More Blogging Tips From a Beginner

Blogging

About a month ago I wrote a post sharing some tips I’d picked up during my first month of blogging. I thought I’d share a few more of the most helpful things that I’ve learned since then as a way of giving back to the blogosphere. (On a side note, at what point are you no longer considered a beginner?) I’ve been blogging for around three months now, so it was just something I’ve been wondering. Oh well, I digress. Frugal Rules exists to help people with their finances and pass on some of the wisdom I’ve learned over the years. Some of those lessons have been hard learned, others not so much, but my desire overall is to help people. I have adapted the same philosophy with my blogging and passing on some of the blogging tips I’ve learned over the past few months.

Carnivals, Carnivals and More Carnivals

If you’re reading this and you’re a blogger you know time is precious and that blogging takes time. You also know how vital building links is to building your blog’s brand. It’s needed to make a name for yourself, to get to know other bloggers and most importantly for the health of your blog. We all know who we’re wanting to get love from…the Big G and link building is a key to that. One easy way to accomplish this is to submit blog posts to carnivals. It does take time, but not as much as you might think. I submit to 12-15 carnivals each week and have streamlined the time it takes me to do it to a mere 45 minutes. That doesn’t sound bad, does it? The best way to keep this time down is to automate how you submit to the carnivals. After I write each post I write a 2-3 sentence snippet describing the post. I put that in a Word document that I use to accumulate an ongoing list all post snippets. When it comes time to submit to carnivals it’s a simple exercise of cutting and pasting and in 45 minutes I am done. This strategy has allowed me to save time, but it also generally guarantees me being in at least 6-10 carnivals per week. Those carnivals generate extra links to my site that bring in traffic, which is vital to the health of my numbers. For those looking for where you can submit your posts for different carnivals, Blog Carnival and Blogger Carnivals are my two favorite sites to use.

Blogging Takes Time, Look For Ways to Save on it

I will be the first to admit that blogging takes a lot of time. Or at least, it can take a lot of time depending on where you want to see your blog go. The key to all of this is looking for ways to save time. Take the carnival submission as an example. My first few weeks it was taking me upwards of two hours, I have since cut that by more than half. Another time saving method I have found is to schedule my posts a week out. So, on Fridays I schedule all of my posts for the following week. It allows me to go into the weekend not having to work as much as well as start focusing on the following weeks and what I’d like to write about. The key to all of this is to work smarter and not harder.

Write What You Will, But Make Your Blogging Passionate

Whether you write about couponing, early retirement or frugal ways to run a family, make it passionate. This passion will come out in your writing, which will engage readers and bring them back for another visit. Writing is much easier and less time consuming when you’re passionate about your subject matter. I know that personally if I am passionate about something I can write a 1000 word post in about 15 minutes, however if I am not passionate it will take easily triple the time. Part of blogging is creating a community of people that discuss opinions and topics. By being passionate about what you’re writing about you’ll help engender that community more and your readers will thank you for it.

Always Look For Ways to Expand

I have learned that there are hundreds, if not thousands (or more) of personal finance  blogs out there. Sure, that can lead to a sense of talking to hear ourselves talk, but what I love most is the diversity of opinions in the blogging world. It helps me refine my views, which in turn helps me serve my readers. With this in mind, it’s key to always be looking for ways you can meet new bloggers and get to know them. This can be a challenge, as I have over 100 blogs I tend to visit on a regular basis. One of the best ways I find new (or new to me) bloggers is by looking at the comments. If something someone adds sticks out to me I’ll visit their blog. Not only does this introduce me to someone new but it also allows me the opportunity to develop another friendship that might even turn into an opportunity to guest post down the road. To me that’s really what a lot of it’s about, forming friendships, helping others and further developing a blogging community.

 

If you’ve read this whole post, thank you for sticking around to read my 900+ word post. I know that I have not covered all that’s vital to blogging. What are some of your blogging tips and what keeps you going when you want to give up on blogging?

 

Photo courtesy of: Prangdao Nupradit

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About the author:

I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. You can connect via Twitter / Facebook.

106 comments on “More Blogging Tips From a Beginner

  1. Great tips John! Carnivals are one thing that I only dabble in every few weeks, but should probably submit to more consistently. I did get mine in a couple this past week. I also have a core of 20-25 sites I visit every day and try to hit up as many others as I can when I have time. You really have to prioritize how you spend your time blogging, because you could literally spend all day commenting on other sites!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..Black Friday HaulMy Profile

    • Thanks DC! Yea, I have a core of 30-40 I visit each day and work in others as I can. I completely agree that you do have to prioritize your blogging time. Commenting is great and all, but sharing is much more important.

    • The traffic is hit and miss from Carnivals, especially if there’s 50+ posts in the Carnival. That said, I really don’t do it for the traffic, but for the links which are vital. I have also found quite a few new blogs (to me at least) from the hosts.

    • I’ve had the same experience with carnivals. I love writing the week ahead, too. It makes life so much less stressful. If I can get further ahead than that, I do it, but it all depends. Expanding our views in all aspects of our lives is always a good thing, IMHO, and blogging/writing is no different! Great post
      femmefrugality recently posted..Phipps Free DayMy Profile

      • Thanks! I completely agree, I love to get scheduled as far out as I can if I am able to. I totally agree on expanding as well. It’s always helpful to see other views to help you sharpen yours more as well as grow them.

  2. I can’t believe that was 900 words, it flew by.

    I enjoy the community aspect of blogging so much that I think it is the main reason why I run so many different websites.

    I still haven’t submitted to a blog carnival yet, I guess I should really start, who knows where my site would be if I did.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..How to Avoid BankruptcyMy Profile

    • Thanks Glen! I enjoy the community aspect as well, but I can only manage 1 blog right now. :) The big thing with Carnivals is the link building aspect they bring.

  3. I agree with glen, an easy 900 words! You’re inspirational John that’s for sure! I have yet to submit to any carnivals but do my best to comment on blogs that take time to comment on mine. Scheduling posts is a huge time saver…when I have the time to power more than one out at a time that is ;)
    Catherine recently posted..The Last Bobby Pin EffectMy Profile

    • Thanks Catherine! Carnivals are a great way to build links and can be a good help. I love scheduling out posts. I like to stay a week ahead of time so I don’t feel the pressure of having to write one for the next day.

  4. Great post and I made it through your 900 words; speed reading ;) Seriously though as a newbie your tips have helped me. I’ve also been able to become more organized and streamlined in the way I approach blogging and thus saving time in the process.
    K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! recently posted..Debt Freedom DayMy Profile

  5. I like these tips, and I think Carnivals are important as a “beginner”. I was told it takes 6 months for people to really take you seriously as a blogger as most blogs either flourish or fall off at that point. I no longer do carnivals, and I haven’t seen any substantial change in my readership. I used a service when I first got started and it did help build my “clout” as a blogger.
    Lauren @ L Bee and the Money Tree recently posted..Two Savings Rules to Live ByMy Profile

    • Thanks. I’ve heard the same thing about the six month mark, which makes sense. I would disagree though on Carnivals. True, they do not bring a lot of traffic, but they’re vital for link building. I think if you’ve been blogging for a year or a month you need to be looking to build links.

  6. You have been making exceptional strides on your blogging journey, John. I really enjoyed reading your perspective here. Carnivals are great ‘entry exposure’ into a blogging niche community, to introduce yourself and your work. Most of the bloggers I contacted crinkled their noses and looked the other way when I attempted to reach out to them, which was NOT the best way to go about building relationships when you’re a just a wee young pup. :) Now all of my blogging relationships have formed organically, which has been such a phenomenal experience in itself.
    Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy recently posted..Festively A MinimalistMy Profile

    • Thanks Jennifer! I agree about Carnivals being a great entry point and really should be continued as you get “older” to continue the link building. I’ve heard the same thing about the “big boy” bloggers and have stayed away as a result. I agree that organic relationships are the best.

  7. I think the newbie title wears off at 6 months. Just my opionion, though. For me, I can write quicker if no one is up, so I get up a bit early on weekends to get posts done. I think it’s whenever you are most productive, get it done. I am terrible after 8 at night. Carnivals aren’t hard, I just forget to do them, but maybe will get better as it goes along.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Does It Make Sense to Pay Off The Mortgage Early?My Profile

    • I would agree Kim, that’s what I’ve heard as well. I write the best early in the morning as well. Which is part of the reason I get up at the a$$ crack of dawn.

  8. I love these posts about blogging tips! It’s fun to see things from a new bloggers perspective and get some ideas that I may be missing out on. I think the time saving deal is the most important for me; I’ve paid somebody to do my carnival submission for nearly 8 months now and I’m glad to have that off my plate!

    Hiring a few staff writers is also going to save me a boatload of time writing posts and working on that side of the business.
    Jason recently posted..4 Keys to Achieving Financial PeaceMy Profile

    • I agree on the time saving aspects as that is vitally important to me. I think I’ll be looking to do the same thing with Carnivals here in the near future as a way to save more time.

      I bet having the staff writers will be a HUGE time savings for you. I look to get to that point in some time so I can focus on other areas of blogging.

  9. Nice tips John. Keep them coming. I’ve often thought about trying to put together a script for automating the Carnival submission process even further, but then decided the 15 minutes it takes to cut and paste my info really wasn’t that bad. Good emphasis on keeping your writing passionate. It can be hard to keep focused on this as time goes on.
    My Money Design recently posted..Struggling to Buy Presents? Try These Christmas Gift Ideas for HerMy Profile

    • Thanks MMD! I agree that the cutting and pasting really does not take long and is worth the time & effort. I totally agree that it can on being difficult to keep that focus, which is why a few days off now & then.

  10. Excellent tips for beginners and even intermediately experienced bloggers, I couldn’t have put it better myself. The biggest issue I have with blogging is time. You seem to have it under control and have the capacity to schedule ahead, but this is really difficult for me to do. Yesterday I planned on writing for the entire week but only managed to schedule 1! This is something I have to work on and improve on, because trying to write everything during the week the night before results in low quality rambling (something I’ve done many times now and I’m not proud of).

    Carnivals are so awesome, yet I fail to submit to them. I’m glad you and everyone out there who writes about these tips keeps reminding us newbies :)

    One thing I’d like to mention is, in the past I’ve contacted other bloggers to collaborate and they seem to eagerly agree, which is great – but then we fail to make anything of it. This is part my fault, but I mention it because I think there is a lot of potential in forming that kind of blogger relationship and following through with collaboration efforts.
    Veronica Hill recently posted..10 High Paying Tech Jobs Without a Degree in 2013My Profile

    • Thanks for the kind words Veronica! I agree that time management is vital, I can relate to your desire to wanting to get so much writing done, but getting less done. That can be frustrating, but you can only churn out so much at a time.

      I totally agree on forming those relationships, they can be very helpful. I have a few myself, and following through is vital for it to work.

  11. These are great tips and I would agree with each one and their benefits. In fact, they are all things that I have done myself. I always try to have content on my site that speaks to what I believe in. I think it is the only way to stay true to your own voice. I also find scheduling ahead of time a huge help. That way when I get swamped at work etc, I don’t have to stress about being behind.
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..Should You Save Or Invest Your Money?My Profile

    • Thanks Miss T! I agree that it’s vital to stay true to your own voice and to yourself is vitally important. I love to schedule ahead as that really helps me feel the pressure a little less.

  12. I really do dislike the “P” word, but I agree that if you are interested in the post, then it is easier to write. I don’t think I could ever manage 1000 words in 15 minutes, however! When I’m in the zone, 500 words takes a bit more than half an hour. Getting to 1000 words is more like an hour and a half. But when I’m not feeling it, the 500 words takes that long!
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Three Tips for Christmas Decorating on a BudgetMy Profile

    • I am curious Edward, why do you dislike the P word? I don’t consider myself a very passionate person, but there are many things I care about and that has to come out in the writing or it can be too dry and not engaging. I often do not write that fast, but is great when I do.

      • I guess the problem comes from the fact that I live on the outer edge of the millennial or “Gen-Y” generation. I’ve been hearing claptrap like “follow your passion and the money will come,” “if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life,” and “if you don’t like your job, quit and find something you enjoy” for far, far too long. The real world doesn’t work that simplistically.

        Another one, that I am constantly reminded of because I commented on the post and can’t figure out how to turn of DISQUS notifications: “You don’t need a job, you need guts.”
        Edward Antrobus recently posted..Three Tips for Christmas Decorating on a BudgetMy Profile

        • Ah, ok. I totally see what you were saying then. That really was not my meaning in what I meant by passion. I do see what you’re saying though and I completely agree. Life is not that simple, and much of the world does not work that way.

  13. Blogging definitely takes a lot of time, but it’s also very addicting. I really wasn’t planning on becoming a “blogger” when I started my blog, I mostly just wanted to use the blog to record my progress and keep me accountable. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that I really enjoy blogging. I can be tough to churn out content when I’m not feeling inspired, but now that I’ve been at it for about 6 months (and seriously blogging for about 3 months), I’m getting better at finding inspiration all over the place. It’s definitely true that the posts I’m most passionate about practically write themselves. :)
    Gen Y Finance Journey recently posted..What is a Dividend Aristocrat?My Profile

    • I totally agree. I find that the key is achieving a good balance. I agree on being passionate. There have been many posts that really do write themselves and I have to stop because very few will stick around for a 2000+ word post.

  14. Excellent tips, John. I’m a fairly new blogger too. It’s an exciting, vast world that can definitely consume your time. I absolutely agree that whatever you write – you must be passionate about the topic! I haven’t explored any blog carnivals yet, so thanks for the tip!

  15. Managing the whole blog thing does take a lot of work. As for carnivals I set myself a reminder to do them every Thursday. Similar to you, I cut and paste all of the details of the post that I want to submit into a text file and then visit each carnival submission page and copy the stuff back in.

    I wish there was a way to copy all of the stuff in once and then check off all of the carnivals that you want to submit to and have it done in one swoop.
    Tackling Our Debt recently posted..Evaluating Your Life as It Stands TodayMy Profile

    • Not a problem Mandy. Good question. They’re not huge traffic drivers. I get maybe a dozen or so hits a day from them, but the link building aspect is the main reason for them. Just starting out and as you continue to grow that link building is vital.

  16. You mentioned you submit to 12-15 carnivals a week… Do you submit the same articles to more than one carnival? I guess I always thought you should only submit each post to only one carnival. I usually wait a couple weeks, and submit all my posts over the past tweo weeks to carnivals all at once.
    Justin @ The Family Finances recently posted..Friends of the Family: Thanksgiving Weekend EditionMy Profile

    • That’s a great question Justin. It depends on the week, but generally I will submit the same article to multiple Carnivals. Most of them allow that, I’d say at least 75-90% of them. Most Carnivals will also accept posts that are up to two weeks old, so I’ll spread it out so I don’t submit the same post to the same Carnival twice.

    • Thanks Kay Lynn! I totally agree with the passion. Without it not many will want to read your thoughts, including yourself. Taking a break is definitely an essential thing to do at times.

  17. Nice tips John. I use Chrome to submit to all the blog carnivals so once I enter in all of the info once, all the data is saved that way I can submit very quickly. I only have to copy and paste the description field. It works very well since each site has around 10 carnivals that you can submit to.

    Have you thought about outsourcing your tweeting of articles or things like that to a VA, I feel like that could really save some time but not sure how much they would charge. It’s something I plan on looking into eventually.
    Harry @ PF Pro recently posted..Employee Benefits: Do You Have the Option to Purchase Additional Vacation DaysMy Profile

    • Thanks Harry! Automating that submission process is a big time saver.

      I have thought about outsourcing that, but don’t want to take on that cost as of yet. I timed it a few weeks ago and saw that it takes me about 60-90 minutes a day to tweet all of the posts I do. So, as my blog gets bigger, I’ll definitely be looking in to something like that.

    • Thanks John! I guess I am doing something right ;) though I’ve not figured it all out yet, so I’ll continue going with what’s worked for me thus far.

    • Honestly, I probably comment on at least 30-40 per day. I am a pretty quick reader so that helps a lot and I have folders for ones I read and comment and one for those I just tweet. I mix it up regularly as to not just go to the same sites each week.

    • Taking things one step at a time is a great way to go as you can only do so many things at once. :) No problem on the tip. I think some believe it’s more work than it really is. Once you submit once or twice then it’s a piece of cake.

  18. You left out an important tip – but clearly you’ve already learned it… Kitten pictures make all posts more fun =)

    It’s impressive that you’ve picked up so much so quickly. It took us a long while to realize all the different moving parts to getting our site off the ground, and we still feel like we’re beginners at this game. Mad props to you.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..That’s Not Frugal, It’s Theft!My Profile

    • Yes, that is a very important tip. :)

      Thanks for the kind words. I am still learning a lot and still feel like I am using training wheels most days. I’ve not done it all on my own and am thankful for those in the community that provide very helpful info and for other friends that blog also.

  19. Sweet tips, dude. I always remember that it’s a marathon. Every little think I can do today….just a tweak, can have profound long term impact. If I can improve a word or get the picture just right, that might help me connect with one more person and help them manage money more effectively.
    AverageJoe recently posted..Thanksgiving 2012My Profile

    • Not a problem James. Like I’ve said, Carnivals can be a great tool, especially for new and growing blog. No problem on the commenting, likewise to you!

  20. This a great post. While I may have been blogging longer than you, I definitely feel like you know more about it/are less of a beginner than I am. I also need to get started submitting to blog carnivals, I’ve know for awhile that I should be doing that, it’s just a matter of actually sitting down and figuring out what it’s all about, maybe I’ll drop you an email on that topic.
    Jordann @ My Alternate Life recently posted..Minimalist Christmas DecorationsMy Profile

    • Thanks Jordann! A lot of what I’ve learned I have picked up from others and just doing some research. Carnivals are important, especially as a link building aspect that can really be helpful. They’re fairly easy to submit to, once you do it once or twice. Feel free to drop me an email, I am always happy to help.

  21. John, I’m really enjoying your posts on blogging. You really have a lot of insight into growing a blog, and I’ve seen it first hand with frugal rules. I think I’m one of the lazy ones, as I have yet to submit to a carnival, although I’ve been meaning to. It looks like I better start thinking about doing that here soon (maybe make it my Tuesday tradition :).

    Many years ago when blogging was new, I ran a blog for about a year where I was publishing a post every day. It was brutal on me and I ended up quitting until I started frugal habits this summer. Since then, I’ve changed my strategy to post twice a week, but it does cause my blog to grow slower over time. My hope is that it will keep my motivated to keep going until I make it with Mr. G. :)
    Jason Clayton | frugal habits recently posted..Save Thousands of Dollars with this One little RuleMy Profile

    • Thanks Jason! I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on them, so I might make it a bi weekly or monthly post series. I don’t know that I would call it laziness, especially when you’re doing it on top of other things. One big thing I’ve learned is that you have to go with what works for you and your time. Keep doing what you’re doing and the G love will come. :)

    • I would think that as well Kathleen as I’ve heard it’s anywhere from the 6-12 month break point. Thanks for the kind words, once I get started I am a pretty quick learner. :)

  22. Great tips! I’m not really a new blogger, but up to this point I haven’t done a very good job of marketing my site. Carnivals are definitely something I need to start considering. I guess the trick is to allocate the right amount of time for both blogging (the actual writing part), and marketing/social-media aspect.

    Best wishes!
    FI Fighter recently posted..When is Enough…Enough?My Profile

    • Thanks! Finding that balance to devote time to the writing and working on the site and the marketing aspect is a good, but difficult one to find. I like to put as much to the marketing side of it as I can in order to cast a wide net.

  23. Think it takes a lot of time running one blog? Try running multiple sites! I quit my old PF blog in May to pursue building niche sites. The blogging bug bit me though, so I started a blog about passive income and how I was building niche sites to create it. Then I figured out I wasn’t very good at getting niche sites to rank, so I started a “niche blog.” So now I have a niche blog, which is kind of a personal finance blog created around a specific niche (paying off credit cards) – and I am still blogging about how I am building that blog on my passive income blog! What have I gotten myself in to?!
    Matthew Allen recently posted..Keyword Research to Optimize Your Blog PostsMy Profile

    • You’re a stronger man than I am Matthew! I could not imagine running more than one as it takes up enough of my time. I think my wife would leave me if I were to try and run multiple blogs. ;)

    • I totally agree Jefferson! Before I started I thought that I would only need a few hours of a day at most. Sure, you can do that, but not if you want your blog to go anywhere.

  24. When I started blogging, I never knew how time consuming it can get. Aside from coming up with new and fresh content, but the constant tweaking of my blog’s layout and look takes a lot of time! I do not submit to blog carnivals, but I am definitely looking into it in the near future. Do they have specific ones for certain topics such as running or are blog carnivals just for PF blogs?

    Cheers!
    Ron @runningfromdebt recently posted..Giving Thanks By Running For WaterMy Profile

    • You’re exactly right Ron. I feel the same way as there’s always something that can be done, but you have to stop somewhere. They have all sorts of Carnivals and are not just for PF blogs. The first link I provided has dozens of different niches that are included. Thanks for stopping by!

  25. John, first let me just say ‘thanks’ for visiting my site before. Second, I just appreciate this blog post cuz it will help a lot newbies like me. If I were to share a few tips it would be as follows:

    1. COMMENT, comment, comment.
    2. reply to comments as it helps others return to your site and get visitors more engaged.
    3. make sure to add your avatar from gravatar.. usually people will remember your “icon” and visit your site.
    4. this commentluv thing helps out a lot (I’ll need to implement it on my site).
    5. join a network of similar minded individuals (eg. yakezie).
    Boris recently posted..The Frugal Guide to Saving Money on Child Care (Humor)My Profile

    • Not a problem Boris, keep up the good work! Great points, I could not agree more. They mainly point to the need to network, which is huge to be successful at blogging.

    • Thanks JC! Planning those posts ahead is a huge time saver as well as it makes things much less stressful. When I know I have a couple of weeks posts scheduled already I can spend that extra time on other things.

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