To disclaim, I am far from being a blogger. I know that there’s a huge difference between blogging out of passion and blogging for work. I’ve been blogging since I was about 13 or so, but usually just to repost pictures and vent out when I really need to. I even remember blogging in pure Filipino. Before that or simultaneous to that, I would write religiously on my “diary” and write about my raw emotions and how unfair everything is and the unfathomable truth that my crush doesn’t have a crush on me (I’m looking at you, Jonathan from YS-7 days).
My first encounter with blogging per sé is when I discovered our high school counselor’s blog in her Friendster account (OMG I even had to Google the term. It’s so old, I couldn’t remember what it’s called. That, or I have really bad memory. I’m betting on the latter), where she talked about her love for rain and how it inspires her and whatnot. I don’t recall her exact statements but I do remember it sounding so dramatic to the point that I thought if it’s what blogging is about then I would never do it. But look at where I am now.
From reposting pictures and funny anecdotes about life, I learned to have my own voice and start legit blogging. I would simply post a picture of myself or of something that would show what I did during the day and blog like I was writing in my journal, except that people could actually see it from around the world. I didn’t care about ratings and views back then. I still kind of don’t today. However, I appreciate it more when others read my blog posts even though I don’t really have any idea if they actually do or it’s just me looking at my blog posts, again and again, to make sure they’re error-free. Either way, I’m still taking my baby steps.
Now, along the way, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that I want to share with you, my dear reader. I know some passion bloggers can be a bit secretive and not reveal their own styles, tools, and whatnot, but I personally believe that sharing is caring and I care about you, so let’s start!
ASK YOURSELF, “WHY AM I BLOGGING?”
It’s so easy to get lost in the hoopla and copy what everyone else is doing. For your information, blogging is not all fun and games. It’s learning HTML codes by yourself, spending hours looking for a basic theme that you customize according to your preference, it’s getting red eyes from staring at the screen for a long time and perfecting that logo that you would only change after a few weeks because nothing is enough, no matter how much effort you put into it.
So before you start with anything, ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Personally, I believe that you should do everything for yourself or, at least, something that you think you would benefit from. Writing alone is hard, writing for other people’s pleasure is harder. Stick to your game, to what you know, and the right people will come to you. Stop forcing things to happen. Do what you love and the right people will find you. When you try to hard to please others people, you would end up exhausted and uninspired, and trust me, that will reflect in your writing.
KNOW YOUR NICHE
In line with the first cardinal rule, you, of all people, should know what you’re writing about. Stop going with the trend just because it’s what in right now. Stop patronizing other people and copying them for their style. It’s not yours to own. Find your own niche and focus on that.
Love eating out, trying new restaurants, and sharing about them with your family and friends? Get a bigger audience and share them with strangers. In time, you will get to know other food lovers or perhaps some industry influencers. Love taking photos of your outfits or playing around with graphics in photoshop and posting them online? Then inspire others with your art.
Whatever your thing is, just do you. Don’t go to unchartered waters if you don’t even know how to swim. Practically speaking, you can’t talk about something you don’t understand or are not even passionate about. Doing this will only make your fire burn faster than you can come up with your next blog post.
Ah, that overstated yet underrated statement. Be original. I bet all those bloggers suddenly sprouting online have copied a thing or two from someone in the higher rank. I’m not saying ideas can’t be shared but is it really too much to ask for you to be authentic with your work? After all, that’s what’s blogging is all about. It’s about expressing yourself, sharing your sentiments with others, building friendship, gaining knowledge. It’s not about existing in the online world and having your “small space” in the blogosphere just because.
There’s something in you that you want other people to know. If you’re showing me something that I’ve already seen in someone else’s blog, then where is the authenticity in that? You have your own voice, you have your words, use them. Express yourself. Be you. Be original. (#StopCopycats2016. LOL)
LEARN ABOUT DISCLOSURES, POLICIES, ETC.
In blogging, it’s still important to have a copyright because your content is your property. If you don’t like other people copying your work, you shouldn’t do it to them either. That said, learn about disclosures, respect other bloggers’ policies, and abide by the general rules to keep the game clean.
Leave a disclaimer if you must, but the most important thing is to give credit where it’s due. Even if it’s just a picture, a one-liner, a quote, no matter how big or small it is, as long as it’s not yours, respect the author or owner and give the person credit. After all, it’s not yours to brag, is it?
READ OTHER BLOGS
You want to focus on growing your blog and knowing your brand more, I get it. But you know what else can actually help you become a better blogger and never run out of ideas? Others’ blogs. It’s not impossible to feel rusty with blogging after a bit and you need your fire back, which is totally understandable. That’s why it’s important to read other people’s blogs as much as they read yours. It can put your sparkle back, and it won’t hurt to interact with some other bloggers, would it?
In reality, it helps you know other people more, get in touch with what’s happening with them through their own blogs and through social media, and after a while, you start talking with each other on a weekly basis and you swap ideas, life hacks, and whatnot here and there.
It’s actually nice to know that someone out there resonates with your thoughts and opinions and you are not the only one of your kind. More often than not, you also discover pretty cool things from them and possibly can apply it to your life. Call it shallow but sometimes real friendships do not have to begin with person-to-person contacts. Real things happen online, people.
If you’re more on the business-minded side, reading other people’s blogs can give you a clearer perspective on who your target market is, what they’re more interested with, and how you can get them hooked. It keeps your content fresh and relevant and, ultimately, promotion towards and connection with the right people can help you generate leads. Sounds like a win-win situation, right?
ENGAGE WITH YOUR READERS
I know most of us who love blogging and are so talkative online are the biggest introverts in real life, yes, yes? And that’s exactly why we turn to blogging to write about the things we cannot say in person and to other people. Most passion bloggers make the mistake of being extremely quiet and only pop out of nowhere when there are giveaways, contests, etc.
That or it’s the other way around.
You just want your readers to flood you with comments, but you don’t give them the time of the day. Frankly, without them, you wouldn’t be here. Your blog may still exist but it’s only for your own enjoyment. Learn to value people who recognize your efforts, your capabilities, and your mere existence. Take them with you upwards and don’t forget where you started. You owe your big success to the small people who made it possible.
There are actually a bunch of hefty tools you can use to promote your blog. For starters, there’s IFTTT, plugins, and social media as a whole. You don’t have to be stuck in your own world. You can actually go out there and meet pretty amazing people. You can learn from them as much as they can learn from you. From editing your photos to promoting your blog posts, take the time and put out the effort in learning your craft, and try to utilize the tools that are available for your disposal.
Here are some of my favorites:
- VSCO app. We all know what it is and I know we try to edit our photos using this app as much as we can just so we can use the hashtags #vsco, #vscocam, #vscophile, and #vscoph, among many others, and get a lot of likes. To be honest, I’ve been there and I’m still at it. While I’m not really after the “likes”, I mainly use this app to make my photos prettier because we know that no matter how good a camera is, we seldom upload raw. Yes? More so, it’s to make my photos uniform. I don’t want to post anything that is different from anything else. Picky, I know.
- PicMonkey. This is a free photo-editing website, which has some pretty amazing features when you take the time to learn how to use them. But this is the case with me because I’ve been used to this website for so long now that I don’t feel the need to switch to another photo-editing app unless I find another that proves to be better. If you want something more premium, there’s always Photoshop, but I can’t talk about something I don’t use, so I’ll leave the exploring and judging to you.
- Grammarly. No one is perfect, but we can all use a little help sometimes. As the website suggests, Grammarly checks your grammar and corrects them. If you don’t want to proofread every single line in your blog post before hitting the publish button, especially if it’s a long one, you can simply go to their website and let them do the work. Of course, this app is not perfect either. If you know better, you don’t have to stick to their suggestions and just carry on.At large, I use Grammarly for work, but I have its plugin in some of my social media accounts like on Facebook and on my blog. It can be a bit irritating sometimes when you just don’t want to bother with the correct punctuations and spellings, but it’s a big help when you want to bring your writing game to the next level.
To end this extremely long post, I just want to thank you for reading and to congratulate you for reaching this far. I know there are a loadmore tips and tricks other bloggers have up their sleeves, but this is my personal take on blogging so everything is based on my personal experiences and on my own thoughts.
Again, thank you so much for reading.
May you leave light and love with your words, wherever you go.
Bae is a 20-something passion blogger from Manila. She likes hoarding hobbies and trying out new stuff, blogging about her mundane adventures, and tweeting about random realizations and musings.