Drumroll, please! This is post 100 and podcast 50. Personally, I find this just crazy and I am speechless about it. If you are a first-time reader (first-time caller) welcome to the party. If you have been with me for a while, thank you, thank you! My hero Pat Flynn tells his audience how much he loves us so I will do the same. I want to tell you all now: I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. There, I said it.
This week I had the great pleasure to start teaching blogging at SMU, which I think is a bit poetic. I actually built this website quickly about a year ago because I was asked to teach a small group of people about blogging. It was my first paid speaking gig on the topic and I needed a website to refer people to. What I did not know at the time was that the person who was hosting the event was an SMU instructor. She liked my teaching style and the rest is history. Thank you Lissa Duty for setting that up.
Instead of making this century post into a recap, we are going to get down to it with a rapid-fire list of …
…100 Tips on Blogging! Surprise!
1. Your title can be different than your permalink. It often turns out that on the page a title is going to work perfectly but for the search engines the title may be too long or just not the right keywords. Feel free to make each of those things different, your blog will not explode.
2. Keep a running list of titles in your Evernote …or on a napkin. When a good title idea comes to mind write it down. Don’t be like me and lose your napkins. I heard Pat Flynn has a real shoebox of ideas for his business — that just makes me nervous. I am a big fan of those cloud-based tools, even the ones that keep getting hacked. What if a hacker runs across your blog post title list? It could be so inspiring that he or she lays aside those hacking fingers and turns into a blogger. You may have just saved the world!
3. Do SEO research for your blog titles. It is amazing what ideas will come when you do keyword research on your main keyword. Do not feel as though you have to compete on this highly competitive keywords. Instead go for the lesser searched my obscure, yet related phrases and reach out to the smaller served audience.
4. I recommend that you keep a title to three words if possible. Who can do that though? I am the queen of long titles but hey if you can do it, it will help you out a bit.
5. Learn how to write Magnetic Headlines. Boom!
6. The title is truly everything, until after they read it. Then the content is everything. See what I did there?
7. Show don’t tell. That is something that smart writers often say. [Ed. Note: And smart editors.] A free or paid membership to Copyblogger will help you learn more on writing high-quality blog posts.
8. If you run out of title ideas, then try out a blog title generator. With these free tools you will never run out of blog post titles but you may sit back in awe and wonder how on earth you will ever do that. In my opinion these turn out to be the best kind.
9. Kill your title babies. There is no crime in giving up on a title if it doesn’t work or you hate it. You have my permission to delete it from your list.
10. Don’t settle for your first title, write many. Write out three titles for your post and then go with the best one.
11. Don’t over think word count. What should your word count be? That seems to be the question of our generation. There is no right answer to this question. Actually the right answer is this: Write as many words as it takes to make your point. Be sure to revise and edit but also done is sometimes better than perfect, good is better than best. Value can come in all sizes.
12. Curation is not a monster hiding in the corners of Google. Highlighting someone else’s content with a solid backlink and adding commentary on your blog can be a compliment. Do not use all of their content when you do this. Use just a small bit, enough to make a point and then make it yours.
13. If you want to make great content then read great content. Beware of reading too much content in your genre though because you may start stealing ideas without even knowing it. I recommend that you read the heros of your genre first and then back down and start reading great blogging in a field that you would never read.
14. List posts! Top Ten This or That, 25 Reasons To Adopt a Dog, etc. are easy to read, easy to share and cite, and contain content that can be skimmed quickly. How am I doing so far?
15. Outline your content. Outlines come in many different forms and when I am working on a post like this one, I tend to turn to the whiteboard. I always think better with a marker in my hand, how about you?
16. Repurposing content is completely acceptable. Sometimes you decide to merge blogs or kill a blog but there is still content there. Do not be shy about moving it over to your new blog. I have content that has traveled from site to site. Also, you may want to take a blog post series and turn it into an ebook. Problogger has a great series about turning a blog into a best-selling book.
17. Decide on a niche for your blog and generate all of your content around that niche. Not everything has to be directly on topic at all times but it should always be directly related. It is easy to step off of the ledge and lose your niche so check yourself often.
18. Watch tense. A good writer would be encouraged to pay attention to tense in your content. I am pretty sure this means try not to be tense when you write but I will leave that for the editor to decide.
19. Do not steal unless you are given permission. As far as I know, Chris Brogan is the only content generator out there that says, “Go ahead, buddy!” Note that even he has rules though, so don’t just screen scrape. And don’t take credit for ideas that aren’t yours.
20. If you have created a blog series, craft a summary post. You have put in a lot of work and people may not be willing to put in those 20 minutes to read your series without a summary. Don’t judge those who are easily distracted …say, have you played Candy Crush? What do you think about barns?
21. Use WordPress or be square. I am a huge fan of WP, and I create in mostly Thesis theme.
22. Treat your WP blog with kindness and host with the greatness. There is such a thing as dedicated WordPress hosting and I highly recommend it. Love your blog from the inside out.
23. This website is built on Thesis Theme. Thesis Theme is an SEO machine and it will treat your blog with great love. Thesis is perfect for those who love to take apart radios and try to put them back together with only a few parts left out.
24. Studio Press is built by the Copyblogger team and they heart WordPress and WordPress hearts them. Studio Press is perfect for those of us who need a site up quickly and don’t want to tinker around much.
25. Use WordPress Plugins. Why WordPress? Plugins, that’s why. There are currently 33,180 different plugins on the WP directory. No matter what you want to do in the world there is most likely a plugin for you already created, many of them for free use.
26. DO NOT UPDATE YOUR BLOG just because you’ve been informed of a new WP update. Because the beauty of WP lies in its groovy moving parts, updating one part can cause another to cease functioning. Make sure that your plugins, theme and skin are not on conflicting schedules before you update one or more.
27. Use Co-Schedule. Are you as much of a fan of cool tech tools as me? A tool makes your blogging life better and one of the best tools for this is Co-Schedule. Not only do they have the greatest calendar for WP but they also help you promote your blog unlike any other tool that I have seen.
29. Join the Blogger Mafia. How the heck do you use WordPress? Gosh, I am so glad that you asked. Join the Blogger Mafia and you may just find your answer with one of my WordPress tutorials. Oh hey, just like with WordPress, the Blogger Mafia is free! Bam!
30. A Gravatar is a portmanteau of “Globally Recognized Avatar” – an image of you that follows you from site to site as you comment. Go here and set yours up for free.
31. Use videos to your advantage. YouTube is owned by Google so if you make videos put them on YouTube and add links to your site, you are promoting your blog for free.
32. Add Podcasting. While I did not start a Podcast to promote my blog, it sure is helping. Podcasting is a wonderful way to talk about your passion, add value to the world and promote your blog at the same time. If you get on that mic, share and be yourself, you never know what will happen.
33. Comment on other people’s blogs. Do not do this so that you will get links back to your site. Do not do this so that people will notice you. If you comment on other people’s blogs because you think that they did a good job or because you want to add to the conversation, people will want to connect with you. Make a difference everywhere that you go on the web. Help a blogger out and tell them that their post matters with a comment.
34. Guest post. Find a blog that you would like to write for and write an amazing original piece in their genre and present it. Whatever you do though, never submit that blog post anywhere else and never put it on your own site. Consider that guest post as a gift and leave it in their hands.
35. Submit your blog to the search engines. I am not sure if you knew this or not but there is another search engine besides Google. I know that this shocking news and I did not know until i Googled it! However, Bing is apparently a popular search engine and you should submit your blog there.
36. Balance categories. Do not have too many categories on your blog, unless you have a ton of content to go with them. Start a blog with around four categories and then fill them with content before you add more. The best way to promote your blog is to convince the search engines that you are the expert on that category.
37. Join a Facebook group and engage.
38. Share each and every single one of your blog posts out on Google Plus. Blog posts on Google Plus actually get ranked better. Please put this blog post on your Google Plus.
39. Go to a conference and meet people. When you meet people ask questions and listen for the answers. Make sure to ask them if they blog. If you get the chance, tell them that you blog too and then hand them a card or a napkin with your blog URL on it. Sometimes the best way to make a difference in someone’s life is to care, even in a five-minute conversation, about their experiences.
40. I would be remiss if I did not mention my favorite Social Media platform, Twitter. Join a Twitter chat about your genre and follow related hashtags. Get involved on Twitter but make sure that your profile links back to your blog.
41. This tool: Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer actually hurts my feelings a bit. However, it will force you to create better titles. I read somewhere that you should write 25 titles for each blog post. Crap, I know that is probably a great tip but who has that kind of time? Well, you will want to write more once you start using this tool. Darn them!
42. At one point in my life there was this memory hog called Word but then I discovered Scrivener and my Macbook is much happier. Now, I have one app open and all of my content is easily accessible. If you spend money on one tool this year, this is the one that deserves your dough.
43. I am lazy to the core; thankfully, aText allows me to be even lazier. Instead of having to remember a long piece of code or retype the same thing over and over, I can type out an autofill phrase and aText fills out the rest for me.
44. Learn Photoshop. Photoshop is a beast and it took me years to learn the tiny bit that I know. However, it sure has made my blog and my designs a million times better. Take the time and learn it, if you have a few years.
45. No Photoshop, then PicMonkey. If you don’t have a few years to learn the basics of Photoshop then I highly recommend the free tool called PicMonkey. It is free and it friggin’ rocks even on my Google Chromebook.
46. Use free video tools. iMovie is a great free video-making tool for the Mac but Screen Flow is an incredibly advanced yet intuitive utility for creating tutorial videos.
- This next one isn’t a blogging tip, per se, but after reading this, you may be ready to include a podcast as part of your blogger platform. See what I did there? It all works together! Garage Band: Included on most Macs, it’s an easy-to-learn piece of software that may surprise you.
[su_box title=”Bonus Tip:” style=”bubbles” box_color=”#81c11d” radius=”12″]BONUS TIP: As a new blogger or podcaster, use the tools that you are most comfortable with. The tools shouldn’t hold you back — they are meant to enhance your content-generating experience, not block you from getting it out there.[/su_box]BONUS TIP: When you start off doing something new such as blogging or podcasting use the tools that you are most comfortable with. Do not let the tools get in your way, they are meant to enhance your content not block you from getting it out there.
48. eBooks are how I learn most everything. Yes, I love tutorial videos but I love to find eBooks out there of very specific ideas. I find that even the lesser-known eBooks have a gem in them. If you read a book and get even one single tip out of it, it was worth your time. When I was learning SEO, I read a small eBook a day and it changed my life. What do you want to know?
49. Consider Asana if you have difficulty determining what to do next. This is a great free tool for keeping up with yourself and those around you. Go sign up, watch a few videos and dive in. Be prepared to be productive.
50. Excel is still my friend. I love spreadsheets. This love may come from the fact that I come from a manufacturing and purchasing background. I think that we made spreadsheets for everything including when to clean the fridge. Now that I think about it, Excel may be in my blood and I have no choice. Regardless, give me an idea and I will give you a spreadsheet.
51. The world is a better place because of Evernote. There was a time when I used my brain but then I found Evernote. Now I only have to remember to look in one place.
52. Content creators are a special breed and even if you consider yourself a plumber, when you make your content you are one of us. As a result I challenge you to create a comfortable space for yourself when you create. What is your best environment for ideas? Me, well for a while I had a stuffed monkey with no eyes, but that is another story for another day.
53. Time management is your enemy, I mean, your friend. Set aside time each day, week, month to focus on your blog. If you don’t do this there will always be something better to do such as…watch TV.
54. Create a writer’s log for yourself. When you get an idea, create a note for yourself. Sometimes you need a working list of half-baked ideas.
55. Commit yourself, then share! No, I don’t mean the straight jacket kind, you need to get past 100 blog posts before you can do that. I mean tell people in your life that you are going to blog and then have them bug you, harass you and keep you accountable.
56. What is in your can? Before you even start blogging, have 15 blog posts in the can, edited and ready to publish before you launch. Same goes for podcast pre-launch.
57. Utilize MultiMarkdown. Michael Hyatt taught me and you should let him teach you too. Basically, it is a way to write faster, without code and get it to look good at the same time. For example instead of having to do the <h2> code you can just put ## in front of your word.
58. Have a checklist for yourself and your blog. A checklist can come in many different forms. Recently, I created a format for my show notes pages because I could never remember what color different headlines were and other random things. Now, I have a checklist and it takes the stress off allowing me to create content more efficiently.
59. Set frequency for your content publishing and you will likely be more productive. There is something about that looming deadline, I mean Exciting Publishing Schedule, that will inspire you to get yourself moving. People with a plan are flat out more productive.
60. Have an idea of where you are headed. If you are just wandering around the blogging universe you will not be nearly as motivated or productive. It is difficult to stop a person with a plan, unless there is cake involved.
61. Surround yourself with people who are passionate. It is not important that they are passionate about the same thing as you but it is important that they are passionate about positive ideas. This year I made a wonderful blogging friend, Aida Rojas and she inspires me, listens to me whine and tells me to shut the **** up and create. I am surrounded by lots of people who are aspiring more daily and just thinking about them makes me want to keep going.
62. Your momma told ya once and I am gonna tell ya again, don’t compare yourself to others. The funny thing about comparing ourselves to others is that we never look backwards when we are doing it. We never look at the people that are behind us and say to ourselves “wow look how far that I have come.” Be happy in your value-adding, content-making, big ol’ world that you are in. As Kid President would say, “Go be awesome.”
63. Be Happy but Be Realistic too. It is going to take time for you to find blogging success. Unless you are Seth Godin, people will not just wake up one day and know that they should read your blog. Even Seth Godin had to gain people’s trust. It is not like he just woke up one day and was Seth Godin…oh wait!!
64. Use Google Alerts wisely. You should set up Google Alerts on your topic and then set one up on something that makes you incredibly happy. If you love to crochet, set up a Google Alert so that if breaking crochet news happens, you will know about it.
65. Use music or silence to your advantage. If I need to be extremely motivated, I will turn on some crazy techno music. Thank you Yacht for all that you have inspired me to do.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/29109507″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
66. Don’t be mean to yourself. Folks, you gotta give yourself a break. I know that I am my own worse critic and frankly, I have no business giving this advice but here we are. I and often busy failing at tip 61 above and am looking ahead to the greats but we have to remember that we are great because we are working on it. Be nice to you and I will be nice to me and then the world will be a better place.
67. So what if you fall off the wagon, get back on. It happens. Maybe you got the flu or you got tired and just didn’t see the point anymore? Sometimes there is nothing more motivating then a restart.
68. Be you. It is the only way to be. If you try and be someone else your blog does not stand a good chance of success. Trust me on this one because I know: I tried to be the ultra-professional gal but in truth I am the weirdo who records soundtracks in her bathroom (see video above). Frankly, creating content is difficult enough without trying to be someone else. Just be you in your writing and you will write more, create more and people will appreciate it more.
69. Find what motivates you and use it as a tool. I use TV as a reward and I use listening to podcasts as a reward. I know that if I go for a walk, I will get to listen to the latest podcast from Kate Erickson and that motivates me. However, I also know that I can’t go for a walk until I finish this post. What motivates you?
- Just Friggin’ Do It!
71. Do not reinvent the wheel. There are so many beautiful blog design templates out there. Beauty is important when it comes to blogging but in the end it is the content that matters. Pick a beautiful pre-made theme and go to town.
72. Your blog deserves a logo but it is not everything. Some of the greatest logos on the planet are just words. Don’t worry about it too much but do start thinking about branding as quickly as you can. A logo just helps you be better identified.
73. When you are thinking about that blog layout and blog design and blog logo go ahead and think about your blog color palette as well. You would not believe how important this will become as you proceed forward blogging. When it comes to blog layout you may want to make all of your H2’s or H1’s the same color as your logo accent color.
74. Images matter and their quality matters more. Do not put blurry images on your site and by all means do not put images that you do not own. You are slaving hard over that content and the last thing that you want to happen is to have a poor image distract people from your amazing ideas. Your blog and your content deserve high quality images.
75. 404 pages are an important part of your blog layout plan. No matter how hard you try 404 hits will happen, even it is because some mistyped something. You have an opportunity to either direct traffic or create an experience for your reader. Go here and check out my custom 404 page, let me know what you think.
76. Have constant formatting and style. Formatting is not fun, I don’t care what anyone says. I do not wake up and say “I can’t wait to format that blog post.” If you are that person, I seriously want to be your friend. However, how your content is formatted does matter so take the time to make sure that your blog post and your blog design is pleasing and easy for the reader.
77. Sidebars are a tool, not a place to cram a bunch of crap that you don’t know what to do with! Use your sidebars wisely and put the things on there that will add value for your reader.
78. Ads are how a lot of people make money and that is ok. Do not be ashamed to put up an ad but make sure it is tasteful. Do not cram your blog with ads and do not let them get in the way.
79. People expect the navigation at the top of the page. So if you put it at the bottom don’t be surprised if people never click to other pages. Don’t make people think. Make your blog easy for people to use and guess what, people will use it. Make your blog difficult for people to use and guess what, they will leave.
80. I hate pop ups, think twice before using them. If pop ups are part of your design plan, then God Bless You, your mailing is probably amazing. I am not saying here that I will never use pop ups, but I am saying that I hate them. Maybe in the end it is that I hate what they stand for, more email. I don’t think anyone has signed up for my mailing list and I know that is bad. My advice to you is to use a pop up because stats show that it is a good idea but just know that I may hate you for it and if I use one, it is ok if you hate me too. Ok just kidding, nothing but love and hearts and flowers all around.
81. Rename your images purposely. A quick and easy SEO tip is to rename all of your images the title of your blog post. When you name an image put dashes between the words like this: seo-tip.jpg.
82. Use a plugin such as the Yoast plugin and put Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions for each blog post and page on your site. Essentially a meta title is an enticing title that is 60 characters or less. Sometimes you may have a long title and it is longer than Google wants to show the world so Yoast gives you a place to pick the title that will be shown on Google.
83. Create meaningful permalinks. A permalink is the url that people click on or type in to find your blog post. Here is the permalink for a podcast interview that I did: http://www.starvethedoubts.com/teach-blogging-renee-groskreutz/. If you notice when Jared put together this permalink he left off the I in I Teach Blogging because for the sake of search it did not serve his purposes well. He used keywords only in the permalink, which in this case were my name and the phrase “teach blogging.” My advice to you is to plan out your permalink at the same time that you are planning out your blog post title. Remove words that are not SEO necessary.
84. Use the Google Keyword Tool for everything. Sure there are other cooler keyword tools out there but this one from Google is free and I like free. Use this tool to find out what people want to know about your blog topic. Use this tool to come up with blog post titles and permalink titles. This tool will be a dear friend to you, if you just give it a chance.
85. Make sure that you have submitted your Sitemap to Google. Yoast has a sitemap generation tool built right into it and I highly recommend it.
86. Before you can submit your sitemap you will need a Google Webmaster Tools account. It is crazy but Google gives us this tool for free. They do this because they want you to be a successful blogger. Hey dude, Google believes in you enough to give you this free tool so you should believe in you too.
87. Make sure that your blog is mobile responsive because this does effect your SEO rankings. There are only three people left on the planet that are not using their phones to read this blog post and that is just because they lost their phone. Be nice to those three, they are confused and going through a difficult time.
88. Ignore analytics right after you set them up. Analytics will depress a new blogger. God knows that I have jumped off of my bottom step many times after looking at my analytics. Save your analytic checking for after blog post 100.
89. On-Site SEO is important and in truth is the real key to SEO success. Everything starts with your blog and expands out from there. If you do a good job of remember to add alt titles to your images, renaming your images, using Yoast to its’ fullest and considering keyword phrases success will happen with consistency.
90. Ignore SEO! Yes, you read that right. SEO is important sure but it is not as important as putting value add first. If you get too caught up in the SEO game you will forget why you are creating content in the first place.
91. If you want to become a better writer then I highly suggest that you subscribe to CopyBlogger. These are the same people that did the magnetic headlines series that I referenced above. They are dedicated to teaching us to be better bloggers and you will learn a lot.
92. Use an editor if you can but if you can’t then just do your best. I don’t have the privilege of having an editor on a daily basis and I just do the best that I can.
93. Never forget your why. Why are you blogging? Consider creating a mission statement for your blog and posting it next to your computer. Your mission statement can be as simple as “I want to motivate micro and small business owners to blog. My goal is to share my fears and anxieties about content marketing in hopes of inspiring others to create content.”
94. Make time for writing.
95. Shower for ideas. Do you come up with your best ideas in the shower? When I am stuck I will take a shower and ideas will start flowing. Seriously, there have been days when I take three showers in one day. If there is something that helps you get unstuck in your writing then do it, no matter how silly it make seem.
96. Be yourself. If I have said it a thousand times already, bear with me while I say it again: be yourself. When it comes to content creation you have to be yourself because writing as anyone else will just be painful.
97. Be edgy! I give you permission. Edgy is interesting and people like interesting. In an interview I was asked what the best concert that I had ever seen and my answer, truthful one, was Marilyn Manson. It is not the answer that people would expect me to say in that format but it was the truth.
98. Be different! I can’t tell you what that means because then it would not be different. Do whatever scares you and you will be different.
99. Be interesting! I know you are interesting, otherwise why would you be blogging. But kick it up a notch and write more interesting content.
100. Be weird!
This blog post is dedicated to the memory Jay Vaccaro. If not for you and you introducing me to Macbooks all those years ago, I may not be here on this blog writing this post. We miss you and may you rest in peace.