For many new bloggers the hardest part of blogging is understanding all the tools available to help them create a successful blog.
Visit Blogging Websites. My two favorites are Blogging Basics 101 and ProBlogger, these sites are full of information that is helpful to the beginner and expert alike. I highly recommend spending time on these two sites and search them first when you have a blogging question.
Use Photo Hosting Sites like Flickr and Photobucket. If you are not uploading your photos into a separate hosting site you should be for many reasons. Both sites allow you to edit, crop, reduce and tag your photos. It is frustrating when I go to a blog that takes forever to load because their photos are so large. Reducing the size of your pictures helps your site to load quicker, leaving you with happier readers. Flickr uses picnik to edit photos, and editing is important because no one wants to look at crummy pictures. Some of the blogs I read daily first caught my eye because of their photos. By using these free sites (up to a certain amount of photos) you will be able to create a more professional looking site without spending any money.
What is SEO and Why Does it Matter? SEO stands for search engine optimization, and basically means (according Wikipedia) the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. In plain English this means you want people to be able to find your site when they search the internet. You could have a great site, with wonderful information, but if your “How to Live on $5 a Day” post only shows up on page 7 of a google search, no one is going to find it to read about it.
Get a Feedburner Account. Feedburner is a program that allows your blog posts to be delivered either by email or in a reader, such as google. People who sign up for feeds are regular readers. It also encourages them to read your blog whenever you add a post since it is either delivered to their inbox or updated in their reader.
Sign up for Technorati. According to their website Technorati is the leading monitor of the world of weblogs. Technorati is a real-time search engine that is the largest source of fresh information about the global and local conversations going on all across the Web. By claiming your blog on Technorati you will be able to see who is linking to you, as well as your “authority.” Your authority is the number of blogs linking to your site in the past six months. People can also favorite your blog on technorati.
Install a stat counter on your site. I hesitate adding this tip because I don’t want people to become obsessed with their stats. The blogging world can quickly become like a high school flashback in which you were in the unpopular crowd. If you install a stat counter on your site do not check it every 15 minutes. I promise you will want to do this in the beginning, but don’t! Check it once a day or once a week and use it as a tool to help you learn about your site. The two stat counters I use on my site are sitemeter and statcounter. These counters are helpful to me because they let me know where my site traffic is coming from and which posts are generating the most interest.
Purchase Your Name. If you are serious about blogging and creating a site with high traffic, buy your domain name before you get big. Domains can cost as little as $10 for a year. Go Daddy is a popular site for purchasing your domain name and they are cheap too. I am not affiliated with Go Daddy in any way, and I don’t recommend them for hosting as they cannot handle spikes in traffic very well.
Correctly Tag and Categorize your Posts. This is one of the many reasons I, along with many others, prefer WordPress over Blogger. WordPress has significantly more features that allow you to optimize your site for searches. For each post you write assign it a category, if you are writing about your kids put it in the family category, if you are sharing a recipe put it in the food or recipe category. This will allow your readers to search your site more effectively. When you tag a post, use keywords from the post itself. This will help people find your site when they are searching on google, yahoo, or other search engines.
Make Social Bookmarking Easy for your Readers. If you look at the bottom of this post you will see something that says Bookmark It, underneath that are several small boxes. Each of those boxes represent a social bookmarking site. I can talk more about social bookmarking in another post, but if your readers use social bookmarking (as I do) this makes it easy for them to bookmark that post. This is available as a plug in for WordPress users.
Twitter. If you don’t twitter, why not? It is a fun way to connect with other bloggers, have conversations in 140 characters or less, and let your twitter followers know when you publish a post. Last year when I tweeted about our newest battle with lice I received several messages from other twitterers giving me some really great tips. A caution about twitter, do not use twitter only to promote your site. If everything is all about you, people will stop following you and move on.
Remember Blogging is a Community not a Competition. Read other blogs, comment often, and link to other blog posts you find interesting. One of the best things about blogging for me is all the friendships I have developed with other bloggers over the past year. We are able to rejoice in each others triumphs and offer sympathy when times are tough. Even though I have met very few of them in real life, I consider them friends.
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