Monday, June 11, 2012

Random Blogging Tips

In January of 2008, a friend on a mothering community I was a part of had an idea of sharing a photo a day. This Winter Walk photo project sounded interesting and I thought I might start one of those blog  things to post my daily pictures.

When it came time to choose a name for the blog I was starting, I fell back on my ever-favorite alliteration and quickly typed Blogging from the Boonies. I didn’t have a clue that years later I will still be blogging and loving it!

Since this blog was started I have come to the Lord, married my husband, been through two heart-wrenching custody battles, fallen in love with Compassion International and have also come to know many wonderfully amazing people along the way! This blog has evolved in those years, as much as I have.  What was initially just a place to share little snippets and photos of our daily life with friends and family has grown to a blog with a ministry to reach out to and inspire sponsors.

I often get comments and emails asking me about blogging, so I thought it may be time to share a little bit of a How-To as well as a few tips that may help. Please keep in mind that I am, by no means, a “professional” blogger.  I’m also not very techy, but I’ve managed to figure out a few things along the way.

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Starting with the basics, I chose Blogger as my blogging platform those many years ago. Most people seem to use either Blogger or WordPress to host their blogs, with many thinking that WordPress is better.  I only have experience with Blogger and have been happy with it, so I didn’t join the masses when so many bloggers decided to switch over to WordPress. In my opinion, Blogger suits my needs well.

About a year ago I bought my own domain name and I was able to easily connect my Blogger account with BloggingFromTheBoonies.com

I write up my blog posts using Windows Live Writer.  This is a free program that allows me to easily write up my posts offline. I started using this because I was having some issues with posting directly from blogger and getting my photos inserted into my post exactly where I wanted them. When I am done creating a post on WLW, I just hit the “Publish” button and the post is put up for me.

I think that the most difficult thing I have customized for my blog was setting up Intense Debate for my comments.  Blogger’s default method for comments doesn’t allow you to reply to each comment separately and I really wanted that feature.  While it did take a little while for me to figure out how to set up Intense Debate on my blog, it was a matter of following their directions step-by-step.

Now that I’ve shared the basics, I would like to share some tips that I’ve gleaned over the last few years.

  • Reply to comments.  Comments are like gold to most bloggers.  If someone has taken the time to read your post and leave you some feedback, it is really nice if you could take a minute to reply.  Of course, we all get busy from time to time and may let a comment or two slip by. We are human! But, try to make it a habit to reply to comments as much as possible.  Again, using Intense Debate makes it easier to reply one by one and also will send an email to the person you’re replying to.

 

  • Make it easy to comment. I love this post: Top Ten Reasons I Haven’t Commented on Your Blog (Yet). If most people have to log in, type a comment, then enter a “captcha” phrase before they can leave a comment, chances are, they are not going to spend the time. If you’re not using something like Intense Debate, go to your blog settings and remove the need to go through those various steps in order to comment.  Chances are, you will be rewarded with more comments!

 

  • Try to make your blog easy on the eyes. While fancy fonts are ok for headers and blog titles, set the body of your blog posts to a nice, easy to read font.  Generally, a dark font on a light background is a lot easier to read and you’ll want to be sure your font is large enough that most people will not have to squint.  Also, the more clutter you have on your blog, the harder it will be to focus on the text in the posts. One last thing, when typing out your posts, be sure to add lots of page breaks.  If your posts are one long paragraph without breaks, most readers will not take the time to read the whole thing.  Separate paragraphs and skip a line between them.

 

  • Don’t give your blog a theme song.  Some bloggers have set it up so that music starts to play as soon as you load their page.  This is irritating for many reasons. For some, this makes computers run slow or freeze up. For others, if the volume isn’t set right, the unsuspecting blaring music can startle a reader right out of their skin. (Ask me how I know!) Also, this competes with the background noise or music already playing in a person’s home when they come to visit your blog. If you want to share a song, set it up so that a reader can follow a link, click a button or choose to watch a video to hear it.

 

One other question I get asked is, “How do I gain readers?”  The truth is, when you start out in the blogging world, it takes a while to gain a readership.  It also takes a bit of effort.  My advice would be to follow blogs that interest you. (I follow blogs using Google Reader.)

  • Make time to comment on posts that touch you.
  • Start a Facebook page for your blog and be sure to promote your new posts there.
  • Create a blog button that others can grab and put on the sidebar of their own blogs. Here is mine! (Feel free to copy the text in the box and put it on your sidebar!)
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  • Join in other blogger’s link ups.  When I put up a Monday Mail Call post, I usually have a place for other bloggers to link to their Mail Call posts. We Are That Family has their Works For Me Wednesday link up. Gypsy Mama has her Five Minute Friday. By joining in these, you may have new traffic find your blog.
  • Write a guest post for another blog. Currently I am looking for people to guest post here at Blogging From The Boonies.  When I share your guest post, I will also share a short bio for you (if you wish) and the link to your blog. You do not need to be a professional writer, just share something from your heart!  If you wish to discuss the possibility of guest posting here, please email me at mjw4compassion@gmail.com

Well, I have a couple of girls that are eager to get ready for a trip to the beach today, so that means it is time to close up the computer and start the day.  I hope that these tips have been helpful!  If you have any questions or tips to share, please leave a comment!  Like I said, comments are like gold and are so appreciated!

Have a blessed day!