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Advice To An Aspiring Blogger

Woman with laptop

I was recently contacted by a Nigerian blogger based in Italy who focuses on an African audience. I know what you’re thinking, “So what are you going to do with the $20M she’s going to deposit in your bank account?” I was tempted to delete the email as so much spam, but something caught my eye and made me think twice. It was this line:

After reading your article on forbes…

Let this be a lesson to anyone reaching out to someone they don’t know via email. It was that bit “After reading your article on forbes” that caught my attention. If she had left that part off, it could have been a spam email sent to ten thousand other people. But because she included that line, and included it right at the beginning where I was likely to see it, I knew the email had been written and sent by a real person, not a robot. I read the email, and decided I would help her after all. What she forgot to include was a link to her blog. I emailed her back, and she sent it to me. I will keep the website and the sender anonymous, but my reply can be applied to anyone new to blogging who may be trying to figure out how to get more traffic. Here is the advice I gave her.

Before talking about social media, let’s take a look at your site itself, because there are some things you’ll want to fix.

Spam. You’ve got tons of people/bots spamming the comments on your site. Just look at the comments section on any of your posts. This is probably killing search engine rankings. I can see your site is running WordPress, so install the Akismet plugin to prevent most of these from happening in the first place. Then stay on top of comments in the future to make sure spam isn’t getting through. Don’t allow pingbacks, they’re just being used to spam your site and don’t do anything for you. You might also want to consider using a service like Disqus to manage comments. I love it and use it here as well as on all my other websites that have blog functionality. Disqus is free to use, and there is a plugin for WordPress.

Logo. Drop the drop shadow on the logo of your blog. Drop shadows are out, flat web design is in. Plus the shadow makes it kind of hard to read.

About page. Make your “about” page about 20 times longer. It sounds like you have a fascinating story. Write the entire story here. It’s worthy of more than just a half page summary. Believe it or not, people are really interested in who you are, where you came from, and how you got to where you are. Don’t make it fluffy or fake, tell the ugly details. Be authentic, and people will be fascinated, even if you think your story isn’t all that exciting yourself. Some questions to answer are: What was your life like growing up in Nigeria? How did you get interested in fashion? You said your family didn’t have the same feelings about fashion you do. What do you mean by that? What’s the story there? Is that why you left Nigeria? How did you end up in Italy? What has life been like since you got there? How did you start this website? What are your hopes for it? Tell me more!

Post more frequently. I see a gap from January 6th to February 1st. That’s too long. Post at least once a week. More, if possible.

SEO plugin. Based on the URL’s on your site, it looks like you don’t have an SEO plugin installed. Get this one. It’s free.

Now, let’s talk a little about social media. I have three tips for you:

  1. Post interesting content. It’s not enough to just post stuff, it has to be something people are interested in. If it’s interesting to you, it might be interesting to other people. But don’t fall into the trap of just reposting what other people post, or posting just for the sake of posting. Put some thought into it. Constantly be asking yourself “Why would anyone care about what I’m about to post?” They’ll care if it’s unique, authentic, useful, or interesting.
  2. Post frequently. On Twitter a few times a day. Facebook and Google+ at least once a week. On Instagram/Pinterest (with your interest in fashion you should be here if you aren’t already) more than once a week. And use those hashtags.
  3. Be social. Respond to people when they comment on what you post. Get into online discussions with them. Talk to other people who are posting content. Ask them questions. Engage them in online dialogue.

Here are a few resources to help you on your way.

These are just a few quick suggestions, but they’ll keep you busy for the next few months, if not longer. I can promise if you do these the things I’ve recommended you will see very positive results. Good luck!

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Hi! I'm Josh Steimle, and I started MWI from my apartment while a college student in 1999. I'm responsible for MWI's overall strategy and marketing. I'm also the author of CMOs at Work (Apress, 2016) and a frequent contributor to Forbes, Mashable, Entrepreneur, and other publications. Read more of what I'm writing on my blog.