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 You really need to be committed to your blog if you are going down this route because a out of date blog looks unprofessional and that could indirectly harm your business.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 🙂

Image of laptop, iphone and journal

Blogging can be hard for many reasons – generating ideas for posts, having the time to write and schedule in content, editing photographs… the list can go on. However planning and structuring a blog post correctly means the article is likely to be well written and a well written article is more likely to be shared and this means more hits to your site and that ultimately is the aim of the game 🙂

Today I will tell you the way I like to structure my blog posts, none of what you see below is revolutionary but hopefully helpful.

How I Structure My Ideas
I like to either bullet point them or use a mind map format to write down all my ideas. If I am particularly stuck for ideas I will have a scroll through what other bloggers have written for inspiration. Some may argue that it is copying but the majority of content written on blogs is repackaged or has been rewritten already anyway, so I don’t see it in that way.

Your post ideally should contain ‘evergreen content’ this helps boost your SEO. Evergreen content is content which isn’t dated so for example if this article contains lots of data then this article will be out of date very quickly as the stats would become out of date. Fashion blogs are another example. My social media and blogging articles I like to keep the content ‘evergreen’ as much as possible.

Once I have an idea on what I want to write about, if I need to do any research this is usually done first. It helps inform the rest of my writing and helps me think of points that I may not have thought about originally or from a different view point that I then may expand upon. I tend to write intro, middle and end as titles and then list the points I want to make below each.

The Writing Part
When I start writing, I tick off each point to help keep me on track and additionally keeps me motivated to finish the post (I am one of those people that like lists!). When I am in the planning stage I like to have a lot of time to plan my posts. I turn off all distractions, this means leaving my phone in the other room and not being on Twitter to keep me focused and it speeds up the creation of the post. Additionally, setting myself a deadline helps to keep the momentum. At the end I find a image using a free image site, sometimes I will add text it depends. Just keep in mind with your deadline to take time to find or create a decent image and make sure you include an alt tag in the image. At the end if you have written any previous blog posts that link with the post you are about to publish, add them at the bottom to boost engagement to other posts.

The Bit After You Click Publish
The planning just doesn’t stop at the blog post it also extends to social media. There is really no point writing a blog post unless you are really going to push it (I don’t know, maybe you want to keep it to yourself, each to their own I guess!). When I plan social media, I take into account popular hashtags (I use ritetag) and twitter profile pages that will retweet posts. I use Hootsuite to schedule the posts in and I tend to have a social media scheduling session when I am too tired to write a blog post. I pin my blog post on Pinterest straight after it is has gone live so it is done and I don’t have to think about it.

So the short version of all of the above:

  • Turn off all distractions
  • Mind map or bullet point ideas
  • If your stuck for a topic then have a google to see what other bloggers are writing about or what the popular topics are at the moment (taking into account making your content as ‘evergreen’ as possible)
  • Start with a topic and plan a beginning, middle and end
  • Remember to include scheduling in social media and finding images within your allocated time limit
  • Add in links to other relevant blog posts 

Have you got any tips on creating an effective blog post? Which has been your best blog post in terms of views? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Liked this post, then you may like…

Why your blog needs a swot analysis

The Twitter pages that retweet your blog

How to make blogging and social media goals and stick to them!

 

Open laptop on a table

Hello, hello today I am writing about self evaluating your blog via a SWOT.

A SWOT analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It may sound boring and time consuming but by writing down what each of these are, it can visually make you see your blog’s weaknesses are so you can tweak them to maximise potential. The strengths you don’t need to ignore either – by capitalising your strengths it will help make your blog stronger.

It sound’s like something that takes a lot of time but there is no point publishing content that your readers do not like to view. At the end of the day it is your blog and you can publish what you want – but if your aim is to increase readership, earn money, or increase engagement – then you need to get strategic.

To show you how a SWOT can work for you I have included a SWOT of my own blog below. If you google SWOT analysis you will see many done in a box. Personally I prefer working from a list, hence listing them below.

SWOT for becbec.uk

Strengths
Own URL and professional blogger template installed.
I have full control over my blog.
I have a full – time job so don’t need to worry about making money from my blog.
My social media and blog posts do very well in terms of page views and comments and that is the content I prefer writing about.
From working in marketing I know the a lot of websites to get good quality royalty free imagery etc

Weaknesses
Struggle to find the motivation to write content regularly.
Not enough regular content.
Social media strategy needs to be better.
My content away from blogging and social media do not so as well.

Opportunities
Know several contacts where I can get my work published – which gets my name out more.
Very confident about Twitter chats and hosted several chats before so can do those again.
Getting a lot better at Photoshop so can start creating some work sheets.
Know several graphic designers that if I reach out too, could help me make my brand better.

Threats
Established bloggers.
Blogging is a market that has become very saturated and it is getting harder and harder to stand out.

What have I learned from my SWOT?

So from my strengths I know that the social media and blog tips posts are my best posts so it is best to keep writing posts about them. Having a full – time job means there isn’t the pressure of me having to churn out content to make money.

I know I need to work on writing regular content therefore by dedicating time per week to do this is one way where I am more likely to achieve writing and getting my content published. Again by dedicating time just for social media means that I am more likely to hit my goals of pushing more people to my site. I am going to stop writing life posts because there is no point spending my time writing them as it is not what my audience want to read.

Knowing your opportunities is easy, now it is finding the time to make the most of those opportunities. It is important because if you don’t realistically have the time to take advantage you could waste other people’s time and it can make your life harder in the future when you do have more time or you try to take advantage of other opportunities because people talk to each other!

Therefore, ideally by maximising on your opportunities, expanding on your strengths and working on your weaknesses this should help reduce your threats. Your threats are likely to always be there – you should always keep an eye out on what your threats are doing so you can capitalise on there failings or find a gap in the market they are not catering for.

I hope this SWOT blog post has been useful, ironically for me by listing everything down it has made the task of getting my blog up to date not as daunting as first thought. Let me know your thoughts and how you got on below.

If you liked this post, how about reading my other posts:

Best sites for blogging and social media beginners
Best sites for blogging and social media beginners #2
How to link your blog posts to pages in blogger

 

Photo of pink and red balloons in the sky

If your aim is to win a blog award (let’s aim high here!) then you have to be in it to win it. Contrary to belief, the majority of blog awards the bloggers themselves enter in. Here is a complete list of awards (in no particular order) along with the web address and twitter handles.

*Please note, I have not been paid or approached by any of the organisations below. This is research I have done in my own time. If you would like to copy the list, I am more than happy you do so, but you must reference me as the author and add my web address and twitter handle @bex91 


If you see any blog awards I have not included please comment or tweet me and I will include it.

Cosmopolitan Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Beauty/ Lifestyle/ Fashion/ Fitness/ Food/ Sex and Relationships/ Photography
Website
Twitter

UK Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Art & Culture/ Automotive/ Dating/ Digitial & Technology/ Education/ Events/ Food & Drink/ Green & Eco/ Health and Social Care/ Lifestyle/ Photography/ PR, Media & Communication/ fashion & Beauty/ Travel/ Weddings
Website
Twitter

Bloggers Blog Award
Type of blogs: Beauty/ Lifestyle/ Fashion
Website
Twitter 

Amara Interior Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Interior
Website
Twitter

North East Blog Awards
Types of Blogs:
Beauty/ Buisness/Food&Drink/Lifestyle/Parenting/Instablogger/Interiors
Website

Next Blogger Network Awards
As I am not part of the Next Blogger Network myself, I couldn’t find much information about it. However, I felt it is worth including.

Bloggers Lounge
Types of Blogs: Beauty/ Lifestyle/ Design/ Fashion/ Charity/Parenting/ Tech/ Health and Fitness/ Food
Website
Twitter

MAD (Mum and Dad) Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Parenting
Website
Twitter

Wedding Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Wedding
Website

Beauty Blogger Awards
Type of blogs: Beauty
Website
Twitter

Blogging Edge Blog Awards
Type of blogs:
Website
Twitter 

Football Blogging Awards:
Type of blogs: Football
Website
Twitter

Brilliance in Blogging Awards:
Type of blogs: Parenting/ food/ photography/ travel/ style/ craft/ family
Website

Mumsnet Blogging Awards
Type of blogs: Parenting
Website
Twitter

Better Homes and Gardens Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Fashion/ Beauty/ Decorating/Gardening/ Food
Website

Vuelio Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Art & film/ Beauty/ Business and Finance/ Education/ Fashion/ Food and drink/ Health and Fitness/ Interior Design/ Media/ PR and Marketing/ Newcomer/ Parenting/ Politics/ Sport/ Travel and Tourism
Website
Twitter

Winerist Blog Awards
Type of blog: Drink (wine!)
Website
Twitter

Wine Blog Awards
Type of blog: Drink (wine!)
Website
Twitter

Navabi Curvey Blog Award
Type of blog: Fashion/ Beauty
Website
Twitter

UKYA Blogger Awards
Type of blog: Books
Website
Twitter

Talented Talkers Bloggers Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle
Website
Twitter

Welsh Blog Awards
Type of blogs: Political/ Community/ Lifestyle/ Technology/ Sports/ Multimedia/ Food & Drink/ Entertainment & Music
Website 
Twitter

Cambridgeshire Digital Awards
Type of blogs: From what the website it looks like any type of  blog can enter.
Website
Twitter

Although I have been quiet on here recently, this year has seen me collaborate with UK Blog Awards, Metro.co.uk and Bloggers Required which has all been good fun but I have seriously learnt a lot about collaborating what I can manage with along the way. All of which I will share below:
Be clear what you are willing to do
State at the beginning what you will be doing and be weary of anyone taking advantage of this especially if you are working for free. For example, if I started getting lots of deadlines I would seriously be considering charging or stop the collaboration. 
Don’t be afraid to say no
At the end of the day, I have a full time paid job so that is my priority. Don’t feel pressured to take up every offer if you cannot put the time in. I have missed some stories that I could have written for metro.co.uk because I have been at work and cannot fulfil their deadlines.
Prioritise
Like I mentioned above I have a job and I am also doing a part time course which I am paying for, so these have to be first.
But you do have to do the work
If you agree to do some work and a deadline you do have to fulfil it although don’t be afraid to ask for an extension if you know you are not going to be able to complete the task in the initial time.
Don’t be afraid to chase up and check that you work does get published
I have no issue with chasing people up and checking that my work is published. If I am promised that my work will be published by a certain date, I will usually give about two days grace and then check to see what has happened to it. When your work is published, check that your social media details and your name etc are correct. 
Look for opportunities online
I found mine through knowing people, googling and seeing an opportunity on Twitter. Most opportunities won’t come to you so you have to do your best. I got my Metro role because I googled how to write for Metro, found the email address and sent them three articles I had written. 
Keep it real
Don’t collaborate for the sake of collaborating! metro.co.uk is just for fun and UK Blog Awards and Bloggers Required is because I like blogging and how blogs influence what people purchase. 
Record all of your published work.
I keep all of my links on my Google+ profile and also in a Word Document. It is nice to look back at what you have written and also you never know when you need to draw upon it. 
Finally, do respond to comments on social media
If people email or comment on your work make sure your respond back. It is really nice that people thought your work was so good that they took the time out to comment. 
Have you got any advice you would want to add to my list?