If you’re still with me after my post on starting a blog this morning, let’s keep going!
Once you’re all set up with a domain name and a platform and a design, then it’s time to start pimping your blog. Here are some steps you can take to make your blog above average — which I know you want to do, right?!
Learn to Write Your Blog. Call me a snob, but I see a very big distinction between “writer” and “blogger;” that said, I do not think you have to be a writer to be a good blogger! Still, if you don’t have a natural instinct for spelling and grammar, then write your posts in Word, Spell- and Grammar-check the shit out of them, and then paste them into your blogging platform. Seriously. A typo here and there isn’t going to break you, but good luck getting that great internship if you write like a seventh grader.
Not sure about something? Look it up on Grammar Girl. This site is great! And if you are so clueless, you don’t even realize you need to look something up, it’s not too late! You can also download a free excerpt from her book.
Also, don’t use emoticons. Just…don’t. A little wink face at the end of a Tweet? Fine. But in a blog? No way. If you’re happy, tell us you’re happy…WITH YOUR BIG-KID WORDS!
- Kristen’s Hollaback post on how to blog without losing your day job.
Give Video a Try. I think all bloggers should try video at least once. If you’re writing to strangers, they need to see you! They need to hear your voice; I’ve often been amazed by how different actually bloggers sound than the way I imagined them sounding. So got a Southern accent? Let us hear it!
To answer some of the tech questions I get asked frequently:
- I use a Flip UltraHD Camcorder to shoot my videos.
- I edit them in iMovie.
- I use a $12 tripod so you guys don’t feel like you’re watching the “Blair Witch Project.”
- My video blog on why you should video blog.
- My tips for looking good on web cam (applies to way more than video chatting!)
If you do not do video well, then do not make video your “thing.” Seriously. There was a blog I stopped reading because while the blogger seemed fun and cute via written word, she seemed stoned via video (and unless you’re doing Pot Psychology a la Jezebel, that’s not a good thing). If you don’t have the time or energy to make a good video or you’re awkward on camera, that’s fine. There’s some level of self-criticism that you need to have here (and just in general when you start a blog). Know your strengths!
Promote Yourself. When I started Shedding It, all I did was share the links to my posts on Facebook. I was amazed how many people I hadn’t talked to in years started coming out of the woodwork and reading! And using Twitter properly had a huge effect on how fast my audience grew.
- My post on how to shamelessly promote yourself without being shameless.
- My post on how to use Twitter to network.
- Hallie’s Health Blog Helper guest post on using Twitter to promote your blog.
- Missy’s Hollaback post on guest posts.
Read Blogs About Blogging. You can learn a lot this way! I have gotten great tips and ideas from blogging blogs – and, of course, I run one too! Here are some I suggest adding to your Reader — and a couple books written by bloggers that are really good too.
- Hollaback Health (Uh, hello, my own bloggers’ blog!)
- Health Blog Helper (I hang out there a lot too, writing guest posts.)
- Seth’s Blog and also Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. This book changed my life. I love Seth Godin!
- Outspoken Media
- Crush It! This book is great for people just getting started on making their passion their work!
Learn a Little Tech Shizz. There is so much tech stuff to learn – I honestly learn new things every week! But here are some posts to help you get your feet wet.
- Christie’s Hollaback post on important tech lingo.
- Matt’s Health Blog Helper post about SEO. SEO is a very big topic, but you should at least be aware of it and how it can help you!
- Matt’s Health Blog Helper post on using plug-ins.
- Matt’s Health Blog Helper post on using Google Analytics.
- Matt’s Health Blog Helper post on the importance of feed.
- My post on getting a Gravatar.
- My post on making your WordPress blog stronger.
Really, the learning never stops; that’s what I love about it. You can make a weekly BTB project focusing on just one of the above tech topics. There’s so much you can learn and do, and yeah, it usually takes a lot of steps, effort, calls to tech support, Google searches, and forum visits, but the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it and the better your blog will look. So it’s up to you how much you’re willing to do.
But if you’re blogging about something you’re passionate about, something you want to be part of your career some day, think of this as part of that. Think of your blog as an internship or class assignment – a direct path to your dream job. It’s not just “some thing.” This is YOUR BLOG. Own it. Love it. And if you do it well, it can help you do things beyond your wildest dreams, I promise.