Welcome to the first edition of Twenty York Street’s Build Better Blogs series or BBB @20YS! We are very excited to have you along in this journey and though most voyages start from the very beginning, we’d like to jump start this series and start somewhere in the middle. The middle would be a great place to start as we can always step backward to go back to basic and step forward to build upon things to make them even better.
That being said, this post assumes that you already have a blog of your own, whether you just launched it or have been running it for awhile. If you don’t have one but have been thinking about making one for a long time, here’s my very first BIG PIECE of advice – start one now! 2014 is your year. Start something new. There is no better time than today to create a new blog; there are tons of resources, free and not so free, that you can learn and benefit. So go ahead, run don’t walk. Launch a blog and join us in this blogging journey.
Although we may explore some of these topics in detail later on, here is our kick-start TOP 5 Tips to make your Blog Super Fabulous in 2014:
1. COMMIT TO BEING CONSISTENT
I realize that blogging regularly has a lot of obstacles in its way: busy schedules, competing priorities, writer’s block, you name it, we’ve all experienced it. Sometimes, when you don’t see a lot of traffic or reader engagement in your blog, it can be a little discouraging to keep blogging. But don’t stop, when you blog consistently, it allows for many things to unfold consistently. Even those things you don’t see tangibly like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google rankings (we’ll get to both of these the near future!). Everything you do on repeat becomes habitual and that applies to blog reading as well. When you established the fact that you blog either everyday or every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, you set that expectation for your followers, you make them want to come back – consistently.
2. CONTENT IS KING, ORIGINAL CONTENT THAT IS
While I understand that a) nothing is ever really original anymore in this world and b) there are major events that generate the same blog posts from Beirut to Timbuktu (e.g. New York Fashion Week, Paris, Milan and all the other fashion weeks in the world, Golden Globes Award, the Academy Awards, the Superbowl 2014, Christmas, Valentines and Mad Men), you can still strive to create original content for your blog. Yes, there will be one thousand and one blog posts about the Best and Worst Dressed List from the Oscars surely; you can find an interesting twist of your own to that. If you’re a lifestyle blogger, perhaps you can add a fresh perspective to that post by matching the Top 5 Best Dressed Celebrity to the Top 5 Trends in Colours this year. As a Sports blogger, perhaps you can include a quick tutorial on common terms or lingo in football in your Superbowl write-up. Whether you blog in fashion, parenting, lifestyle or other interests, always inject a personality of your own.
3. IF CONTENT IS KING, IMAGE IS DEFINITELY THE QUEEN
This is one topic that we will definitely be exploring in further painstaking detail later on but for now; let’s agree on one thing, no more posting of haphazardly taken photos. The beautiful thing is that, nowadays if you don’t produce original photos (meaning those you take on your own or of yourself by someone else), there are plenty of websites that you can “borrow” stunning photos and images from, (check out Toronto Beauty Reviews’ Blog Etiquette series for more on this) as long as you give proper credit to where credit is due. There is no excuse for posting terrible images anymore. It doesn’t always have to be editorial perfect, it doesn’t have to be photos taken with professional photographers (although those would be fantastic) or DSLRs, even iPhone photos done well can make for stunning visuals in your blog posts. There are a number of free online based photo editing apps as well. Go ahead experiment with those but no matter what you do, do not post a bad photo ever again!
4. CREATE AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR
Simply put, it’s a blog schedule. In the same spirit as being consistent in blogging, creating an editorial calendar keeps you organized, not just on scheduling your blog posts, but in organizing your thoughts. It can be as fancy as downloading an app to your smart phone and synching it to your computer or it can be as basic and just as effective as writing it down on your planner or a plain piece of paper. Depending on if you have sponsored posts that you can be expected to have timelines to meet, an editorial calendar lets you prioritize which post gets published when. Sometimes, what you wrote in your editorial calendar is not what you posted and that’s okay. At the very least, you have written down the topic if your post, you can bring it forward again next week.
Personally, sponsored posts are scheduled as priority. Some season or holiday specific posts also need to get scheduled properly. For example, try to publish your Valentines Gift Guide at least two weeks in advance.
5. MAKE CONNECTIONS – BOTH URL AND IRL
Let’s say you’ve got number #1 and 2 and 3 down solid. Even number #4 is looking good, you’ve got a system, you’re scheduling and you’re bloggin’! They say build it and they’ll come. Well, will they?
Truth is – they won’t. When I gave a presentation at one of the city’s top University to a group of 4th year graduating Journalism students, this is the part that they found neither exciting nor glamorous but this is the truth child. It’s much like the tree in the forest kind of story, if no one knows about your blog, who is going to read it. You know what’s one thing that can truly increase your blog readership, even by a bit or for a moment? Increasing your own readership of other blogs and genuinely engaging with others. Leaving thoughtful comments and sharing with others. This road my friends, is truly a two-way street. I know it’s the most simple and boring concept but that’s how this blog grew to be what it is today. Join or build a blog community, engage and engage some more! These genuine connections lead me to great collaborations, increased my followers and expanded my readership, which in turn, made our little cul-de-sac on this side of the internet a widely respected blog in the city.
Now we have the privilege and honour to be called upon by other media outlets: radio, TV, newspaper, other print and online media – both local and national – to provide our expertise on fashion, lifestyle, events and many other hot topics in Canada. But we started that journey with tip #1.
We hope you enjoyed and learned from this week’s Build Better Blogs post. Do you have more tips to add on how to make your blogs better? Please let us know what topics you would like us to explore! Until next time!