Balancing time for blogging in a busy schedule can be difficult. For many of us, it’s a daily struggle to find the time we need to properly brush our hair, let alone sit down to actually write something.
I’m fairly new to the world of professional writing, and though I have made a habit of writing often, I’d be lying if I said that the changes I am trying to make to be taken seriously as a professional blog writer are coming easily for me. Sure, I’ve been writing the occasional article here and there, and I’ve published a book or two, but these things have always been individual efforts- a single project that could be started and finished in a set deadline. Blogging is quite different. Staying relevant and read takes continuous updates, tweaking and an ability to roll with the punches as you learn. I owe what limited success I have to blogs like The Blog Maven, who has an amazing set of resources about time management, and my personal favorite, an entire series about growing your blog through Pinterest! Jeni, the maven behind this awesome site, really has her stuff together. I would not have been able to get to this point without her, but I know that I still have a long way to go. <3
The Blogging BalanceLessons in blogging, content and your expectations for world domination.
Of the many sites that help bloggers find sponsorship, most mandate a posting history of at least twice a week to even be considered in the queue. Twice weekly may not seem like very much, but if you’re blog is focused on tutorials, gathering the materials, photography and simple time needed to prep each post can be a struggle. Especially if you also have another job. I’m still learning and growing as a writer, a knitter, a blogger and an individual, but I thought I might share what I’ve learned about being taken seriously as a blog writer.
It’s not about fame.
Blog writers, just like any other writer, have the potential to become famous. However, if you’re hoping for internet famedom via blogging, you might as well get realistic about your shots. Can it be done? Sure it can! But I’d be lying to you if I said it was likely. I think it’s much more reasonable to simply aim to make a name for yourself. This is done through several key points, and all are interrelated into how you’re seen by others.
Your blog dictates how potential partners view you.
How you write, what your blog looks like and how it is formatted will always directly affect how you are viewed as a potential client. This format is often quite personal, and though it’s obvious to say that nobody can ever truly get to know anyone simply by reading blog updates, if you’re trying to become a professional blogger, then people’s opinions of your work is defined by how your website appears. For instance, I know that there will be potential sponsors that may overlook me due to my use of profanity. I have, by and large, made great strides to curb it simply out of respect for professionalism, but I will not remove it entirely. It’s a part of who I am, how I got started and where I’m headed. I’m really not marriage material for most corporate sponsors, anyway.
Clean that shit up.
Your blog should look clean. It doesn’t have to be minimalist, and it doesn’t have to be sleek and modern, but it does have to be clean. Here’s some examples of what I mean:
Avoid flashing ads
If I’m on a page and there’s a flashing banner across the top of it, I usually leave. Sure, I’m more sensitive to flashing lights than some people, but the last thing anyone wants is to be distracted from the content they’re trying to take in. The worst thing you can do, as a blogger, is to be the one responsible for distracting your reader away from your own content.
Fancy fonts should be kept to a minimum.
If you want to add some personality to your space with fonts, make sure that your fonts are actually legible and please, for the love of god, keep them to a minimum. One of my most favorite fonts is called Mutlu. I found it years ago, and have loved it ever since. I’ve always tried to keep its use to a minimum, however. Here’s why:
The first block of text is nearly impossible to read. The second simply uses the fancy font for the first letter, making everyone much happier.
Avoid busy backgrounds and colors
I know a blogger who insists on using busy, jarring backgrounds that repeat. She’s (thankfully) abandoned that animated gif glitter background phase of her life, but sadly, most of her web pages look like throwbacks to a teenager’s My Space. It’s not remotely clean, easy to read or appropriate. Don’t be that girl. Keep your text and the backgrounds they’re typed on clean. Black and white are just fine. Complimentary neutrals are also acceptable. Don’t make your text too light, however, and don’t overlay jarring colors of text and background.
Twice a week seems to be the bare minimum of blog updates to stay in your viewer’s mind and your sponsor’s radar.
Don’t SEO up every single post
SEO, or Search Engine Optimized, is the process by which your posts become searchable via their related content on engines like Google. You do not want to make every single blog post you write pop up in a search engine. Posts that focus on answering specific questions that readers may have (such as this post about blogging) can be optimized for search engines, but nobody is googling what you did after tennis practice last week. And if someone is, you might want to keep wary of Stalky McStalks You.
Avoid the wall of text
Offer related visual content to break up text. Use formatting to prevent your text from creating the dreaded (and wholly unreadable) wall on your screen.
Dot biz? Dot info? Dot forget about it.
If you’re going to host your own website and blog (and if you’re trying to do this professionally, you really should be) then you need to make sure that you’re taken seriously right off of the bat. You could talk me up about your amazing business models all you want, and even have me eating out of your hand, but the minute you tell me your website is a .info, I’m bailing. Period. Do it right the first time and get a dot.com. If you can’t get a .com, you can get by with a .net, but even they are starting to fall out of favor.
So, you’ve got a clean interface. Your visitors can clearly read your content, and your site is user-friendly. None of this matters if you don’t have something to say! The recent revamp of this site merged three separate blogs into one. As such, this space has many functions. I blog about all of the things that were relevant to each individual blog. Corsets, Carpentry and Cupcakes focuses on general how to’s, DIY home projects and the total revitalization of an antique home. Unhinged Knitter’s content revolves around crafting fibers and using them to cope with mental illness. We also blended Four Crazy Cats into the fold, talking about living with more cats than we have hands to properly pet them. Now, I can cover all of these topics (and whatever else catches my fancy) in one space. Does this mean that my content is clearly defined? Not exactly. I have many irons in the fire. Some of the content I choose to share here is personal, but by and large, it usually falls under one of those three categories. As such, my blog focuses on life, and making the most you can out of it every single day. It may not be the best blog, but it’s the only one I’ve got.
Stay tuned for part two, where I’ll be adding some photo tips from S. Jay Tomioka, an amazing photographer with a world gallery showing! Bless his heart. He helps me with photos on occasion because I bake him tasty things. Let it never be said that baked goods can’t be used to manipulate people.
So what’s your message? What do you love to blog about most? And, most importantly, how are you inspired, and in turn, inspiring others?