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Blogging for Beginners – Top 9 Things a Newbie Blogger should know

I wrote this back in May and have posted it to a few arena's but ultimately it should reside here with the rest of my Trainer Talks posts: 

So you created yourself a blog through a hosted provider such as Blogger or WordPress and then it’s all like – “Now what do I do?”.

We’ve all been there and as much as the main focus seems to be on driving more traffic a lot of people forget or even do not realise that there are a few more basics to blogging than generating traffic. I have been asked this question a few times so I put together what I consider to be the very basics to blogging in the beginning:

1. The biggest thing you need to do is be patient – patience is something that not a lot of people have but really when you are building a steady base for your blog you need to have this. Rome was not built in a day and your blog design, writing, audience won’t be either.

2. Use proper language and grammar - it really does not matter what your site niche is, if your site is poorly punctuated, hard to read and difficult to digest then no one is going to look any further than the first few lines. Take a few seconds whenever you create a page or a post to ensure that everything is in order and reads well. You will be forgiven for the odd mistake but a post full of them means people will switch off.

3. Improve your blog - this relates to your layout, the content. It takes a while for any blogger to really settle into their blog and as you grow with it you will find that you want to get more out of it and the only way to do this is to experiment with your layout, experiment with your design. Find what works for you, look at the gadgets and widgets out there and play until you are happy. People may argue that your followers will get fed up if you keep changing it but if your theme and name is the same it won’t matter that you are improving your style, if anything it will keep people intrigued.

4. Write consistently – One thing that happens quite often is bloggers will have spurts of writing and they will generate day after day, post after post and publish them. What happens when things go quiet? writers block takes hold? time doesn’t allow? well you end up letting your readers down, they come back regularly and then discover that you’ve not posted for 3 weeks so they think you’ve abandoned your blog. Make a decision about how often you want to post and within reason stick to it. Your regular readers will discover your publishing habits and you will see them return more regularly. On a plus side for all the writing spurts there is the draft button, you can create a post, save it to draft and publish it later.

5. Don’t fall into the Follow Me Follow You trick – For anyone out there running around forums and posting “Follow Me and I’ll Follow You” I think this is a complete waste of time for traffic – it does what it says on the tin the ranking on Follow me/you only really works for increasing the number of people who clicked ‘Follow you’ it doesn’t affect the SEO’s (Search Engine Optimisation) unless there is registered activity and chances are they won’t return to your site ever again. Joining in on other people’s events and linking to each others blogs is a better way to direct traffic and will be so much more productive for you than clicking on several hundred follow buttons.

6. Build Relationships – There are a number of forums out there in the blogsphere e.g. Blog Frog, Blog Catalogue, Technoratti, and many many more, I have joined a number of forums and although I have left half of them by the wayside I have found the ones I am comfortable with and the ones where I enjoy the interaction with other communities and bloggers. These forums enable you to find out how to’s, advice, discuss comments, share posts and interact in a positive way. You will also be able to build successful networks of bloggers who in your time of blogging need prove to be just as good as your BFF.

7. Comment Love – I am a firm believer in comment love, but for anyone leaving a comment of ‘I agree’, ‘I love this’ and ‘oh here’s my link’ etc. it is lovely to see it but it doesn’t really push me to go look any further at that person’s blog. People love comments, me I love them more than stats, don’t be disheartened if you don’t have comments against posts, sometimes it takes a while for people to get into your blog and start leaving comments. I am a firm believer that if you leave comments, there’s a strong chance you will get comments back. When you leave a comment it’s better to leave a well thought out comment about the subject matter. It doesn’t have to be an essay but a well constructed response such as “I really like the view point you gave on ***** I have been in this situation myself and actually wrote a post on it (then it’s OK to leave your link) I would love to hear your thoughts on it” gives you the perfect opportunity to start a discussion with a person about their post and share something that you’ve written previously.

8. Don’t steal or borrow – You might find yourself inspired by someone’s post, if you feel that a point they makes backs up your post make sure when you write your post you include a link to their post and then leave it in their comments section. I can guarantee any blogger will love that you’ve quoted or linked to them but they will not love it if they find out you’ve nabbed their work and if they have copyright you can find yourself in big big trouble.

9. Plug Ins and Widgets - I see so many blogs that have nothing other than just the content and for some it does work but I have a few plugins and widgets that I just would not be without:
Social Sharing Tools – lets my visitors share my blog and posts via Facebook, Twitter, stumbleupon, etc.
RSS Sign up – Allows people to bookmark your site so they can obtain updates and keep on track with your blog
Link Within – Enables me to display thumbnails of other posts relevant to the post being read.
Broken Links – scans my blog and tells me of any links that are not working, this can be from links I have created or even links left by people through the comment section
Akismet – Spam scanner, protects my blog from spammers and enables me to delete all with one click of a button or if they happen to be real (not very often) I can approve them
Comment Luv – once people leave comments on your blog, comment luv will pick up their last post from their blog and automatically leave a link to their site, It is great for generating links and therefore sending off little radars to the SEO’s.
(I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible, a plugin is a script(code) that is uploaded into the back end of your blog which will give you additional functionality, a widget is usually the vehicle for accessing or enabling that functionality to improve the appearance of your blog most widgets are derived from a plugin but not all plugins need a widget e.g. Commentluv is a plugin that once you activate will work on your blog, there is no need to add a widget, this is the same with Broken Links and Linked Within, etc).
Wherever you look in the Blogosphere there will be people telling you to do this or don’t do that. At the end of the day it’s your blog, you can pick and choose what you want to do with it. Make the most of the design, layout and context and then go out there and pull people into it. The rest will come in the future, I have said this before, you will get out of it what you put into it but if you are serious about building your blog then it definitely is worth the time and energy to do the things listed above.
Trainer Talks was my first blog and it's always been on blogger but I have two other self hosted blogs:  Almost There and Samuel Michaels Photography, I change the look and feel of my blogs in line with the growth of them and probably will continue to do so in the future. 

If you have a question feel free to ask, if I can help I will. In the meantime happy blogging and don’t forget to come back and check for updates.