Mommy Blogging 101 – taking your blog to the next level
Do you ever find yourself wanting your blog to be about more than updating family? Wanting to get technical and start playing around with code, stats, and finding a wider community of bloggers with your interests? Giving your blog a voice to what you believe in? Starting advertising or working with companies?
Some of you have mentioned wanting to do this, so I thought I would share with you what I’ve learned from my own experiences and through the advice of other bloggers:
1. Find a niche. What do you love to blog about? Look at your tag cloud – which topics do you blog on most? Which posts have a lot of comments from regular and new readers? Plan to blog mainly on whatever subject you choose.
2. Switch to WordPress.org*. I know, it’s a big deal. But SO worth it. You will have a lot more freedom than in Blogger. Why not WordPress.com? One word: Plugins. Read more about the differences here. *If you want to stay on Blogger, skip to 4.
3. Get a host. This is the person/company that takes care of the behind the scenes coding/maintenance of your blog. Mine (and I strongly recommend her) is Kelly from Twenty70 Hosting. $6-$12 a month gets you all the help you need.
4. Buy your own domain name. If you go with WordPress.org, you choose your website name (www.) through your host. Try to match your name as closely with your blog title as possible. For Blogger, buy your domain name through your dashboard. It runs you around $10 a year.
4. Pick a design. For custom, Designs by Dana is a great one – very clean and bright. Make sure your design is you – something you want to look at, oh like 1,503 times a day. Think about adding a tag line to your blog name that says something about you. (“I don’t pretend to be an ordinary housewife”)
6. Get on Twitter. This sounds obvious, but if you’re not on it, you’re missing the boat. Have your posts set to automatically update your Twitter status (you can do this through plugins on WordPress). Use hashtags # you like (#ecofriendly #ppd) to follow people that have similar interests as you. Pick a Twitter name that says something about you or your blog.
7. Set up a Facebook fan page. Share it with your friends who read your blog already – but don’t go crazy. Post links and updates to the interests you blog on. Use Twitterfeed or Networked Blogs to automatically send new blog post updates. Tag friends, bloggers, and other FB pages when you posts info or links referring to them.
8. Install the Twitter/FB like/Share button on each of your posts. It is possible through your Blogger Dashboard, but much easier with WordPress. This makes it simple for readers to share posts they like with everyone.
9. Be your own reader. Subscribe to your blog through the RSS feed, in a reader, through email on Feedburner (burn a feed for your blog if you don’t have one already), via Google Friend Connect. All these allow you to see what your readers are seeing. You can figure out if it looks the way you want it too, fix problems that come up, and understand a little more about how it all works.
10. Leave yourself a comment. Many Blogger blogs I comment on take you up to the top of the page once you hit submit, as if you’re done. Unless you scroll back down to the comment form, you have no idea you still needed to enter a word verification for your comment to actually post. (I bet they miss a ton of comments from that) And, for the love of all that is holy, if you stay on Blogger – please take off the Word Verification. PLEASE. You really won’t see much, if any, spam. I never did.
10. Install Statcounter. Play around with that to get used to how it works. It comes as a plugin through WordPress. After a few months of this, you’ll have an idea of your stats and can work on advertising if you want to.
11. Install the Alexa toolbar, and claim your blog (you must have your own domain name, not .blogspot, to do this). Yes, it’s tough to hit popular blogs and see their numbers. But it does help yours, and it lets you have a sense of what to strive for and see how far you’ve come.
12. Ask questions. Ask me, ask your friends, ask a big time blogger that seems to have a good grasp on the blog you love to read. I love getting emails that say “Help! What about this?” and so do all the bloggers who have so graciously answered my never ending questions the past year.
Thank you to Blair at Heir to Blair, Jill at Scary Mommy, Alyssa at Adventures of the Stay at Home Mom, and Devan at Accustomed Chaos for always being gracious and willing to answer the barrage of questions I throw at you. It’s much appreciated on this end.
Switching to WordPress.org? Already there? Follow up in the next few days for a list of my must-have plugins for Mommy Bloggers.