So, You Want to Be a Mom Blogger?Jillian Capewell
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How do you spend your time online? Are you a Facebook addict, a Twitter junkie, an avid blog reader … or a little bit of all three? If you've loved the great voices out in the blogosphere but have been stumped on how to join the conversation with your own site, consider this your guide! Since our MomCrunch blog launched, we've had incredible, influential voices share the nitty-gritty of what it's like to be a blogger. We rounded up some of their best tips to share with you. So what are you waiting for? Get blogging!
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1: Figure out what kind of blog you want
Everyone else is blogging, right? Why not you? First, decide whether you have the time and stamina to commit to a blog. Then figure out why you want one: Will you be using it to update family and friends on your life? To hone those writing skills before you crank out your dream novel? To build a business? One may require more of a time investment than the other. Think about how personal you want to be and whether you'll divulge the names of your kids, your job info, or any other private details of your life.
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2: Read other blogs
Perhaps youve been inspired to start a blog thanks to an already established blogger you adore. Dont stop following them now that youve got your own Internet soapbox — the team from 5 Minutes for Mom outlines why you shouldnt stop reading (and commenting on) blogs you love. For one, youll stay up to date on whats happening, and it will help to build your network of fellow bloggers. If your reading list is slim, check out the blog rolls of your favorite women, or see who theyre following on Twitter — we guarantee youll have a whole slew of bookmarks by the time you shut down your computer.
Looking for new reads? Check out our Top 100 Mom Blogs of 2012.
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3: Choose a platform
Many bloggers use free blogging platforms such as Wordpress, Blogger, or TypePad. Tumblr, billed as a "micro-blogging" site, allows for easy image-sharing and posting, but it's harder to set up a commenting system for unsubscribed users. Take a look at your favorite blogs and see if they favor one platform over the other. There are pros and cons across the board, but all three are popular options, with various levels of customizability. If you already have an account with Google, you can add a Blogger account seamlessly to your already established email, which may be a plus.
If you're hoping to monetize your blog, find out why paying for a host might be worth it.
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4: Decide on a name
Once youve chosen your platform, its time to pick a name. Opt for something short and easy to remember — you dont want to be telling your friends to log on to TheUnfilteredWritingsOfTheCoolest-Lady18274.com every time you mention a new post. The perfect blog name is just as elusive as the perfect band or baby name. Have you had a great one saved that you cant wait to unleash on the world? If youve got a writing focus, like parenting, crafting, or cooking, think up some fun plays on words associated with that focus. Once youve come up with a genius title, try Googling it before you sign up; a generic Mom Blog or Janes Blog could get lost in a sea of other search results.
Finally picked one out? Follow our tips on registering for a domain name.
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5: Start writing!
Okay, time to sharpen those pencils er, or stretch those typing fingers. If youre not sure how to start, try an intro post for any potential readers who may come across your site. If youre more comfortable diving in with a great story or recipe, go for it! Just remember that there are a ton of blogs out there today, so these tips on adjusting your writing for the no-attention-span Web may help bring more clicks to your site. It could take a while to find your blogging voice but just be patient; you wont wake up the next day with hundreds of commenters and followers relishing your every word. Building a solid network and readership takes time, so have fun with it!
If you find yourself staring at a blank screen, Alli Worthington shares some blog post inspiration.
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6: Make things pretty
The best blogs out there aren't just about the great writing, but rather the whole package: a compelling voice, an appealing site design, and interesting photos that keep us scrolling through. Alli Worthington tells you how the right photos can boost your blog's popularity, and, thanks to decent-quality phone cameras and programs like Instagram, you can load a great-looking snap that compliments your post without the fancy equipment. Now's also the time to choose a nice theme and explore options for plug-ins that will enhance the user experience on your site. Try a custom header if you're design-savvy, or check out the theme options available on your platform. They're usually hiding under a "Customize" section, and there are a bunch of fun ones for free.
If you post visually striking content that you think could go viral, consider signing up for StumbleUpon to drive people back to your site.
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7: Establish your blogging ethics
Do you plan on being a PR-friendly blogger? This means youll accept pitches from brands and businesses for product reviews, giveaways, ad space, and more. If so, its critical to be aware of FTCs Guidelines for Endorsements. As Cecily Kellogg explains, you must disclose any product, trip, or service that you got for free to your readers. Want to bring potential sponsors to your blog? Stacey shares her tips on building a blogger media kit.
If youre drowning in free swag, here are some useful tips on whats taxable (hint: pretty much everything).
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8: Sign up for social media
A great way to gauge your following and participate in the blogosphere is social media, so let's start with the big ones: Facebook and Twitter. Create a page for your blog on Facebook so readers can get updates on your happenings and posts right on their feed (too many updates, however, and they'll be turned off). And if you haven't already, get on Twitter! Cecily Kellogg breaks down the world of hashtags and direct messages — you'll be a 140-characters-or-less addict in no time.
Not sure where to devote your time? Katie Granju shares her tips on focusing your social media efforts.
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9: Grab readers' (and Google's) attention
You've got a beautiful blog, great writing, a burgeoning social media following, yet … something's still falling short. It's time to learn about SEO, or search engine optimization. Check out these tips on how to make search engines, such as Google and Bing, pick up your posts. While it's not glamorous, it can help to direct more people to your blog and establish long-term readers. SEO plug-ins that will help drive traffic to your posts are available for platforms like Wordpress.
Find more helpful add-ins to your blogging platform, such as spam filters and site backup.
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10: Avoid these pitfalls
Wondering why your blog isnt taking off? Cecily Kellogg shares 7 things she really wishes were banned from blogs forever, like hard-to-read text and music on auto-play. And dont forget that the Internet is a more ripe space for bullies than the grade-school playground. If it seems like all the attention youre getting is negative, Katie Granju has advice on dealing with mean blog comments.
Looking for more tips? Check out Alli Worthingtons round-up of how to build a better blog.