September 2015 marks the start of my THIRD year as a Kid Lit blogger on Cat’s Corner. WOW! Can’t believe it!
I started Cat’s Corner because I fancied writing weekly bursts to hone my skills and connect with readers. Blogging has been rewarding, but it also has had its share of excruciating dips, especially as I began. Nothing seemed to go right.
As a newbie blogger, I was overwhelmed by a ginormous learning curve. Even though I’m tech-savvy, I needed a ton of new skills to survive. My perseverance and optimism were tested daily.
To help you begin your blogging journey, I share what I learned and offer my top 10 blogging tips and hacks for newbies.
First Post - Gulp!
I smile about it now, but I was mega-anxious when my first blog went live in September 2013.
It took FOREVER to write this tell-all about writing a first post. I came from an academic and marketing background and had to adjust to a totally different writing style of the internet’s informal sound bites. I was on edge imagining MY words tumbling in cyberspace. With a gazillion posts zipping through the Internet, would anybody find my blog? Or even care about reading it if they stumbled on it? I needed every lick of self-confidence and courage.
The moment came. I took a deep breath and pushed ‘publish.’ Then it hit me like I shoulda had a V-8: I made a huge timing faux pas. I posted on September 11, a solemn day deserving respect, not the rambles of a neophyte blogger oblivious to the day’s significance. A quick check of cyber-chatter confirmed my error. Mercy! I deleted my post as fast as I figured out how.
Thanks to my Quick Mental Reset Technique (a handy tactic that saved my bacon on many occasions), a new post went up a few days later. It was a short, sweet piece about an autumn morning. It was a keeper, and I’m still proud of it.
Finding that Open, Authentic Voice
The next challenge was finding my unique blogging voice. I toiled on posts I hoped readers might enjoy. A few likes and comments trickled in (mostly from family and friends, bless ‘em!). Determined to succeed, I ramped up my efforts. Read more blogs. Commented and liked scores of posts. My blog’s traffic slowly improved, but it wasn’t where I wanted it to be.
Even though I'm outgoing, it was a humongous adjustment to Open My Inner-Most Thoughts to the Whole World. Then a strange thing happened: the more relaxed I became with my writing, the more people responded. D’uh.
My ah-ha moment came several months into blogging, after I was flattened by a series of battles with Evil Technology Gremlins and The Daunting Social Media Learning Curve. I felt beyond-frustrated, angry and close to tears. Firing up the laptop, words poured out about my love-hate affair with social media. I didn’t think about them. I just wrote from a weary soul.
After finding an awesome image from a photographer pal to insert (yep, gotta have dynamite images to attract readers), I wrote, edited, and published it in a matter of hours.
Reaction to that post floored me. I assumed no one would care. However, my reveal about struggling with The Social Media Vortex struck a chord: Vortex received the widest engagement of anything I’d written.
Chocolate and Books: the Magic of Collaboration
A final milestone came as I discovered the importance of connecting with other bloggers. This connection was not just for career advancement, but for the support and joy they add to my life. Realization came through collaboration in a blog tour with half-dozen other Kid Lit writers. It was a silly and fun topic, The Chocolate and Books Tour, where we a pair chocolate with six favorite books.
I had no idea what I would write or how any of the tour would come together, but I jumped at the chance. I loved the energy and excitement we generated as a team! We encouraged and cross-promoted each other as we reached more readers and grew our platform. It was a blast, and I remain close to those choco-book tour bloggers today.
Two Years a Blogger
I’ve come a long way in 48 months. I don’t stress out as much about blogging, although I fret about finding time to write and keeping fresh.
As I create my weekly posts, I imagine you sitting across from me. We’re having a lovely conversation on my porch, a favorite brew in hand. It’s a glorious sunny day. We’re rocking and chatting about the blog topic I'm considering, comfy like long-time friends.
Once I have that mental picture of YOU, I’m on a writerly roll!
Top 10 Tips and Hacks for Starting Your Blog
General Ideas to Get You Going
1. How to Start a Blog in 15 minutes
Amy Lynn Andrews
Amy Lynn’s post inspired this newbie. She walks through details, like setting up a domain name and blog on Word Press, and more. This is a must-read!
2. Get Started Guide: Blogging for Writers
Jane rocks with the whys, goals, and practical tips to help writers start a blog. She shares links to additional resources that help writers totally new to blogging, about to start a blog, and/or feeling dissatisfied with their current blog.
3. Blogging 101 for the Independent Authors
This an excellent overview spells out how to start blogging as an indie author, but it contains great information for anyone.
4. Building a Credible, Trustworthy Author Blog
Sandy is a public relations pro who offers valuable insights and resources to ensure you stay on target.
Finding Content and Increasing Engagement
5. Top Writing Blogs of 2015
See what best writing blogs are all about. Great tips and tons of helpful ideas from this list, too.
6. Five Killer Tactics to Increase Your Blog Traffic
Verve Search, Matt E Lindley
I love sharing my blog more than once across multiple social media platforms after putting so much work into it (there’s even a suggested posting schedule graphic for different platforms). Find ideas for repurposing your blog content into different formats, like podcasts or even e-books, too.
7. Eight Steps to Writing the Perfect Post
by Jeremy Goldman
Jeremy walks you through short steps, using video and images, on how to create the perfect blog post. Everything from the best post length to CTAs (call to action). I forgot to add CTAs on my first blogs!
8. Blogging for Authors:
How to Create a Blog that Can Grow With Your Career
I love how Anne breaks down blogging by career stages and gives specific steps in each phase for growing your blog.
9. Setting Blogging Goals
Bek-Mum of Dillydrops
I like this real-time list that shows how Bek-Mum plots her simple and effective strategies for continued success. Great example of achievable goal-setting. If you haven’t tried a Linky blog hop, that’s a great vehicle for building your platform. Fun, too!
10. A Trio of Fun *Free* Online Tools I Use All the Time
Blog Topic Generator on HubSpot
Stuck about what to write? This website is a blog idea generator. Pop in three key words, and it offers five blog topics based upon those words. Really cool! And even if you don't use the exact topics, the results will set your brain twirling.
American Marketing Institute
I love both these free online tools for getting instant feedback on the strength of my blog titles and social media headlines. They have this mysterious-to-me-but-awesome algorithm that measures word strings most likely to engage readers. It's like having a social media coach sitting next to me!
Celebrating with a Giveaway for YOU
Can't tell you how much I appreciate your company the past 48 months, Lovely Readers. If you’re thinking of starting a blog, I encourage you to go for it. Just channel The Little Engine that Could and keep repeating, “I think I can, I think I can. I KNOW I can!”
I know you can!
Please let me know how it goes. I'd be honored if you'll consider me as your blogging friend.
Before you go, please also consider entering my 2-Year Bogoversary Giveaway that runs through 30 September 2015. You'll find prize details and the entry link below. Thanks!
Please join the conversation in the comment section.
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