This is my guide to blogging, I stress the word 'my' as, as always, these opinions are my own and these are just the factors which I think make for a good blog and happy blogger. I first posted this guide in November 2013 and I feel as though I've grown as a blogger since then, but these ten things I recommend to other bloggers remains the same. These ten factors are things which I have learned from my almost two years of blogging (Dolly Dowsie's 2nd blogiversary is March 27th!), things I have stumbled across, found useful and think are important when it comes to my blogging experience. I wanted to share them with you as some people have asked me what I think makes a good blog/blogger, etc. so here are ten points which I think are essential to blogging, in my humble opinion.
1. Blog for you. I put this point as number one as I think this is the most important factor when it comes to blogging. Yes we all want to be popular, if you say you don't then you're lying, simple as that. People blog in the hopes that someone will read their words and agree, support, admire, etc., but ultimately you should blog for you. It's your blog so enjoy the process of preparing a post and writing about a particular topic that you enjoy. There's no point in wanting to be a beauty blogger and giving it a go if you have no interest in beauty at all, it's sure to say that if you're not into something you're not going to enjoy writing about it much and subsequently your posts may not be very engaging or interesting. Always read back on your past blog posts and think would this be something you would read if it was on someone else's blog or in a publication? Your blog is solely yours so make it you in all respects.
2. Explore different genres. If you're like me and have a wide variety of interests then don't be afraid to evolve your blog and explore different genres in your spectrum of interests. My blog began solely as a beauty blog but after time this got quite boring for me so I decided to delve into the world of lifestyle and parenting blogging and you know what, I absolutely love my mixed bag of a blog now. Every post I write I enjoy and it's great to share so many things that I love about the world. It also means that I have a wide variety of topics that I can write on so I never get bored with the possibilities of a post and the direction which it might take.
3. Interact with other bloggers. Being a mixed bag blogger I am involved with different blogging communities, I have to admit that I have a slight penchant for my fellow parenting bloggers though, they just get me. No matter what your blog topic I can guarantee that there is a blogging community for it, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook or some other social platform there are many Twitter chats, Facebook groups and now even Google+ groups where you can discuss different topics with your fellow bloggers, gain advice, swap links and read some great content. I have even been lucky enough to become friends with some of my fellow bloggers and it really is such a wonderful thing to make friends through your hobby. Hopefully I'll see some familiar faces at Britmums Live in June!
4. Write about what you want when you want. There is no limit to how many times you can post a day, if you have something on your mind and just have to share it with the world then do so. Your blog should not be constrictive to your creativity so write about what you what whether it be how you're feeling, a topic you would like people to be aware of, a new fashion trend, etc. I've found that some of my 'spur of the moment' posts have actually been my most popular, perhaps my thought process was easily distinguishable in these posts and that's why people like them the most, who knows?! Yes it's always good to have a bit of a set schedule to your posts but hey, if the inspiration takes you and you just can't wait to publish a post then why should you have to? It's YOUR blog!
5. Use your social media. My blog has almost every social media account you can think of and I use the majority of them to promote each post I publish. The way I see it is, if you don't promote a post then not many people will be aware of it and lets be honest, the majority of us bloggers write for people to read our words and be made aware of something. For example I always promote my posts on Pinterest but apart from a couple of repins I've only ever had a handful of hits from there, I will, however, continue to promote my posts on Pinterest as I think it's a great resource for bloggers, even if it may take months for someone to visit your blog!
6. Ignore the haters. There will always be people in life who don't like what you do and instead of simply clicking off your blog they will feel the need to leave a nasty comment or even go to the extreme of starting a 'discussion' on you on a pathetic forum, as discussed in my previous blog post, Blogging - What's the Problem?. In my opinion it's better to ignore these types of people, usually the more they see how upset you are the more they will continue to berate you. Pathetic people like this aren't even worth the effort of a reply. People are very brave when they are faceless words on a screen, I can guarantee you that they are probably the meekest person in reality who wouldn't have the gaul to say something nasty to someones face. Turning off access to anonymous comments and reviewing each comment before allowing it to be published is a good way of counteracting troll comments being left on your posts.
7. Remember the aesthetics. A good blog is ultimately about the quality of writing and how engaging, informative and interesting it is to readers, however, people notice a blog with their eyes first and if I'm honest, when I see a blog which looks quite sloppy, is riddled with spelling mistakes and has blurry pictures it really puts me off reading the blog and I usually won't come back to it. It only takes a few minutes to perfect these things. Blogger comes with a spellchecker, use it! I understand that lighting may not always be fantastic for taking pictures but these can easily be edited with a free photo editor such as Picmonkey. If your blog looks as appealing as your writing is then I think it really helps to entice new readers.
8. Enjoy what you do! For me this is one of the most important aspects to blogging - enjoy it! There's no point in doing something if you don't like it, otherwise it will end up as a chore, something which you feel you have to do and this is not the case at all. If you ever feel like blogging is taking over your life in a bad way then take a step back, maybe even take a break for a few days and re-think your blog, reevaluate what you want to share with the world and refresh your mind. A hobby should always be enjoyable and if you find it to be a hindrance or chore in your life then maybe it's not for you.
9. Turn off Captcha. If I can urge you to do one beneficial thing for your blog then it is to turn off Captcha! I cannot stress to you how annoying it is to come across a great post and want to leave a comment but then be confronted with a dreaded word and number riddle which in most cases are too blurry to decipher and may take more than one try to get correct, it just puts me off leaving a comment at all and usually if the Captcha doesn't work on first go I just give up and click off the blog althogether - sad but true. Nobody has time for Captcha, fiddle around with your blog settings and turn it off! If you moderate comments on your blog then there really is no need for it at all.
10. Remember why you began blogging. I began blogging as I began experimenting more and more with makeup and decided that it would be fun to share these quirkly looks with the world even though I am far from being a professional makeup artist, it was all about the fun for me. I had never even thought about getting freebies through blogging or being paid for posts and even now these factors don't cross my mind but I have seen bloggers become rather obsessed with the benefits aspect of blogging rather than the enjoyment of writing the blog itself. If someone begins a blog purely for the chance of getting a freebie you should not be blogging, simple as that. Recently I have spotted the same bloggers over and over again asking for PR contacts and the chance of freebies in a particular Facebook group, they are newer bloggers too. I have to admit that this is one of my biggest bug bears. If you do want to delve into the world of blogging as a job I think you need to treat it as such and remember that the perks will come in time after you have earned them. I don't think anyone should enter the blogging world and think that freebies are their God given right, you should build up your audience, concentrate on your content and show the brands you want to work for just what you can do for them. Of course, you can always feel free to say no to an offer if it doesn't fit into your blog criteria and don't fall into the trap of being a blogger who will review just about anything just because it's free - that's not a good direction for a blog. Also, I will say that you shouldn't become too caught up in statistics, page views, subscriber numbers, etc., yes these milestones are fantastic to reach and really give a boost to a bloggers confidence but these things should be a bonus to blogging, something which you should absolutely love whole-heartily anyway.
Once again I will state that these are just my own personal thoughts when it comes to blogging. I'm sure others will agree or disagree with my views but hey, this is my blog and my little space to air my thoughts, isn't this the point I'm making above?
Do you agree with my points?