If you’re here on this page, you should have already started your blog! Congratulations! 🙂 (If you’re not up and running yet, please check out my “How to Start a Blog” post, first!). And now, here are of my best tips for new bloggers.
Starting a blog is a huge accomplishment, but what comes next? There are so many ways to improve and optimize your blog, whether it’s by creating consistent content, improving your blogging skills and knowledge, or using helpful WordPress plugins to make your website better.
In this post, I’m walking you through some of the best ways to grow your blog and succeed as a new blogger!
Essential Tips for New Bloggers
1) Work on your photography skills
No one likes reading blogs with tiny, dark, blurry photos! Having attractive visuals is super important for keeping your blog readers engaged and enhancing your written content.
The good news is: you don’t need a fancy camera to make it happen! A smart phone with a decent camera will do the trick most of the time.
First, let’s talk lighting.
Natural lighting is your friend. It makes your images look bright and eliminates the need for flash. If you’re inside, try taking photos near a source of natural light, like a window. If you’re outside and it’s sunny, try taking photos in the shade. (Too much sunlight can look harsh).
Second, make sure your images are large enough. If they’re too small, they’ll make your readers squint. But don’t enlarge them to the point that they become blurry and pixellated. It’s best to take multiple shots in different sizes (some up close, some father away), so you don’t need to resize too much.
Third, simple photo editing can go a LONG way. Adobe Lightroom is a free app you can use to easily make your images better. It allows you to brighten, crop, sharpen, change image hue, and much more.
For more photography tips, check out the ‘How to Take Better Food Pictures’ series of guest posts below! The posts are old so ironically the photos aren’t up to today’s (way higher) standards, but the tips and info are still spot on:
2) Stay Motivated & Increase Your Blog Traffic
So you have a blog, you’ve got your theme all pretty, and you’re publishing posts. Everything is great, but… where are the readers?
I have a whole blog post about how to get more traffic and keep readers engaged – but here are some quick tips to get you started:
- HAVE FUN! If you aren’t enjoying blogging and it becomes a chore, stop. Blogging should be fun, and it will show through in your posts.
- Don’t feel pressured to post every thirty seconds. Save it for when you have something to say. That said, try to be consistent: once a week, once a day, one a month around the same time – whatever. Consistency encourages people to come back.
- Don’t expect to have a million readers immediately, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t. It takes time to gain readership. But they will come if you keep creating awesome content.
- Spend time on what matters. Blogging is time consuming: there’s no way around that. Focus on the quality of your content, so that readers get what they deserve. Quality over quantity.
- Want to drive more traffic to your blog? Here are a few ways to drive more traffic:
- Participate in communities of similar bloggers to get your name out there and get more readers
- Comment on other blogs
- Write guest posts
- Talk to others (like me!) on Twitter (and use hashtags so more people see your tweets – #fitblog and #runchat are good healthy living ones, and #rdchat is good if you are an RD, but there are plenty more!)
- Post links to your blog on your personal Facebook page (and think about starting a page for your blog, too!)
- Share photos on Instagram and Pinterest
- Participate in contests/movements, etc. The more you interact, the more others will start to notice you!
3) Install WordPress Plugins on Your Blog
Plugins are to your blog like apps are to your smart phone. They add fun features to your site, like improving your SEO, encouraging social sharing, promoting your social channels, and more!
Here are a few of my favorite WordPress plugins.
(To install a plugin, simply go to your WordPress dashboard, and click on “Plugins” on the left, then select “Add New.” Search by any of these by name (use the exact name I list), click install, and then follow their instructions for setting it up!)
The Best SEO WordPress Plugins
- Yoast SEO. I know search engine optimization might sound intimidating, but this plugin breaks it down so it’s much simpler! It gives you suggestions for improving your SEO, so you have a better chance of getting found on Google.
- Google XML Sitemaps. This plugin creates a sitemap for your blog, which helps search engines index your posts and pages more efficiently.
- W3 Total Cache. Caching is basically a way to store your pages as static HTML files, so they can be served up quicker to your audience. This reduces your site’s load times, which helps boost your SEO!
- Autoptimize. This plugin is similar to the one above, in that it helps optimize your images and back-end code to make your site run faster.
The Best Social Sharing WordPress Plugins
- Shareaholic. Adding social share icons is great for encouraging your readers to share your blog posts on their social channels! This plugin adds social bookmarking icons at the end of your posts. To see it in action on my site, click over to my homepage, click on one of the posts, and scroll down to just above the comment section. It’s the thing that says “Share and Enjoy!” with an arrow to all the social media sharing icons. (I have it set so it doesn’t show on pages, just on posts, which is why it’s not showing over on this page).
- Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed. This plugin will allow you to add a cute little feed of your recent Instagram photos to your site. It also encourages readers to follow you on Instagram!
- Feed Them Social. As for Pinterest, you want to do the same! Install this plugin to connect your Pinterest feed to your blog.
Other Useful WordPress Plugins for Bloggers
- Comment Reply Notification. Have you ever left a comment or question on a blog and then forgotten to go back and check for the answer? I do this all the time. This plugin will email someone if their comment receives a response, so the conversation can continue!
- UpdraftPlus: There would be nothing worse than losing everything you’ve worked so hard to build! Make sure you install a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus to automatically save a backup of your site.
4) Additional Tips for New Bloggers & Blogging Ethics
As a blogger, there are some ethical best practices you should follow.
When you do start working with brands, be clear about your relationship with them when you post. If you’re talking about a product, for example, you should say if you got it for free. Being transparent is important!
(More tips here: How to Work with Brands as a Blogger.)
And when you use to affiliate links, always disclose them! Near the beginning of the post, mention that there are affiliate links.
For food bloggers: when you try another blogger’s recipe and post about it on your site, simply share a link to their original recipe (and include your own original photos and comments). Don’t repost the recipe on your site – it’s like plagiarizing in the blog world! Not cool.
If you significantly alter someone else’s recipe, such as changing at least 3 major ingredients (not just things like adding walnuts or a little more cinnamon), then you can post your updated version. But it’s still good to link to the original recipe (e.g. Adapted from: RECIPE NAME).
Wondering how everyone adds text to their photos (like I did in the image at the start of this post)? Or creates cute Pinterest-worthy workout graphics? The secret is an awesome graphic design tool called Canva! It’s free to use the basic version, and they even have built-in templates and images you can use. Try it out! 🙂
Want more tips? Here’s another post you might find helpful:
I hope these tips for new bloggers have been helpful. Good luck and have fun!