Blogging (successfully) is one of those things that sounds pretty simple when you say ut out loud, but when it comes down to actually doing it - and doing it well - there are a lot of things to take into consideration. I'm hardly any form of internet authority or mother-figure here (although feel free to start calling me Mumma Steph) so I'm not going to tell you exactly what you can or can't do with your blog, but if you wanna make it that little bit more special, try steering clear of these blogging mistakes. Or you're grounded without pocket money. Or food. I'd be a terrible parent..
1. Blogging illegally
If there's one thing you take from this post, it's that blogging illegally is a bad, bad thing - just like most other illegal things. The general topic of what you can and can't do with your blog is a long, laborious one, but luckily for you guys I've typed it all out in one of my last tip tuesdays, so if you want to know how to blog without breaking the law, head on over.
2. Not crediting your sources
This kind of falls in line with the laws of the internet, but copyright is a seriously big deal for us bloggers. Contrary to popular belief, just because an image is available on Google it doesn't actually mean it's yours for the taking, so if you are using someone's snaps on your blog (even if it's just an inspiration post) you really should be crediting them. The best thing to do is ask for someone's permission, but if not be sure to pop in a link to their site, just to cover your back.
3. Not using your own images
Think about it, how often does your favourite blog use stock images? Never, is probably the answer you're looking for here. So, if you can, try taking your own photos to illustrate your next blog post. You don't need a fancy camera or the latest update of Adobe Photoshop - all you need is your iPhone, a good eye and a few apps for editing! Plus, you won't have to worry about following any laws if your images are your own!
4. Not declaring sponsored posts
Again, it's a lil bit illegal if you don't declare any paid or sponsored posts, but despite all those boring laws it's actually a really good idea to admit to ads, even if it's just to maintain a bit of trust between you and your readers. The second you start trying to trick your audience into thinking that you absolutely, 100% were not paid for a positive review on toilet paper*, the second you start losing them.
*Unless it really is great toilet paper..
5. Blogging for the wrong reasons
If the only reason you choose to blog is to:
- Get rich
- Get famous
- Get free stuff
- All of the above
You probably shouldn't be doing it. Blogging is something you should start for you, not for material possessions. Sure, I may be earning a few pennies here and there, but I never started my blog with the intention of it paying my bills. So if you're going to start a blog (or if you have one already!) make sure you're doing it because you enjoy it. It could be a long, long time before you start getting anything from it, so for all those months you're doing it for free, you may a swell actually like it.
6. Accepting everything you get offered
Again, free toilet paper? It's useful, but do you really want it? Unless your blog is focussed on loo roll (if so, huzzah! You've found your niche!), maybe not. I tend to operate in a way that I only accept things I want to try or I'd go out and buy myself. That way you can maintain your own personal style and you'll never feel pushed into writing about something you don't like. You'll be surprised at how many brands actually respect you saying no!
7. Putting too much focus on SEO
Search Engine Optimisation is important, but you shouldn't let it dictate everything you do with your blog. If you end up making every single thing on your blog all about keywords and searchable phrases you'll end up with quite possible the most boring and robotic sounding blog. Sure you might rank high on Google, but that;s pretty useless if your audience aren't fully engaged in what you have to say.
8. Not putting any focus on SEO
Despite everything said above, it is a good idea to divulge in at least a little bit of SEO every once in a while, just to keep your blog ticking over nicely. For those not in the know, SEO basically consists of various ways you can get your site higher on a search engine. Higher on Google = more chances of people clicking on your site. Head on over to my post about SEO tips for bloggers to find our more!
9. Not linking to old posts
Do you see a theme here? The Sherlock Holmes of you will have noticed that I've linked back to a few of my old posts in this article. Why? Because it helps keep my older content fresh, and clicked on! Not all of you will go and scroll through every single post I've ever written (sob), but some of them are still very relevant (or at least, I like to think so), so whenever I can I try to link back to relevant posts to keep them, well, relevant!
10. Not linking out to others
Think about it, having other people link out to your blog feels great, doesn't it? Not only is it flattering, but it can also help your SEO as well as drive more readers your way. So when you can, try linking back to a few of your own favourite bloggers to help them out a little.
11. Bad mouthing others
It's simple. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all! It's not so bad if you're talk about celebrities or people in the public eye (although it's still not overly nice!), but no matter what you should never back chat another blogger or content creator. It can cause drama, awkward situations and - generally - it's just not the nicest thing to read. There's enough negativity in the world - leave it out!
12. Not showing your personality
There are SO many bloggers in our community now that you simply have to show off your personality if you want to stand out. Think about how many MAC lipstick reviews you've seen on blogs. Why do you read them? It's probably not for the description about the colour, but more about how someone wears the lipstick or talks about it! Everyone's unique in some way or another, so make sure you use your own personality to your advantage.
13. Being inconsistent
Being inconsistent doesn't mean you have to post at the exact same time, on the exact same days, but having some sort of 'home base' for your readers means they know when to come back if they want to read something new from you. Take Tip Tuesdays for example! If there's one post I make sure I stick to every week, it's this.
14. Not engaging with your readers
Blogging is a two way thing - you can't just talk at people without any thought about the people reading your site. If someone takes time to comment, comment back! If someone asks you a question, try and answer it (maybe in a future blog post!?). It just helps you build a relationship with your audience, as opposed to just typing away for the sake of it.
15. Not being reachable
I come across so many blogs that don't have a contact section, and it stresses me out knowing that they might be missing out on some seriously awesome opportunities, or even conversations! Brands will take one look at your site and if they can't find a way to contact you within a few seconds they'll switch straight off. Same goes for setting your Twitter and Instagram to public!
16. Neglecting social media
You can have the most kick ass blog in the world, but if you;re not sharing it then no one will be able to find it (unless you're an SEO queen, perhaps). Sharing something can take literally two seconds, and it can bring a bunch of new readers your way in an instant. I (try) to do it at every opportunity I get. But please, don't spam your links every five seconds!
17. Having a slow website
Think about it, if a website takes thirty seconds to load, are you going to wait that whole thirty seconds? I don't know about you guys, but I'd have clicked off by that time. When making a site it;s important to make sure you don't have too many 'things' running on your site to slow it down. This can be anything from millions of videos to millions of widgets. You can check your speed just by Googling 'website speed test'. You're welcome.
18. Not having a mobile-optimised website
I'm always reading blogs on the go, and nothing annoys me more than when I go on a site to find out that it's not supported on mobile. Sure, you can usually read things on your internet browser on your phone, but it never normally works quite like it should (and it can take a lifetime to load). A lot of sites like Squarespace and Wordpress ensure that your blog is mobile optimised from the get go, but you can check if yours is by searching for 'mobile friendly test' on good old Google.
Aaaand now my fingers have officially gone to sleep. Hope this Tip Tuesdays post helped you guys! As always please feel free to shove your question in the comments down below, and I'll work on getting a post up about it ASAP!