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.
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.
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.
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.