July 29, 2016

Blogging Tips

blogging tips | brazenandbrunette.com

Okay now, back to my mini series about blogging. I love that so many of y'all are starting your own blogs! My hope is that we create this big law school resources network and then not another person doesn't go to law school because they think they couldn't make it. I love that there's this potential to get all different sides of the law school story and incoming 1Ls can have lots of advice to help them along the way. 

Now that I've told you why you should blog, here's some tips on how to blog.

Make a blog

First you'll have to pick a platform. Before I made a blog, I read all kinds of pins about how to start a blog and most suggested WordPress. However, I personally prefer Blogger for just a personal blog. Blogger is much simpler to teach yourself to use, and is wayyy cheaper and easier to maintain in regards to hosting your site, because WordPress has you find your own host (I've read that these can cost over $10 a month) and Blogger lets you use Google which only costs $12 a year (or for free if you're not bothered by ".blogspot" in your URL). 

I think the reason why so many big-time bloggers suggest WordPress, or even write about why they switched from Blogger to WP, is that WP is more like a website site. They need this official-type site because usually their blog is their business so they need to have all the bells and whistles that WP allows. So unless you plan on selling an eBook on your site or having like millions of viewers, Blogger will probably be just fine for you. 

Pick a name

The obvious step 2. I suggest start thinking of what you want to name your blog as soon as you start thinking you even want a blog, because it can be the hardest part. You want to get it right the first time or else you'll have to essentially rebrand yourself later on if you change it. 

I preferred not to limit myself to any niche by not having anything law or law school related in my name. This is just because who knows what I'll be blogging about in 3 years (if I still am), so I wanted to keep my options open. That's not to say that I haven't regretted 'Brazen and Brunette' at least once, when my guy friend saw that name in a tab and thought it was a porn site.... yeah, sorry if anyone's ever thought that's what you were doing too if you had this open in a tab! 

But one thing I did like is that my name is relatively short. This is just because you'll end up writing out your full website name over and over again and it really starts to annoy you. TBH, that's part of why I decided to buy my domain name, just so I could shorten how much I was having to type. I also like that it's an alliteration, just because I think it's catchy. 

Speaking of length, keep in mind that it's better to have a few, longer words than lots of shorter words. This is because when someone is trying to read your URL it can be confusing, kinda like you had to question whether it was Pet Smart or Pets Mart. Another final tip on a name is make sure it's one that's spelled easy, just so that people can't find your website because they keep misspelling a hard word.

Read other blogs

Definitely. I can't recommend getting on Bloglovin' and looking around enough! Not even law school blogs, either. I follow fashion blogs to get inspiration for how to write in a fun tone and also to interact with readers (my faves are Lonestar SouthernSouthern Curls and Pearls, and The Sweetest Thing). I follow blogging blogs to see how I can improve my blogging skills (I like Jessica Slaughter). I even follow college blogs for topic ideas (I'm a fan of Creatively Lauren and Samanthability).

If you want to be a successful blogger, it will help to learn from the best. And you'll get so many answers to little questions that you didn't event know you had. Like I hadn't even realized that I could monetize my blog until I saw one blogger post an earnings report and I learned all about affiliate programs

But on the flip side of this, also critique other blogs. Not to be mean, but there's been several times when I've come across a blog and thought it was too confusing, difficult, or unorganized so I left and never went back. If there's anything about any blog that you don't like, make sure that you solve that problem in your own blog! 

An example: I once went to a blog and really liked the post on the homepage so I decided that I wanted to read all of the like 20 posts in order. But this was on WP so the layout had me scroll all the way to the bottom to get to the Previous Posts button. Then it would open up to the month I clicked on but it was in reverse chronological order, so again I had to scroll all the way down to get to the first day of the month. Then I had to slowly inch my way up the page and then start all over again once I finished a month. And that's the story of why my previous blog posts are one of the first things you see on my page and I only put two posts per page!

Create a email address

I'm SO GLAD that I decided to make brazenandbrunette@gmail.com instead of using my personal email address!! (although sometimes if I reply off my phone you might get an email from my personal account just because it's the default it replies with) 

Reason 1 why you should do this: obvious privacy issues that accompany putting your personal email address to be available to the entire world 

Reason 2: in the event that your blog starts getting spam, your personal account won't be the one flooded with emails

Reason 3: there will be a time when your blog picks up and readers will start emailing you quite often, and it will help keep your life organized

Pick a theme

If you want readers to come to your blog, I suggest you make it pretty. I love how my theme is light, airy, and welcoming. Start thinking of your favorite colors that you want to incorporate. You might also look around to find some font inspiration that you'd like to have something like for your blog.

Trying to figure out the premade Blogger templates was actually really confusing and it ended up being a mess. Then I tried using a free template that I found off Pinterest and it was okay, but the free options are very limited so you'll probably end up settling like I did. Buying a theme sounds outrageous and expensive, but I spent less than $10 on mine.

To be honest I could've only spent $5 because I first bought this theme, but then I couldn't get it to work and so I mistakenly thought that I had only bought the social media buttons. Turns out, I just wasn't following the directions correctly because they were for a PC and I was on a Mac so I didn't download everything. Then I found my current theme for only $3 and I wish this lady would open her shop back up because she had lots of different options. Seriously though, if you want a good-looking site, go to Etsy.com and I promise the investment is worth it to look like you have your blogging act together.

Create your about me page

I actually didn't do this until I decided to stop being an anon, but I regret not having one sooner. I actually got emails from people who thought they just weren't seeing the page and I had to awkwardly be like oh yeah I'm hiding from the world. You can do your About Me page however you want, but I got inspiration from this blog. I also took tips from this post on how to make my page. Just make sure to keep it sincere and don't feel like you have to make it like a LinkedIn about me page. Oh and don't put it in third person. Blogs are personal and it's obvious that you're who is writing the posts and your About Me page so don't make it sound like an author's bio on a book because it feels weird to read.

Create posts

First off, make a goal to post about 1-2 a week. I say at least this number because you need to be posting new content or else someone might come to your page, think you never post on it, and then move on and forget about it. I say kinda no more than twice a week at first because it keeps you from writing a post just to write one. For blogging, quality over quantity will get you readers.

The readers will come really slow at first, so don't be discouraged! I read this post and it mentioned how your readers will drastically go up after your 50th post. But remember not to just write 50 fluff posts! I was guilty of this at the beginning and it's no surprise that those posts have my lowest reads. 

One bad habit that's easy to fall in to is treating a blog as a diary. Yes this is a place to share your experience, but you have to give your readers something too. My most successful example of this was my post about my experience with Moot Court. It could've just been a post about how my day was, but instead I decided to share the advice my judges gave me after our rounds. The more helpful you can be, the more your readers will appreciate you!

And don't forget that every single one of your posts needs a picture!! Not only do they make your posts look better, they also mean that your post can go on to Pinterest. I use Canva.com and either their Social Media or Pinterest Graphic templates. Make sure that your pictures are pretty but more importantly easy to read. And add your website name somewhere on every picture just in case anyone tries to steal it. 

For your pictures, I suggest that you take them yourself. Sure they're not as polished and professional as stock photos. And yes they do take effort to think of, style, photograph, and edit. But in the end they're your photos. The reason why I say this is because it's kinda awk when someone else has the exact same photo as you but for a different post, like these four that I saw all on the same day on Pinterest. 

blogging tips | brazenandbrunette.com


But who knows, maybe I'll find a place with good quality, cheap photos that I don't think are going to be overused and I'll switch over to stock photos? I'm still new to this too! Whatever you end up using, make sure you do this to each photo after you add it to your post, it'll help when people pin your picture. 

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is another thing that you'll see a lot of when you start reading posts about blogging tips. Basically what this means is that you need to be using buzzwords so that if someone Googles "law school whatever," your site will be up there because Google read those exact keywords on your posts. 

This is why I stopped doing clever post titles like "WTFinancial Aid" and now am much straight forward like "The Best Highlighters for Law School." Just because it's much more likely that someone will search for that exact phrase so I want Google to catch them and steer them here :)

That's also why if you drank for every time you read the words law school in one of my posts, you'd be pretty drunk. Ultimately it'd be great if someone Google'd for anything law school related and my blog popped up there in the result. 

When I first learned about SEO I was really bad in it and for my Search Description that Blogger lets you put for each post I would go really heavy and just list anything law school related that I could think of. It seriously just would be like law student; 1L; first year law student; law school; law school tips; law school advice... you get the picture. But then I found out that that's what spammers actually do to trick Google so now it purposefully skips over anything like that, so it was really hurting more than helping my blog.

Keep this in mind when you're making titles, writing posts, creating search descriptions, adding words to photo, or describing a pin. You want it to be straight forward and to the point so that search bars and potential readers know exactly what your post is about.


PS - sorry there's a lot of links to other blog's How To posts, but it's just easier and this post has to end eventually.


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6 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post! I'm so excited to start blogging during law school as a fun way to occupy my time, but starting can be a little scary and confusing. Thanks for helping us newbies out :)

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    1. Of course!! I followed your blog on Bloglovin and you're already a great blogger. Blogging really helped be a fun distraction for me when law school felt overwhelming, so I hope it helps you too!

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  2. I've soaked in Brazen and Brunette and took the plunge! Just did my first post (legallyspunky.blogspot.com) I hope that I can provide others with some of the help you've given me. Really appreciate your insight and look forward to this journey of law school...and blogging!

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    1. Thank you so much Lindsey! I really like how your first blog post was your personal statement, because it was a great way to get to know you quickly AND it was a great example of a personal statement! Good luck in a few weeks

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  3. So glad that I've discovered your blog, it's so inspiring and your tips are great! I was so impressed that I started my own blog (crazyinlaww.blogspot.com) even though I'm not nearly as good as you but it feels good to write. Keep up the good work! :)

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    1. Thank you! And don't worry I felt the same way when I first started my blog but you get better the more posts you write. So enjoy writing down all your highs and lows this year!

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