Grow Your Blog ~ The Blog Toolbox

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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Comments

  1. Erin says:

    Such a great post. I think I waver between wanting to grow my blogging voice and wanting to quietly step out of the room. It is tough to find that balance between blogging and other priorities in life. The comment about obsession with the statcounters really resonated with me. Thanks for the tips on Flickr, too, I really need to make more use of my account there.

    Thanks once again for well spoken advice in an easy to understand format!
    ~Erin

  2. Amanda says:

    I just recently found your blog but I am really enjoying it! Epsecially your story series about you getting married and such. I am anxiously awaiting the next installment! I appreciate your tips for blogging. I just started blogging and have found all of this info very helpful. Thanks!
    God bless,
    Amanda

  3. Kate says:

    Ah, great post! I’ve been looking for tips like this, but there’s so much information out there that it’s overwhelming.

    ~Kate
    “Which Proverbs 14:1 Woman?”
    http://proverbs14-1.blogspot.com

  4. Tiffany says:

    Thanks to you, I’ve decided to actually do something with the technorati account I opened a year ago. :)

    Great tips, I’ll probably come back tomorrow and spend a little more time.

  5. Good tips. I will thinka bout buying my domain name.

  6. Jen says:

    Thanks for all the great info. My BFF and I just started a blog and I’m very new to all this. The idea of a blog community makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
    Great pointers.

  7. Andrea says:

    This is a great post, even for seasoned bloggers!

  8. Stephanie says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. This is such a great post for a newbie like me! I have been blogging since May of last year…almost a year! These tips will be very helpful as I try to gain some knowledge of how to continue this hobby of mine and have it be successful. I agree strongly with the last statement of blogging being a community and not competition. Thank you so much for your thoughts!

  10. Jane Anne says:

    This is a wonderful post! You really made me think about the future of my blog. Thank you.

    My latest post: WFMW: Free Magazines

  11. I;m just getting started and loving it. Thanks for all the good tips!

  12. mub says:

    These are great tips, thanks for sharing them! I am curious about the differences between the stat information on sitemeter and the stats that you can get through your feedburner account.

  13. Nancy M. says:

    Thanks for this very informative post. My friend just bought her .com and tried to get me to buy mine, but it was already taken. I was not sure if I should change the name of my blog to something else, so I could have a .com. What can be done to make SEO better?

  14. Susan says:

    Thanks for some practical tips! I’ve heard of technorati; need to explore that more. And although I use WordPress, I never quite “got” the diff between categories and tags. This helps!

  15. Sherry says:

    There is sooooo much to learn with doing a blog! WOW! You have defintitely opened my eyes to a whole bunch of different things for my blog. Thank you!

  16. Aunt LoLo says:

    Great tips! Thank you! I would add that you should NETWORK (through great carnivals like WFMW. :-))

  17. Denise says:

    Thanks for the great info. I already feel like I know so many people from their blogs. You all seem so nice and helpful.

  18. Great post! I did not know about Technorati but I’m going to check that out now.

    Thanks!

  19. Leanne says:

    Great tips. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  20. This was such a great summary. :) I just set up a technorati site this week. Everyone was talking about it as Blissdom and what they’re “authority” was – I had no idea what mine was. Now I know…hee hee. :) Still have to set up a flicker account. With our new camera, I am probably one of those sites with a slow load. :)

  21. oh amanda says:

    Good basic tips! Love it! Especially the categorize/tag tip. I’ve really got to get better w/that!

  22. Jerri says:

    Thanks for all the information. I have a lot to learn!

  23. Angela says:

    Thanks for the great post. I’m pretty new to the bloggy world and I’ve got a long way to go still, but I’m having fun!

  24. Heather says:

    Thanks for all of the helpful information! I’m off to check things out!

  25. Katie says:

    Very helpful information. I would suggest concentrate building relations by replying back to your visitors. This will turn them into loyal reader (well it can). Moreover, social bookmarking is also very efficient and everyone should build up community in big sites.

  26. Thanks for all the great advice!!! And I got to feel like I’m not doing so bad – I already do most of those things (except I’m on blogger and not wordpress and I don’t think I’m going to move).:) So, that was cool.

  27. Thank you for all of the wonderful tips!! There is so much to learn as a new blogger! I can’t wait to implement more of your suggestions!

  28. Excellent info! I stumbled it. ;-) Amy

  29. alecat says:

    Thank you! It’s a huge world out here in blogging land, and it’s always nice to find some well stated information. :)

  30. Thank you sooooooooo much for taking the time in sharing these tips. There are somethings I am going to have to try. [0=

    Blessings and ((HUGS)) my SSiC
    In Him<
    -Mary

  31. steadymom says:

    Thanks for all the great tips!

  32. Lori says:

    Good tips. Another great stat counter is Google Analytics: http://www.google.com/analytics/

  33. Thank you SO much for all your help! SO AWESOME!

  34. Thank you for this wonderful website. I have decided to start a blog of my own!

    Here it is:
    http://housewifehelper.blogspot.com

    Filled with great rcipes, tried and tested tips for cleaning, and lots of fun stuff awaits.

  35. charlene says:

    Great post! I just started twittering and it really does feel like I am the only girl at home on prom night :)

  36. Jenny says:

    ran across your blog while i was surfin’ around some others. and you have some great content here. there’s lots to check out and i’m really enjoying my stay. i’d like to invite you for a pop on over to my blog if you’d like. i’d love to have you. :) i’ve subscribed to your feed so i’ll be coming back for sure.

  37. Deanna U says:

    LOL, I just did a similar post about this today! You are the second person I have come across this morning. Mine is a little more about why people may not be reading your blog posts. Here it is:

    New Bloggers: Why Nobody is Reading Your Blog Posts

  38. Sara Broers says:

    Great tips! I’m also enjoying your blog.

  39. Young Wife says:

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing.

  40. Christin says:

    Great tips! :) Thank you. I plan to implement a few I have not yet.
    Once tax time comes around I plan to get my own domain, yay! Can’t wait!

  41. Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for all the work you and the other savvy bloggers are doing. I have learned so much and my site is up 20% right now from this time last month. I am learning to look at things differently that is making my life so much easier!

  42. Great advice. I too have been amazed at the friendships I’ve been blessed with through the blogosphere. It’s amazing.

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