Here We Go: Content

I get a lot of questions pertaining to CONTENT! I mean what is blogging without content? The content here at Show + Tell has really changed over the years. Most of my old content was centered around my (amateur) design work or featured blurry iPhone photos. I wasn’t very active on Twitter and it wasn’t a place to engage. Here are a few key steps to improving your blog’s content and feel free to comment below with any of your own tips!

BE ORIGINAL // NOT A CURATOR

I have no problem with bloggers who curate content and post things from other sites, blogs or Pinterest. A lot of people use Tumblr that way and who doesn’t love looking at pretty pictures all afternoon? I do, however, see that as a different style of blogging. I think it’s great when people share content but why not introduce us to something original? Blogging really changed for me when I started thinking about original content. What can I bring to the table? It started with artist interviews here at Show + Tell. I would contact or connect with artists all over the country and interview them! I was able to interact with some of my favorite designers who I admire greatly and that prompted another feature series called ONE DAY which would feature real weddings! Since then I’ve evolved and grown and now I love sharing resources, advice, city guides, and much more. I don’t want people to visit my blog and think, “Oh I’ve already seen all of this in my Google Reader or on Pinterest.”

ENGAGE // ASK QUESTIONS

Some of the blog posts I’ve enjoyed the most are ones where I ask my readers questions and get THEIR advice or perspective. I love it when I read a blog and they ask me for recommendations, advice or what I’m doing on the weekend. It’s even better when they interact! About 8 months ago I decided that I was going to interact with all of my readers who comment. I don’t have the type of blog where responding to comments is overwhelming and it’s more fun when you meet people and can visit their spaces on the internet. A fun plugin for WordPress (that make interacting easier for your readers) is Subscribe to Comments Reloaded. Some commenting systems already have this feature included but I had to add mine. It essentially allows your readers to subscribe and are notified when you respond!

BE CONSISTENT // POST DAILY

Many bloggers will say, “Post as often as you want. Do what’s best for you,” but I’ve found that posting daily during the week (and at the same time every day) works best. I used to post whenever I felt like it but most people lose interest and unless they really feel a connection with you, they probably won’t stick around. As of right now, I schedule my posts for 7am EST. I used to schedule my posts to publish around 10:30am EST but most people are already in their workday groove and won’t check until lunchtime. Be up and ready when they are! And be consistent!

UTILIZE TECHNOLOGY // HELP THEM EXPLORE

The great thing about blogging is that there are SO many ways to keep your readers interested and looking for more. I’ve found that utilizing specific categories (don’t use too many!) is a great way to do that. It allows your readers to read more posts that they connect with. Highlight your categories on your sidebar. Your sidebar is a great way to display other content even after they’ve finished reading your current post. Design and photography are also great ways to keep your readers engaged. I wrote a post awhile ago about images and another post about affordable resources like editing software and fonts.

What advice would you give to beginner bloggers relating to content? How do you decide on what you’re going to blog about? Can’t wait to hear from you all!

26 Comments

  1. Oh, awesome tips as usual, Allison!! I think the only thing I would sort of disagree with is posting every day. It’s definitely best for some types of blogs, but can be detrimental to others (like mine). I personally notice that, every period where I’ve posted daily during the week, I’ve consistently lost readers. And in a lot of surveys I’ve seen here or there, the majority of readers who responded said that they find daily posting to be too overwhelming. So I think it depends a lot on the type of blog you have. But that being said: I absolutely, without a doubt need to work on being more consistent with what does work best for my blog – which is three days a week. My blog consistently grows on that schedule, and it allows me enough time to create quality content!

    • Thanks for the great content, Naomi! I actually took a stand on “posting everyday” so I could possibly hear some other opinions about it so you win a prize!

      That makes a lot of sense and you’re right- totally depends on who your readers are! I do- however- think it’s important to try things (like posting daily) and then gauge that change closely. For me, sponsors and weekend posts were a flop. Have you experimented with other concepts that worked or didn’t work with your blog?

      • Goooood question… Well, as you already know, sponsorship (or ad swapping) didn’t really work for me either. After trying that out for three months, I had to decide to give it up. That wasn’t causing me to lose readers as much as just putting too much pressure on me to keep my content really neutral, so as not to scare anyone off my blog – and therefore away from my sponsors. Not like I had a real controversial blog anyway, but I felt like I had to keep personal opinion of anything out of it…

        I’m still sort of experimenting with different concepts! I know it’s probably a never-ending process, but hopefully I’ll come into my own in the months ahead. I really love blogging, and am sort of addicted to reading about method!

        • I agree with your experience with sponsors. I also got a lot of feedback from readers saying they didn’t really resonate with “forced” giveaways (And I completely understood). I also love reading blogging methods and advice. It’s a slow process but as long as I enjoy it… I’ll be here for awhile.

          • YES! Oddly enough, the one time I hosted a giveaway, it was for an item I just really loved and was paying my own money to give away because I believed in it and wanted to get the word out about it… and I lost followers! I think at this point, readers are just getting tired of so many bloggers trying to draw people in with giveaways, that as soon as they see the word in the post title, they get outta there. That is definitely another common pet peeve I see people have with blogs they read.

        • Naiomi: Funny, I too have done giveaways where I’ve paid for the item because I loved it so much & wanted to share.

          I had a giveaway one time, product that was given to me from a company. It was awesome! I was so excited for my readers & just felt like everyone was going to sign up for the giveaway because it was so freakin’ amazing. Not so much. I had like 8 readers sign up. That particular post got well over several hundred page views. All of those pageviews amounted to a paltry 8 readers actually commenting to enter the giveaway. Funny what seems to work and what decidedly does not, huh?

          • I agree with you ladies- totally see the giveaway fad sweeping the blog world. It kind of makes me cringe and I was guilty of it for a few months. I have a really awesome giveaway lined up for later this summer and I could see it flopping. Just because we like something doesn’t mean our readers will. Very odd!

  2. Thanks for the tips! I’m going to check out the Subscribe to Comments plugin. I try to post on a schedule as well, but promised myself that if I don’t have something quality to put online then I would allow myself to skip a day.

    • Sarah- that’s a good idea on not posting if you don’t have anything to say. I planned my entire month of June out before it started and this month may be the only time I won’t be left blanking the night before. It feels good!

  3. This is a great post! I just recently realized the value of original content, and I think that’s something a lot of bloggers struggle with. I don’t take my own pictures, but I do put a lot of information out there that hasn’t really been put out there before. I think a lot of people think it just means taking your own pictures, but we really have to apply it to ourselves and our blogs instead. It means something different for everyone.

    Blogging consistently is another great one, as is engaging your readers. I recently read your commenting policy, and it’s inspired me to reevaluate how I handle comments on my blog too.

    I’m a new reader to your blog, but I really appreciate these fabulous posts. So thank you!

    xoxo,
    Joelle

    • Hi Joelle! I love your thoughts and you made a really good point: original content is not only original photography! For me, I really had to get comfortable with writing MORE and not leaving just 2-3 sentences.

      Thanks again for commenting and I’m sure we’ll chat on Twitter :)

  4. I struggle with the engage part. I started asking questions at the end of my posts with little success. I want my readers to feel a part of a conversation. I know it takes time, especially since I went so long blogging as a hobby, not really thinking or realizing the value of reader feedback. Now that I’ve changed my perspective & approach, not sure if my readers are feeling comfortable with comments.

    Any suggestions on how to get people to feel open to commenting? I know a part of this has to do with sheer numbers–the more people reading, the more comments you’re likely to get. There are some bloggers who all they have to do is post a picture & a few sentences & they have dozens & dozens of comments. I’d like to know the “secret” to engagement with comments. Thanks for any tips (& so glad I found your blog!)

    • Hi Janae! I absolutely love your blog. I’m trying to get back into a fitness routine and I love eating healthy so I’ll be sure to add you to my reader.

      As for commenting, it is a very unique situation for each blog. First of all, make sure it’s easy to comment. If I try to comment on a blog and it’s too complicated…I’ll give up.

      Also,I totally know what you mean about the blogs who get 25+ comments no matter what (with little to no interaction from the blogger). I’ve come to realize that these blogs have either 1) been at it for a lot longer and/or 2) have a huge following due to their career/experiences/etc so their readers have this crazy connection.

      For me, comments started coming in steadily after I became really intentional about my involvement on Twitter. Personally, I’m much more likely to comment on another blog if I’ve chatted with them recently via Twitter or if they commented on my blog. Make sure you’re putting yourself out there and be a real person to your readers. Also, I can’t emphasis enough but I’ve learned that no matter how many giveaways you host, it still won’t make people truly interested in you or what you have to say. Just like you can’t buy friend’s. I saw that concept played out while I hosted too many giveaways earlier this year.

      Phew. That was a novel :) thanks for the comment.

  5. Allison, thank you for taking the time to respond!

    I too, thought that giveaways would be a big boost. But they were essentially a flop. I’ve realized people read my blog because of me, whether I like it or not, & I’ve got to get real with that fact. They don’t read because of the freebies, downloads, or giveaways. I think I may do more giveaways in the future, but only if it’s a right fit & not to try to win anyone over, because for my blog, that would be pointless.

    I completely agree about Twitter. I only recently joined up . I started an account 3 years ago when I began my blog, then canceled it after a few days because it was too overwhelming at the time. Boy, do I regret that decision! I’ve expanded my world by leaps & bounds. For me, using Twitter is not about finding new readers (although that has been a happy by product), but I’ve discovered people, blogs, sites, & information that have exponentially improved how I think & what I do. I feel like it’s enriched my life in so many ways, because there’s really no other information sharing tool like it (I like it much better than FB, btw).

    I noticed you’re going to be a contributor at that Influence conference in the fall. Is that correct? It looks interesting, I’m considering going.

    And don’t worry, I like reading novels :)

    • I, too, like Twitter for connecting with others! It’s such a wonderful way to find new blogs and see what’s happening in other parts of the country/world. I definitely think a lot of my readers only read my blog because they see my post links about it a few times a day. I’m trying to figure out if they just don’t use an RSS reader or (if they do) how to get them to subscribe. Maybe it doesn’t matter anymore?

      And yes I will be speaking at Influence this October! You should go!! I’d love to meet you :) And I hardly know anyone going so I’m excited to meet new people.

      • I really was planning to attend Influence this year(that’s how I found your blog), but I looked at the budget I would need for flight, hotel, attendanc, etc. and it seems a bit more than I may be able to do this year. We will see and pray. I would love to meet you and all the lovely ladies speaking and attending, perhaps next year, or something opens up.

        • I completely understand Ellie! I tend to pass on big events like this because of the cost but Indianapolis is only 3 hours from me so it works out a bit better. Where are you located? Keep me posted if anything changes and you’re able to make it!

          • I’m in the south, Augusta, Ga. I think it’s like an 11 hr. drive from here and probably the same cost to drive as to fly. Well, here’s to hoping ;).

          • Oh that is pretty far! That’s how I feel about most conferences on the west or east coast. The ticket + hotel + flying isn’t really worth it, unfortunately. Especially when we have bigger financial goals.

  6. Thanks for this series, it is full of great advice.

  7. I’m a little late to the party since I was out of town for two weeks, but I really loved this post, Allison!

    My number one struggle with blogging is content development. I am certain that’s why I gave up on blogging twice in the past. I’ve got about a year under my belt now, but I’m beginning to wonder if daily posting is all it’s cracked up to be. It’s hard to stay that inspired and come up with fresh content in addition to a regular job that’s related in skill but not subject matter of my blog. I admire people who can do that, I’m still trying to decide if I can while still loving my blog versus viewing it as a chore.

    You’ve inspired me to do a little experimenting.

    • Hi Lauren!

      Thanks for reading :) Hope you had fun while out of town! I definitely think that if posting starts to feel like a chore…then you shouldn’t! I think daily posting can challenge you to see if you have ENOUGH content to share. Some people post a few times a week (like Naomi mentioned above) and it really works for their audience. If posting daily feels overwhelming or frustrating then you should definitely scale back. For me, planning my post for the entire month really helps.

      Experimenting is the best!

  8. Loved this! Thank you! The sponsor world is one that alludes me for now…. I have a new blog in South Africa where blogging hasn’t really picked up yet as much.
    People are getting into more, though, as of late, and companies are cottoning on to its power and reach! ……So if and when the first sponsor comes knocking I will be ready with your blog article on that! hehe!! ……… What did resonate with me was the part about blogging every day. Totally agree. I’m going to start doing it myself now, no more ‘whenever I feel like it’ because you are right – people lose that connection with you! Thanks so much I have added you to my Google Reader! :P tamikadoubell.com

  9. This post just completely confirmed that I’m going about things the right way. (Well, I knew I was, but a little wink and a nudge sure didn’t hurt!) For my four month old blog, I take my own photos, and write candidly about my life as an expat. I post five times a week, and though it is a lot of work (and a lot of vulnerability) it has been SO rewarding. This article just encouraged me to keep it up.The right readers will come, and one day (*hopefully*) interact more! Thanks so much! I’m going to pop over and read a few more posts now. Cheers from South Korea! ^_^

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