01 March 2010

blog like a pro


whether it's your blog layout, the content, finding your niche or the frequency of posts, we can all use a tip or two from the blogging pros. enter: the expert panel. i've called upon a group of my favorites to collectively give us the tools we need to better our blogs. they are small online business owners and/or bloggers whom i read daily. i am inspired at how they've each made a name for themselves online. thankfully they agreed to answer my hefty questionnaire. they have passion in their posts and write words that matter. so, without beating around the bush–i asked them straight up–what are your top 3 tips for blogging like a pro? here are their fantastic answers.

1. Write a separate post for separate thoughts. Example, don't lump a story about your dog in with a cupcake recipe. Separate posts will make it easier for another blogger or twitterer to share something that interested them (the cupcakes) to new potential readers without confusion. Both topics may be great and have a place on your blog, but will have more "online life" as separate posts.

2. Use photos. Not every post needs a photo, but images will help break up the words and may grasp the interest of new visitors to your site. If you are taking photos, put time into composing images. Be sure to credit when you are not using images that are your own.

3. Stay true to yourself. Blogs have become resumes for who you were and who you are. No one is perfect and your blog certainly will not be, but if you remain honest and "real" your blog will accurately represent you. When I was in college and applying for jobs, I worried that my blog might hinder me in finding a new career. Now, after four years of blogging (and a bit of a positive shift in how companies perceive bloggers) I am proud of the site I have built and encourage companies to see my scope of work on my blog. Before you hit publish on every post be sure it is something you are proud to share.
- elise blaha | enjoy design


1. Don't start a post with an apology for how boring your post is going to be.
2. Keep paragraphs short so there's plenty of "white space."
3. Let YOUR personality shine through.
- marty | travelin' oma


1.) Finding your niche. Don't try to cover ever single topic under the sun, find your focus and stick to it. 2.) Consistency in posting. If you only want to post once a day, that's fine but stick to it. Your readers expect it from you and you don't want to disappoint your audience. 3.) Fresh material. No one wants to see the same thing in 800 places around the web. Do some digging and be the first to introduce something to the blogosphere.
- Kelly | Design Crush


1. ORIGINAL CONTENT - So many bloggers just repost something from design*sponge, apartment therapy and others. Sure, it's great to share that with your readers, but most of your readers likely check out those blogs, too. If you're going to highlight what another blogger has done (like a tutorial), why not actually make the object yourself, photograph it, and talk about how great it was?

2. HIGH QUALITY PHOTOS - you don't have to have a professional camera to take good photos. Read your user manual backwards and forwards and take photos in natural light. If you're aggregating photos from the web, make sure to get permission and link back to the source.

3. SPELLING & GRAMMAR - Nothing says novice like misspellings or incorrect grammar. If you don't have the resources to hire a copy-editor (like me), at least read up on your grammar and use spell-check before clicking 'publish'. Here are some great (and funny) resources:
- melissa | isly


• Play nice. When on other blogs remember it's as if you are a guest in their home. If you don't like what they have to say, politely leave. Nobody likes a bully.
• Don't ever take a reader for granted and understand that they are blessing you with their presence...not the other way around. Be honest, and genuine and true to yourself and you will attract a readership that appreciates it.
• Step outside the box. Take a few risks. It is hard when you are blogging in a particular niche, often you are discussing the same topics, and working on similar projects. Don't be afraid to do it your way, with your voice, and your heart...by doing that it will more than likely set you apart.
- destri | the mother huddle


1. be connected.. to your readers. to other bloggers. write and respond and get acquainted with the people you see in your daily blog stops. once i started to see the blog realm as a community, i enjoyed it all the more.

2. be real.. blog about things that really and truly interest you. i like how marta says this workshop is about heartfelt blogging. she's spot on. don't force it. be yourself. you'll soon find readers who are uncannily like-minded and it will be loads of fun.

3. be consistent.. just keep at it. without letting it become the order of the day. live your life, blog on the side.
- summer harms


Blog every day. Post photos. Write in a voice that is natural to you.
- kal | love life


• Anything that works at a party will work on a blog. Flirt, be considerate, confide, entertain your friends' interests, be trustworthy and cheerful, and thoroughly enjoy yourself, it will show.
• Satisfy your own curiosities, solve your own problems, and follow your own passions, and you'll find you are satisfying others as well.
• Always be open to discovering what you do well, where you add value and feel passion. Be on the lookout as you begin to develop a visual identity. It will emerge naturally. When your readers see it they will recognize it, like recognizing the voice of a good friend.
- amber | givers log


thank you for the excellent tips, panelists. follow their links to see the experts in action. note their layout, their unique voice in the way they write and the vibes their blog sends out. what pulls you in? how can you be inspired by their advice? tune in tomorrow as they tackle the subject of maintaining a small business online.


73 comments:

Jill said...

I especially love Melissa's comments about using correct spelling and grammar.

LobotoME said...

love summer's quote - life your life, blog on the side! yes!

Heather @ Alis Grave Nil said...

I agree with your mom's suggestion about not apologizing. I spend a lot of time explaining this to high school kids about their presentations and essays. Holds true for blogs too. :)

Brooke said...

This is fantastic! I love all of the tips and advice and am so looking forward to this entire week of bloggy goodness. :) Thank you so much for all of your work!

Hil said...

Loving the advice to be real... so important! Great panel lineup marta!

Roxi said...

These are great tips but I am having a really hard time sticking to a niche. I feel like I have too many interests to stick to one thing. I guess I need help in this department.

Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...

Great advice!
I love the links Melissa suggested. Too funny!

Sarah said...

Great tips. I am going to try and integrate them into my blog.

Micayla said...

Thanks for the advise. I will be following some of these ideas.

Rachel said...

Awesome tips! Like Roxi, I too am having a hard time finding my niche and sticking to it, while still being true to myself and all of the (many) things I love and enjoy.

Tiffany said...

Fabulous advice from real pros!

fairlytypical said...

Great advice!

I feel like I will never be able to find my niche though. Sticking to a topic hasn't worked for - unless my progression from college grad to lawyer to the future counts as a topic(?).

I especially like the grammar point - I am ALWAYS obsessively reading my posts for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Thanks so much for this workshop, Marta!

fairlytypical said...

Great advice!

I feel like I will never be able to find my niche though. Sticking to a topic hasn't worked for - unless my progression from college grad to lawyer to the future counts as a topic(?).

I especially like the grammar point - I am ALWAYS obsessively reading my posts for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Thanks so much for this workshop, Marta!

Anna Kristina said...

Great tips I will definitely be thinking about as I continue blogging!

And while niche may come across sounding like you need to pick one thing you blog about (personal life, design, or cooking) I take it to mean picking the things, plural, I want to blog about (keeping friends/family updated now we're halfway across the country, creative writing/photography, and how we're trying to live more simply and green). I need to sharpen my criteria for what I blog: snapshots of life that share who we are, our creativity, and our passions. Thoughts?

Marisa@make*happy said...

Wonderful advice. Thank you, Melissa, for making a point about original content. This is something I work really hard to do! Reposting other people's work every day is one of my pet peeves.

I share other people's links on my Facebook fan page, and leave it at that.

Kami said...

Hi Marta! I love this week! I love that you have put this together, and I can't wait to hear it all.

I loved what Amber said about thinking about your blog like it's a party. Such great advice.

What a great panel! Some of my favorites, and few new ones to me.

Thanks Marta!

Christine said...

i liked the comment that elise made about being worried that her blog would hinder her job search. i've felt this way many times and go back and forth between wanting to go full force as a blogger and wanting to delete it all... i'm wondering if lots of bloggers have this struggle? how much to share (always, of course, remembering that anyone can find your blog) and whether it is compatible with your "day job" and professional image...

great first day of the workshop!

Em-Jae said...

Great post!

Clearly I need to pay attention to this -- my heart fell when I read rule #1 (different posts for different thoughts) because I definitely broke that one today... Oops!

Here's to learning! Can't wait to see what else you post :)

Melissa said...

Great advice! I can't wait for the rest of this week.

radiantreflections said...

all such fantastic advice!

mandiegirl said...

I like how amber related blogging to working a party! It's so true! :)

Alli (One Pearl Button) said...

Fantastic tips - I love the party metaphor! Thanks to all for sharing.

Melissa said...

There's some fabulous advice. I LOVE destri's Play nice advice. Seriously, more people need to read that advice.

Lissete said...

Great tips! I especially like the "play nice" advice. I am always shocked when people are rude, mean, & disrespectful to the blog owner! Move on...

brandy said...

Great panel Marta!

I loved the party metaphor.
All around great advice from everyone.

Eden said...

These are wonderful tips! I have found that when I go blogging-about I really enjoy pictures, they don't have to be professional quality, but it's so nice to see what someone is talking about.

I also so AGREE about the not apologizing. For me, nothing is more of a turn off then going to a blog where there first sentence is "I am sorry I haven't been here in awhile"...It's pretty obvious they haven't and they've been busy. I come because I want to hear them speak, not apologizing for something that doesn't require an apology.

Alden said...

This is so great! thank you for putting all this together!

Joni said...

Wow! I am learning some great things already. Definitely a great line up of pro bloggers. I will be eagerly awaiting every post this week.

I checked out each bloggers site as I read through. What I noticed was the simplicity of each one. None of them try to over do it. I like that!

Betty said...

THANKS so much for this workshop. I can't wait to read all that you have to say.

Kayla said...

Great advice! I agree with LobotoME that the quote "live your life blog on the side" is great. Can't wait for the rest of the week!

Rock.Stone.Treasures said...

Really appreciate the advice. I've just started blogging and will put some of your tips to use. Very helpful.

fridica said...

This is so great, thank you for putting it together. It's so nice to hear what others have to say! I only embarked shyly upon blogging about two months ago and I have been shocked at how hooked I've gotten on it! Many of these pieces of advice now sound very familiar, things I've gone through, and it's nice to get such reassurance. It's so amazing how much we are capable of learning in a short time when you acquire a new passion! I personally like structured learning as much as on-the-go learning, so thank you all the more for this workshop!

Elaine said...

This is all such wonderful advice. Thank you so much for doing this workshop and sharing it with all of us!

Kathy said...

Oh Marta!
I can't thank you enough for doing this. I started my very own blog on Valentine's Day. At this point, just for family and friends that are far away. You and others I have been following were definitely my inspiration.

I haven't checked in for a few weeks and was so happy to find this entry and the line-up for the week. Thank you, thank you! Can't wait for the workbook.

katie said...

oh this is so great! thanks, marta!!

Tynnie said...

I actually have a question about etiquette when posting an image that's not your own. What is the proper process? Do you contact the person where the image originated to receive their permission? Do you post it and just reference where you found the image even though it's not the source. With the posting and reposting of images, I imagine this can get a bit complicated. I know it's important to give people credit where credit is due... Thanks for any help with this question; I want to be sure I do this right when I start blogging!

Jamie said...

What wonderful advice!

Lise said...

Marta thank you so much for this amazing and free workshop! I am beyond grateful to read and receive all these tips and inspirational ideas.

I already read and love kal's and Elise's blogs, but I look forward to checking out everyone else on your expert panel. But not until I complete my afternoon workshop task :)

w and w said...

All tips need and appreciated...and how..
Any tips on design?
Do you buy all of your "blog accessories" or where have you found them?

summer said...

elise's point about a separate post for separate thoughts was completely for me. oh how i needed to hear this! now, to put it into practice in my bloglife. thank you marta, and elise, and everybody!

Abby said...

Great tips! I will have to work better at finding a niche. I also like the point about being original. I have to work on that better, I do tend to repost things are link to others a lot. I'll have to work harder at coming up with my own material. Can't wait for tomorrows posts!

Marne said...

Finding your own voice is so important. Many times I have felt intimidated by others' blogs then I realize I am trying to be like them. I just need to be like me!

Sara said...

Great advice! I've been blogging for 2 months now and finding my place in the big blogging world is what I"m struggling with most. So looking forward to the rest of the week.

Christen Krumm said...

this is great!! i <3 it!!

xoxo,
christen

Destri said...

Marta,
This is the best! It is like attending a well edited conference. Seriously. When I go to conferences I write down my favorite thoughts from the panelists, and these responses are exactly what I would have wrote down for later use. Perfect.
I even found a few new blogs today.
Can't wait for the rest of the week!

cindi said...

Great start to a great workshop. Thanks again for putting this together. It's info I've been looking for and it's in an easy to understand and follow format. Can't wait to read tomorrow!

RachelDenbow said...

This was great! I'm suddenly starting to feel uncomfortable in my own skin on my blog and am trying to figure out how I got to this place all the sudden. These are some thought provoking insights.

happy moments said...

the best advice ever. I'll follow them step by step. thank you mart.

BuenoBueno said...

this is awesome! thank you!
xo
Brandi

Travelin'Oma said...

Blogging is like a party. Sometimes you people watch and sometimes you participate. And you meet new friends! Thanks for having the party, Marta!

chelsea rebecca said...

these are such great tips!!!
thanks for sharing!!!
love your blog! xoxo

gab said...

Great post. I am sharing with a friend...

Fruitful Fusion said...

Such great tips from the experts! I'm loving this workshop!

abby @ tales and trials said...

Thanks Marta for doing this little series!! It was great to hear all the responses from these bloggers and gain a few tips.

Retta said...

These are fantastic suggestions! What a great resource.

Kristy said...

The tip I most needed to hear was the one encouraging us to only post about one topic at a time...I really needed to hear that one :)
Sometimes I get all excited about posting and just add in everything but the kitchen sink!! Thanks for all the wonderful advice, kristy

Lina said...

Thanks Marta for creating this workshop! I'm not a business owner, but I am new to the blogging world. Your workshop is going to be a great help! I haven't found my niche, unless "random thoughts and discovering new passions" is a niche. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week. I would also love information on photo etiquette (posting photos from the web).

Trina Curran said...

Fab-u-lous! I love this...I am making my blog over in my mind right now. :)

Camilla Blue said...

Extremely helpful. Especially appreciated all the links you provided. Fun to explore quality blogs that are new to me.

Maria Isabel said...

This is some great advice!Thank you!

Faith2221 said...

i have got to spellcheck! i feel like i totally suck at blogging! thanks for the advice and thanks so much for hosting this workshop. newbies like me need it!

Jennifer said...

Great advice! Especially the spelling part. I rarely bookmark blogs with spelling and grammar errors. I find myself distracted by the errors and unable to engage in the writing.

Tarsila Kruse said...

I have to agree. All the tips are so useful! I feel so blessed for having access to all this info! Now, need to apply it! :) Thank you Marta & Blog Experts!

lindsalita said...

oooh I am really enjoying this! love that you have some of my favorite bloggers on your expert panel. thank you for this!

Amy said...

this is much fun. much, much fun!
Pick a niche...that one is hard for me, is it ever ok to have a variety of topics?? I'd love more thoughts on this.
Destri is right on as always. Play nice is so important!

~Kristina said...

i am catching up...but I can't wait to absorb all the rest. there have been so many incredible tips so far.
thanks for running such an awesome workshop!

Sarah said...

Kal and Elise are two of my favorite bloggers. Great advice from everyone!

Of course, I have no idea how to blog, myself. I have attempted a few times, although since I am not sure what I am passionate about... um, I often abandon what I'm doing. And I'm disorganized. Must work on that - disorganization in life can breed disorganization in a blog. Not a good place for disorganization, I must say.

Natasha said...

Thanks for the workshop, Marta! This is fantastic, especially for a new blogger like me. I especially loved Amber's advice, that anything that works at a party will work on a blog. I never thought of it that way.

xo

KjO said...

Something I would like to ask the panel about is inspiration. How you do you keep it flowing day after day? I know that writing about what you love is a good start, but beyond that, is inspiration something you have to nurture or has it always come naturally to you. If you nurture your inspiration do you have a method.

I love how blogging, while it does not make you an expert, gives you experience in so many different areas, photography, writing, design, and creativity. Even though I have only just begun I am finding that I am growing in each of these areas.

Thank you for the workshop and the work you put into pulling it together.

Amelia said...

I am playing catch up and really enjoying all of the great tips. It is always refreshing with people are willing to share advice and information. I believe giving is truly the key to success. That is the essence of blogging. You are freely giving a piece of yourself to inspire, create, and motivate. Thanks Marta and all of the panelists for sharing!

From Now Till I Do said...

Really enjoying this workshop!

I think all the tips are fantastic and I have written them all down. I think consistency and using your own voice is key. Your readers will see right through you otherwise.

Thinkie said...

Thank you Marta and panelists, for this workshop, I just read trough the posts (found it trough a link on Elise's blog) and got some great tips!

Save the Date for Cupcakes said...

Love all the great advice.

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