Blogging 101

Welcome to my Blogging 101... If you are considering blogging, new to blogging or currently blogging and looking for help, you are not alone! Here are some tips and tricks I have learnt and been putting together over the last few months since starting my blog... I hope you find this page helpful, it's been a labour of love! Please feel free to comment, ask questions or request information you would like to see me add to this page.

Also... Tell me if I have rambled on too much and I will have an edit ;)


First Steps

Blogger Or Wordpress?
I personally chose blogger because it seemed to be the simpler of the two platforms and most of the fellow nail bloggers I had come across were also using blogger. They both offer pretty much the same features as far as plugins and customisation; but have a look at both and pick what's right for you.

Naming Your Baby
This is quite important as with naming anything; and as with any other name it is possible to change at a later date but it's not quite the same and it confuses people. If you do want a change, make it in the early days to minimise problems. Remember it says a lot about you and it is often the hook to get people to have a look at your blog above others, so try to make it catchy! :)

Playing With Your Look
As with your name, your look is also important. First impressions are lasting and we all like to look at something nice don't we? Customise your layout, backgrounds, pages, fonts and colours to say something about you rather than trying to mimik others preferences, being yourself is always best.
When you sign in to blogger and click on the name of your blog you will come to the overview... Here you can find a selection of tabs down the left hand side where you can customise your blog; the Pages section allows you to add tabs at the top or side of your blog with permanent content for people to read; ideal for tips or tricks and sharing competitions etc. The Layout section can be used to change just that, your general blog layout; but can also be used to add gadgets such as photostreams, follow buttons, translators and text or pictures among lots of other things... In the Template section you can change your blog view, or via the Customize button, change your backgrounds and fonts etc. Both are simple to navigate and you always have the option to preview things before saving any changes... Most of all have fun with it!

What To Say And When?...
This will depend on what type of posts you would like to do?... Are you a swatcher? Doing one colour manicures to review colours, brands and formulas etc or are you an artiste? Doing decorated and more complex manicures aimed more at how to's or techniques. Or perhaps a mixture of the two? Whatever you choose include facts brands, tips 'n' tricks and type as you would speak to a friend (try to use proper spellings for the most part). Keep it friendly and fairly short rather than heavily factual; and for want of a better phrase, 'know it all'.
As for when, when do you realistically have time to do a manicure, take pictures, upload them and write a post? Don't expect too much of yourself and only do as much as you enjoy doing; you don't want it to just become another thing on the 'To Do List'. I would say to gain followers and take part in the 'nail blogging community' once a week or more is ideal... You'll find your feet and what's comfortable as time goes on.

Happy Snapping!
Clean Up
Once you have finished your mani and before you take your pictures, do a bit of a clean up on your nails. After all that hard work it seems a shame to not pay attention to the basics. Run a cotton bud soaked in nail polish around the cuticles and nail beds to remove any excess polish or top coat etc... It only takes an extra five minutes and it shows you care as well as improving the look of you pictures of course. Doesn't have to be perfect by any means but the more you care, the more other will too :)

Camera
Whether you're using a camera phone or a digital camera of their many varieties, it is possible to get good snaps. I would recommend always using similar shots to keep consitancy in your blog. I prefer to see shots of the four fingers AND the thumb rather than just the fingernails but some extra shots of just the four fingernails on top of the full five is great. A bazillion shots in every light is not necessary but also perfectly fine if thats what you like to see, in particular when swatching. Hold your hand in a similar way each time and if you want to hold something - try to keep it nail related eg: a bottle of polish, rather than a random object at home.

Good Lighting
As with your shots, try to keep consitency in the lighting of your photos where possible. You will usually find one spot in your house which is best and it's entirely up to you whether you use natural light or lighting. You may find a lightbox or lamp helpful, especially when trying to capture intricate designs or glitters etc. If you use an app such as Instagram to crop/edit/publish your pictures and find that a filter improves the picture and makes it look closer to what you see with your naked eye, go ahead and use it; but again use the same one all the time. I for instance, use Instagram and either use the Valencia filter or no filter at all and never vere from that set up.

Watermarks
This is text that you add to your photographs in order to identify them as yours. This is easy to do with programmes on your computer or apps on your phone; I have an Android device and use addwatermark or picsart but there are plenty to choose from across all platforms. You by no means have to do this but I prefer to for the following reasons: 1. If you post across multiple platforms as I do it helps keep consistency throughout. 2. If you use apps such as Facebook or Instagram to post pictures, they may use or sell your images for advertising, your watermark helps avoid this. 3. Other Bloggers or Instagrammers may pinch your pics for their own sites (unlikely but annoying when it happens!), watermarks will help avoid this; and if they do use them, they are only promoting you so don't be sad! 4. If people come across your pictures anywhere on the web, they see your name or blog title and this creates awareness and directs them to where you want them to go!

Other Outlets

You by no means need to use any or all of these tools for sharing but as with anything, the more bases covered the more people get to read your posts. Only take on what you can reasonably achieve, I have recently taken on too much and may have to scale back a little to ensure quality not quantity!
Instagram
This is an app you can dowload to any smartphone to set up an account to share pictures. You can also use it to add filters and edit your snaps. I have used it for over two years now, long before blogging, and love it. I am a fan of  Photography full stop though :)

Pinterest
This is a website you can access on your PC or smartphone and there are apps available to keep things simple. This is a place you can create different themed boards to share. These boards can contain pictures, website links, clips, music... whatever you like! It's a growing force on the web. I have only dipped my toe in the water with this so far but I like it already.

Flickr
This again is a photosharing website, the added bonus to flickr and the only reason I set up an account, is that using an in-built blogger gadget you can add a photostream of your pictures to your blog which I love to see. It's a quick easy way for visitors to see a range of your work :)

Twitter
Twitter needs little explaining as to what it is, yet another social networking site. I'm no guru as I only recently signed up and have tweeted just three times. I do know it's a great way to gain a following for your pictures and an easy way to take part in various competitions; so if you already have an account, utilise it, if not, check it out and see what you think. These days people are migrating in their droves from facebooak to twitter as facebook seems to become increasingly intrusive...?!

Facebook
As with Twitter, Facebook needs little introduction. Almost all of us are on there! Starting up a page is fairly simple and a great way to share your hobby with friends and family and gain a new audience. You can invite all your friends along, drop your links all over the place (though be respectful, DO NOT spam people!) and best of all join groups full of other nail bloggers and enthusiasts, take part in their competitions and best of all gain valuable knowledge from the people who know. They are also a friendly bunch. I recommend Crumpet's Nail Tarts and Adventures In Stamping for those of you all over the world. If you are in the UK I would also recommend British Nail Bloggers.

Google+
Googles attempt at Facebook or Twitter, still in its early days but a useful tool as far as having a  following blogs and having bloggers follow you, connect with friends and fellow bloggers. You can use various existing email accounts to create this Google+ Account..

BlogLovin'
This is a great way to promote your blog and also one of my favourite ways to view other blogs. You connect to this online via your Blogger account. You may find followers are slower on the uptake here but don't worry, not everyone uses this tool.


Adding Links

If you do choose to use some of the 'creative outlets' above, it's important to link them with your blog. Here's a quick guide for adding those links or 'buttons' or 'badges' to your home page as it can be confusing!
Instagram
For this I chose SnapWidget - A simple, free to use widget which gives you a grid of your Instagram pictures on your home page. You will get a piece of code to copy and paste into your blog via Layout - Add Gadget - HTML/Javascript. If you want a simple button go to Instagram - Account - Edit on your PC, sign in and you will see a tab on the left hand side for badges, it's also just a case of copying and pasting the code.

Pinterest
I used Blogger Central - Pinterest for my button, this is a simple task of choosing which button you want, copying the relevant code and adding it to your homepage as I described above; Layout - Add Gadget - HTML/Javascript.

Flickr
With Flickr you can add your photostream to your homepage which I absolutely love and have been asked about before... All you need is you flickr info, then in blogger go via Layout - Add Gadget - Photostream and follow the easy instructions. You can also do the same with your Picasa or Photobucket streams in the same way.

Twitter
In this case go to Twitter - Follow Button and follow the simple few steps to getting your code. Again add to your blog homepage via your Layout - Add Gadget - HTML/Javascript.

Facebook
Go to Facebook - Plugins scroll down and follow the instructions. Yet again get your code and add to your blog homepage via Layout - Add Gadget - HTML/Javascript.

Bloglovin'
In this case use BlogLovin' - Widgets select the button you would like and as with the others, copy and paste the code and add to your blog homepage via Layout - Add Gadget - HTML/Javascript.

Google Friend Connect/Follow By Email
Google Friend Connect and Follow by email are easily added within blogger via Layout - Add Gadget - Google+ badge or Follow by Email and following the on screen instructions. This means people can follow you in various ways within a couple of clicks. It will also show a grid of your followers if that's what you would like (with Google+ NOT email - You won't be notified of Email followers at all)


Increasing Traffic

Ok, so once you have your blog set up as you would like it's time to get people reading right? But how??? It seems daunting when you see other bloggers with 1000's of followers and you are in the single figures!!! How can I compete??? Do not fear, everyone had to start somewhere and it takes time... And don't worry if readers are slow to follow, just think how many blogs are out there and how many ways there are to follow! The main thing is that YOU enjoy your blog!
Rename, Alt and Title your photos
This has been the single most important thing for increasing traffic on my blog! Up to half of my traffic now comes from Google Images and it's increasing all the time. Without going into the details of how and why these steps work when it comes to search engines, I will just tell you how to do it and you will see for yourself :)
Firstly, when you copy your photo from your camera to PC - Rename it. Put as much info into the title as you can - For instance with a challenge manicure I would name it: 31-day-challenge-favourite-colour-family-manicure.jpeg. Use dashes between words not spaces. Then, once you have done this and uploaded the image to your blog - right click on it - it will bring up selections for changing picture size etc but also properties. Click on properties and it will bring up boxes for Alt and Title of the image - Use the same name eg: 31-day-challenge-favourite-colour-family-manicure for both of these, again using dashes and save. Consistancy throughout is key. Sounds a little long winded but really it's just a couple of clicks and a copy and paste away!

Labels
Label your posts; labels act in the same way as tags in your photos on instagram/flickr/photobucket and help search engines find your blog posts when the relevant keywords are searched for.

Follow fellow bloggers
Check out other blogs and follow the ones you like, in particular fellow newbies with low follower figures! Help each other out and spread the love! When people see they have a new follower, they are likely to check out the persons blog and return the favour if it's something they like. The more people you follow the more likely that becomes and you will get a great variety of inspiration into your feed to boot :)

Leave sincere comments on other blogs
When you see a great mani on someone elses blog - tell them! Everyone loves to receive comments whether they are aiming for mass followers or not. It's nice when someone shows an interest in something you love. DO NOT spam them with your blog address in every comment... It's not polite and can annoy people. If people want to check you out they will... off their own back! Be patient! When someone comments on one of your posts, be sure to reply; they took the time and so should you!

Join Nail Art/Nail Blogging groups
There are plenty of groups you can join full of people as batty about nails as you are and it's great fun to be part of a blogging community :) There are challenges, competitions and giveaways galore as well as them being a great way to share info, tips and tricks with others and even make new friends. The more involved you are, the more traffic will come your way too; win-win!

Take part in challenges
Challenges are a fantastic way to gain traffic and followers. They are also a great way to feel connected, so many people are doing the same thing at the same time - it's often inspiring! Challenges push you to try new things and think outside the box - it made me fall in love with doing my nails and blogging all over again! I gained hundreds of views and over 10 followers during my very first challenge! Have a go!

Awards
There are awards that go around from blog to blog. For instance the Liebster Award; this is for bloggers with less than 200 followers. It recommends them and helps them gain a following. A blogger nominates you after being nominated themselves - like the old chain letters haha! You would follow the steps required and nominate the required amount of bloggers yourself. Spreading the love! If you get nominated for such an award, take part! It's a compliment after all :)


Using InLinkz 
If you take part in challenges - they may well use inlinkz to connect all the posts together. They really help increase your traffic as every blog involved will have a post with your thumbnail and link alongside all the others - big and small :) You will normally be directed to an online inlinkz page with codes you can copy and paste into your post in order to bring up those said thumbnails etc. Copy the code, then change your blog post view over to HTML from Compose. Scroll to the bottom and on a new line, paste the code. Then return to your Compose view - nothing you just entered will be visable - don't worry, you haven't done anything wrong. Once you publish the post you will see all the thumbnails and links. You will then need to add your link via the button at the bottom. Insert the URL of your specific post, then enter your blog name and your email address; click next. You will then select a picture for your thumnail and complete the process! Again this sounds long winded but really isn't.

Giveaways/Competitions
You see many of these around on blogs, usually ran via rafflecopter. Don't feel under pressure to run one of these yourself in order to gain a following, I wouldn't recommend doing one until you have a fair few followers already. Many choose to run one on their Blogiversary - Your blogs birthday - I think that's a great idea and when I would plan to do my first one. No need to rush into such a thing!

That's All Folks!

8 comments

  1. great advice on blogging tips! thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Thanks! Glad you found it of use! :)

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  2. Hadn't seen this section before, seriously useful stuff here! Knew some of these basics already but definitely some good tips for blogging beginners - thanks for this :)

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    1. Thanks Laura :) Glad it was useful to you, working on an updated version at the moment. Should be ready in the next week or so x

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  3. Wow Thanks for this! Some things are making much more sense now and it's very informative.

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    1. Thank you! More updates to come soon! :)

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  4. Oh my gosh what a wealth of helpful information. I really want to start a nail blog but, didn't know where to start. There's still a lot I don't know like I only have a surface Ft no PC, no camera, don't know how to post links... but your page gave me a lot of great info. The tech talk is still very overwhelming to me though. Maybe one day I'll be like you, hopefully.

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    1. Ahh thanks so much Myishia, very kind of you! I'm glad to know you found the info helpful, check back in Feb to see the updates! I would say a PC or laptop is a must-have but I just use my phone as my camera! Links are as easy and copy and paste, and tech talk just takes time to pick up, I'm learning every day ;) I'll be sure to include such info in the updates though, so thank you for the feedback! x

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