GROWING YOUR BLOG

Before I started to write this, I did think to myself “who
am I to give people advice on blogging?”, but I’ve been writing this online
diary for over five years now so instead of specifically giving advice, I
wanted to share my experiences and what I’ve learnt along the way to help you
potentially grow your blog.

My figures are tiny in comparison to some blogs. I look
online and see that The Blonde Salad is set to make $8m this year alone. That’s
through her blog, her sponsorship deals, her shoe label…all the things that
come with being an international blogging superstar.

Even when I go onto Tots100 (not because I have a baby, but because
I genuinely find some of these lifestyle blogs interesting to read), I can see
that some blogs attract over 100,000 page views a month. I’m not even close to
that. But what I can say is that since I started following some steps from the
start of this year, I can certainly say that I’ve seen traction in my blog’s
growth.

Plan, plan, plan

I never really used to give much thought into planning my
blog schedule. I write for a living and my day job needs both a features list
and an editorial calendar for the day/week/month. But up until the start of the
new year I just wrote what I wanted to write each morning.

Now I have a list app on my phone which allows me to jot
down ideas when they come to me (usually in the middle of the night), and
remember bits I’ve seen and want to blog about at a later date.

I also have a calendar which I write important dates in, for
example fashion weeks, red carpet events etc so now I can be prepared when it
comes to outfit rundowns, which I like to put on the blog sometimes.

It also helps to see that I’m not posting too much of the
same stuff. I’d really like to get some kind of routine going such as a
collective of favourite reads from that week which I’ll post every Sunday
morning. Getting into more of a routine enables you to have the time to plan
these things in advance.

Be social

We all have Twitter/Facebook/Instagram but how many of you
post things waiting for likes, retweets and comments without bothering to do
any of the above for others. I’m totally guilty of it too, so I made a
resolution earlier this year to try put the social in social media.

I started to comment on peoples pictures on Facebook, talk
to bloggers I liked or had something relevant to say and left comments on blogs
I enjoyed reading. I retweeted blog posts I like, I regrammed pictures with a
direct link back to that blogger, if I used a picture from a blogger which I was
writing about I linked it straight back to their site and I tried to show some
blogging love, instead of waiting for it to come to me.

And it was all genuine. There’s nothing worse than receiving
a comment on your blog or Instagram and reading “follow for a follow?” or “I’m
running a giveaway, take a look”. You obviously haven’t read my post and I don’t
follow just because you follow me. This is one element that I don’t like about
the blogging community.

Spamming aside it’s great to become part of that community
by joining in with Twitter chats which take place through the week. If you
haven’t joined in on one already I’d suggest #Lbloggers which is for lifestyle
bloggers and takes place on Sundays and Wednesdays from 7-8pm, #FBLChat which
is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle chat and takes place on a Tuesday at 8pm,
and finally #fbloggers which is purely fashion and runs every Monday and
Thursday from 8-9pm. It’s easy, you just see what the question is that day and
put your two-pence-worth in. I have an opinion on most things blogging related,
and it’s great to read how others gauge this little online world we find
ourselves in.

Snap it

Up until last year I was very inconsistent when it came to
blog photography. I mean, some of it was absolutely shocking. I used to add so
many filters (CameraBag I now hate you) that my pictures were distorted and not
professional looking at all. I think that’s fine when it’s just your hobby and
it’s about the writing, but for me I’m a perfectionist so I want to create a
site which not only reads well, but looks nice as well. If growing your blog is
important then I definitely think quality images are key.

I’m always drawn back to blogs with beautiful photography (ABeautiful Mess, Paris in Four Months and Gary Pepper are amazing at this) and
this is why I wanted to invest in a good camera and start really thinking about
how I shoot things. I bought a NIKON D3200 which I have since broken the lens
on, so I’m about to buy a 55ml prime lens. I would recommend to anyone really,
if you’re going to buy a camera, I’d just get the base of it and forget the
lens kit. You can just go straight out and buy a 55mm one then which is a much
better quality.

Another piece of equipment I’m about to purchase is a remote
control. I can’t tell you how long it takes me to do an outfit post when I have
to set my timer for 10 seconds, run back to my spot where the lighting is just
right, strike a pose, run back to the camera, check the picture and then do it
all over again because nine times out of ten, the image just isn’t how you want
it to be. It’s all very easy when you’ve bagged yourself a photographer
boyfriend but some of us are still waiting to find him.

I’ve also started to collect props and backgrounds for still
life shots. If you see a great image in a magazine, save it. For cheap props I’ve
found bits in Primark’s homeware section, The Range, TK Maxx and even auctions.
I recently bought an old typewriter for my hallway table for £10 at a house
auction, which looks great when used in the background of blog posts.

And if you’re not completely happy with an image, don’t use
it. You’ll only end up stressing about it after it’s gone live and then it’s
out into the world for all to see. They probably won’t notice any difference
but you will.

The three R’s

For a long time I wrote what I thought people wanted to
read. I couldn’t snap out of the style I wrote for my day job (which is for a
business title so is far removed from the style I wrote when I’ve had things
published in Company magazine and LOOK), so my blog didn’t sound personal.

But
then one night I sat and wrote a piece about my weight loss struggle and boy
did that go down well. It was because it was readable, relatable and real. The
three R’s. Since then I’ve realised how people want to read I Heart Fashion as
a blog and not a website, which I couldn’t distinguish at first. Write in which
ever style you feel comfortable with but make it personal to you.

Oh, and
double check your spelling and grammar before you press publish.

Push yourself

Sometimes we can all drop into a blogging black hole where
motivation is at its lowest and we feel like pressing the Delete Blog button.
But that’s the blogging god signalling to you that you need to take a break,
put down the laptop and start living life. I sometimes have these breaks and
they come when I start to feel like it’s a chore rather than a hobby. It’s usually
after these lulls when my best ideas spring to life.

I decided this year I would really push myself to create
unique content on my blog. I was interested in much more lifestyle bits and
bobs now, especially interiors, so to be inspired I spent time looking at
Bloglovin and Pinterest. This isn’t so I could copy ideas, it’s so I’m inspired
to start thinking of new ideas for you, the readers. If there are posts which
you think are unachievable give them a try. I would never put an outfit post
together this time last year but now I have a room with decent lighting and a
good camera then it’s not so bad.

I’ve also really branched out in terms of the topics I write
about – I love crafty posts, so am pushing myself to do more of those and once
you start pushing, then you’ll get better and better.

Learning the basics

SEO is one area I’m not very clued up on, but to get your
blog noticed on search engines you’ll need to add words which will be picked up
on when people search on the internet. So, for example, when you type in UK High
Street Blog on Google, I should come up on the first page (sometimes I’m at
number one, which makes me extremely happy). That’s because my blog title has
those words in it, and every time I write a post I add the tags ‘UK High Street
Fashion and Lifestyle Blog’. I have nearly 1000 posts so that really helps.

The title of your blog post can increase your visibility so
make sure you call it something which is relevant to what you’re writing about.
For example, I’ve called this post: Growing Your Blog Further instead of The
Three R’s, which I was originally going to call it. That’s because when people
search on Google/Bing/Yahoo they’re more than likely going to type in those
words if that’s what they’re looking for.

Adding key words is super easy, as long as it flows properly
with the content. Say with this post, I wanted to increase its visibility so I’ve
added the words “growing your blog” a couple of times. Now, this flows properly
but it also helps with search engine optimisation.

Labelling your images really helps too. So instead of saving
a picture as IMG234.jpg, save it as advice-on-growing-your-blog.jpg for example.
That way Google’s image search will pick that up. I get so much traffic from
images I’ve used through Google so I know this definitely works.

Be your own cheerleader and link up your past posts. In here
I’ve linked up to two of my previous posts, with the aim of keeping readers on
I Heart Fashion for as long as possible.

And finally, get on Google Analytics and really analyse what’s
happening on your blog. I realised people like to look at my blog around 1pm
but I’ll still pop a post-up first thing, then use Tweetdeck to make sure
throughout the morning and at 12.55pm specifically, there are links going out
telling people what I’ve blogged about. Oh and I think this is pretty well
known throughout the blogosphere, but if you post on a Sunday, you’re pretty
much winning.

I really hope this post has been of some use and thanks for
at least reaching the end. Happy Weekend lovelies and if you’d like to know the
answer to anything specific drop me a line below.

About the author
Victoria is the editor and founder of award-winning interior design blog Apartment Number 4. When she's not scouring Pinterest for the latest in home decor inspiration, she's out shopping trying to recreate the looks herself.

3 Comments

  1. Definitely all valid suggestions! I find the being social part the most important, next to creating original and interesting content. Joining Facebook groups when you're a young blog can really help grow your audience, get comments and participate in collective giveaways! I found this the main way by blog is growing. This is a great post, thanks for sharing your experience!!! 🙂
    xo
    Alice|Alice's Beauty Madness

  2. Wow, this post was so helpful! I'm a new blogger so didn't really have any clue where to start but this has defintitely been a huge help, so thank you 🙂 hope you have a great week xx
    Jocelyn – sxfehaven.blogspot.co.uk

  3. Hiya, really useful stuff there! Never thought about the renaming images thing, a handy trick, I'll definitely start applying that from now on. Thanks! Kirsty (Bob) x

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