How to grow and maintain a blog

Your blog is up and running, well done! Now you just need to maintain and grow your blog to help you achieve success. This is how you can do it:

Take part in Twitter chats

Being a massive twitter fan anyway, I love twitter chats. I have been part of some great conversations, spoken to some lovely people on Twitter and it has been a great way to push people to your profile, obtain followers, gain new ideas for posts and find some new bloggers yourself.

It can be daunting at first taking part in chats, especially if you are hosting one (read more about my tips on hosting a Twitter chat here). If you join chats based on your blog topic this will push more interest to your site then say your location as it is reaching those with the same interests.

Read more:

Creating a movement online – my recent twitter chat

How to #win at a Twitter chat

Using hashtags and pages that retweet your blog on twitter

By promoting your post using popular, relevant hashtags this can push your blog out to an audience that may not have come across your site otherwise. Sites such as hashtagify.me can help you easily see how popular the hashtag you want to use is and other relevant tags. By adding the handles of twitter pages that retweet your blog as well may mean a retweet out to a large audience. Bare in mind, however, to only add one twitter page handle per post. If you don’t then you are less likely to be retweeted as those pages are not going to retweet their competitors as well.

The Twitter pages that retweet your blog

Facebook Fan Page

Like what I said with the Twitter chats below, you could create your own Facebook page promoting your blog or you join ready made communities tailored to your blog topic, region or interest. I am part of several blogging groups in the West Midlands because I live in the region and like to see what local bloggers are writing about (I have some fab new restaurant places I want to try out!), and blogger opportunities are also posted on there too.

Instagram

If your blog is very aesthetically pleasing, then Instagram is the place to flog your posts. Engagement on Instagram is high because it people are more willing to double tap a image to give it some love. If your Instagram is themed then likes are more likely. Evidence as shown that those Instagram pages that have a theme are more likely to get likes than those that are not. Again using hashtags for people to find your images is key. I use tagblender for easy copy and pasting lots of hashtags. Just remember Instagram only allows a certain number of hashtags and if you go over then it will post without the tags and that can be frustrating.

Creating a blogging schedule and sticking to it

I firmly believe that to really maintain a blog you need to regularly post. If you consistently times a week you are more likely to have followers keep returning to your site for more.

How is your blog going? Leave me your links below as I am always on the look out for new blogs to read!

 

 

How to write a blog post

Hopefully you have read my first post ‘4 questions to ask yourself before you start a blog‘ and have decided to go ahead and create one yourself. Well done! Now is to set about writing your content.

There are many ways to write a blog post and I am not saying I am an expert in the slightest but writing a blog post is a craft and as they say content is king. The benefits of good content is clear, you will gain more in engagement and followers.

So what is needed to write a good blog post?

Strong topic

Your post needs to have a clear subject, if you are writing for the sake of writing people will see this and just click off.

Clear structure

Your English teacher was right, your writing needs an introduction, middle and end. The best way to do this is to plan what you are going to write before you write it. It really helps make sure your writing is heading in the right direction. For more information on planning a post read my post on ‘How to plan a successful blog posthere.

Ideal blog post length

The jury is out on this one! This does very much depend on the topic you are writing about, Yoast recommends your post length to at least be 300 words long. Yoast goes on to mention that longer posts are more likely to be ranked higher because there are more opportunities through text, images and links to include your keyword. Researching further, digitalmarketingpro.net recommends to Google blog posts of a similar type that you want to write and seeing how many words were written in the top five ranking posts.

Consistency

I should really practice what I preach on this point! All the headings should be the same size, font and style. I am still experimenting with mine, but as soon as I have a style nailed I will update everything else.

Images and all the little things that make a huge difference

Images are so important to add on a blog post. Think about how many blog posts that do not have an image or graphic of some kind. Not many! Images help reinforce and explain a point, help people make an emotional connection and even persuade them to make a purchase! People are more likely to share a post if it contains an awesome image.

It helps with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as when you save your image you should name the image properly and use the alt tag function and description. It also helps those with e-readers who cannot see the image know what the image is as the e-reader picks up the alt tag.

Comment

Unless it is something very sensitive your posts should contain a comment section and make sure to respond to people’s comments! They have taken the time to written, you should take the time to respond.

Make sure you add your relevant pages and social media links

After writing your blog post make sure your social media links are there so people can pin the image, tweet and Facebook it. The more chances you give them to be shared the better. Also if you have written relevant blog posts in the past, make sure you add those links in the text too as it pushes people to look at that content which means extra views to your posts.

I hope you enjoyed my Blog 101! Are you finding these tips useful?

 

 

 

 

Blog 101 - image of a computer and a desk in the background

Well done on starting on your blog journey. It is exciting but also hard work. My Blog 101 series focuses on those who want to take the plunge and create a blog but don’t know or don’t have the confidence to start. Todays post focuses on the four key questions you need to ask yourself before you start a blog.

Time

Firstly do you really have the time to start and maintain your blog? If you want your blog to do well then you have to create or find the time to maintain your blog. This is something myself that I really struggle with, as you can see with my site my posts are very sporadic.

What are you creating your blog for?

If you are creating your blog just to obtain free stuff then you will not get very far. The blogs that do well have writers show real passion for their subject and craft and that is what makes them successful.

Is your blog supporting your business?

If your blog is part of a business then you will have to adopt a slightly different tone. You will have to maintain professionalism and all posts will have to be relevant to the business. You really need to be committed to your blog if you are going down this route because a out of date blog looks unprofessional and that could indirectly harm your business.

Expenses

Running and obtaining a blog does occur some expense. Blog props, Photoshop or cheaper photo editing software, taking out adverts, a custom URL, hosting, hiring a graphic designer to create graphics and having a personalised email address to name but a few all cost.

That is it, the four key questions you need to ask yourself before you start a blog. Second up in my Blog 101 series is on writing a blog post.

I would love to hear your feedback on my blog series. Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Rebecca Merchant with her Go Tri medal

A post I can now finally write, I completed a triathlon today! I never thought I would say this. I COMPLETED a triathlon! I never had an interest in completing in a triathlon before but when my friend asked me to join her for the one in Stoke, I thought ‘why not’. So…

How did I find it?

It was hard! When I parked up, I was quietly confident that I would be able to do it. Purely because I do a 5k run most weeks on parkrun, I had practiced swimming ten lengths at my local pool and I do quite a bit of cycling so didn’t think it would be too rough. The instructions were clear on where I had to go and the race marshall’s explained everything really well. The triathlon started with the swim. The swimming I went quite hard in. When I got out of the pool to do the bike ride, wearing the TriSuit I felt so exposed it felt like I was running naked. Soon I was off cycling, cycling took me down the A34 which was quite busy!  Luckily for me it was a sunny day which was drying the TriSuit nicely.

After dumping my bike I finished with the run. That part was the worst for me, my legs felt like jelly as they had gone from being used to pedalling to suddenly having to run! At this point each directional marker was a marker for me to aim to pass. I felt my breathing feel really heavy. I remember at one point I was thinking ‘do a triathlon, I said, it will be fun, I said‘. I also remember that feeling when I ran down the hill to find out I had to do a second lap. Awful! I was so determined to get that finisher’s medal and that feeling when I got it just cancelled out all of the pain.

Did I train for the triathlon?

Yes I did! Although it was a beginners triathlon, I didn’t want to go into it completely blind. I attended as many parkrun’s as possible for the running and the week before I managed to get a free week’s gym membership at my local leisure centre. So I used the pool there all of the time to test myself on the lengths. Funnily enough although I would say cycling is my strongest sport, I didn’t do much cycling leading up to the race. However, I was constantly attending circuit training at G-Force in Stafford so I was constantly being active.

What did I wear?

This part was the part I was most nervous about. After spending a bargain £12 on entry, I didn’t want to spend £30 on a TriSuit. I emailed Gold Events who were hosting the Stoke-on-Trent triathlon and they said that you could wear a swimsuit. The thought of running in my swimsuit did not appeal to me, so I got on ebay and got a cheap suit for £20. I chucked on a long armed cycling jersey and just used my usual trainers.

Would you do another one?

I would! Gold Events are running three in the Stoke-on-Trent area and if you attend all three you get a special shirt which is what I would quite like to aim for. I would also like to train a bit more and see if I can improve on my time.

Rebecca with her bike and medal at Go Tri in Stoke

How do I get involved?

Go Tri is approved by Triathlon England and its ethos is for the triathlon to be accessible for all. See all events by accessing there website here.

Black and white image of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s life and work is dark and mysterious and today I am reviewing one of my favourite poems written by her called Mirror. I cannot republish it here however if you google it you will be able to find it easily.

The poem is about a mirror presumably hung in a woman’s bedroom ‘I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long’ and what the mirror sees day by day. I love this poem because it is poem about what an everyday object does and the unattended consequences this has on its owner.

The mirror has human traits describing its self as pure and clear and that is has to justify itself. ‘I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.’ ‘Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike’ The second stanza talks about the mirror’s owner and ageing, the woman looks at the mirror every single day and is upset about getting older. The candles and moon – all of which is not pure light doesn’t show everything, the mirror is not a person who can lie. The mirror thinks that it is doing the owner a favour – she is being honest but it just upsets her.

It is clear the owner is struggling with becoming older ‘A woman bends over me, searching my reaches for what she really is.’ ‘She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands’ and the final sentence which confirms her fears:

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman 

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.’

It is such a short but despondent poem, but has stuck with me for all of those years because it is a powerful description on the simple process of ageing.

What is your favourite Sylvia Plath poem? Leave a comment below!