I decided to do a fun thing over the 4th of July holiday weekend and put a post up on Facebook and Twitter with the chance to ask me any blogging question. I was floored by the response. I had dozens upon dozens of questions!
Let the record show – I am NOT a blogging expert. I simply have been at it for about two years and have learned a few things along the way. The one piece of advice I tell everyone is this: Be authentic. Write about something that matters to you. For some that might be couponing and for others it might be poetry. Just be authentic and the audience will come.
With that said, I have picked up a few tips and made a plethora of mistakes that hopefully I can spare others from making. I’m taking the questions and dividing them between two posts. The second post will come next week. And if you see your question wasn’t selected, it simply means that something like it was asked already.
Here we go!
1. Sami from Yours, Mine and Ours: How do you come up with content?
I am a storytelling blogger. There are those who are reporters and those who are storytellers. Neither is right or wrong – just different. So for me, writing is natural. I’m telling you the stories from my life – even the ones that will require therapy for my kids later in life. The key to content is to make sure you stick to your niche. If you write about parenting, don’t suddenly become a political writer on your blog. It’s okay to throw a few of those in every now and then, but stick to your niche.
2. Kathy from My Dishwasher’s Possessed: Short of offering sexual favors (which I don’t think will get me very far) how do you significantly increase your traffic?
Well I’ve seen ya and you can definitely make some cash on the side – let me tell ya. Seriously though, blogging is a community. The key to growth is to give back to the community. That means, guest blog on other sites and have folks blog on yours. When you want to guest blog on someone’s site, put together a strong post that either makes people laugh, pulls at their heartstrings or teaches them something. Then, let that bigger blogger know how you are going to promote it. Don’t approach a big blog without a post already written and ready to show them.
Also, I can’t say enough about Twitter and Pinterest. They are great ways to get readers. The key is to stay active and always find new avenues. For example, if you write about fashion, don’t just follow fashion bloggers – follow folks who write about parenting, science, etc… No one is just interested in one thing, even if they have a niche. Readers can come from anywhere.
The best advice I heard was to create office hours for yourself. If you view it like a job, treat it like a job. With that said, don’t get obsessed with how often you should post. Post whenever you have something to share. Have a goal but if you don’t hit it, it is okay. You have to live life to write about it, right? Even if that life is about cleaning Goldfish crackers off your ass, like mine is most days.
4. Christine from The Mom Cafe: How do you use Pinterest to gain more followers?
Pinterest is the second biggest referrer for my blog. When I realized that, I started to put more effort into my pins. I don’t use pictures with every post so I had to learn how to make text posts. Actually, those usually do big traffic for me. I use PicMonkey to do all my pins and pictures. It’s free and basically a monkey can do it, so it is perfect for me. Make vertical pins. Also, pin throughout the day and not all at once. And the key – follow others that you enjoy and they will probably follow you. Make a board that is different from what you see on there. For instance, I have a board called “Rooms My Son Would Ruin“…
5. Susan from Pecked to Death By Chickens: What are your 3-5 favorite sites to submit your writing?
This is a tough one. It depends what I’m writing. I’m a freelance writer so I write all kinds of things! I will say, I loved being featured on some big blogs, but it’s the smaller ones that mean the most to me. Bloggers starting out who reach out and want to do a fun post or something together. I love that. So sorry – I don’t have 3-5 favorites per say – depends on your niche. However, don’t put all your eggs in one big basket. Remember, a smaller blogger still has followers – a few smaller bloggers will probably get you more true, dedicated followers than one big one.
6. Jennifer from The Runaway Mama: How do you handle writer’s block?
I walk away. I’m totally serious. I get up, I leave the house, I stop ignoring my children and play with them. Okay, I probably don’t actually play with them but rather watch them play as I check People.com on my phone. But the truth is that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Every time I have taken a break, I’ve come back with an idea – whether it has been 10 minutes or 10 days later. Give yourself time to live life in order to write about it.
7. Renee from A Baker’s Dozen and Apollo XIV: Do you plan/schedule posts or verbally vomit?
Holy moly, do you really have 14 kids? Wow. I seriously bow down to you. But to answer your question – I do both. I schedule if it is a guest post or something I wrote that fits a world event/ holiday. Usually, though, I spit it out on the spot. I write when I want to write – simple as that. Now that’s not the case for my professional freelance clients – for those, I have deadlines and such. But for this blog, I’m all about authenticity. If I say it happened yesterday, it happened yesterday.
8. Robyn from The Coolest Mommy: Do you have a tool to help you track and follow back people from your Google + and Pinterest?
Nope. Every few weeks, I go through and look at who follows me and decide if they are a good fit for me to follow back. Very simple and basic, I know. But I don’t want to follow someone just so they can follow me. What good does that do if we don’t actually read each other’s stuff?
9. Parri from Her Royal Thighness: Is it OK to use a picture from a TV show or movie on your blog?
First of all, I seriously love your blog name. Hilarious. Secondly, NO! NO! NO! You definitely can’t use a picture from a movie or TV show on your blog. Every picture you put on your blog has to have given up their rights and allowed you to feature them. Here’s a great article about what pictures you can and can’t use.
10. Robyn from Dim Sum and Doughnuts: Are there any topics you try to stay away from?
Yes. When I started writing, I agreed that I would never say anything negative about my parents and my husband. Not that I would have anything negative to say, Mom, I promise.
I try to write in my niche most times. Every once in a blue moon, something will seriously piss me off in the world and I’ll have to comment, but mostly, I try to make a person either laugh or cry with every piece I put out. Hopefully both. It’s a good day when I can do both.
Ok folks, thanks for the questions. I’ll do the next set next week – stay tuned!