Blogging Tips. What I Learned In Year One.

blogging tips, what I learned blogging, grow a blog, TonieGirl

What. A. Year. TonieGirl turned one this month and to celebrate I thought I would share my blogging tips and what I learned in year one.

Everyone blogs for different reasons. Discovering trends, sharing what I find {it might be part of my ‘know it all’ personality ha!}, and the idea of receiving free product? Sign me up. It took me a few months, but eventually I found my voice and my mission, “A lifestyle blog where I share my two cents on beauty, fashion, food and travel…all things I adore”. TonieGirl is exactly that.

Now, back to the beginning. One of my first posts was about creating Carrie Bradshaw curls as seen in the Carrie Diaries. Oribe picked it up and I had close to 300 reads in a day. I thought, this is easy! I laugh now…little did I know. Blogging is hard. Growing a blog, creating new content, improving your look, establishing your voice, finding companies to work with and all the rest of it takes time.

My Blogging Tips

Content: I start by outlining each month with ideas. I mark key dates, like fashion week, Superbowl, holidays, etc. so I’m aware and it might influence what I write. I also keep this calendar flexible. If I skip a post, change it up… NBD.

Images: Most everyone, including myself, is drawn to beautiful imagery. That being said..my images have not always been one to draw you. However, they have greatly improved! With my blog’s new design, I slowly have been cleaning up my old images, resizing and replacing as needed. This has been a huge learning curve, but has made a big difference with my overall look and feel. Take a look at an old post {no laughing}.

I now keep my images the same size, use my own imagery when possible and when using someone else’s imagery, link back and give credit. If needing free photos, search Flickr Creative Commons.

I also optimize my images. To reduce blog load time, I compress images with ImageOptim before uploading and then the Smush.it widget. I also use keywords in image name and add title and alt tags. Optimizing helps gain a better search engine ranking.

SEO: SEO and I became friends this past January. If you don’t have this plugin, install it now. For each post, choose the focus keyword carefully, include alt text for your images, write a meta description and don’t publish until you see the green light. This will help readers find your post when searching Google.

Get Social: Your social media links should be easy to find and it also should be easy for a reader to share your post. I have to admit, it took me close to a year to create a TonieGirl Facebook page. Better late than never.

Another part of being social is making blogger friends. It’s a great way to bounce around ideas, learn what to do and have a friend to figure out this blog ‘stuff’ with. Thank you, Caroline, Carlynn and Anisa!

Bloglovin': I ignored this blog reader for the first 10 months. My mistake. This is where my repeat visitors come from and a great way to find / build followers since anyone can have an account and you can follow any blog you want. Come visit me. 

Self-Hosted: I chose to make the move to become self-hosted this past December. There really isn’t a reason why I waited except that I wasn’t quite sure what self-hosted meant. Being self-hosted means you can monetize your blog and work with affiliate programs, plus you have design freedom.

Blog Design: To me, the design of the blog says a lot about the blogger. I knew from the beginning that TonieGirl would need design help, but wasn’t sure who to go to. After about 6 months, I was reading a lovely blog and saw the Leap Blog Design Credit. After looking through their portfolio I knew I found my match. The wait was intense. First, Leap was booked and I had to wait for them to accept new clients. I then wasn’t ready…I had not moved to self-host. I was so bummed. But..I want what I want, so I waited through another cycle. All in all… I waited a little over four months, but it was worth it. Blair Culwell did an amazing job designing TonieGirl and capturing the look and feel that I envisioned.

Affiliate Programs: I was accepted by some programs and denied by others {don’t take it personally}…and in the end, I only needed a few that represented TonieGirl. Nordstrom and Birchbox are the two that I work with the most, big surprise ha! I already had months of posts about items that I found at one of these places and it was a perfect fit.

Other tips that I’ve learned along the way….

Buy your domain name and use an email with that domain name. It shows that your blog isn’t a hobby, but a business. Also, print business cards…you’ll need them {fake it ’til you make it}.

Your short-term goals are just as important as your long-term goals and share these goals with a blogger-buddy.

Year Two Blog Goals

  • Organize my tags. They are a mess!
  • Create makeup video tutorials
  • Try out Magisto
  • Guest blog more and feature guest bloggers
  • Partner with local businesses
  • Don’t be scared to approach successful bloggers / blogs
  • Attend a blogger conference like Lucky FABB

I would love to hear your goals and what you’ve learned..plus any suggestions on how to keep growing.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

12 Responses to Blogging Tips. What I Learned In Year One.

  1. Congrats for the first blogaversery! We’re on the same path, except I’m a professional designer myself, but I agree with all your tips which I learnt myself in the past year.
    Come and check my blog – I sometimes share tips (in the portfolio section) about how to design different social media profiles. And if you want, we can even follow each other on Bloglovin?
    :)

    Lu.
    http://www.balgarka.co.uk

  2. Congrats on your blog anniversary!!! I really loved this post. It really gave me an idea of what I was doing right, and where I need to do a little more work. Thanks so much for all the helpful tips. :)
    ~Angela

    • toniegirl says:

      So happy to hear! Any advice that you would share?

      • I really think reaching out to other bloggers, and using the different blogging forums out there has really helped me. It seems to me it is all about putting myself out there. Even if I am feeling nervous. Reaching out to popular bloggers; like you suggested. Is something I am still working on. I get nervous at times, but had to realize worse case scenario they say no. It is not the end of the world. :) Also, talking about my blog whenever someone compliments me on my outfits etc. Oh and I had no idea I could get an email with my blog name. If you have a domain you can via gmail/google. It was such a happy surprise. Especially since I am working on ordering business cards. :) Sorry I am a little long winded!!! Congrats again!!! That cupcake looks amazing!!!

  3. Great tips and I love your blog design! Congrats on 1 year!

    xo Jen
    Skirt The Rules

  4. Charlie says:

    Great post! I’m new to blogging so it’s really useful to have these kind of things explained simply! Congrats on 1 year with your blog :)Charlie x
    http://impulsory.net

  5. Sarah says:

    Amazing tips!! Some I knew but some I’m going to have to utilize. Yeah, I need ot organize my tags too, they are ridiculous. Anyhow, love your blog and following on bloglovin now!! Good luck in year 2 :)

    xx Sarah
    Loser Girl Wins // Bloglovin

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