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Is the sun shining on your blog?

22 May

How’s your blog doing? Is the outlook sunny or are the clouds on the horizon? If you’re struggling to start up, or you’ve been going awhile and you’re flagging, help is at hand. Ileane Smith, the face behind the very successful Basic Blog Tips, has kindly offered some advice.

I was able to interview Ileane recently and she answered these questions:

What’s the first thing a new blogger should do?

The first step to establishing yourself online is – and perhaps this sounds a little crazy — get a Gravatar. You need to create your brand right from the start. Whatever you’re going to do online, whether it’s blogging, commenting on blogs, curating or publishing, you need a consistent image so people will always recognise you. So use that same image for your Google profile and all of your social networks.

Ileane Smith of Basic Blog TipsStarting with an image can also help give you direction: sometimes, choosing an image can force you to think about which topics you want to get into.

What else contributes to our online brand?

An outstanding social profile. Your bio needs to grab people’s attention. You don’t want it to say the same thing that everybody else’s is saying. You’re different, you have something unique to say. It should also include keywords and links back to your blog.

What platform should you use?

My preferred platform is self-hosted WordPress. I love it because of its flexibility. You can use a huge variety of themes and plugins to customize your blog, and you don’t need to learn any coding. WordPress has many built-in SEO features that you don’t find on other blogging platforms and they send strong signals to search engines.

What happens if you’re stumbling around, not knowing what to write?

Like I was in the beginning! It’s good to find a mentor — that can often help you to decide on your niche. Now, this person doesn’t have to know they’re your mentor — or maybe they will. The point is to pick someone who has integrity, a good reputation and is well-respected. Follow your mentor closely and you’ll be able to incorporate some of their strategies, and adapt them to fit your goals.

What are your top 10 blogging tips?

  1. Read and comment on other blogs.
  2. Learn as much as you can about your topic.
  3. Start establishing relationships with other bloggers.
  4. Join forums and social networks to help you establish those relationships.
  5. Use Google Analytics to track and analyse your blog traffic.
  6. Ask your readers what type of content they like getting from you best.
  7. Always bring your unique point of view to a given topic.
  8. Promote your content via a Paper.li and on other social media.
  9. Don’t stress yourself out over page rank or keywords — remember you just started blogging.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

And tip n° 11: never use profanities!

How do you know if your blog is a success?

Each of us has our own set of individual goals and benchmarks we use to determine what we mean by blogging success. You decide!

Thanks to Ileane for that. Visit her at Basic Blog Tips. She has expert-level content not only on blogging but also affiliate marketing and social media.

A version of this interview first appeared at the Paper.li community Blog.

Photo: Jrtippins on flickr

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2 Responses to “Is the sun shining on your blog?”

  1. honolulukay May 23, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    Yikes! I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and, evidently, I’m doing everything wrong.

    I started on BlogSpot rather than WordPress because I followed the advice of one of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk and she recommended BlogSpot. I’ve been pretty happy there, but I notice that I can’t take advantage of CommentLuv which is getting to be more and more popular among bloggers.

    I didn’t put any key words into my profile or my name or… well, anything really. I just wrote. I don’t even know what Gravitar is. Google Analytics automatically kicked in on BlogSpot a couple of weeks ago even though we didn’t sign up for it. In all my years of blogging, I’ve yet to receive a single bit of spam. I can only assume that BlogSpot has a pretty stiff filter because it sure isn’t anything that I am doing.

    You make me feel like such a babe in the woods! You obviously know what you’re doing. Would you be so kind as to check out my blog and read the past two or three posts and give me some feedback? Please. (And there’s no sense in crabbing at me about the name. That ship sailed long ago. LOL)

    Kay in Hawaii
    http://bizbitchblog.blogspot.com

    • Liz Wilson May 23, 2012 at 7:39 am #

      Hi Kay, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. When I interviewed Ileane I also felt like a babe in the woods (and still do). I find her advice very solid. Why not try it? I think the thing to remember is what she said about success – it’s what you want it to be. You don’t have to measure yourself against other bloggers. Do your own thing! Looking forward to reading your blog.

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