I’ve been blogging just a few months at this address. I consider it my love letter to the Lord. Before I made the decision to write for Jesus, I blogged for four years about fashion, building up a site with decent advertising revenue and healthy Google and Alexa rankings.
I wanted to share with you some useful and easy-to-implement tricks I’ve picked up on the blogging trail. I hope you will find one or two that you can use to enhance your blogging experience.
1. Invest in self-hosting. WordPress.org not WordPress.com. If you ever decide to monetize your blog via advertising or sponsored posts, you need self-hosting. My hosting costs only about $5 per month. (I use BlueHost because they don’t allow any pornography websites.)
2. Encourage sharing. Help your readers share your content by having easy to find social media sharing buttons on every post. I use Shareaholic, but there are a plethora of free plugins to help readers get your content out. Remember to edit so tweets read @yourtwitterhandle and not @sharethis. Helps you keep track of who is sharing your posts so you can thank them!
3. Connect on social media. Plugins like Social Stickers make it easy for readers to connect with you. Prominently feature social media icons that connect readers to your accounts. Consider picking two or three social media accounts to focus on to avoid overwhelm. For instance, I eliminated Linked In to focus on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
4. Practice Philippians 2:3. Promote others even when there’s nothing in it for you.
5. Use keywords. Find out the best ones for your blog through a Google keyword search. Long-tail keywords and those with low competition are more desirable. You can also go to Fiverr.com and pay someone $5 to do the job of searching up keywords for you. Use keywords in the headline and copy of your post but make sure it’s relevant and not misleading. I also use keywords as tags where appropriate.
6. Offer a free report. If you want readers to subscribe to your email list, your updates might not be enough to entice them. A free report on a topic of interest to your audience sweetens the pot and also gives you an opportunity to help your readers solve a problem.
You can go to Fiverr and pay $5 for an attractive design of a mock book cover to feature near your subscription box. Place your subscribe box above the fold (before the reader has to scroll down). Research shows readers are more likely to sign up there.
7. Contribute to linkups. Linkups are a wondrous way to build community and introduce your blog to a new audience. Linkups are plentiful in the Christian blogosphere, so narrow down your choices to those that truly relate to your theme. I gravitate to blogs by women who reveal their hearts in a courageous way and who are sold out to Jesus.
Click here for a list of linkups I currently participate in. Please contact me if I’ve missed your blog or if you host a linkup at a like-minded blog!
8. Host your own linkup. I started “Quitting Thursday” after hearing Bob Goff say he quits something every Thursday. At first, I was fearful nobody would participate. I emailed personal invitations to a few bloggers whose writing I enjoyed and asked them to submit. Each week, the number of bloggers linking up is increasing. (I use Linky Tools.)
9. Keep it simple. Your blog should look uncluttered and have lots of white space. Keep sentences short and paragraphs one to two sentences long. Sometimes, one sentence is long enough. This is a courtesy to your reader. Nobody wants to read huge clumps of text.
10. Have a call to action. Shelly at Renewed Daily politely asks readers to consider sharing her post by clicking on the social media button of their choice. You may also want to ask readers to subscribe to your blog or leave a comment. Readers may not think about sharing or commenting unless asked. Do this at the end of each post.
11. Speed up load time. Plugins can slow your blog down, so use only those you really need. I like the plugin (I know, ironic) called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). P3 shows you how much drag your plugins are having on your page loading time.
Too-large images can affect load time as can videos. Another way to decrease load time is to post excerpts only on the front page and have the reader click through to the rest of the story.
12. Guest post. Write posts for other blogs within your community. You will gain exposure to a new audience while providing a fellow blogger with content and sharing her blog with your own audience.
13. Don’t divide loyalties. Www.lauraconnell.com and http://lauraconnell.com are two different pages according to Google. In order to get all my visitors on the same page (so to speak), I use the Simple 301 Redirects plugin.
14. Keep going. Be encouraged. Slow and steady wins the race. Joanne at Days & Thoughts says Just Show Up and she’s right. Keep posting original content regularly (even once a week is enough), sharing and promoting others, and the readers will come.
Feel free to add to this list in the comments. Let’s help each other make the most of our blogging experience.