11 bits of advice on blogging from one blogger to another

I know I’ve only been blogging for a little over six months, but I’m sure anyone could give a bit of advice on blogging after just looking at a few blogs. I’m constantly learning, as everyone is, and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve picked up along the way on blogging. Please add whatever helpful advice you’d like to give to add to this list in the comments!

This is something I’ve heard more than anything when it comes to blogging and it’s worth repeating each time. Be unique, be yourself, and write about things you love. Chances are others will love it, too. Sites that are one of a kind stand out and are more likely to be remembered. Do your posts sound like an email you’d write to a friend (but slightly edited)? Sometimes I check my posts by how much they sound like my messages to my friends.

Make it possible for everyone to comment: sometimes I get so discouraged when I’ve written out a whole comment only to check the options and not see “Name/URL” available on Blogspot blogs or I need to sign in to comment. If you’ve ever commented here and I never commented on your blog in return, this is the reason. Sometimes I email bloggers to let them know and they tell me they had no idea that their commenting options made it impossible for everyone to comment.

Just because something is obvious to you, doesn’t mean it’s obvious for someone else. I wrote about a couple helpful tools I found (Wordmark.it & TinEye) and people were very thankful and a few even went on to share my post with their readers. If you’re great at something and love to do it, write a post about it and share it! If you find something that makes your life easier, share it and make other’s lives easier, too.

Sometimes I retweet someone’s tweet on Twitter or write a tweet to them and am surprised that they never even say “thank you”. This goes back to common courtesy (and can be matched up with the following two numbers). On the flip side, I’ve had an author and singer tell me thank you on Twitter and as a comment here on a post. When someone comments on your blog (especially if they’re a dedicated reader), check out their blog and leave a comment. It takes little effort, but will most definitely brighten someone’s day.

There’s not much that bugs me when it comes to blogging as a question gone unanswered. Bloggers ask their readers questions all the time, but often times when the role is reversed, the reader doesn’t receive a reply. If you’ve got a comment section on your blog, that leaves your post open to conversation and a conversation can often times go back and forth. Answer questions directly in the comments, with an email, or any other way you can communicate with your readers. It lets your readers know you actually read what they write and care about them and their thoughts.

Etiquette shouldn’t stop once you turn on the computer. When your relationship is strictly internet-based, it’s a good idea to show compassion not just through your posts, but in communicating, too. If you’re having a bad day, maybe that’s not the best day to leave comments on others’ blogs or reply to an email. Don’t be bossy or gossipy. We already see and get so much negativity that it’s nice to make the blogging community a friendly atmosphere.

Make it easy to sign up to your RSS feed. When I check out someone’s blog and like it enough to want to return, I’ll subscribe to their RSS right away. If an RSS subscribe button isn’t easy to find, I’ll give up looking and it’s most likely that I’ll never find the site again.

It’s really obvious when someone just checks out the photos in a post and doesn’t read the content. If you plan on leaving a comment, it’s best to at least scan through the words. Often times I get comments that don’t really relate to what I wrote and it makes it pretty obvious that that someone left a comment that can be translated to “return the favor/check out my blog and leave a comment”. It’s completely normal to not be interested in everything on one particular blog and thoughtful comments mean so much more.

Be considerate and let others know where you got your content and even where you first found it. Especially if said-content is an image. Giving credit where it’s due should go into the book of blog rules (if there is such a thing and it’s not already there). In fact, if there’s any one thing I think someone new starting a blog should know, it’s this. If it’s not yours and it didn’t come from your brain, credit should be going somewhere and it’s best given in a link directly to the original source.

There are many great blogs that have a very basic and not very appealing layout that have a ton of readers, but chances are they could have even more people visiting and sticking around if only they were a bit more presentable with a user-friendly layout. Someone has even told me that they’ll immediately close a site if it doesn’t look nice. First impressions make a world of difference and when it comes to blogging that difference could mean a returning reader or even more! Think of your blog as your home. You don’t want to have clutter and you want it to be easy to find what you’re looking for. Use an easy-to-read font and make it easy to find content.

If you’re not comfortable with it, don’t do it: don’t post content or images if you’re not 100% sure about them. This is a big reason why I don’t post very many images that aren’t my own. I want to have permission to use photographs before I post them and you won’t find me writing about an unhealthy and unethical product. If there’s a certain part of your blog that drags you down a bit, just get rid of it.

I hope this advice has been of some help to at least one of you! You should look at your blog as a whole and be proud of it and think it’s beautiful. Some days I look through my blog or a certain post and I just can’t stop looking at it because it makes me happy. I hope you feel the same way about your blog. I also suggest Brandi’s great post on blog etiquette (who just so happens to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met online). Now I’d love to hear your advice!