I have worked in digital marketing for 7 years and have been blogging for 6. Whilst the landscape has changed dramatically in both the digital and blogging industries respectively, I am still very surprised (hmmm, more so alarmed) at how many bloggers I come across that are not up to speed with the basic tools available to make their blogging life a breeze!
It’s my belief that just as you have to be passionate and fully immersed in the topic/s you blog about, you also have to apply the same vigour to the digital space as the two (very obviously) are interlinked.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to be a computer whizz, but I would implore any one who has a blog to keep abreast of digital trends so as not to get left behind. The internet is an amazing tool with infinite resources at your fingertips. I am always letting my blogger friends know about online tools I use that they had no clue about, that I felt compelled to write this article. Below is a list of essential blogging tips (complete with Kardashian gifs to keep those of you who snooze at anything mildly technical somewhat entertained) – implement these and your blogging routine will be changed forever!
Knowing your audience is key to the development of your blog – FACT. Do you know who is reading your blog? Or the referral links that brought them to your site? Do you know the location of your readers? How long they spent on your site? Your most/ least popular pages?
If the answer is no, chances are you are not tracking any of this information and this data is key! If you hope to work with brands and PR’s or eventually get paid for your work then you will need to be able to prove what your blog is worth whether it be by reach or engagement. Analytics is also key in setting and identifying goals for the development and growth of your blog. Use this data to identify the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that will ultimately benchmark your blogs growth.
Gone are the days of singular presence on one social network. Now you have to be visible across a number of mediums to get your content out to the world. It’s hard – and a lot of times you will feel like you are spreading yourself too thin. My advice first and foremost would be to use only the networks that you enjoy – be it 1 or 100. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test out new sites – but you are likely to update more often and engage with users on your favourite social networks. A really useful way to manage content across multiple networks is to use an aggregator like Hootsuite – or create rules via IFTTT. I particular love the latter as it allows you to share once and upload to many different platforms with use of a hash tag. This is great because when set up properly, you can ensure that you are not spamming all networks with the same content.
Believe it or not, there are some renegades out there who refuse to hyperlink and still paste full links into their blog posts. Not only is it unsightly, but hyperlinking really is the first lesson in blogging 101.
Lesson number 2 is short links – Again, they are a lot prettier and are useful for restrictive character limits on Twitter. Free Tools – Bit.ly, TinyURL. For those of you who have been shortening your links for some time, why not try Pretty Links. This wordpress plugin gives you the option to shorten links using your own domain name!
A God send if, like me, you are not a photoshop whizz! Nowadays, bloggers are expected to be top notch photographers, image editors, writers and more. If you think about it, magazines and online publications have an actual team to do what we bloggers do single handedly. However, that’s not an excuse to produce sub standard posts and/or imagery. Display your photo’s in cool and creative ways using online collage editors. Need that instagram filter for a high res image? Or want to create a gif? (Started doing this recently, as I’m not quite ready to move into video territory just yet). There are so many editors available online to make your content stand out from the rest. Don’t limit yourself to standard templates or replicate formats from your favourite blogs – Get creative!
Not everyone will make money from their blog, and certainly not right away. However, a great way to get started is via affiliate links. Affiliate links allow you to earn a small commission when an item you have recommended via your blog is purchased. There is a little more you need to know, but essentially, if you are promoting a brand for free on your site and linking through to their product, you absolutely should be using affiliate links. Affiliate networks (this is where you get the links from and how you will ultimately get paid) are also a great way to get noticed by brands as they vet your site before allowing you to promote them. If they like what they see, they may even reach out to you to work on something more bespoke. These networks are mostly free to sign up with – and offer a variety of tools to help monetise your site. I won’t list my preference (being in the industry and all) but do your research as some brands have exclusive contracts and wont necessarily be on all networks.
If you have a blog, or are thinking of starting one, hopefully this post will be of some use. I haven’t touched on other things such as the importance of good SEO habits as well as how to proactively brand your blog. Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in via the comments section below and I’ll follow up with a part 2 to this post.