Another departure from food, but I promised to discuss a few more of the details of How to Start a Blog. If you haven’t started your blog yet, feel free to refer back to How to Start a Blog Part 1, which will walk you through the nuts and bolts decisions of getting your blog online. For all of the rest of you-Congratulations! You’ve started your blog! Now it’s time to talk about How to Start a Blog Part 2-how to attract readers. Personally, I think marketing and content creation on your blog is the fun stuff!
Content! Hopefully you’ve decided on your niche and are busy working on creating content. This is the fun part, and really, the area where you should be spending most of your time. Your content is what is going to draw in readers. Your style is going to keep your readers attention. What your readers can learn from your content is what is going to keep them coming back. Focus on answering the questions your readers may have and provide them with value.
Consistency is KING. Decide when you’re going to post and stick to it. We post a new recipe on Tuesdays and a Good Food Reads on Friday. Sometimes it’s hard to get out that amount of content (we have full time jobs and kids after all), but our readers know when they’ll get new content. Tuesdays and Fridays. No matter what, even if it involves planning ahead (We’ll talk more about planning in Part 3).
Search Engine Optimization. So how to attract readers? Let’s start with SEO. Search Engine Optimization. Get familiar with this term. Basically, this is how you present your content to optimize how it it is indexed by Google and other search engines. Little things can be the difference between being on the first page of a Google search and the last page of a Google search. My number one piece of advice (which I wish had known when we started) is pick a good keyword! Keywords should be something people search for, but hopefully not something that is overdone by every blogger. For example: we have a Balsamic Strawberry Lemon Shortcake recipe. It is delicious and a little different than the other strawberry shortcakes out there. I used the whole title as the keyword. But who in the world searches “Balsamic Strawberry Lemon Shortcake”? No one. Shortening the keyword to strawberry shortcake and adding in some text about strawberry shortcake (which is something I HAVE searched before), increased our Google ranking. Here are more tips on SEO optimization. More information on Keyword Research can be found here. Plug-ins such as Yoast SEO can help you with SEO as well (this plug in came as a part of our theme, but if you don’t have it as a part of your theme, you might want it). SEO is a concept that I really struggled with, after all it was totally new information, but mastering SEO will help your blog more than anything else you can do! (SEO isn’t sexy like social media, but do the work. You won’t be sorry.)
Social Media. You have to be active on social media. This is non negotiable for success. Some of this will be interacting with other bloggers. Some of this will be interacting with readers. Some of this will be learning. Make sure your blog is represented on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. How active each of these platforms will be, will depend a little on what your niche is. Some of your most loyal readers will come from places you never expected, so don’t be quick to dismiss any of these platforms. Depending on what you niche is you may also want to consider LinkedIn, Google +, Yummly, StumbleUpon and SnapChat. There are many programs out there for streamlining your social media presence such as Buffer, Hootsuite, ViralTag, and my personal favorite for Pinterest-Tailwind. Check out these resources which will help you choose the program(s) that are right for you! 25 Social Media Management Tools, Social Media Management Tools to Save Time, Best Free Social Media Management Tools, The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience Chapter 5: Social Media. Some good stuff right here.
Engage other bloggers through social media. There are tons of Facebook groups for bloggers, not only groups that answer questions, give advice, and serve as a virtual community, but also groups that help you promote your blog. I highly recommend joining one of each type and more if you have the time. Blog share groups are awesome for smaller bloggers to get their content out there and start to develop an online presence. These share threads can be time consuming, but by sharing other bloggers’ content, and having them share your content, you can begin to reach a much wider audience. Don’t feel like you have to be stuck in your niche either. I’m part of a whole host of food blogging groups, but I also participate in some mom blog groups and other professional and geography based blogging groups. Again, you never know where your biggest supporters are going to come from. Search blogger on Facebook and see what you come up with. If you are interested in food blogging groups, shoot us a note below in the comments-this is something we can help you with!
Finally, make sure your own blog has a good social media sharing plug-in. Your own social media sites should be easy for your readers to access via your blog (on our blog you will find our buttons in the top upper right of our blog-if you haven’t followed us on social media, now is the time…hint, hint!). It should also be easy for your readers to share your content on their social media sites. We use Social Warfare to give our readers easy sharing capability,after trying other social media sharing plugins we were less happy with. Social Warfare was implemented after this post below, but on our newer posts Social Warfare even keeps track of how many shares you’ve had! Don’t believe it? Click on our Pinterest button at the bottom of your screen, this click will allow you to pin this post to your Pinterest board of choice. Click the Facebook button, this will allow you to share this post to your Facebook followers. Couldn’t be easier!
Sharing a post is the highest compliment a reader can pay you. Sharing your content expands your presence which is the goal, right? Be generous with your sharing of other’s content. This will help others, BUT WILL ALSO HELP YOU! The blogging community is an awesome group of people who truly believe there is room for all of us. Embrace this philosophy. Share, share, share. This will come back to you in spades. Another way to share as a blogger is link backs. If you are writing a post about a soup recipe, it is always good to link back to a few other’s bloggers recipes. (A note on copyright: do not reproduce other’s content on your blog. Instead, link back to their content. This allows your readers access to the content, but gives the other blogger full credit and keeps you out of copyright trouble). It is also good to link back to yourself if you have appropriate content. More good content for your readers, not to mention Google likes link backs.
Google Analytics: You must install Google Analytics. Let me repeat this. You must install Google Analytics. Google Analytics are the numbers that everyone will ask for when you go to start monetizing (Monetizing is a conversation for another time, but you may as well start laying the foundation!). Google analytics will show you how much traffic you get, when you get it, where you get it from, how long people stay on your site, and a whole host of other important numbers. I’m sure you are already convinced, but if not, keep reading here.
I’m going to leave you with this article about why people may not be reading your blog. Here are some additional tips to think about.
And now I’ve come to the end of this post, but I still have more to discuss about How to Start a Blog, so stay tuned for Part 3 where we will discuss the editorial calendar, photography and creating a social media post.
Post any questions or comments below!