Blogging 101

When I first started blogging in Feb. 2009 I had never read another blog. All I knew was that I wanted somewhere to journal my weight loss journey. I did not really have any expectations and if I had had any idea what blogging would bring to my life I would have started it a long time ago! Over the last 22 months, I feel like I have learned a thing or two about blogging and thought I would put this post together to help newbie bloggers and to document what I have learned over that time period.

Anonymous or Not
If I had it to do over again, I would probably be anonymous. I never anticipated that I would have 385+ followers and it scares me a little to think that my own words might come back to haunt me (paranoia may destroy ya!) I do edit myself a bit because of that whereas if I was anonymous, I could post more freely. For example, there are some things that have happened in my life that I believe have affected my weight but they are super personal so I am afraid to put it out there with you knowing it is me. Does that make sense?

If you have a public blog, people can subscribe to or “follow” your blog. It is helpful, if you are interested in getting more followers, to set up a Follow button on your blog. Otherwise, they can follow you through the RSS feed. I never set out to have so many followers but if you would like to increase your traffic there are a number of ways to do so. First off, be a follower. Look for like minded bloggers in your particular arena (Weight Loss) and follow them. If you follow them, chances are they will follow you as well. Also, if you do any giveaways, you can gain readers that way. I have bought items to give away but also have given away items that I received from vendors that contacted me to do the giveaway. Giveaways are NOT necessary but I do like doing them.

There are blogs that I follow that I simply follow but rarely comment if ever in some cases. These types of followers are what is referred to as lurkers. To give you an example, yesterday I had 15 comments on my post but my stats said 220 people read the post. So that means there are quite a few lurkers out there. It is okay to lurk :-)

I do not have any ads on my blog, but there are ads that can be added to your blog through Google which may generate some income for you. They are more then likely products that relate to your readership.

I could write a whole post on this topic alone! I will talk about both comments I receive on my blog and commenting on other blogs. In all the time I have been blogging I have never received an angry or mean comment. I have not agreed with some of the comments I have gotten but they did not have negative intent. Some people choose to comment anonymously but I do not allow anonymous comments on my blog. The anonymous comments I have seen on other blogs can be quite scathing and rude so I prefer to avoid any option for someone to do that to me.

Commenting on other blogs is important too. There are some instances though that someone has already stated what I would have said so I either say “ditto” to what so and so said or refrain from commenting at all. I think the key here is common courtesy. If you don’t have anything nice to say then it is probably a good idea not to say anthing. If you are close to this blogger then calling them on something may be necessary but treat them like you would want to be treated.

When I first started out, I would write a brief paragraph and post it without too much thought. As I continued blogging, my posts expanded and the realm of subjects did too. I am constantly thinking of things that I can write about that my readers would be interested in.

There are many ways to enhance the content on your blog too. There are a lot of free templates that you can use to brighten up your blog. I used The Blog Fairy which I paid for but this is not necessary. Putting widgets on your sidebar can help you tell the reader where you are at, what the weather is like or just about anything you want to list. Blogger has some of these widgets but there are 3rd party websites that have them too like Widgetbox.

I try to refrain from using profanity in my blog. Not that I am a prude or anything (quite the opposite!) I use some of it in real life but I don’t think it is necessary to use it in my writing. I can use many other adjectives to get my point across. I also feel it is important to proofread your posts as well as use Spell Check. Every day I read a blog that says loose instead of lose or to instead of too so I try to be careful not to do that.

Frequency of Posts
Personally, I post almost every day. The days I don’t are on the weekends or if I am sick. It is really up to each individual how often they can post. I don’t have children and I have a fairly flexible job so I have the time to do it but there are some folks who can only do it once a week. I would say once a week should be the minimum but that is my humble opinion.

It is nice to have pictures on your blog. It is a way to share your life with your readers. I am not a fan of getting my picture taken (yet) but I do include pictures of me from time to time. More often then not they are pictures of places I have been or my friends/family. One thing I think is really important about pictures is to capture progress pictures. You will appreciate having them as you lose weight or tone your body. Measurements are equally as helpful in tracking progress.

I follow 100s of blogs. I would say 98% of them are WL blogs but there are a few others too. It is great to read about others who have gone through the same things you have. There have been times though that I became bored or disillusioned with the blog writer and I will unfollow them. It brings to mind one particular blogger that I follow. I have not un-followed him/her yet but all I see in his/her posts is that they are going in one big circle and not making any headway. He/she consumes WAY too many calories on a daily basis and then says “Bad me!” and then does the same thing over and over. I think he/she has lost +/-10 lbs. in the last 2 years. I want to be supportive but if you do the same thing and expect the same results then “Houston, we have a problem.”

Reading Blogs/Google Reader
Since I follow so many blogs, I decided the best thing to do was to use a Reader. There are quite a few different readers out there but I use Google. It can be clunky sometimes but it seems to be the best way for me to keep track of all the blogs I read which there are 400+. It ends up being about 90 posts a day to read.

If I get behind, I just mark them as being Read. I love keeping up with everyone but I also don’t want be consumed by it or feel guilty because I did not have a chance to read them. One thing about the reader though is if I want to comment I have to actually click on the link in the post to take me to the blog directly which can be time consuming. There should be a way to do it right from the reader but I will have to research that. Hmmm…

Leaving Blogosphere
No, I am not leaving anytime soon. However, one of the most frustrating things about blogging is following someone who bails on the blogosphere by fading into the distance without saying something. If you intend on stopping your blog – do your readers a favor and warn them ahead of time. I have gotten attached to some bloggers only to find that they drop out and then leave the skeleton of their blog up. I assure you, if I leave I will give you ample warning. My intent is once I get to goal that I will change this blog to How Katie J found her Way so nope, you can’t get rid of me that easy! Bwahahahaha!

Hope this gives you a little help if you are new to blogging. Thanks for stopping by!