>Blogging Tips:
What I wish I knew before I started my blog.

I remember starting this blog with a vague image in my mind of what I hoped it would become. Nothing I imagined ever seemed like a reality, like something I might actually achieve {you know that feeling?}.

One day I woke up and I thought, You know what–I’m going to really do this! I am going to take all those crazy ideas and silly stories swirling around in my head as I lay in bed at night, and I am going to share them with anyone willing to listen to me. And so Little Miss Momma was born.

I had no idea blogging was so complicated–no really! Shortly after starting LMM, I learned that there is way more to this industry {yes, blogging is an industry now} than I ever imagined. Did you know that of the TOP 100 websites in the world, 22 of them are blogs???? {quoted at the Casual Bloggers Conference lecture in 2010, so it must be true}. WOW, right?!

When I jumped head first into the world of blogging I became overwhelmed at all there was to learn. I knew nothing about html, link parties, blog hops, buttons, sponsorships, advertising, followers, subscribers, page rank, unique visitors, page hits, anonymous comments, blah, blah blah.

Looking back, there is so much I wish I had known before I started, so much that would have made this whole process a bit more smooth–and today I want to begin to share some of those tips with you.

**DISCLAIMER**: I am NOT an expert–in fact, I am far from it! But I know what has worked for me so far–and perhaps it will work for you too *wink*

These “Blogging Tips” will be divided into two separate posts:

Part One: Fluffy Blogging Advice {content related}–TODAY’s post
Part Two: Practical Blogging Advice {techy, behind the scenes stuff}

I’ll be the first to admit how important it is to understand a bit of the techy stuff and the behind the scenes part of blogging–it’s critical to drawing people to your blog. But, I believe that the key to creating a truly successful blog lies in the CONTENT–because once people find you, you want them to stick around, right?!

And now on to the FLUFFY stuff…

Ask WHY, set GOALS, and then define SUCCESS.

WHY: Why did you start this blog? Was it to make money, to make friends, to share ideas, to promote your business, to vent, or to tell your stories. Now, write down your reason {and be specific}–because there will come a day a few months down the road when you will forget why you ever started this whole blogging thingy–you will lose sight of your original vision, your original plan, your reason for doing this in the first place–and on that day you will go back and read what you wrote down today, and you will remember why this is important to you. Let your “reason” be the guiding force behind your blog content–don’t lose sight of what’s important to you, or your readers will know, and they will stop reading.

GOALS: You know WHY you’re blogging–but what do you expect to get out of it? Set clearly defined goals for your blog. What do you want your blog to accomplish? It can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Maybe you hope to create a place to store all your family photos and memories, maybe you want to launch the world’s most popular craft blog–in either case, create direction for your blog.

SUCCESS: Obviously you want your blog to succeed. But first you must clearly define what success means to you. Maybe you will define success by how many followers you have, by how many hits you get a day or by the number of comments you receive. Maybe you will define success by touching the lives of your readers, by helping Mom’s grow their Etsy businesses, by how much money you make, or by how many new friends you make. In my opinion, these are ALL great ways to measure success–but ultimately it’s up to you to determine YOUR REASON.

Post Pictures.
They are intriguing. They grab our attention. They keep us interested in what you have to say. I like to put a picture in EVERY post–even if it’s completely unrelated. I can’t really explain why this works, but it does!

Keep it simple silly! In other words, keep the layout and design of your blog simple, clean and crisp. Clutter makes my eye ball twitch, ya know what I mean. I would rather have all my focus be on your fab tutorial or your hilarious story about your little munchkins, than be distracted by your blinking sidebar craziness. Does this mean you shouldn’t have anything on your sidebar? Absolutely not! My sidebar is jam-packed with info and links I think y’all will be interested in–but I do my best to present them to you in an organized and appealing {not distracting} fashion.

Be Honest.
Your readers will know if you’re not, and they’ll stop reading–immediately. Don’t endorse a product you dislike, or readers won’t trust your judgment and you won’t get the results your sponsors are looking for.

Be Vulnerable, Be YOU
You’re human. You have feelings. You have trials. You have bad days. Sometimes you feel fat. And we all like to know that we’re not alone. I have discovered that the posts where I show my true colors have been the most popular. Don’t want to get all mushy and personal on your blog?–no problem, just don’t paint a picture of a woman who doesn’t really exist.

Spread the Love, Leave Comments.
I have found some of my most favorite blogs via comments left on my blog. Some of these blogs I may never have found otherwise. For me, comments and feedback are a huge motivating force behind what I write. I admire other bloggers who are self-motivated to write–but that’s not me! I’m motivated by you, by what you find interesting about what I have to say, about what touches you. I write to connect with others, to remind myself that I’m not alone in this journey. And when I read a comment about another momma 1,000 miles away going through the exact trial I am experiencing, my heart melts and I am reminded why I started this blog. Leave comments.

This is not a COMPETITION.
There is something gloriously amazing about the blogging world that can’t be said about too many industries. You won’t get ahead by trying to compete with the blog down the street. Instead, you’ll find that the more you support your fellow bloggers, the more YOU will succeed. Take these three crazy popular blogs for example: UCreate, One Pretty Thing and Tip Junkie. These rad blogs focus mainly on promoting the rest of us, on helping us grow, on sharing our wonderful ideas with the world–isn’t that sweet of them?! And these blogs have a readership and loyal following that I dream about!

What’s in a name?
Chose your blog name wisely. This will become your “second name”–how you are referred to in the blogging world. Do you like the way it sounds? Does it suit the overall goal and theme of your blog?

Find YOUR voice.
Find your writing style and run with it. Don’t try to sound like another blogger you know and love–it will come off as forced and ultimately you won’t get as much satisfaction out of your writing.

Use Lingo {if it feels right}.
Don’t be afraid to use your own lingo–and throw in a few words like “awesomeness”, even if it can’t be found in the dictionary {this develops character}. A dear blogging friend of mine uses “hair flip” after a sentence describing her hotness–it cracks me up every time!

If you envision having a blog like Tatertots & Jello, or O My Family or the Pleated Poppy–then it’s inevitable that you are going to have to give up a few things to make time for your new hobby. Personally, I have given up a few of my favorite TV shows and sleep to keep my posts as up to date as possible. Most of my blogging occurs in the wee hours of the night when my little man is fast asleep.

Be kind to us little people. When I first started blogging I reached out to some of the biggies. I followed them, I read every post they wrote, and I admired their success. Simply put, I wanted to be like them. One day I got up to courage to send them a quick note letting them know about their awesomeness. Imagine my surprise when some of these girls responded to me emails. I was overwhelmed that they would take the time out of their busy schedules to send me a thank you–I mean these girls are like celebrities in my world. And you know the BEST part! They never acted better than me {even though they are}! They treated me likea “new friend”, not like a fan! So thank you Jen from Tatertots & Jello, thank you Becca from Blue Cricket Design, and thank you Kari from UCreate–you girls are Down To Earth and REAL, and that’s the best compliment I could give!

There is so much more I could share, but I can see that this post is becoming a bit long-winded–so I will step off my soap box and remind you that I am NOT an expert and these are not RULES, just tips according to this Little Miss Momma so take it for what it’s worth, and feel free to add your own tips!
Stay tuned for Part Two, which will include…
Blog design info
Html tips
How to find sponsors
How to review products
Blog Stats
Blog Conferences
Facebook and Twiiter
Keywords and SEO
Networking Websites
Helpful Links
and MORE

CLICK HERE to view PART TWO: the techy stuff.