RECAP: Blogging Basics

Session Description

With more than two blogs created per second, how can you make yours stand out in the crowd?

In this session you’ll learn the principles Amy, Cheri, Cindy and Kari used to grow a successful blogs that keep on going, despite being in a crowded market.

Listen, as these bloggers share the importance of determining and defining your blog’s identity, as well as sharing the social media basics and tactics that helped them grow. Engage in a question and answer period with your specific questions.

Session Recap

SNAP!  Attendees wishing to learn about Blogging basics and some more advanced functions were treated to some of the industry’s most creative minds and most successful bloggers.

Cindy Hopper from SkiptomyLou.org, Amy Anderson from Modpodgerocksblog.com, Cheri Heaton from Iammommahearmeroar.net and Keri from U-createcrafts.com all gave their best personal and professional insights to the eager audience.

First on the agenda was:

How do I make my blog stand out?

How to Create a nitche.

The panel suggested finding your niche:  With so many blogs out there, you really have to pick your specialty and focus on that.  Pick something, and be good at it.  Your readers will recognize what your niche is and come to you for it.   Make finding your niche your first goal.

How do you find your niche?  Follow your passions. The panel with their years of experience wisely advised that it’s difficult to blog for many years.  The noted the importance of LOVING what you are blogging about.  With out a true passion for your subject matter, your blog won’t last.

The panel suggested not starting a blog for money, fame or any other reason besides you passion for your subject matter. Your passion will translate into authenticity.  Readers can tell if you’re doing it for money or fame.

Ask yourself, what you can think about daily and write about regularly that won’t drive you crazy?

Make a list of your strengths.  Think of what you are good at and make a list?  Ask your friends.  Make them tell you what they think of when they think of you.  It will give you directive while you are settling on your niche.

Another consideration when selecting your niche is the web traffic potential. Ask yourself will people search for this subject on-line?  Pick an angle and make your blog fun.

Think about creating a mission statement.  Don’t blog without a mission statement.  Think of one or two sentences that describe your blog and make each of your posts fit within those parameters.  Your readers will appreciate knowing what they can come to you for.

After determining your niche you need to decide…

What is your Brand?

Ask yourself, what do you want people think of when they see your brand?  What do you want to be known for? What differentiates you?

The panel suggested writing five adjectives to describe your blog? Make your branding consistent with these adjectives.

Use consistent messages.  Research shows it takes four times to hear a marketing message for people to remember it.  Also important is to use consistent images and utilize consistent values.

Utilize your community of bloggers or friends to get honest feedback from people who know you.  Ask them how they like your logo and design.

The goal is to have your audience know it’s you without having to tell them.  They should be able to recognize your brand.  They shouldn’t have to see your name to know it’s you.

Another main point of the seminar was Building a Community.

If you aren’t already part of a community, the panel gave several suggestions to build one.  First, make comments on other bloggers posts.   Second, ask your readers questions that they are interested in answering and knowing how other people would answer.  It will engage your readers and make them feel valued.  They also suggested allowing the readers to make some decisions for you, i.e. let them select the paint color or show them samples and let the comments come in and direct the rest of the project.  It was also suggested that a blogger could feature something a project a commenter suggested.

Another important part of building a community is featuring others and being generous when sharing links.  What you give others will come back to you.

Participate in chats and forum as often as you can.  Participate in Social Media. –Pick a few things and do it well.  If you try to pursue all the social media avenues, it can be overwhelming. Be the community that you expect others to be.  It will come back to you.

Much of this three hour class was dedicated to a Q&A

Some of the top helpful questions and answers were:

Is it okay to begin blogging and then narrow your niche down as you go?  Yes, it’s okay to be broad, but you should still have you signature flare in every post.  Be recognizable.

How do I find my community should I look for people similar to me or different?  Look for other people who have a different perspective.  Look for crafty twitter chats and join them.  A good resource is   Crafter minds.com. Twitter tag @crafterminds.  Other resources are Problogger.net or Blogging101.

Im brand new and I don’t understand basic tools like how do I create a link? Where do I start? Start by typing your question into Google, i.e  “How do I create a link in Blogger?”  Also educate yourself using sites like Crafterminds.com, problogger.net and blogging101.com

Is there a way I can use all the social media resources such as facebook, twitter, google plus etc. with out having to do each one manually?   Facebook has an app to automatically tweet for you.

There is also a resource called Hootsuite.com that will help you manage all your social media is a more efficient way.

Is it better to have picture images versus tutorial?  The Panel’s research has shown that readers prefer more pictures rather than a wordy tutorial.   Videos come in handy too, but should be used sparingly.  Readers prefer the scrollability and ease of use provided by images.   Think about what YOU like if you were viewing this project for a  first time.  If there are no pictures you lose your audience.

It’s also extremely important to put an image of the finished product at the top of the post.  It is okay to use the same image again at the bottom of your tutorial to show the complete project.

The panel also stressed the importance of uploading an image directly to facebook and then including a link to your blog rather than allowing the thumbnail image to come up.  You’ll draw more readers that way.

They also stressed the importance of using quality photography.  Get your photography down.  It’s key to the legitimacy of your blog.

It was also noted that Hootsuite.com com can only accommodate one large photo in your automated social media posts per day.  Other automated posts may be scheduled but will only include a thumbnail image.

What do you do when you ask an important question to your readers and no one responds?  When you ask a question and hear only crickets back, you call on your community.  Ask another blogger to make a comment and help you save face.

Also be aware the Pinterest is knows as the silent comment.  If you see a traffic increase and see re-pins, be satisfied that people like it.

Also ask questions that solicits a comment. Think of three questions that everyone would be interested in, i.e.  What are you top three favorite books?  People like to talk about books they’ve invested in and always want to know what other people are reading.

Consider doing a giveaway for your top commenter for month.

Be interactive to commenters.  Respond to their comments.  More people will comment if they see that you’re reading them and responding to your readers.

Recognize that we’ve all been in this situation.   If you can be that person that comments when you see that happening to someone else, you will be golden to them.

DO NOT DELETE THE POST.  People are reading it and valuing it even if they don’t comment.  Don’t let the lack of comments get to you so much.

Is it important to post every day?  It’s important to be consistent.  You decide how often you want to post.  It might be everyday, it might be three times a week or maybe just once a week.  Just be consistent so your readers know when to expect your posts.

What are some tips for branding if I don’t have a lot of skills?  Hire out or trade with someone for things you can’t do, like design work.  If you have limited money, put your money into your design.  If you don’t have money, do as good as you can. Find something you really like.  Notice what you like and incorporate those elements.

Tuck a little money a way here and there.  You don’t have to spend a million dollars.

Another underutilized resource is putting college interns to work.  Look for people who need experience or credit hours.  Call your local college.

What is the best formatting to use when posting photos?  Square formatting for photos especially on top picture.  First put the title of your post right on the photo, that helps when it gets pinned.   Vertical pictures always draw the most attention because they are larger on the screen.

Can you do too many giveaways?   Don’t use them to get more followers.  Do it as a thank you for reading.  Limit the amount you do.  Pick one day a week and do a couple giveaways if you have a lot of product you’d like or need to giveaway.

How to Stand Out

The panel gave some great advice about how to make your blog stick in the minds of those who read it.

Blog Design –Make your design be you.  If someone asks you about your design you should be able to explain how it reflects your unique you.  Put some favorite projects in your design.   The first thing your readers see is your design.  Check out Beautifulmess.com there are some great resources there.

Writing personality—Let your readers get to know you.  Look at blogs like CrapI’vemade.com or Vintage revivals they are great examples of how the author shares personality.     The most important thing you can do is just to be you.

Monetizing your Blog

The panel gave some helpful advice about what ways bloggers are using to make money from their blogs.  They shared a lot of definitions and how to use each resource.

Ad networks—Are companies that do the work for you and find and place your ads.  Examples of these are Google Adsense, Blog Her, Food Buzz, Federated Media, Rivet Media.  Some networks have you sign a contract and some don’t.  Read the contract.  Some are very strict about where you place the ad.  They may be asking you for specific things you need to know about.

If you’re new start on Adsense.  Make sure you exclude certain categories in the dash board options.  That way you make sure you don’t get categories of ads on your site that you don’t want i.e. political ads, gambling or other things that don’t represent your brand.   Make sure you go into dashboards and exclude the things you don’t want to target.  That way you can tailor your ads a little bit.

The amount of money you make all depends on the page view.  The reader doesn’t generally have to click on the ad for you to get paid.

CPM stands for Cost Per Thousand.  You generally get a dollar for every thousand people who view the page.

Install Google analytics, DON’T TRUST BLOGGER ANALYTICS they are NOT accurate.

The panel gave the pros and cons of using an ad network.  Pros: They do the work for you. It’s easy.   Cons: You might get an ad you don’t like.  You lose some control.

Another way to make money from your blog is by Affiliate Programs.  This is where you include an affiliate’s link on your post and then the blogger receives a commission for whatever sells through your site.

A lot of bloggers have success selling e-books on their site or bringing readers to their Etsy shops.

Sponsored posts or giveaways also do a lot for your blogs monitization.  Don’t feel guilty to charge companies to do giveaways.  Big companies have the money to pay. For smaller bloggers or Hand Made or Etsy shops you can do for free or trade.  DON’T GIVE YOU BLOG SPACE AWAY.  Bloggers should not be pushovers.  Don’t fall victim to that.  That being said,when you’re numbers are small take opportunities when they come.  You can’t charge for everything.  Just recognize when you’re advertising.  Your time is valuable make it okay for you to be spending your time for doing that.

Ad Spots: Putting an ad at the end of your posts.  Give a discount if they sign for three months.

How do I know what to charge? Currently there isn’t an industry standard.  Check on crafterminds.com in the next month they just issued a survey to ask people and try to set an industry standard.

How do I know if advertising on a certain site or blog is worth it?  Ask for referrals from other people  have advertised with them.  Do a two week advertising test to see what happens.  Try it out and see if it’s worth it to you.

How do you accept the money:  By check in the mail or Pay Pal account.

Working with Brands

Make sure they are relevant to your blog.  Make sure it’s something that you and your audience will really like.

Let the Brands know what you can offer.  Let them know what you can do for them.  Make long lasting relationships.  They can become friends and create a win-win situation.

Be professional and be honest.  What do you do when you don’t like the product?  Don’t share it with readers and send it back to the manufactures.  You can be tactful and give tips to readers to help them avoid the products negatives.  Don’t feel bad to use the cons when you are describing a product.  It brings authenticity to your blog. Give the brand the option to pull out if you reviewed a product and didn’t like it.

Questions:

Giveaways? Raffle copter chooses the winner.  IT ILLEGAL TO DO GIVEAWAYS ON FACEBOOK.  THEY WILL SHUT YOU DOWN.  RaffleCopter is a great resource to help you administer your raffle and giveaways.

The P word—Pintrest

The panel gave some great advice on how to use Pinterest to you advantage.

The experts say Pinterest has a large and growing audience.

Pinterest readers seem to favor simple projects and ideas.   It’s the simple ideas that are pinned the most. Think simple.  People think, “Oh I can do this.”  Be sure not to overlook the simple ideas.

It’s advantageous to use vertical pictures.  They show larger on the Pinterest pages.

Round-ups get pinned a lot i.e., 5 ways to keep your kids quiet in the car.

Can you pin your own stuff?  You can create a Pinboard for your own blog items and invite other people bloggers in your community to contribute to your pin page.

There was a long discussion about Truncating your posts.  Truncating is when bloggers give a small summary or teaser of what the blog is about forcing readers to click through an attached link to read the rest.   The pros of Truncating is increased traffic flow to your site.  The cons are that some readers won’t click through and won’t see your work.  If you truncate it will force your audience on Google Reader and RSS Feeds to go to your blog to read the rest of the post.

Time Management: It’s important to decide what you can and can’t do.   It’s okay to say no.  Some things are worth your time and some things are not.

Its always advantageous to work in advance and schedule posts ahead of time.  That way when things come up you can breathe easy and know you’re covered.

Defining Success: Realize what success is to you.  Whatever your definition is, be sure to have goals for each definition.  If you don’t know what you want, you won’t know when you have arrived.  Also be aware that sometimes the journey is better than the ride.

Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers.  Race like a thoroughbred horse.  Put blinders on and focus on your own race.  Look back on your own progress as well.  It can bring us a lot of joy.

Train people to follow your blog? Write a post about it i.e. If you like this post you can follow this blog by.

Google Plus—Might be worth some of your time.  Google is indexing them.  They pull those posts first.  If someone is searching for something, your blog comes up first. You should be on Google Plus.

Media Kits: It’s a resume and a dating profile combined. It tells your readers why you’re hot and what you can do.  On one page list your statistics including page views monthly, unique visitors, facebook  followers, twitter followers, clout scores, how to contact.

Where do you display your media kit? Display on your advertise page.  Or tell them it’s available upon request.  It’s a way you can go to an advertiser and tell them you want to work with them.  Come to an advertiser with an offer.  You offer them something to share with their readers.  The worst thing they can do is say no.

Where do I find out how to do my own media kit?  Crafterminds.com or just Google it.  Update your media kit monthly.

  

Tauni
Tauni is a former public relations executive who spent 12+ years handling communications and events for an array of clients, from the NBA and Olympics to numerous high ranking politicians. Today, she handles social media for a local agency and hosts SNAP!, an annual social media conference for bloggers focused on entertaining, craft and home DIY.
Tauni
Tauni
Tauni

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Comments

  1. Thanks for this recap! The best recap I’ve ever seen from a blog session! You rock!

  2. Loved this section even though I’m not a newbie. :) The speakers were fantastic, and I had no idea I should have a media kit! I’ll be working on that ASAP!

  3. So very informative. I wish I was there to meet all the amazing bloggers I follow. Some day soon… I have a question about how do bloggers get to test products?

    • Stephanie, Often bloggers are approached by brands that are familiar with their site. However, one of the reasons that we host SNAP! is to hook up bloggers and brands for that very purpose!

      xoxo
      Tauni

  4. Very interesting discussion. I am not a blogger but do read them and have become quite particular about the blogs I now read versus when I first discovered them. Truncating drives me crazy and I tend to skip those blogs that do it. Like many others, my time is limited and I want to read the information quickly and then move on. Also, I realized that blogs are like magazines in that they tend to get redundant and stale after awhile. And giveaways . . . they seem to be so popular now but I find they are used too much so skip blogs that start doing too many of them.

  5. I wasn’t able to attend this session so this recap is amazing! These ladies covered everything.

  6. Thank you for recapping!

  7. So lucky to be on this panel of talented bloggers…I even found myself taking notes during the presentation!
    Thanks to all who attended and asked awesome questions!
    I can’t wait until next year!

  8. This was definitely one of my favorite classes to sit in on. I loved hearing all of the questions being asked and the advice that the panel gave. Just knowing that so many of us have had the same questions was so great.

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