Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

Make your blog better: Tips from the Blog Better Boston conference

Emily and I at Blog Better Boston

Emily and I at Blog Better Boston (I have no idea how to pose at these things!)

This past weekend, my friend Emily and I attended the second annual Blog Better Boston conference, held at the Boston Globe, and organized by fabulous bloggers Alana of The Good Girl Gone Blog and Amy of I’m Gonna Fly.

The event included some great sessions on creating media kits, blog design, working with brands, photography, and creating content – I learned so much from everyone I met, and discovered that Boston has a very welcome, friendly blogging community (who knew?!).

If you have a blog, or you’ve been thinking of starting a blog, check out what Blog Better Boston speakers had to say about design, content and planning:

Design

Alison of Long Distance Loving (fellow Hoosier-turned-New Englander!) shared great tips on blog design – I hope to put some of those in action, so look for a redesign soon! Why does blog design matter? “From the moment you first lay eyes on a blog, you know whether you want to stay or go,” Alison said.

And what makes good design? A blog that’s easy to read and navigate, uncomplicated, has consistency (photo sizes, alignment and length of posts), and reflects your personality. Some people opt to pay for professional design, but if you’re doing it yourself, try some new fonts. Free fonts are available at:

Content

Boston Globe beauty and fashion writer/blogger Rachel Raczka knows good content, and the best kind is created when you find out what your readers want from you. She suggests that each week you should check your stats: what posts do people click on the most? What search terms are bringing them to your blog? Those are the topics they’re coming to you for, so make sure you’re filling that need.

“How to” posts are a great way to connect with readers, but try using more multimedia than text for a how to post. The visuals for this type of post are the best aspect to concentrate on – try steps and photos or go for video. Try combining those tips in a Vine post – Vine has been getting attention, but it’s underutilized. A creative Vine post can get you noticed.

Planning

Julie of Orchid Grey shared her solution for the work-life-blog balance: a content calendar. Planning your blog posts, creating a recurring calendar of themes, and scheduling when you write and research creates consistency for you and your readers. It also allows room for your priorities, time for other interests, and creative inspiration.

This blog is not my full time job. It’s a creative outlet that I try to make time for between my full time job, the 2 hours a day I spend commuting, my social life, and my nonprofit commitments. So, for right now, I have time for one post a week. And that’s OK.

I fit blogging into my week by scheduling office hours in my calendar. I set aside a few hours (as little as 1 hour, but no more than 3) during the week for research, blog stats, checking out new tools, and brainstorming. I plan one night a week – and it varies each week based on whatever I have going on socially, or with meetings, or other responsibilities – to write a post. And there are little times throughout the week where I think of ideas and add them to a spreadsheet, or bookmark interesting stats, infographics or posts that I come across.

Why you should blog

Although I walked away with a lot of practical tips, the biggest lesson I learned is that blogging is a tremendous opportunity, and you get out of it what you put into it. If you spend the time and make the commitment, the payoff is a community of loyal readers and fellow bloggers, a place for you to share your creativity, and a chance for you to grow your personal brand.

Got more tips?

If you are a blogger, how do you do it? Got any tips to share? I’ve been writing my personal blog for six months, so I have a lot to learn from the blogging community. Feel free to your thoughts in the comments.

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