I’ve had this blog for almost two years now (it’ll be two years in February!), which is crazy. I’ve never done a recap or year in review before, but I’ve learned a lot over the last two years, especially these last few months. My experience with Ball State’s student-run creative communications agency, Cardinal Communications, has helped me learn a lot about blogging, sharing, social media and writing and design in general.
This year I’ve covered a huge range of topics – my sorority, font personalities, salad, Twitter fights, eggs, Chopped – the list goes on and on. There are a few things I’ve taken away from my posts that I can use to help continue my blog’s success, no matter what the topic:
1. Always reply to comments
It’s the one way to really build a community on your website. Replying comments is easy and makes a difference to your audience. Use the person’s name in your reply. Personalize your message, even if it’s just a quick “thanks for reading, Jim.” I’m not always the best at responding, but it’s something I know I need (and want) to work on.
2. Pay attention to analytics
Even if you’re not using specific analytics software like Google Analytics, visit the WordPress “Site Stats” page. You can find out a lot about your website and your audience, including information on where your viewers are finding your website. For me, most of my audience comes from social media, especially Facebook and Pinterest. With this information, I know to continue posting links and pictures from my website to those websites because it’s working to bring traffic to my website. If you notice that you’re getting some traffic from other places, but not as much as you think you could be getting, try different things, like different types of posts or promotions.
Looking at the locations your audience is coming from can also help you target your content towards that group. It can also help you come up with geographically specific content that is more applicable to that area.
3. Share more
This point goes along with my previous point on analytics. It’s important to share your work on other platforms–it’s where I get the bulk of my website traffic. I spend time writing posts and taking photos, so I want people to look at my work. By sharing a quick link or image on Twitter or Instagram, I’m promoting myself and my work. It also helps my future employers find my blog, which never hurts.
4. Always cite your work
This is so, so important. Whenever I post a food round up or an aggregation of designs, I ALWAYS cite my sources. Add a quick link to where you found the image. If you can’t find the original source, try using Google’s reverse image search. No one wants to be browsing a website and see an image of theirs, uncredited. I know I certainly wouldn’t!
5. Write about what inspires you
I’ve noticed that my most popular posts are the ones where I’ve written about something that I’m really excited about. That might be about Pantone, when they released the 2016 colors of the year, or it might be about the PR lessons I’ve learned from one of my favorite TV shows. It might be a recipe that I developed. Whatever you’re passionate about is what you should write about. If you can tie it to something that relates to what you want to do professionally, do it, but don’t feel pressured to! If you want to write about cats, do it. If you want to write about scuba diving, do it. It helps you practice your writing skills and to share your passions with your audience.
Those are my main takeaways from my year in blogging.
What have you learned this year?