Five Tips for a Successful Blog

sewing conference

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Sewing Summit, a sewing conference in Salt Lake City, run by my friend Erin.  I had such a lovely time, I neglected to take a single photo, but I thought I would share a few take aways, along with my presentation – Tips for a Successful Blog.

I learn something at EVERY conference I attend and Sewing Summit was no exception. I could write several posts, but I am just going to cover a few fun highlights for now…

  1. When attending a conference, stay at the event hotel. Sure, staying at home helps keep things affordable, but you miss out on so much great networking, your subject to the ins, outs and pressures of regular life and you will end up missing something.
  2. If you don’t have a beautifully sewn handbag or tote, you’re going to stand out at Sewing Summit (they are like cardigans and ruffles at SNAP!). If I would have remembered my camera, that’s what I would have shot…all of the great bags.
  3. Beautiful, modern quilts inspire me just as much as a gorgeous photograph…In other news, who’s going to teach me to quilt?
  4. Speaking of photographs…Few brightly lit  windows and little space are NO excuse for bad photography. I will be working on this…
  5. I will always be a better speaker than writer…darn it!
I had a wonderful time sharing a few fun tips about successful blogging with the attendees at the conference. We had a wide range of experience in the room, so I focused the slides on some basic tips and we were able to expand on the topic more in discussion.
Since we were focused on an interactive discussion, I wanted to share the hard content here on the site…It’s great for beginners, but it’s also a great review for more seasoned bloggers.

Five Tips for a Successful Blog

5 Tips for Successful Blogging

Step 1. Branding

Branding is often overlooked, but it is one of the most important elements of having a great blog. How you brand yourself will not only distinguish you from the millions of other blogs, but it will help determine your reputation, reader loyalty and project recall.

Though there are many elements to establishing a great brand, the two that have the most impact are name and design.

There are three things to consider when it comes to selecting a name for your blog. Choose something that is simple, functional and memorable.

Successful blogging

Brand names that are short and simple resonate. They are easy to remember and spell. Made and V and Co. are two great examples of easy to remember, short blog names.

Successful blogging

I love a name that is descriptive. When I hear Diary of a Quilter or Gussy Sews, I know exactly what I am going to get on their site. Functional names are great!

Successful Blogging

Of course, sometimes it’s okay to break ALL the rules. That’s when you have an incredible unique, memorable name like Crap I’ve Made or Tatertots and Jello.

Is your name simple, functional or just downright different? What’s the most unusual brand name you’ve ever heard?

Looking for a bit more detail? Check out this short post on selecting a name for your brand.

There are a number of things to consider when selecting a design for your logo and site…

Successful blogging

Selecting a logo that looks like what you’re going to write about, is a great idea. Not only is Made by RAE’s name a pretty descriptive, but looking at her logo it’s pretty clear what she’s blogging about too.

Blogging Success

Another thing to think about when selecting a logo is the number of different ways it will be used. Select a logo that would look good in black and white, as well as any size. Not only are both of the names and design of The Sew Weekly and Sew to Speak perfectly descriptive, the color and size works well in black and white and in different sizes.

Step 2. Site Platform and Design

There are many blog platforms available for your use. Each tool has its pros and cons in terms of ease of use, functionality, customization and cost.

Briefly, lets look at some of the reasons you may want to select the Blogger or WordPress platforms…

Google has created a pretty simple interface for bloggers. The drag and drop functionality makes it easy for bloggers to install simple design and move around basic widgets, while Google maintains the more serious upkeep like development and hosting. Best of all? Blogger is completely free.

WordPress is a bit more technical, but with that comes increased functionality and an amazing array of open code to utilize in customization. This provides bloggers with more room to grow and optimize their site for traffic and monetization.

Still unsure as to which plat form is best? Stop by and read my post on how to decide between Blogger or WordPress.

You might also choose to peruse the blogging tips archives for tutorials on both Blogger and WordPress, along with social networking tools.

Successful Blogging

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of having plenty of white space on your blog.  One blog that has this down is A Lemon Squeezy Home. The white space makes it so much easier to scan and read.

Successful Blogging

Don’t think that white space has to literally mean the space is white. Whipstitch is an amazing sewing blog and it’s background is actually green.

Blogging Success

It’s also entirely possible to incorporate advertising, while maintaining a less busy format. A great example of this is The Idea Room.

Blogging Success

A great design is important, but the most beautiful site in the world is pretty useless if you can’t find anything. A well organized site, like No Biggie, encourages visitors to stay a while and look around. Kami has utilized Inlinkz to organize her projects by category. This is a great simple fix if you’re looking to create thumbnail lists.

In addition to a well organized site, make sure that your contact information is easy to find.

There are a few final don’ts that you should be aware of…

  • Don’t install music or sound
  • Don’t use pesky word verification on comments
  • Don’t use multiple or hard to read fonts
  • Don’t use white text on a dark background
Looking for a bite more information? Be sure to read blog design resources.

Step 3. Content

Successful Blogging
You’ve got a name, a platform and a design, but if you don’t have great content you’ve still got nothing. Ultimately, what makes good content is pretty darn subjective. Nearly everyone has a different view of what good content actually is.
I would suggest that good content is original, it is educational or informative and it is unique.
Your post needn’t be a long tutorial. Some of the best tutorials generate the least amount of comments and traffic. Often it’s the pieces that cover the everyday that resonate the most strongly.
So what makes a great post? Comments regarding your latest failure, the scrap box or even the need to balance.
There are a few bloggers that do an excellent job of writing to cover the everyday, amidst their creative endeavors. Reading the work of bloggers like Less Cake More Frosting and Lil Blue Boo is a great way to be inspired to improve your own writing.

Step 4. Promotion

Successful BloggingTraffic comes from many sources, but none are as important as the traffic generated from search engines. Though WordPress remains the top dog when it comes to SEO, there are tips ALL bloggers can use to improve keyword optimization.
  • Use the keyword in your title
  • Your title should be 70 characters or less
  • Use the keyword in your URL (a great WP plugin to help with your links is Pretty Links)
  • Use the keyword in your first paragraph
  • Use words similar to your keyword phrase throughout your content (but only use them when it makes sense)
  • Link to older posts within your site
  • Utilize headers containing your keywords when possible
If you are using WordPress, make sure you’re using the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
Don’t underestimate the value of a good email list. Some readers choose to read blogs exclusively through email.  MailChimp is a great tool to manage and distribute any email newsletters you may choose to implement.
successful blogging
Google Analytics  continues to be the most commonly referenced tool for tracking what readers think of your blog.  I’ve found it to be terribly helpful in determining what I will write more about.  For an overview of how I use the tool, be sure to read five ways you can get more from Google Analytics.

Monetization

Despite the two hours we had, we ran out of time to discuss monetization. It’s more of a result of successful blogging than a tip to successful blogging. For those interested in monetization…

Working with Brands

Ten Things to Consider When Monetizing Your Blog 

How to Monetize Your Blog

Sigh…And thus ends what’s made for a very, very long blog post.

I didn’t get to meet many of your and I clearly didn’t take many photos. I’d love to have you share/link up your Sewing Summit posts so that I can read through them…
 

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

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve really been working on growing my blog. It can get discouraging. I’ve decided that it’s more important to have readers than visible followers. That’s what I really want. That’s how you make the most impact. I’m just having trouble growing that side of the blog.

    Any suggestions?

    • Danette, Don’t get discouraged. I think that there has been a bit of a shift in readership in the last year or so. It used to be that people came to blogs for inspiration and when they found one they liked, they would subscribe. Now, I think a lot of people simply look for that sort of inspiration on FB or Pinterest.

      What you CAN focus on is keeping people on your site for longer, getting them to read additional posts, etc. I noticed that you don’t currently have a related posts link installed on your site. That’s a great way to encourage people to stick around. Here’s a tutorial for adding: http://snapcreativity.com/add-related-posts-thumbnails/ Also, try linking back to other posts in the body/copy of your work. Refer to things you’ve talked about before.

      Once you’ve hooked someone for a while, it’s a lot easier to get them to come back :)

      -Tauni

  2. I really enjoyed your presi. It was nice to meet you! And yes, all the handbags were amazing :)

  3. Tauni, I want to tell you again how much I really enjoyed your session – I thought your presentation was fantastic – perfect for your audience, totally helpful and useful information. Well done! And I’ll totally teach you to quilt. ;)

  4. I absolutely adored your class Tauni, thank you again for all of your helpful information. I will be putting it to good use! And yes – you are a FANTASTIC public speaker, I was so impressed!

  5. This was a super great read for me, thank you so much!

  6. This is really wonderful…thank you. I love the idea for white space and catchy names too.

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