by Sylvia Nica, jaBlog! Blogger
If you write, the term blog has probably popped up before, and if you follow Laura Thomas Communications, you may have even submitted to jaBlog! Since blogs usually focus on a niche, like-minded people read and follow them, providing a solid audience for your writing. This is the reason I started my own blog, A Touch of Sea.
I needed a place where I could combine my two biggest interests, writing and travelling, while still having a way to help people and share my experiences. Blogging seemed like the natural choice, and so I dove right in, not knowing anything about writing articles or designing a site. Through this experience, I learned four main lessons about blogging.
Lesson #1: You Need a Blogging Platform
When you start blogging, unless you want to be typing pages of code, it’s best to use a blogging service. Because I’d already experimented with it for school projects, I chose Weebly. While WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform, the host you choose is based on your personal preference.
I liked Weebly because it had drag-and-drop elements to help design my site, and I could get my domain directly through their services. They even have an analytics section that shows how many people are visiting and reading your site. However, it currently costs $122 US dollars for two years at minimum. While WordPress is cheaper, you have to find your own blogging plug-ins and do some of the coding yourself.
Lesson #2: Your Blog Content must be Focused
Once I designed my site, I had to decide what I was going to write about. At first, my posts were just random tips and stories about travelling. Once I found my niche, my posts became a lot more organized and easier to write. Having a niche is one of the most important factors to consider when blogging because it attracts the appropriate audience.
My niche is coastal travelling. To find your own niche, try to think about something you’re passionate about, and structure your blog around that. This gives your blog focus. You don’t want to be blogging about cats one day and cupcakes the next—readers won’t know what to expect.
Lesson #3: Keep a Regular Posting Schedule
After deciding on your niche, making a blogging schedule is the next most important factor to consider. When I started out blogging, I posted on random days, sometimes not at all. Once I started posting consistently, twice a week, I saw a jump in traffic both through my feed and directly to my site.
Lesson #4: Social Media is King
Since getting viewers to your blog doesn’t magically happen, you have to have social media pages to drive traffic. Posting consistently on social media, and using relevant hashtags, helps your following grow, and adds more people to your community.
The pages I use to grow my following are Instagram, Pinterest, RSS Feed, and now Facebook, all with the same brand name, “A Touch of Sea.” A large part of my reader interaction comes from these social media channels. People comment on my photos and posts, or ask questions about my destinations, and by answering these questions I’m able to connect with them. Based on my own experiences, people engaged the most through Instagram.
Blogging helped me in more ways than one. Without realizing it, I had been practicing skills such as grammar usage and sentence fluency in front of a tangible audience. Also, because blogging isn’t just writing articles, I had to dive into copywriting and learn how to promote myself and my work. It was a different experience than before I’d started blogging, but the lessons I learned helped me connect to my readers no matter what genre I was writing.
Once you have a popular, well-written blog, put that in your resume when you apply to publications to make your portfolio shine even brighter. The increased diversity will give you further credibility as a writer.