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October 12, 2011

Blogging: A few tips I've picked up along the way


Inspired by Lesley’s recent post about blogging tips and tricks, I want to share my own thoughts about blogging -- how to try and grasp readers’ attention, and perhaps even harder -- how to hold it. Like Lesley, I agree that there is nothing more heartbreaking for a blogger than to spend lots of time making a post super-special...and no one leaves you any feedback in the comments section. That being said, I do want to point out that even though people don’t always leave a comment, know that they are still reading! I’ve realized this several times since I started blogging in various ways. Plus, commenting can be time-consuming, and I totally get that -- my peeve is typing a word verification to comment on a blog (call me lazy, but sometimes I literally groan when I see those pesky little things!)

People ask me all the time, "How do you have time to blog, tweet, pin, instagram, etc.?" Well, while blogging requires a little extra time, you should blog because it's something you love to do, like a hobby. And that's just it -- I love to blog. And I make time for it. Through my blog, I've landed a super cool day job, grown my Etsy business and continue to meet rad, inspiring people on a regular basis. And those of you who write me the sweetest emails, tweets and comments seriously make my days so much brighter! The blogosphere is so cool...and it is the best when people share what they love with others. The love is often contagious. And awesome. 

While I am by no means a blogging expert, I do have a few blogging tips that I’ve picked up along the way* -- and I’d love to share them with any of you who are aspiring bloggers, too.

1. Social media is your best friend. Twitter, Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook have really helped me build a small “Natty Michelle” brand. All of my social media accounts work together, helping me reach new readers, followers and clients. Tweeting and pinning my posts, sharing photos and updating my followers on anything new I have going on has worked wonders for my blog and my Etsy shop. The tweeting and pinning was something I had to get used to, because I felt like it was a little showy (?) in some way, but I took Bri’s advice and jumped on the bandwagon -- although I do try to keep these blog tweets and pins to a minimum. Ultimately, if people are following you…it’s likely that they care and appreciate the updates.

2. Be true to yourself. Write blog posts that you are interested in -- passion is contagious! Your readers can tell when your heart isn’t in something, and just the same, they can tell when something truly inspires you. Blogging is supposed to be fun -- not a chore. Even if your readers aren’t necessarily into a specific post, they will usually appreciate the enthusiasm and the time you took to write about it.

3. Try to put as much original thought into your blog as possible. For example, it’s easy to repost inspiring fashion or home d├ęcor photos, but by creating a mood board, writing over photos and adding personal touches (Photoshop is a great tool for this), a photo becomes fresh, new and even more interesting than before -- because you took the time to put your own spin on it. Keeping my content original is something that I’m always working to improve, because there just isn’t enough time in the day to make every single post completely personal and unique. I just know that the bloggers who take time to make their posts original always keep me coming back for more…and I want to do the same for people who read my blog, too.

4. Blog stats -- check 'em out. Use Google Analytics, Statcounter or the statistics feature of your blog (if your host offers one) and keep up with your blog’s stats. Seeing your numbers grow over time is motivating, and you can learn a great deal about your readers in the meantime through their keyword searches, bounce rates and favorite posts.

5. I cannot stress this last tip enough -- write in your own voice -- casual is key. Have you ever read a blog post that feels like it’s written to strictly inform you about a random topic, and the voice is completely impersonal? Me, too. When blogs are written in a casual, conversational way, they immediately become relatable and fun to read. I personally read blogs because they inspire me -- whether bloggers write about their lives, interests or hobbies. Always write from the heart! After all, a blog is a forum meant to be used as a creative outlet and a place to speak your mind. Write as if you were speaking to your best friend -- that’s the very best blogging advice I can give!

So please tell me -- what do you love most about your favorite bloggers? What tips have you picked up along the way? I would love to hear what you have to say!

*I also highly recommend these blogging tips from other bloggers that have helped me along the way: the always-inspirational Bri of DesignLoveFest, John and Sherry of Young House Love, Christina of Down & Out Chic, Lesley of Homemade Grits and Ree, the beloved Pioneer Woman


retro photo here / poster art by Aardvark on Sea

5 comments:

  1. I usually want to comment on pretty much every post, but then I chicken out because I never feel like I have anything substantial enough to say.

    I heart this blog to death and I'm so glad I was told about it. You and I used to work at the same company, although unfortunatly I dont think we ever actually met, and it was a former coworker who told me about your blog.

    Anyway, you're spot on with #5 and its the reason I like your blog so much. You have this fabulousness (fabulosity?)that is so real and attainable. Sometimes when I read other blogs, I feel like a pauper because they write about what I deem to be dreadfully expensive clothing and decor. I start to wonder if I'm the only woman in her late 20's, at a mid-level job making a mediocre salary, that reads blogs. Blogs are supposed to be great to read, but a lot end up being only great to look at.

    I'm starting to hear the orchestra playing telling me to wrap it up, so I'll end it here.

    Thanks so much for being an awesome blogger and giving me a piece of the South that I so dearly miss since I've been dragged to the North.

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  2. thanks for the kind mention! i agree with all of your tips including using your own voice. who wants to read someone that's trying to be someone else? boring!

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  3. i agree with chris- formality=snooze. i love reading your blog and really appreciate your love of vintage and your creativity. i also TOTALLY agree with you on the original content bit. the blog world recycles, rinses, and repeats. to see something fresh and original is a breath of fresh air. keep it up girl!

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  4. Ohh thanks for the tips..I hate social media (I barely have time to blog!) But these tips definitely make sense.

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  5. Natty, your blog was one of the first blogs I started reading, and now I'm a blog reading addict! You do such an excellent job being yourself on your blog. And even though we may not chat on the phone or exchange emails every day, I still feel like I'm having a conversation with you every time I read one of your posts.

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