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It’s no secret that the best bloggers learn from their mistakes. But, not every blogger even realizes mistakes are being made. I’ve written a similar post about ways you can definitely screw up your blog . Did you read that one? It’s a great introduction to today’s post.
Whether you are the best blogger in the world, or a new blogger with one measly post on your site, there’s room for ALL of us to improve. Not one blogger does everything perfectly.
Let’s take a look at these 20 ways to improve your blogging skills today. You don’t (and shouldn’t) have to wait until you are a seasoned blogger to start. Here we go…
This might sound silly, but I know so many other bloggers who are always stressed to the max. There’s no reason for it. I’m sure you’ve seen other bloggers tweet about striving to write 2-3 posts per week every week. Why?
While it’s important to stay on task when blogging, you have to set aside time to rest and switch gears. I know if the only thing I did all day was blog, I’d go crazy.
Don’t get me wrong. I love blogging. I’ve made it a great side project to help with the bills. But, I can’t sit down and only do blogging. I have a full time job, kids and gazillions of other activities going on to help me break up the time.
When I talk to other bloggers, I tell them that I set a limit for myself every week on how much time I spend blogging. If I hit the limit in the middle of a brand new post, that post will wait until my limit starts over.
Why do I do this? One reason is so that I don’t go crazy. Another is to give my brain a rest. A third reason is so that I can come back refreshed and rejuvenated.
2. TAKE TIME TO EDIT AND PROOFREAD
Yeah, I know that most common blogging platforms and word processing applications have built-in spell check tools. But, I’ve found more often than none that they can miss things they shouldn’t.
When I say edit, I don’t just mean spelling, grammar and punctuation. I mean take time before hitting publish to read and re-read your post to ensure it flows smoothly.
I know of a few bloggers who share their content with a close friend or family member before they publish their post. A second set of eyes can never hurt. I always ask others to give me honest feedback with specifics rather than “it’s very good” or “I like it.”
In the blogging realm, there is no room for spelling and grammar errors. It’s easy to overlook them if you are writing in a hurry. That’s why I recommend stepping away for a day or two after the draft has been written, then come back and proofread/edit.
I do regular reviews of my older blog posts and am amazed of some of the most basic errors I’ve made in them. It’s a good practice to regularly update old blog posts anyway, so why not make editing and proofreading them a part of that process? It just makes perfect sense.
Another part of my editing process is to read the entire post out loud to my self. Sometimes I even go as far as recording a video of me reading the post. This helps me catch errors and ensure the written message matches the message I intended to leave for my readers.
3. CUT AND REPLACE
As a part of my editing process, I read over every piece of my post and cut out parts that I consider filler information. A good way to drive readers away is to be too wordy. Look through your post, cut out the crap, and replace it with value.
One place I always look to rework is my introduction. I look for captivating sentences to draw my readers in immediately. Do I want to start off with an interesting fact? A question I’m looking to answer? A joke? Make it interesting! It’s your first chance to hook your readers on your work!
Another spot is the call-to-action. The call-to-action should give specific directions on what you want your reader to do after reading your post. Every post you write needs one. I don’t care if your post is 500 or 5,000 words, put a call-to-action at the end to foster reader engagement.
4. READ OTHER BLOGS
I love to sit down for a few hours and read other blogs. Not only do I like to read captivating posts, but I also like to analyze every segment of their blog. If I like what I see, I write down a few notes about it and find ways to do similar things on my blog.
If you are going to read other blogs, make sure you are reading those that are in your niche. I say this because you want to see how other bloggers touch on similar topics. Don’t copy their work, but take note on tone, grammar and how the post is organized.
Another aspect you want to pay attention to is how the blogger is drawing in new readers. Do they have an email subscribe popup form? Is there a product their offering for free? Gather some ideas you can take back and implement on your own blog.
5. ASK FOR FEEDBACK
One of the greatest ways I’ve improved as a blogger is simply by asking my readers what they think about my blog. If you do this, and I recommend you definitely do it, be prepared for negative feedback.
Your toughest critics will be your readers. Don’t get upset when they give you their honest opinion. Thank them for bringing it to you and vow to change.
You can solicit feedback in more places than just your blog. Go to where your readers are (social media, email, forums, etc). Ask specific questions when you request their feedback. Questions such as:
* Does the post flow smoothly? Or, is there too much fluff?
* How does my tone sound?
* Is the post too long/too short?
* Did I miss any crucial information in the post?
* Did you find any information that wasn’t factual?
* Are the images helpful in conveying my message?
6. WRITE OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Once we’ve started our blogs and posted dozens of posts, we’re in a good routine. It’s good, every once and a while, to step out of your normal material and write about something different.
A controversial post about something that’s in the news is a great place to start. If you want to start a heated discussion, nothing is better than controversial posts about sensitive topics. Try it!
7. EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT TYPES OF BLOG POSTS
A good way to test out your blogging skills is to write different types of blog posts. It’s also a good way to test how your readers respond to each of them. If you are in the habit of always writing one type of post, it might just be the type that doesn’t generate a lot of reader interest.
Here are some examples of different post types you can try:
8. LEARN HTML CODING SKILLS
You might be wondering why you need to know basic HTML if you use platforms like WordPress . Even WordPress has a text option to input code directly into your post.
I took it upon myself years ago to learn basic HTML. I did it by reading up on coding through various websites. The reason I learned basic HTML coding is because there are times when I want to edit my blog’s theme or custom style sheet.
I recommend a site called SoloLearn.com to learn about basic HTML coding. At the time I wrote this post, they had over 44 free courses about HTML alone. It’s a great site to learn about coding overall, but if your particular interest is HTML, they have a great setup!
Along with HTML, it’s critical to also learn CSS. CSS style sheets make up the design of just about every piece of your blog. If you know basic CSS skills, you can easily adjust fonts, colors, styles, padding and much more.
9. CREATE QUALITY IMAGES
Knowing how to create various types of captivating images for your blog is a must-have skill if you are going to succeed as a blogger.
If you aren’t a photographer, that’s OK. You can still learn basic photography skills online for free and there are great sites like Canva to help create other elements of your blog.
While Canva isn’t necessarily a difficult application to learn and use, it’s good to practice with it regularly and familiarize yourself with its features early on.
If you are going to use stock photos, make sure you are giving proper credit under the photo. Some photos have a creative commons license allowing anyone to use the photo as they please. Still, a good practice, even with free images, is to always give proper feedback regardless.
Never snag a photo from a website or from Google to use on your blog. Some image owners do not allow their images to be used elsewhere, even with attribution.
How do you get around this? Take your own photos and create your own watermark.
10. LEARN HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA
Sure, we all know what Facebook and Twitter are, but do we really use them to our advantage as much as possible?
Social media can really drive traffic to a blog if used properly. There are millions upon millions of potential readers on social media just waiting to read your great content, but you’ve got to get them there first.
Steer clear of those “follow for follow” or “like for like” threads on Facebook. I do want to increase my social media followers, but I’m not interested in gaining followers who will not engage with me. I’m looking for genuine readership and interest in what I have to say. The types of posts I just mentioned above only give you an increase in numbers, but rarely do they ever turn into actual engagement.
Make it easy for potential followers to find you and follow you. Put your social media account links in as many places as possible to increase exposure.
Be active on Twitter. Don’t just tweet. Retweet and like other tweets to generate interest. Use the right hashtags and create a unique image for each post you share.
Pinterest is a gold mine for new followers. I have over 8,600 followers on Pinterest solely from group board involvement and my usage of Tailwind .
If you haven’t heard of Tailwind, it’s an application that helps schedule Pinterest and Instagram posts at the most optimal times. Today, I have 100 pins per day automatically scheduled to post to over 30 boards.
11. WRITE IN YOUR OWN VOICE
Just because you are a blogger doesn’t mean you can’t still write in your own voice. I’ve always heard it’s best to write the way you talk. Don’t try to make yourself into someone you’re not. If you speak very casually away from the blog, do the same when you’re writing your posts.
Don’t try to impress people by using big words. If you don’t use big words in every day conversation, why start now? Write on your reader’s level. Cater the language you use in your content to your audience to connect with them on a more personal level.
12. CONSTANTLY WRITE DOWN IDEAS
As some of you probably know, I’m a pianist, a singer and a songwriter. Having been all of those for years and years, I’ve developed the habit of always having access to a pen and paper or an app with which to take notes. Many times, a song idea pops into my head at night or when I’m out and about for the day.
The above holds true for bloggers. Always brainstorm for new ideas and be ready to jot them down. Use the world around you for inspiration, just like an artist does with a canvas.
The best place to get ideas is simply to watch other people. Research the topics that are the hottest and find ways to fit those topics into your niche.
Most smartphones have a note app now, but you can simply use Microsoft Word’s app or EverNote. Regardless of the app you pick, have some way of putting those ideas down in writing at the spur of the moment. Losing a great idea is frustrating (and might end up as someone else’s idea one day if you don’t capture it immediately!).
13. BUY BOOKS AND RESOURCES ABOUT BLOGGING
Blogging has quickly become a very popular hobby all over the world. As a result, there are tons of very useful books out there to teach you just about anything you want to know about it. Along with my eBook , I also recommend the following:
14. CREATE BLOGGING GOALS
Every blogger needs goals. Whether you are just starting out trying to make it as a new blogger trying to earn money from your blog or you have hundreds of thousands of readers, goals are critical.
Create specific and measurable goals. Write them down, print them out and hang them in your office. Set deadlines and hold yourself accountable when you reach a goal. Celebrate your wins!
When you reach a goal, write a blog post about it detailing what the goal was, what you did to reach it and how you can help your readers do the same.
15. JOIN BLOGGING GROUPS
One of the best decisions I’ve made for myself and for my blog is joining blogging groups on Facebook. Through these groups, I’ve learned new tricks, met new people and boosted traffic to my blog.
Here are some of my favorite groups on Facebook:
16. USE AN OUTLINE
Have you considered using an outline to write every blog post ? Having a set structure ensures every post flows smoothly and your blog is consistent.
Outlines force you to put your ideas down on paper before hitting the publish button. They also help organize those ideas into a logical format. When you write on the whim without an outline, there is an increased chance your ideas will be scattered all about the post.
17. USE A DICTIONARY AND THESAURUS
There’s no possible way every human knows every word in their language. Use a dictionary to explore new words, but don’t go overboard. I also have a thesaurus on hand to explore different ways of saying things.
Like I said earlier in this post, write at the level of your intended readers. Using a dictionary and thesaurus will help aid you in mixing up your language and making your content shine.
18. UPDATE YOUR BLOG’S DESIGN
You know, I get really frustrated when my house is a disaster. With 4 kids, when is it not? There’s no better feeling, though, than a sparkling clean house. I feel more productive, accomplished and happy.
The same holds true with your blog’s design. If there are any pieces of your blog’s design that don’t meet your expectations, now’s a good time to experiment with changes.
I’m constantly looking for ways to make my readers’ experience at Blogging Business Boost superior every time. There are always new plugins and widgets that make my blog’s functionality even better.
Be selective with the content you put in your sidebar . The temptation is there to throw in every widget imaginable. Keep in mind that the more you add, the slower your site becomes. It also clutters up your site and takes away from the visual appeal.
19. AVOID BAD BLOGGING HABITS
Do you have some bad blogging habits ? You probably do and don’t even know that they are harming your blog. Here’s a list of several that come to mind that I’ve personally avoided for myself. Are you guilty of any of these?
Too many ads: If you are trying to monetize your blog, the first step most bloggers go to is to throw a bunch of ads up on the page. Unless you have massive amounts of traffic, this practice won’t do much for you. Not only do ads look visually bad on the page, but they distract your readers, frustrate them and cause them to lose trust in what you have to say.
Self-centered: While you want to keep your voice in everything you write, there’s a fine line between writing to your readers and coming across as too self-centered. You want your readers to come to your blog for helpful information. Reading constant blog posts about your latest marathon times won’t help them at all. What do you have to offer your readers? How can you entice them to stay on your site and read more? Make it irresistible!
Failure to respond to comments: This is one of the biggest mistakes you could possibly make while running a blog. Failure to respond to comments not only makes you appear distant from your readers, but it shows a lack of interest in what they have to say. Respond to every comment timely. Even if all you say is “thank you,” do it ever time.
20. TAKE CREATIVE WRITING CLASSES
There’s no better way to get better at writing than to practice writing. Creative writing classes are the perfect opportunities to explore different writing techniques.
When I was in the last semester of my undergrad program, I took a creative writing class because I needed a few more hours to graduate. Never did I expect to enjoy a class so much as that one. I got to write so much and had the pleasure of sharing my work with other writers.
IT’S TIME TO IMPROVE!
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