Your friendly Guest Poster for today is the wonderful Sarah from Well And Cheaply. We were kinda "introduced" by my friend Amy. I have not known Sarah very long, but in the few weeks I have been reading her blog, she has impressed me big time. Not only is she a talented writer, she also manages to build an amazing community on her blog, with a lovely atmosphere of interesting conversation and exchange.
I was stoked when Sarah agreed to write something for my blog while I'm out gallivanting, and when she asked what the post should be about, I naturally suggested she tell us her secrets of how to be a fantastic blogger. Luckily, Sarah obliged. And here we go:
Hello All the Live Long Day readers! My name is Sarah and I blog over at Well and Cheaply. I'm so happy to guest post for Annika while she's enjoying her vacation. Ahhh yay vacation! Annika sweetly suggested that I write a guest post about blogging (I know, totally meta) since I have a lot of interaction with my readers. So I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm not an expert or full time blogger or even have that many followers, but I've been blogging since November of 2008- which is so crazy to me! So I guess I've learned some things along the way. Let me try to tell you about them in a somewhat organized manner.
First off, although I've been blogging since 2008, this is my second blog. I started Well and Cheaply in May after deciding to take my first blog down. To make a long story short, by using my first and last name, I lost some privacy on that blog. I work at a school and students ended up finding it. Although I had never written anything inappropriate, I just didn't feel comfortable knowing that they were reading it, so I took it down and eventually started fresh with a new blog using just my first name. By doing this, I lost some old readers because I didn't have a link up on my old blog leading to the new one, but it was a good lesson to learn. So my first suggestion is to really think about what you are putting out on the internet when you blog and decide how you want to do it. By using my first name only, if you google me, my blog does not come up. A lot of readers know my first and last name (in real life and virtual friends) but they have respected my privacy by not mentioning it on my blog.
Although I sort of learned my lesson the hard way, starting a brand new blog after almost four years of blogging was really invigorating and refreshing! I definitely recommend it if you're feeling like blogging is becoming a little stale for you. When I initially took my old blog down, I was really turned off about sharing my life online. But after a few months of not blogging and really thinking about how to share what I wanted and keep other things private, I realized how much joy blogging brings to my life. Writing is a great way for me to sort through my feelings and personal issues and connecting with readers makes it all the more valuable, which is why it's so different from just writing in a personal journal every day. So when I made the choice to start a new blog, I knew it was the right one, and it was really exciting to think about exactly where I wanted my new blog to go. Which brings me to what I blog about.
I love writing about deeper issues and label those posts under my "things I'm afraid to tell you" category. These blog posts are the most fulfilling for me as a writer, but I'm not sure how much my audience likes them. On certain posts I will get an amazing response in the comments, but others not so much. I have a feeling though that these posts might not always provoke comments. They're either talking about heavier things that readers might not want to share, or do not leave room for a response. I think that mostly, readers will read these posts and think, "I liked that," but not necessarily comment. It's hit or miss with the comments on these posts, but I write them because I enjoy it - it keeps me more sane, helps me work through my own issues and I usually will have at least one person write that they enjoyed the post and that always means a lot to me.
The most interaction I usually get with my readers is when I pose a question at the end of a blog post asking them to weigh in. These posts are usually about lighter subjects and I enjoy writing them just as much as I enjoy writing about the heavier things. Two very highly commented past posts of mine include a vlog about what's in my make up bag and a post I did where I wrote about sleeping better without my husband and asked if readers slept better alone. I think if you write about a topic that a lot of people can form a quick opinion on, they will most likely comment on it, and then a really good discussion can get started in the comments.
To come up with good blog post ideas like that, I try to pay attention to fun conversations I've had with friends. This post about Clair Huxtable was totally one of them. Usually if it's good friend conversation material, it's going to be a good blog topic, because isn't reading people's blogs like talking to a friend anyway?
When it comes to comments I have two rules of thumb. The first is to try and not get obsessed with them (this is easier said then done) and the second is to try and interact with my blog commenters as much as possible. This one is really easy. I try to reply to almost all of my comments, even if it's just to say "thanks!" and find that this makes making new blog pals super easy and rewarding. I know Annika because she's commented on my blog!
The final thing I'd like to share about blogging is my experience with advertising. It is my personal goal to be able to have sponsors on Well and Cheaply some day, but until I have a higher number of monthly page views I'm not going to even attempt it. (My goal is 10,000 page views a month to start advertising, right now I'm almost at 6,000 in case you were wondering). Since my blog is important to me, I justify spending some money every month advertising on other blogs that I love to read. My experience has been that it always brings more readers to my blog. However my two very favorite places to advertise with are Sometimes Sweet and Little Chief Honey Bee because they include organic link shout outs in their advertising price. So along with having an ad in their side bar, they will mention you once or twice in a blog post. These link shout outs are what always bring me the most clicks and usually bring me long term followers. Of all the blogs I've advertised on, they are the only ones that I've found that include this with their advertising and it has been the most worthwhile for me. And since I love these blogs anyway, and the bloggers behind them, it's always exciting to be mentioned on them, even if I paid for it. I think I have a similar readership to both of those blogs so it's a really great way for me to get my writing out to more readers every month.
So I think those are the big things that I've learned over the years! I'd love to hear about your own blogging experiences in the comments - do you have any tricks up your sleeves? And if you have any questions, ask in the comments too! I'll try my best to answer them, or at least just say hello.
Thanks for reading and thanks Annika for having me as your guest!