4 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Blogging

When I first started blogging I had two main worries. Well, okay; three, if you count worrying that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. But that’s a bit vague. I would narrow it down to 2 main concerns: that no one would read my blog, and that I would run out of things to write about.

In the spirit of helping other bloggers who feel like they have no clue what they are doing, I have compiled a list of 4 things I wish I knew when I started blogging.

1. How to use tags and categories: for the longest time, I didn’t tag my posts and I wondered why no one on WordPress was finding my blog. Tags and categories are essential, and they’re also super easy!

You can find them on the side of the page where you go to publish your post. I usually aim for under 15 tags, and 2-3 categories depending on the post. I tag my posts with the “main ideas” in them (eg. a tag for this post is ‘blogging’) and the categories are more general (eg. this one is ‘how to’ but blurbs about my life are ‘blurbs’ or ‘my life’).

2. Engaging in the WordPress community is super important: when I was worrying about no one reading my blog I realized that I wasn’t reading anyone else’s blog, either. A crucial part of building your own blog community is engaging in other people’s. Check out Freshly Pressed for great posts and discussions, or follow the blogs recommended on your reader.

3. What you have to say matters: I once read a post somewhere about there being too many opinions in the world – and specifically, the blogosphere. According to that post, if you sit down at your computer and have to think of something to post (posting for the sake of adhering to a weekly schedule, for example) you are “white noise”.

This is completely untrue. You are not “white noise”. You may feel that your voice gets lost in all of the other voices, or that you are shouting to be heard amongst other people shouting; but know that there are people listening. Keep blogging your true, authentic opinions and make a difference through your words.

4. Content matters, but so does design. Of course, the stuff you write is important. It’s probably the reason you started a blog. However, the way in which your “stuff” is presented is hugely important, too. After creating my blog I didn’t change my theme for an entire year. Why? Because it was scary. However, this didn’t mean it wasn’t completely worth it.

Spend some time playing around with your theme – everything from colour scheme to widgets. Speaking of widgets: there are so many to choose from! Depending on your theme, they might run along your sidebar or along the bottom banner of your blog. Your choice of widgets really depends on what you think is important to your blog; however, one widget that I would recommend for sure is an About page. (I recently redid mine – you can check it out here).

Speaking of new blogs… I recently made another blog! My cousin Ceanray and I write a post each week which consists of letters to each other about a specific topic. Check it out here: www.thefabletters.wordpress.com

Those are my 4 blogging tips! What tips would you offer to new bloggers? Share them in the comments below!

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45 thoughts on “4 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Blogging

  1. Thank you so much for the reassuring tips. I started my blog just last week, and my husband told me most everything you did, but it’s great to hear it all from a successful blogger (don’t tell him I said that ;)). The only thing I’m missing is the ‘about’ widget! Will get to that soon. 🙂

  2. I especially like point 2, about the importance of reading. I don’t think it’s easy – sometimes we get so engrossed in writing our own material that we forget to read those of others, and when we do it’s often half-hearted or perhaps focused more on quantity than quality! Very important reminders indeed, thanks for sharing.

  3. I came over from Community Pool to check it out. I agree that getting out and reading other blogs is crucial. great job on this post! http:lilypupslife.wordpress.com/

  4. I’ve found this really helpful as me and co-writers have only just started up our fiction writing blog. I was unsure how to use tagging at first (and how important it is!) and am still learning how do it effectively. Very good post, very helpful and reassuring 🙂

  5. I’ve only got one suggestion to add and that would be to willing to try out new styles and genres when blogging. Just because you haven’t written about it before doesn’t mean you can’t have a go at blogging about it at least once.

  6. I love this post! I wish I had these tips when I started up my blog last year. I was so scared that it would seem as if I didn’t know what I was doing (as though I could be wrong about how I felt, if that makes sense?). It’s only really this year that I’ve gotten more comfortable posting and being honest. I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind if I ever fall into a rut!

  7. My sister relayed these tips to me, but I’m always one for supporting and well-written arguments. I still need to work on making categories, though. O.o

    Other tips are (1) find the purpose to your blog, (2) post consistently [whether that’s daily, every other day, 2x a week, once a week, whatever], and (3) don’t fear changing things up or branching out like CarolJForrester wrote above.

  8. You know these tips are actually very useful. It took me months and months of courage to finally open up a blog because I really didn’t know what i was supposed to do.
    I wish I had seen this post earlier. I am going to start tagging posts right away!
    This article is definately really useful thanks

  9. Hi Sherina,

    Thank you so much for reading my blog. I really enjoyed this article, it’s very encouraging since I do have the same worries and another 5. I think I understand what you meant by tagging properly. I was also wondering what you meant when you said categorize my posts, that bit I didn’t understand. Categorize through tagging?

    Keep blogging! 🙂

  10. Thanks for this! I especially love #3, it’s hard to remember that just because there are many voices that yours is important too. I also agree on the importance of good widgets that are tuned to your blog. We spent over 3 weeks trying new themes, new widgets, new placements of widgets and so on until we finally stuck with something (this is all before we even started posting content!). Great advice, your blog is super interesting I just found it today! xoxo, Sam

  11. i like the design and specially the petrol colour – how lovely!!! thanks for your post – i was thinking about the tags as well – i can’t seem to manage to put some on the side of my posts *lol* – i still have SO MUCH to learn… your post here was beautiful – thanks for sharing ❤

  12. Design does matter So much! I had a lot of trouble with this when I started out because I blog about things that are rather abstract and hard to illustrate at times: anthropological analysis, sociale sciences, pop culture studies, etc.

    The first thing I did to find beautiful and relevant images was create a Flickr account where I saved photos I liked in my favorites. I explore the Creatives Commons in particular, and I always let the photographers know when I used their photo on my blog. This is still incredibly useful for me.

    When I attended WordCamp in Montreal last year, I discoverd Canva.com during a presentation. It has been a real game changer for me! I use it for my blog but also to create images for work. I also recently started using PicMonkey, which offer more options.

    About the theme, that has been a source of many problems for me on The Geek Anthropologist blog. I didn’t switch for over a year because I found most themes were too far from what I was looking for. Then I changed last May, but my teamates and I already want to switch to another one because we did not consider a few important elements: the visibility of the author’s name, the possibility to insert a custom header, etc. Although changing themes too often can be too much work and confusing to readers, bloggers shouldn’t be afraid to switch if their current theme isn’t working out.

    My own advice for new bloggers: don’t forget to share your content on social media! A lot our interactions with our community actually take place on Twitter and Facebook rather than in the comments section on our blog, so we need to be active on social media as well. It’s also a great way to reach people who might be interested in your content but who wouldn’t think to look for it. If someone they know shares it, they can discover it.

    That’s my advice!

  13. So true Sherina about ensuring that you tag/categorise posts! I have been pretty naive with that so far – but I am now making a point of doing both 🙂

  14. Yes. Especially one and four.
    I started writing really just as a journal and didn’t use many pictures or tags because I really didn’t know how wordpress worked. As a result, many of my best stories were posted like trees falling in the forrest with nobody there to hear them. I wrote mostly for myself and my family so I didn’t really care at the time, but now that I have regular readers I *really* wish I had done something to make the early posts visually appealing and findable.

    1. I was the same when I first started blogging; I had no clue how to do anything except publish posts, haha! You could always consider re-blogging those posts now that you have a larger audience, or linking to them at the end of a current post so that people can go back and read them!

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