[Yes, I’m a huge dork and trying some more “artistic” (??) shots lately, like the above. Bear with me.]
To keep from getting too lonnnnng yesterday, it made sense to split this list of ten tips into two posts! You can read part one here, and picking up where we left off…
6. Take decent photos.
You don’t have to be Ansel Adams, and you can take them on your iPhone, but TAKE PICTURES! Blogs are very visually-driven. People who “discover” your blog will make up their mind in the first several seconds if they want to stick around and read on. Use photos to engage and break up long blocks of text whenever you can. It’s photos that get pinned on Pinterest as visual bookmarks, and photos that best describe the things you’re talking about. Photos make the content – and you – “real” to readers. No need for a fancy camera or mad Photoshop skills, just make it a goal to take clear (in focus!) photos that illustrate your posts and upload them at a decent size (readers hate thumbnail size pictures!). A final tip? Use horizontal / landscape photos (as opposed to vertical / portrait) whenever possible – they are easier to view on tablets and phones, and smaller computer screens, and people don’t have to scrollllll dowwwwn to see the whole image. Plus, they’re more Pin-friendly.
Note: If you are into the Photoshop thing, you can learn how to watermark your pictures here to further brand yourself and your blog, and protect your photo property.
7. Read about blogging.
This goes along with reading other blogs, but read BOOKS on blogging, as well! One of my recent favorites is Blog, Inc by blogger guru, Joy of Oh, Joy!. Whether you’re blogging just for you, or looking to make your blog into a business, this book is full of wonderful tips and advice from someone who has “made it” in the blogging world.
8. Keep setting goals for yourself.
You can’t learn and implement every single thing you want to do with your blog overnight. I first worked on just keeping a regular schedule of posts. Then I added a facebook page to manage. Then I tried out Twitter. Then I decided to step up my photography skills. Along the way, I worked on the many aspects of creating a visual brand for my blog from the color palette to the logo, so it wasn’t so random. Most recently, I got on the BlogLovin bandwagon and opened an Amazon store. You can’t do it all at once, but make a list of the top few things you want to try out with your blog, then attack them, one at a time. Expand your blog into an Etsy shop. Start a photo contest on Instagram. The possibilities are endless.
My goals for myself and LIY this year include monetizing my blog by offering up ad space (and have been rearranging the design of the site to accommodate this). I also want to start working with video – of house tours, tutorials, and more. Setting goals keeps you moving forward and helps to keep fresh ideas churning.
9. Consider guest blogging for others, and vice versa.
Because I don’t claim to be an expert at anything (but have friends who are!) I have asked them to write guest posts for Life In Yellow in my Guest Blogger Series. This has been a great way to generate some monthly content that I wasn’t responsible for writing myself, it brought some fresh ideas to the blog, and it was good publicity for those who contributed. Take a quick flip through your list of contacts – there’s a wealth of people with great skills and information to share in there!
To get your own name and blog out there, offer to write guest posts for other bloggers. Pitch an idea, write the intro paragraph, and offer up some background info on yourself and your site. The worst they can say is no, thanks!
10. Whether it’s opinions or personal information, find the line between keeping it real….and over-sharing.
Keep the drama to a minimum. There’s a “draft” option on your blog dashboard for a reason. Any time I’m considering sharing anything that errs on the more personal side of my life, I type it out candidly, as I’d say it to a friend. Then I save it as a draft and sleep on it. Sometimes I come back, re-read it, and feel totally fine to hit “publish”. Other times, I’m glad I waited, and I take a fresh pass at editing my words. I like to keep things real, and never want to come across as phony, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has read a blog where there is just too much drama, over-sharing, complaining, or just plain inappropriate content. Yes, you have the freedom to say what you like. But keep in mind, if you’re putting “journal” like content out there, it’s in a place that is anything but a lock and key diary environment. Think twice about the opinions you share and how you share them.
As for the people who appear on the blog, be wary of anything that might compromise someone’s privacy or safety. It’s been a weird lesson to learn, but even after not sharing our address or even our town directly, I’ve had well-meaning readers contact me to tell me, “Hey! We live near each other!” or I meet someone in person who’s actually read the blog and recognizes me (even crazier!). It’s fun to hear this – and I know it’s totally innocent – but it’s a reminder to me that whoa, people are reading what’s out there, many more than I realize or know personally. Be smart. Sharing a last name or an address is not crucial to the story you’re telling. If kids should enter the picture some day, I’m still on the fence about how to share information about them. I’ve even gotten in the habit of sharing the party details in an entertaining post, rather than photos of the guests. In general, you just never know where someone’s comfort level is with being published to a wide audience of strangers.
When it comes to our property, I share just about every detail of the inside of our home from floor plans to detailed photos. So to protect our home, I don’t post anything ahead of time about going out of town. In photos, I blur out the brand of security system we have. I try not to show much of our surrounding neighborhood or landmarks. I don’t write all this to make anyone paranoid – and it’s no fun to read a blog where the author puts up a wall – but I would advise anyone writing a blog – for 2 people or 2,000 – that it never hurts to be more cautious than less.
So there you have it! I’m sure none of this was earth-shattering, but hopefully it helped get you thinking about the blog you want to start and where to begin! If you have a blog already or are off to start one, share the link in the comments, I’d love to check it out! (And others can see it that way, as well!) Happy blogging! 🙂