Biz Tips: Five Things I Wish I'd Known About Blogging
When I started blogging many years ago, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I knew how to write, and I new a bit about design and layout, but the intricate world of online writing and SEO was something I was ill-prepared for. Of all the things I've studied and learned along the way, there are a few things that would've made a big difference had I known them from the beginning.
1. If You Plan on Doing a .com, You Should Do It From the Very Beginning
A .com or .net is always preferable to a free blogging platform if your goal is to create a professional blog. Whether you go with a custom domain on a blogger platform or a self-hosted blog, a .com both look more professional and help with SEO. That being said, you should do it from the very beginning if you can afford it, the most important reason of all being backlinks. Some backlinks to your site are created by other people, while some are links built by you - internal links on your site as well as links to sites like Pinterest. If you build these links from a .blogspot site then later on switch to a .com site, all of those links will go nowhere. The ones you've built, you can of course go back and edit, though it's a pain and a major drain on time. Some of these, particularly the home page link can be set to automatically redirect, but not all of them.
2. Labels Are Everything When It Comes to Internal Linking & Site Traffic
As you build more content, you'll want to build internal links in the form of suggested related content, categories, subcategories, and landing pages. Especially if you plan to do a lot of your own web building, you can make this process way easier on yourself by planning out in advance your main categories and subcategories. Use these categories to help you come up with related content that will not only help generate more traffic but will help you both define and stay on point with your blog's main message. You may be tempted to get clever when it comes to your page and post titles, but strategically it's best to keep it simple and direct so you can generate relevant traffic. Whether you're blogging to make money solely from your site, or if you're trying to promote your business with a blog, you want your visitors to arrive at your site because they're searching for exactly whatever it is that you have to offer. That is the only real way to convert readers into sales and ad clicks.
3. Images Have a Huge Impact on Site Traffic
One of the biggest ways you can sabotage your site traffic is to not properly tag your images. Especially if your blog post images are for recipes, decor, or fashion; you can get at least twice to amount of hits on any given post if the coinciding image is properly labeled in its original file. For example, if you've taken your own photo of a brownie recipe, you should label your image in the way people search. With the Google option of image search, it's now more important than ever. Use phrases like "easy brownie recipe", "best brownie recipe", "basic brownie recipe", etc. If you're blogging about product-driven trends like fashion, using product titles and item numbers can also greatly increase your number of relevant search hits. Just in case you're wondering what the heck relevant search hits are, it means that if you post about "fall fashion trends" or "summer maxi dresses" for example, you start to get traffic from people searching for those particular things.
4. The Blogs that Say You Can't Earn Money Blogging Are Liars
I remember when I first set out to make money blogging, I read somewhere that even the top-earning bloggers are lucky to make $1000.00 a month. At the time I was naive enough to believe it, and that kept me from trying as hard as I should have. When I started coming closer and closer to that figure despite my blog still not being what I would consider popular compared to other lifestyle websites, I found ProBlogger and realized that the top-tier bloggers weren't barely clearing $1000 a month. They were clearing well over $10,000.00 a month! So why not me? I was damn sure going to try.
5. The Sooner You Get Serious About Blogging, The Sooner You Actually Make Money
It can be a scary thing to devote a lot of time and effort into something you aren't sure is going to pay off. But the irony is you'll never make money off blogging unless you treat it like a real job. Set a schedule, set both short and long-term goals, and set deadlines just as you would with projects at work. I've learned that a good way to measure whether or not a blog is on the right track and worth investing time in is to start with 10-15 related posts with directly-related categories. Then leave it alone for a few weeks, adding one to two new posts a week if you have time. If you start getting daily site traffic and relevant search hits within the month (and consistently), you're on the right track. After that it's just a matter of time and effort.
If you're new to blogging, feel free to leave any questions below, and I'll gladly answer them. If you're not so new to blogging, are there any things you know now that would've helped if you knew them from the beginning?
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photo via Small Glow