a week. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent on my Blogger blogs tweaking the template HTML and trying desperately to turn them into something they could never be. Man, I wish I could get those hours back now.
  2. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You can fill your sidebars with gobs of blinking blog awards, but do you really want to be responsible for giving someone a seizure? If you feel it’s just too rude to ignore awards from other bloggers, you can acknowledge them in a single post. Then just let them gracefully fade into your archives.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to the A-listers. If you didn’t pay a grand for your blog template, don’t compare it to any of those celebrity blogs out there. Yeah they look prettier, smarter, and more customized than yours. That’s because the owner shelled out some serious cash for template customizations and killer design.
  4. Don’t use auto-play anything. Ever. I admit I put some auto-play songs on an old blog like five or 6 years ago. It’s not something I’m proud of.
  5. Make sure your RSS feed works, and publish the full post. Some well-established bloggers truncate their feed to force click-throughs to their site. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine. Although some of the big guys can get away with it, as a new blogger I recommend you publish posts in their entirety for your RSS subscribers. If the content is provocative enough, they’ll still click through.
  6. Don’t steal stuff. Don’t rip off content or photos. If you quote another blogger, do it sparingly and always include a link back to the original site or post. It’s about more than just respecting copyright law, it’s about respecting other people.
  7. Use pictures. There are plenty of places to get images that are licensed for reuse, and you can always upload your own. Even the most well-written posts are enhanced by a simple photo or graphic.
  8. Complete a profile or include an ‘about’ section. Blogging is a social activity, and your readers want to know about the person behind the blog. Even if you’re blogging for your business, it’s a good idea to include some personal tidbits that show readers a real, living, breathing person is working behind the scenes.
  9. Don’t take blogging too seriously. Even professional blogs should be enjoyable to maintain. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and don’t be afraid to fail. If a post or idea  flops, it flops.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Bloggers are a friendly bunch for the most part, so if you have a question about how to do something or you just want some advice? Ask for it! Send an email, post a question, or use a poll to get input from your community.

What advice would you give to new bloggers?

Photo credit: alicja_sto

This post is part of #SummerBlogSocial 2011 hosted by Liz and Jessica and is a response to the prompt, “If a real life friend approached you and said, ‘I want to start a blog. Can you give me a list of helpful tips?’, what 10 (or more) things would you tell your friend?”


0 thoughts on “Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers

  1. Becky Y says:

    Aww…no autoplay? LOL I kinda miss my AOL Journal days where I would upload a new song once a week and feature it on my sidebar. 😉

  2. I never thought about it that way, but you are spot on about letting a blog be what it is. Very well-said, Emily.

    I despise partial feeds, too. It seems like many people are strongly against them.Thanks so much for linking up a post!

  3. I have given you an award.  Please stop by and see it.  The rules are you must tag 7 other bloggers but not until the second Tuesday of the month, post a link back here in the comments, wear your shoes on the wrong feet, and put my damned blinky logo on your sidebar.

    PS:  Cool song playing on your blog.  Is that Maroon Five? 

    ha ha ha ha, sorry.  Have we REALLY been blogging for seven years?  Holy crap.  I miss Lord of Butter.

  4. Elena @NaynaDub says:

    I was so hoping you would have autoplay. 😉 I love #2 and couldn’t agree more on #7. Pictures tell a story, too, and I think people forget that a lot. They definitely enhance posts for me.

  5. You can fill your sidebars with gobs of blinking blog awards, but do you really want to be responsible for giving someone a seizure?- This quote rocked my world.
    And I agree 100% about partial feeds. Its a huge turn-off.

  6. Leslie A. Joy says:

    I started with LiveJournal which was HUGE when I was like 16. I then stopped blogging til I realized that as a freelancer I should probably have something somewhere that made me look like had a clue and was someone semi-credible as opposed to running some sort of newfangled Nigerian Prince scam.

    Anyway, I’d tell any new bloggers to WRITE IN YOUR OWN VOICE. We might not know what you’re real voice is, but if you’re trying to write like someone else everyone can tell-trust me. I know it sounds basic, but it’s true-if you want people to read your blog you have to have some element of personality and interesting content which can only be achieved by writing in your own voice. Trying to impersonate someone just comes off a pale, cheap knock-off of the real thing and people who want to read that person will just skip your blog and read that person.

  7. Great advice. And reading what you do here truly does help. The-spiritkeeper domain I bought. Bucks a-plenty. Finally bit the bullet on skydiaries and bought a camera so I could ad picture-content. No auto-play, ever (makes me want to rip my ears off.) Cheers!

  8. I actually read your blog when you were on AOL and then I lost track of you. I don’t know how I stumbled across you again but I did. Initially I wondered for months, “Is this the Mad Secretary from AOL?”. Can’t believe that was 7 years ago.

    Anywho, what are some sites that have photos that are licensed for reuse?

    • Hi Grizzbabe,

      If you’re on, there’s also a plugin called PhotoDropper. It basically allows you to search for pics that are specifically labeled Attribution or Share-Alike on Flickr. That’s how I get the majority of my blog’s pics for free.

      I also try to go back and leave a link to my blog post on the photographer’s Flickr page so they can see how I’m using their art.

  9. My first blog was on Livejournal in 2004. As a matter of fact, it’s still there
    and I occasionally go back and post something fan-obsessed, which is
    mainly what I used it for. But it’s under my nom-de-net because for 10
    years, I wouldn’t even use my real name online. You know, back when we
    cared about such things. 🙂

    Great list, Emily. If I could add to it, I’d just expand on your point about letting your blog be what it is.

    It’s okay to talk about something other than your primary business focus. Em, I think you do a great job of mixing the personal with the professional. And I can’t help but blog about some of the cool things I do/like around town. I tackle freelance-related topics AND social-life related topics. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    People like variety. And if someone passes by who’s only interested in a certain topic, they can click on a tag or category to read only those entries. Despite what some may say, it can be done.

    • That first AOL blog of mine is gone now, and I wish I had backed it up. Unfortunately, when AOL started shutting things down and warning us to export to Blogger I didn’t care. It’s gone. Maybe if I did some digging with the Wayback Machine?

      I know I would be embarrassed by some of those old posts, but it might be entertaining to poke fun at myself.

      Thanks for the encouragement and the compliment, Candace.

  10. Jamee says:

    Amen to #5!!!! I remove blogs from my reader that don’t post the whole thing! Its so annoying and frustrating as a reader. I added you to my reader to make it EASIER to read your posts not to have to click through to find it.

    All great advice! I will admit that I had auto-play on my blog for awhile (years ago) and thankfully I came to my senses…quickly 🙂

  11. Can I just say that this is one of my absolute FAVORITE posts that I’ve read from the social and I’ve read quite a few today.  Truly written from the perspective of someone who has “done the work”.  I’d like to pick a few of the points that stand out to me most, but they ALL do.  Honestly though, number 9, to not take blogging too seriously is IT for me.  I couldn’t agree more.  Life is too stressful and my sister and I look at our blog as a place to let it all go and have a good laugh at ourselves.  Happy to have found your blog today!

  12. we have some similar tips! so i agree with what you’ve said. I’m still on blogger and I’m ok with that. but i have a new blog that will be on wordpress soon. and yeah, totally don’t try to copy A-listers… it just stresses you out.

  13. Great job on your tips. It’s hard sometimes not to have blog envy when you look at the custom sites that the owner spent thousands on. I can’t stand blinking sidebar badges or music. Both should be outlawed.

  14. Russell @ No Longer Quiet says:

    Well hello there, this is my first time here and I think I am gonna stay awhile!

    You have given me a ton to ponder. I totally agree with the blog design aspect. I finally found a simple template I could be happy with until I could afford the move to wordpress and a custom design.

    Now I am going to go hit the RSS feed button and read the rest of your blog!

  15. Cheryl Nail says:

    Great tips! And OMG AMEN to #4 – that falls into the “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” category. I need to post #3 and #9 somewhere in my house to refer to every time I blog. So nice to meet you through Summer Blog Social!

  16. Leigh Ann Torres says:

    Ugh nothing bothers me more than truncated feeds. A lot of times I’ll click thru if I know it runs on a mobile theme, but it they don’t, there are a select few that I’ll actually click thru to read. The rest get overlooked in my reader or dumped into my “when I feel like it” folder. Great tips!

  17. Fantastic tips.  Funny, I didn’t even think about my old Xanga & Myspace blogs til I read this.  I didn’t think of myself as a “blogger” until a couple of years ago.  Wow.  Those were the days!

  18. Jackie says:

    These are all great tips! I have to remember the first and third ones because I don’t see myself spending tons of money on my blog any time soon.

  19. Oh the music, I can’t hit mute fast enough. Tip #5 is a good one but reminds me that I cannot get my feed posts to un-truncate. It is driving me nuts and I have tried everything!
    Great tips, glad you linked up and gave me the chance to find your blog.

  20. What perfect tips! 

    I adore that you started with your story and went into your I-Learneds {What? That’s a phrase, right?}. 

    The can doesn’t = should? Is gold.

  21. I rarely read the posts if they are truncated. If the post inspires a comment, I click through to the page. There are a handful of bloggers that I’ve found who almost always inspire a comment, so I click through immediately & don’t read it in my reader first. However, I would have never known that if I hadn’t been able to read their full feed.

    Great tips!

    Oh – I had a geocities site…talk about old. 😉

  22. Samantha P says:

    Amen on the auto play.  I have a friend who still has it and if my speakers are on, it scares me to death every time! 

  23. Samantha P says:

    Amen on the auto play.  I have a friend who still has it and if my speakers are on, it scares me to death every time! 

  24. Olivemommy says:

    Good tips. I have been reading RSS feeds and have failed to make sure mine is the full text. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves, even as a newbie

  25. Um…I’m stalking you I think. 3rd comment in less than an hour. I promise that I’m harmless. Mostly. Your very good list raises this question for me, about blogger v. writer. I mean, a blogger is a writer but not all writers are bloggers, so why is important for readers to know the ‘real” blogger behind the words (in terms of having a good “about” page). I agree with you–I like knowing that there is a “real”person behind the blog in a way that I don’t when I’m reading a novel. I wonder why that is? What’s the expectation when we read a blog (which is also an essay, I think, even if a short, mini-essay).

    • I think the answer to this is that blogging is inherently more social and conversational than reading a novel. But I would note that I, personally, always flip to the back jacket to see if there’s an author photo and a bio. And the fact that personal information is published on hardcopy and electronic books at all indicates I’m not alone in my curiosity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s