Before we begin, my fellow lazy girls, I must confess – blogging is not easy. Fun, yes. Rewarding, yes. Easy? Nope. It takes time and effort and you’re just going to have to suck it up and get on with it. No procrastinating, no diversion tactics (no, you don’t have to just go paint your nails…), no excuses. If you want to build a successful blog, you’ve gotta do the time. Just so we’re clear. Now put that copy of InStyle down (I know it’s the new issue, but we’ve got work to do!) and pay attention…
The internet’s a big old place, and making yourself stand out and be noticed amongst masses of other mildly interesting things is no easy task. As a blogger, you’re competing will literally millions of other bloggers for those coveted Regular Readers. The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Blogging will give you the helping hand you need to make sure you’re doing all you can to get your little corner of the internet noticed.
There are two aspects of blogging that are important above all other things – one is content, the other is community. Let’s start with content:
I love a good metaphor, so here’s one for you. Remember when Big Brother first hit TV screens? (Yes you do – don’t pretend you’re too intellectual. You remember Craig and Nasty Nick as well as the rest of us.) The format was new and fresh and interesting. People watched because they’d never seen anything like it before. They watched series 2 and 3, as well. Then the Big Brother production team got a little lazy and when series 4 came along, we turned off in our droves because we’d seen it all before. Okay yes, this is a rather convoluted way of saying if your content is repetitive or dull or too similar to someone else’s blog, people won’t read it.
It’s very, very hard to come up with original content. Especially for a lazy girl. A Google search for ‘interesting blog content’ won’t help you here. Neither will America’s Next Top Model, so turn it off please. Your content should interest and inspire your readers. It should make them laugh, or think, or gasp. You’re looking for a reaction. The easiest way to do this is to talk about something you’re passionate about. It’s really easy to tell when a blogger is totally, utterly and completely interested in their subject – you can tell they typed it up with furore, ignoring their surroundings until their thoughts were recorded in that post. Similarly, it’s easy to tell when someone’s written their blog post with one eye on Eastenders and the other on asos.com.
Lazy Girl’s Tip:
Get passionate, then get your readers involved. It’s all well and good getting worked up about your boyfriend, cat, new shoes or that band you saw last week, but if your readers can’t relate to what you’re saying, they’ll lose interest. All you need are four little words and a bit of punctuation – what do you think? – and you’ll generate a response as people share your enthusiasm for something similar in their own lives.
So, you’ve got your content sorted. What about community? This is probably the most time consuming part of blogging, but it’s also the most rewarding. Reading comments like ‘I love your blog!’ or ‘I totally agree with this!’ or even ‘I have a completely opposite point of view but I like you so I’ll start following you’ (okay, not a real comment, I admit) makes achey fingers and square eyes worth it.
When you start blogging, it’s like being the weird kid at school or a latecomer to a party – everyone’s already made friends and they don’t need you, no matter how darling your vintage dress is. So strike up a conversation (much easier to do from behind a computer screen than in real life, and you can wear your PJs without getting stared at). Find blogs you love and comment on the posts. Make REAL comments, not just ‘I love your outfit!’. Add something to the debate, ask a question or offer a different opinion. Hopefully, the author will seek you out to reply and then a blogging relationship is born. Rinse and repeat.
Lazy Girl’s Tip
One of the easiest ways to connect with lots and lots of other bloggers is through Twitter. Set up an account, promote it on your blog and add other bloggers. It’s the best way to get instant feedback and response to your ideas. You can use it to push readers to your latest posts, tell them about giveaways (more on that later) and share thoughts. You can find me on Twitter right here.
We’ve got content and community down. They’re your Blog Basics – the two things you should invest lots of time in to get just right. But there are lots of other things you can do to improve your blog, and most things don’t take longer than an episode of Gossip Girl to master. Perfect for lazy girls like us.
You don’t need David Bailey-esque skills, but good photography makes a HUGE difference to the look and feel of your blog. If you can, take your photos in a well lit space. Use a photo editor like Picasa, which is free, to brighten your images, crop and resize them. It’s worth finding out a little more about Photoshop if you want to add effects to your photos. Blogger tends to make pictures teeny, so I upload to Photobucket and paste the code into my HTML. Which brings us on to…
Argh – nasty technology programming language! Now, I’m lucky enough to have a web geek for a boyfriend, but I actually taught myself some really simple HTML. If you’ve ever been on MySpace or commented on a forum, you’ll know HTML is easy to pick up. Websites like HTML Code Tutorial will show you how to use the basic codes. The most useful is the link tag – using a handy hyper link (clickable text) rather than a URL that your readers have to copy and paste into their browser saves lots of time and makes your blog look cleaner, too.
Sometimes a sore point amongst bloggers, it’s no secret that a giveaway is an easy way to generate lots of followers. However, more often than not, you’ll have a surge of followers and commenters who just want free stuff and will leave you high and dry when the giveaway’s over. With that in mind, approach giveaways with caution. If YOU want to spend your hard-earned cash to say thank you to the people who read your blog, go for it. If you’re prepared for the flighty followers, you might be pleasantly surprised when they stick around. You can also contact companies you like and think your readers will like and ask (nicely) if they’ll donate a prize.
As a relative small fry in the world of blogging, I don’t think of A Little Bird as an amazing success, a revelation or the gospel on good blogs. I do understand the time and effort that goes into building a blog, and this guide is just a collection of the things that work for A Little Bird. These methods may or may not work for you, but be sure to let me know what you think of them. For now, I’ll let you get back to the sofa – you can paint those nails now, if you like.
Until next time, lazy girls!