6 things I wish I knew before starting a blog

RiotRanch_August

Have you ever wanted to start a blog?  Maybe you’re a new mom and you want to share your experiences with other new moms.  (Known as an “Oh my God, what have I done” blog.)  Or maybe you’re a surfer and you want to talk about wet suits and board wax and all the other things the people at work can’t stand hearing you talk about anymore.  Or maybe you’re just really tall and you want to talk about how really tall you are.  (This is not that crazy — there are blogs for everything.  Once at a blog conference, I talked to a woman about her “weak pelvic floor” blog.)

Well, I’ve had my blog now for about two and a half years and it was only recently that I realized how to have a blog.  In the next couple of months, I’m going to work on doing these things that I should’ve done in the very beginning.  And if you’re going to start a blog, I recommend you do these things right away.

1.  Take really really really good pictures.

People are used to seeing beautiful pictures online.  They have like half a second in their busy technology crazed modern lives to stop and look at your blog.  They don’t want to see some weird partly blurry photo from your iPhone of you in the Grand Canyon.  They want to see a National Geographic worthy picture of the Grand Canyon.  Then they’ll press all sorts of sharing buttons and retweeting buttons and like buttons and your blog will suddenly have a lot more people following you and your adventures just because you took the time to take a nice picture.  (Which reminds me — I need a new camera.  Do you have a DSLR camera that you love and can recommend?)

RiotRanch_sunset

Took this with my iPhone…

2.  Write very clear titles for each post.

This is a google search thing.  In the past, I have always titled my posts in completely nonsensical ways — more like jokes only a few people are in on.  My first instinct for the title of this post was, “I’ve changed the way I do business!”  This makes sense to no one, especially not to google which is trying to figure out where to put my post in a search.  I always thought I was being clever, but it turns out I was just being a big silly pants.  Not the first time, certainly not the last.  So from now on my titles will be more official-like and business-y.

RiotRanch_chickenhead

Don’t be a chicken head — start a blog!

3.  The very first sentence of your post should reflect the title.

This is a also a google thing.  Your first sentence should have some of the same words as the title — like you’re writing a high school paper.  I’ve written over 500 hundred posts and I didn’t know this until last week.

4.  Out of all social media, pinterest is Queen.

Sure you can tweet about your blog, Facebook it to death, google plus it, instagram your every waking moment, but pinterest rules over all of them.  (I was going to add LinkedIn to this list but I still can’t get excited about LinkedIn.  To me, it’s like the Diner’s Club of social media.)  Paying attention to pinterest goes back to the pretty picture thing.  Take pretty pictures, put them on pinterest, people will come to your blog.  It’s that simple.

5.  Be aware of your traffic and blogger terms like “bounce rate”.

It’s important to see when people are coming to your blog and why.  This single aspect of blogging has terrified me more than anything else.  I have always avoided looking at how many followers I had and how many people are visiting my site — I’ve seriously never ever looked.  It been like I’m hosting a party and I didn’t want to see how many people showed up.  Checking my traffic seemed like checking my popularity and since I perceive myself as a misfit/outcast/social pariah, I just couldn’t handle the possible rejection.  But I will check my traffic.  And you should too if you start a blog.  I haven’t worked up the courage to check my traffic yet, but I will do it at some point in the near future after having a stiff drink.

RIotRanch_Midnight

Work from home!

6.  Write really good content.

Okay, this is one thing I’ve always tried to do but I wanted to put it on the list anyway.  Blogging used to be kind of like a public diary where you just put up random thoughts and then your aunt makes encouraging comments.  Now it’s a business.  Companies will seek you out and you can make money sitting at home in your pajamas if you write good content.  And if you don’t care about making money and you just want to get your message out, that can happen too.  Your passionate strong voice will be heard all around the world if you carefully and eloquently choose your words.  That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

I love blogging.  I think if you want to do it, you should go for it.  I have met people and had experiences that I never would have had if I had not started a blog.  Just remember, always be you.

As Dr. Seuss says —

RiotRanch_Dr.Seuss

 

Man, that is a pin-worthy quote, don’t you think?

11 Comments

  • Ginny says:

    Have you noticed a difference since you changed your content? And by that I mean year 1 was the fashion experiment and now you’ve been talking about all kinds of things (which I totally love by the way).

    • Holly Hester says:

      Well, I’d love to answer that question but I still haven’t looked at my google analytics yet! It’s weird, I know. I just kind of like writing these things without the pressure of knowing my daily traffic. It’s more fun to be blissfully ignorant. However, I have made a pledge to look… at least every once in a while.

  • Angela says:

    While I appreciate what you’re saying on #2, one of the things that I like about your blog titles is that they are misleading and funny. I always enjoy your unique and comic content. I look forward to seeing how your blog grows, but I hope you can accomplish your goals while letting your voice remain true. :)

    • Holly Hester says:

      I know. I really don’t like the second one at all. I would like to see my blog grow, I also like making up dumb titles. I won’t change my blog so that it’s not me! No way!

  • Jenn says:

    This just all underlines why I’m not a very successful style blogger. I love me a terrible pun title. Well that and my unwillingness to buy a lot of clothing or accept freebies. :) And I definitely agree with you on the Pinterest thing. I recently started a kid-friendly hikes blog that features my landscape photography (of course one of the few things I’m good at has almost zero potential for making money) and I cannot believe how much Pinterest traffic I get! It’s less than a month old and I’ve had over 200 hits from Pinterest alone. Maybe now I’ll have to incorporate your other tips into it. I had no idea about the first sentence thing!

    • Holly Hester says:

      Yes — I realized that with pinterest also (but just like a couple of days ago.) I’ve never ever paid attention before to it. I’ll have to check out your photography!

    • Holly Hester says:

      What camera do you have to take on your kid-friendly hikes? Do you like it?

      • Jenn says:

        I use my Nikon D5000 camera. It’s nicer than my old point-and-shoot but not too much camera for my needs right now. I love it. Someday when I’m not banging around carrying a 40-pound pack and toddler on my back or stopping a 4-year-old from running off cliffs I’d like to get something a bit fancier for art-quality prints. :)

        • Holly Hester says:

          Thanks! I’ll look up the Nikon. I really need to figure out how to use a camera. I love taking pictures but all the mechanics of it holds no interest for me. You look great, by the way! I LOVE your stuff on pinterest (and your blog!) Your clothes are amazing!

  • Juli says:

    Totally – wacky right? I’ve been working with a caterer in LA…Jennie Cook…and we’ve built a bit but I behind in Pinterest. Explain pinterest to me…I mean…what do you put on pinterest, do you tag it? and how the heck does it get people to your blog? How do they even FIND things on pinterest?

    So many questions….hahaha…

    • Holly Hester says:

      You link the pictures back to your blog. I just very recently figured this out! If you’re interested, read Ruth Soukup “How to blog for profit without selling your soul”. It’s available on amazon on it has a lot of good info about pinterest.

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