Welcome back to another blogging tips post. It’s been about a month since my last blogging tips post and they’re always well received, so I thought it was time for another. I am only about a week or two from hitting the six month mark, so I know that I am not an expert by any means but I have learned a lot of things since starting a blog nearly six months ago.
I’ve heard it said that the six month or yearlong mark is a big milestone for bloggers to pass as many give up by that point. I can certainly understand that because developing a blog and being serious about it takes a boatload of time and effort. It’s easy to suffer blogging burn out. That said I am in this for the long haul and excited to see where Frugal Rules goes in the next year or two. Anyway, on to some more blogging tips that I have picked up along the way.
Respond to Comments
I know this can be a touchy subject for some bloggers, but for many that run their own blogs it’s about wanting to create a community. You spend hours creating your website and fashioning posts that you hope others will read and find helpful. That is a big reason why I started Frugal Rules – to help people avoid the financial mistakes I made early in life. Once you finally have people come by your site and leave a comment, it behooves us to respond to their comments.
I know that I am NOT perfect by any stretch of the imagination and have not responded to 100% of the comments I receive, but I read all of them and respond to as many as I can. In my opinion, not responding to comments shows a lack of care for the people who took the time to add their input or ask questions.
Responding to comments offers readers a personal response and is one of the main differentiators between blogs and news or purely commercial sites. The ones I typically do not respond to are those that are simply two word comments which does not really leave open a way to respond.
I know that blogging takes time, but does it really take that much time to thank someone and respond to their thoughts? By responding to comments, you help nurture that community that makes people want to come back, which in turn, creates a loyal readership base.
I even know that some will go so far as to not come back if their comments are regularly not responded to and I am in the same camp. It may sound harsh, but there are just so many things I could be spending my time on then someone who isn’t going to give the courtesy to respond to comments.
Simple Blogging Tips – Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
I wrote last time about how an editorial calendar has been a lifesaver and I would highly encourage it to anyone who has not given thought to it. As someone who runs his own business in addition to running this blog, I am always looking for ways to be more efficient with time. If I could only find that magical 26 hour day then I would be a happy person, but then again who would not?
One of the things that I have found to be of immense help is to schedule my day out in terms of my blogging. I do all of my commenting and social sharing of posts for a part of the morning and any writing I must do for the blog or our business is done during the rest of the day.
I respond to comments at certain points of the day so as to avoid a massive backlog of comments and to streamline my time. Before establishing my schedule, I was simply wasting time by checking email all the time and responding to comments as they came in.
I soon learned that being more disciplined with my time was of utmost importance, both to myself and the blog. Throw client meetings on top of all of this and you can imagine why scheduling is of such importance in regards to my blogging tips.
I’ve not touched on SEO in my previous posts because I admittedly am still learning a lot about this. When I started I knew nothing and am just getting past that mark. You have people that are in the good content camp (which, by the way, content is of major importance!) and you have people in the SEO camp. I tend to find myself in the middle. While SEO is important, I have found there is a balance to be had.
There are differing accounts as to how optimized your posts need to be in order to get love from the big G and I have come down on the side of going with what looks and reads most natural. It’s next to impossible to optimize every post and ultimately it’s difficult to get a lot of links to all of your posts. So, keep that in mind as you write your blog posts.
I recently purchased Long Tail Pro in hopes of further streamlining my SEO attempts and will probably share more in the future regarding what I learn.
I’ve not covered round ups in previous blogging tips posts, but only because they can only be so long. This is another one of those things that might be considered touchy in the blogosphere. No one wants to read a massive 50 post link dump and that is not what I am really talking about.
The beauty of blogging is that, for the most part, you can do what you like with your own blog. Some bloggers will do a blog round up once a week, some once a month etc. I fall on doing it once a week for a number of reasons, but really it comes down to the fact that I don’t know everything ( I know, what a shocker!) and I find it beneficial to point my readers to other insightful blog posts that might be of help.
The other reason is that I view it as a way of paying it forward, for a lack of a better term, to others within the blogosphere. Thus, pointing back to the whole community aspect that is possible in regards to blogging. There are no set rules on how often you do them or how many posts to include. Some do three to five posts and others do 20 or more.
I tend to fall somewhere in the mid to high teens, but it varies from week to week and in the end it’s your own blog so handle it how you wish.
If you’ve managed to stick around for this near 1,200 word post on blogging tips, thank you! What are some of your newly learned blogging tips, or are there any you’d like to see me cover in an upcoming post?
Jon @ MoneySmartGuides says
All great points…I too am not the best with responding to comments. I read them all, but tell myself I will come back to respond and then go off writing some more. Many times I never make it back. I need to respond first, then start writing.
Thanks Jon. I love responding to comments myself to help establish that community aspect, though my big challenge is responding to ones on older posts as I am usually focused on the post I have running that day.
DC @ Young Adult Money says
I think commenting is the #1 thing that a new blogger can do. I have been doing it for months and months now on a daily basis and it’s benefited my site greatly, and introduced me to some pretty awesome people.
Could not agree more DC! There are many benefits that can be derived from commenting that can help your blog both directly and indirectly.
Commenting is really important, and we think responding to comments is as well. It does create that sense of community that you are talking about, and it allows people to get to know you a little bit. The roundup post is an important one…but I really hate doing them because they take a long time to get ready. That is why I’ve tried to jazz ours up a bit.
I agree on responding allowing people to get to know you a little better. I completely understand on the round-ups. They are very time consuming, I’ve actually thought about hiring it out to someone to help free up some of my time.
Oh man, it is all so new to me! I have been blogging for 4 months now and I am at the tip of the iceberg…especially with SEO. I really appreciated the tips! As far as an editorial calendar, I must say…I don’t have one. Why? Because I write every day and have no way to get ahead!! Thoughts??
I would not worry a whole lot about SEO. Focus on good content and you can use Adwords and Google Autofill which will serve you quite well. In terms of an editorial calendar, I encourage you to start one as soon as you can. I am always writing as well, but the beauty is that it allows you to better form your thoughts as well as map out the strategy of what you want to talk about. I like to have my posts scheduled two weeks out and have a calendar going into April now. You’ll be amazed at how much it helps you.
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says
John, thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. I agree about creating community, and I’ve found the PF community to be profoundly helpful and friendly. You do a really great job at supporting your fellow bloggers, by the way, John. I think, along with having great info on your site, that it’s one of the reasons you’ve accomplished so much in such a short time with your blog. Great work!
Not a problem Laurie! I would agree that the community as a whole is very helpful and friendly. Thanks for the kind words as well, it’s my aim to be as helpful and personable as possible.
Roger @ The Chicago Financial Planner says
John thanks for posting this, these tips are always helpful.
Not a problem Roger, glad they’re helpful.
Grayson @ Debt RoundUp says
More great tips John. I used to respond to every comment that came in when they came in, but now I only respond to them throughout the day in intervals. I do schedule my posts out, but I don’t have an editorial calendar. I like to write what I am feeling and just go with it. Who knows what the future will bring on that front, but my method works for me now.
Thanks Grayson. You have to go with what works for you at the end of the day as all of our situations are unique. I respond in intervals as well as that really allows me to take care of other things.
There is always something to learn and I’m sure you’ll find more as you go! The scheduling thing is huge for me; I actually almost made a mistake the other day because I read my own schedule wrong (but I was able to fix it). lol. With how much I’ve been posting lately, it’s essential to have a plan.
The SEO stuff is another challenge. I have a lot of optimized SEO content but as you said: you can only get links back to so many posts in a week or month. Unless you just find a really easy phrase to rank for, you’re going to need to build up your post with tons of links over time in order for it to rank highly…regardless of how well you focused on SEO when writing it.
I could not agree more on being essential to have a plan. I get nervous when I dip below having two weeks scheduled out. It helps me manage the blog better in line with our business.
Great point on the SEO! Some posts do really good and others stink in terms of search and sometimes it makes no sense. At the end of the day I try and focus one post a week with some really good SEO and let the chips fall where they may on the rest.
Round ups are an area I’ve struggled with as well. When I acknowledge 8 – 10 pieces there are always another five I forget. If I nod to fifty, it’s just spamming my readership.
I do as well Joe. I hate cutting them down, but no one likes reading a link dump. Plus, if I did 50, then that would be al I would have time to do.
Definitely reply to comments! I hate when I ask a question and it never gets answered. Maybe that’s just me though 😛
You’re not the only one Michelle. I feel the same way, I’ll stop going to a site if I see that they regularly won’t respond to comments period.
I try to respond to all comments, except the ones that really don’t call for an answer. I don’t know how many people tick the box to receive the answer, or come back to check, but at least if they do there will be something.
I tend to be the same way Pauline. I love responding to them and sure it takes time but at least if they come back they see that I took the courtesy to respond.
My Financial Independence Journey says
Thanks for posting this.
I respond to almost every comment on my site. I love the interactions that I get with other bloggers, both on my site and on theirs. I wish I had more time to comment and reply. I find that the whole commenting process breeds lots of new ideas for posts.
I also started a weekly roundup, which seems to be going well so far.
I’m probably failing at SEO. I don’t know much about it. And I don’t really want to write articles that are all about SEO. I want to answer questions and provide useful information, not worry about whether I used “savings rate” an appropriate number of times. There’s just too much on the web these days that is SEO heavy, but informationally vacuous.
I need to start scheduling, especially as I find myself commenting on more and more blogs. Currently I take the approach of making a point to work on my blog a bit every day. Sometimes for minutes and sometimes for hours. Depends how much free time I have that day.
Not a problem MFIJ! Thank you as well for sharing your insight. I love the community aspect of blogging myself and also often find post ideas through this process. We all have a different way of looking at things and can learn from each other.
SEO can be tricky and I would tend to say to focus on quality content first and foremost. There is a lot of SEO heavy content out there and at the end of the day what is going to read best and bring people back is your natural voice.
Scheduling has been a major lifesaver for me. It has really helped streamline my work as well as help me form my thoughts around what I want to cover.
I would just be careful when responding to comments. I do love seeing a response to a comment I leave UNLESS it’s “Thanks for reading!” or something else trivial. All comments should provide something useful to the conversation, author’s included.
I would tend to agree Leslie. I don’t like leaving just a courtesy response, though I have been guilty of it at times. I like to respond to something they’ve said or to simply answer their question.
I am getting a little better at scheduling. I do have the blog planner and have a spreadsheet for sponsored posts. It’s a good week for me if I can get a week’s worth of posts scheduled in advance. What usually happens, though, is another idea hits me that I think is better than what I wrote and I have to go with that one. It’s my own fault completely. I try to do some SEO, but I am always baffled at what gets the most hits. My most searched out piece recently is not for something I would consider useful like paying off debt or saving money, but for terms related to Girls who hate Valentine’s Day! Go figure.
I like scheduling as well. I get nervous, Lol, when I have less than two weeks scheduled in advance. The beauty of having that done is that if something else pops in my mind that I want to cover then I can just move around the posts. I feel the same way about search results. It can be baffling at times, but then again when are the “expectations” clear? 🙂
“In my opinion, not responding to comments shows a lack of care for the people who took the time to add their input or ask questions.” Yes, yes, and YES! This totally bugs me when I see bloggers not respond to their readers. Everyone is busy, but if you can’t take the time to respond to your readers, why do you even have a post? This is such a pet peeve of mine. Readers will stop reading your blog. Make them feel like it was worthwhile to stop by. Sorry for the rant 😉
Not a problem on the rant Mackenzie…rant on in my opinion. 🙂 To be honest, I hate to soften my language in that section a bit as I did not want to rant, so I am glad you picked that up for me! 😉 I’ll stop going to blogs who do not respond to comments, I hate to do that, but how long does it really take to respond with a sentence or two?
Thank You! My biggest challenge in my blog, new as it is, is time management (I bet that’s no surprise). I’m spending amazing amounts of time jumping around, commenting, responding to comments, writing and then start all over again. I need to carve out some time and dedicate those blocks to specific activities. Do you have any tips on explaining to the wife that I’m not wasting time, I’m trying to build something that will hopefully become really good and a buffer for any hard times that may come along? 😀
Time management is HUGE Jose! With as many plates that I/my wife are spinning I’d be lost without it. My two biggest suggestions would be start an editorial calendar and streamline all of your other stuff so you’re maximizing your time. Basically, work smarter not harder.
Canadian Budget Binder says
Great tips John
I’ve also got to work on the scheduling part as it’s a big job trying to conquer it all each day. I think responding to comments is important as long as you have something to say. Some comments might not warrant a response either although I guess saying, hey thanks for dropping in is as good as it can get. I’m all about building a community of fans.. and enjoy it. Thanks for the tips mate.
Thanks Mr. CBB! To be honest, I look to you as the model as a way to form a community. You do an awesome job and have a very loyal fan base. Some comments do not necessarily warrant a response, I do like to respond to as many as I can though.
Tackling Our Debt says
SEO, good content and a limited number of “guest posts” is really important if you want to make it through another year based on all the chatter around what Google has in store this year in terms of more changes.
I was waiting for someone to bring that up Sicorra! 🙂 I totally agree on your points and watching those “guest posts” is vital to try and make it through. We don’t have the full playbook, but I’d much rather make it through unscathed as opposed to getting punished while trying to get a quick buck.
Shannon Ryan @ The Heavy Purse says
Great tips, John. I agree commenting takes a lot of time, but I notice when other bloggers don’t comment. I understand people are busy (as am I) so I definitely give them a pass when it appears to be due to a lack of time rather than a disregard for their readers. But if it appears they don’t engage with their readers at all, then I admit my interest wanes (unless they are someone who receives 100+ comments every day). To me, there is no better compliment than someone commenting on my post. Sharing their stories. Or ideas. Or rebuttals. Or sharing new knowledge with me. To know that my words engaged them, made them think, and maybe they even learned something new is exhilarating. And I only know this is somebody comments. If they took the time to express their thoughts then I can find the time to respond back. I have a rudimentary knowledge of SEO. I put more effort into writing without worrying about keywords, but for the sake of almighty Google, I should probably try harder. 🙂 I did the occasional blog carnival, but last week decided to make it a weekly post. There is so much good content out there and like you, I would to pay it forward. Great post!
Great points Shannon! I could not agree more. I love it when someone comments and shares their thoughts with me and the community. None of us are perfect and when others share that helps us grow and look at things in a different way, or simply firm up how we view things. My knowledge of SEO is growing, but a lot of times it can feel you’re throwing darts with a blind fold on. I try what I can and let the chips fall where they may.
Money Bulldog says
I went through a stage of not responding to comments because I read on a reputable SEO site that comments can tend to hurt SEO because they dilute keywords. I don’t even know if that’s true but to be honest blogging can be pretty boring if it’s a one way thing. I also come across many blog posts at the top of google rankings that have 50 or 60 comments so they can’t hurt it that much.
Wow, I’ve never heard that. Though it does not surprise me with all of the different views on SEO that you can find out there. Personally, I do not think they do not impact it much…but I could be wrong.
Money Bulldog says
It’s probably a load of rubbish John but it just goes to show how easy it is to get simple things wrong when you’re first starting out as a blogger and how helpful posts like this one are!
Great point Adam. You can find just about anything online to tell you something is true. 😉
Edward Antrobus says
At this point in time, I’d say that comments are the reason I’m still blogging. So I respond to every single one I get and always check back on blogs that I’ve commented on to read the response and sometimes even respond to that. If a blogger doesn’t respond to comments, I’ll stop commenting. It’s all about the conversation for me.
I am not at that point Edward, but I am not that far off. I understand that life happens and some might fall through unnoticed from time to time, but I will stop visiting sites that regularly do not respond to comments.
I started a carnival instead of a round up, but I agree to you, no one reads the carnivals any more. many even don’t play by the rules any more. Roundups on the other hand give you the power to include good posts you encounter.
I feel the same way Rohit. I’ve thought about starting a Carnival, but at the end of the day I only have so much time and I have more control this way.
Mo' Money Mo' Houses says
Those are some great tips!
The College Investor says
I try to respond to comments when I have something to say. However, a lot of comments are “I agree” or the like. Thanks for agreeing, I don’t have anything to add.
I love it when people disagree or share more…then I can really respond!
I hear you Robert. I struggle at times with that, but I try to have a balance with it. I LOVE the comments that disagree or bring up a new view. I’ll sometimes write posts for that very reason to see who’ll add something different or opposing.
Kathleen, Frugal Portland says
I could write a whole response post to this (and I might!). Like, respond to comments sure but don’t make people subscribe twice to your comments! I HATE getting that email.
Go right ahead Kathleen, I feel the same exact way! 🙂 I’ve got enough emails coming to my inbox each day, so I don’t need any unnecessary emails like that clogging it up.
Kathleen, Frugal Portland says
The solution starts with you, John! You make people double opt in. I think it’s something about subscribing to all new comments?
I must not understand what you’re meaning Kathleen, I thought you were meaning something else. I guess not. 🙂 I’ll shoot you an email as I certainly don’t want to be bugging anyone.
Johnny Moneyseed says
I really would like to do a “roundup” type of post every week, but I barely have enough time to write my own blog and promote it. I don’t work in a place with easy access to the Internet either, so it really kills my ability to draw in more of an audience by visiting other blogs/commenting.
I can definitely understand that as it does take a good chunk of time to do. One thing you could also look at is possibly mentioning another blog in a post if it relates to the topic you’re covering.
Budget & the Beach says
Totally agreed about the commenting. And I have to say it but if I comment over and over and I don’t get a comment back or someone EVER visiting my site, then I’ll assume they aren’t interested and I kind of move on. Part of why I do this is the interaction. I’m into mutual love. lol! As far as SEO, I’ve just decided to work with my system now. I don’t know if I’m doing it “right” or wrong, but my numbers have increased, my Google PR is a 4, so hopefully I’m doing something right! I like to keep my posts 600-900 words too, and I break up the paragraphs because too many words jumbled up makes my eyes go bonkers.
I completely agree Tonya. I have enough things to do and if someone consistently does not respond (after me leaving a good comment) then I am very likely to stop visiting their site. You have to go with what’s working for you on the other things, and with the growth you’ve seen then I think you’re doing pretty darn good. 🙂
I’ve been getting some love from the big G lately and have found myself as the top post of certain searches that I didn’t think I had a chance for. I don’t write for SEO. I used to, but it just seemed that I kept saying the same things over and over. Now I just write the content I want and don’t worry as much about SEO.
Titles, for the most part, are written to be interesting and be SEO.
BTW, you’re doing a great job John. In six months you’ve really created a community. I think you’re reaping all of the hard work you put in.
Thanks for the kind words Justin! That’s pretty cool you’re getting top spots for some of your posts. I have the same on a few myself and it’s nice to see that. I really only focus on SEO for maybe a post a week as it just becomes too unnatural and too much work.
Chris @ Stumble Forward says
I hear you their John when it comes to holding a schedule. This is one thing I strive to do constantly. Personally I’m not able to post every day but I try to post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the very least. However this week and next week are going to be a challenge since I’m in the process of moving into my house and the fact that I may not have any internet for a little bit either.
The schedule can be a huge timesaver, especially as I find myself to be increasingly. I can certainly understand not being able to post as much while moving, good luck with that btw. 🙂
Chis @ Stumble Forward says
Re: SEO, for me it’s not important (GASP!). I blog because I genuinely enjoy doing it. I don’t care what the Google Gods think of me or of I make any money off it. I’ve blogged for a long time and continue to do it because I enjoy the thought release and connecting with other people. If you want your blogs focus to be monetization then, for sure, it’s important. I couldn’t be bothered. I blog what I want, when I want and hope the people will read 🙂
You mention two of the things that I appreciate most about blogging – having a forum to share ideas and connect with others. Whether you monetize, optimize or just blog, this community and concept is big enough for all of us.
Brian @ Luke1428 says
Thanks for continuing to share these tips John. Your suggestions have been a big help to me. I think the thing I have enjoyed more than anything else since I started blogging is the commenting that takes place. I love the interaction and the learning I receive from others. I don’t enjoy blogs as much that don’t respond to comments.
Not a problem Brian, happy to pass on some of the things I have learned along the way. I completely agree about the commenting, I think it really helps develop that community aspect about blogging. It has helped me “meet” some great people and learn some new things along the way.
Thanks for the great tips John, I am still new to the whole blogging thing, but the one thing I am totally digging from it is, the community that is being built. I love people and finding out where they come from and what their backgrounds are, so expanding on that network is really what interests me. Thanks for your continued posts!!
Not a problem a problem Jim! I enjoy the community aspect as well and I have had the pleasure of “meeting” new people that share similar views as well as allow me to learn new things.
I think what I like most about these posts John is that young are doing this right now. Its always great to hear from people who have blogged for a long time, buy it is also nice to hear about bloggers that are still learning the ropes. Keep up the awesome work John!
Thanks Ian! I am learning something new nearly every week, so I do like to pass on the info. Very few have “arrived” so I figure we all have areas we might benefit from growing in.
Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin says
I will admit it is frustrating when the author does not respond to comments. I have left dozen of comments on blogs and received no response from the admin and you’re absolutely right. It doesn’t feel like a sense of community. Thank you for the tips, I will look into purchasing Long tail pro. Additionally I need to work on streamlining my blogging efforts better. I’m coming up on the 6 month mark as well and while I love every minute of it there are not enough hours in the day!
I agree Marvin, it can be frustrating when the comments do not get responded to and after time I just move on. I can completely agree about not enough time in the day, if I could only get two more hours. 😉
Kay Lynn says
Another great post with tips for bloggers – even if they’re not beginners. I’ve been blogging for nearly 4 years and it’s hard to keep up with everything but it’s important to try. Thanks for the reminder.
Thanks Kay Lynn! I agree that it is hard to keep up with many things, which is why I am always looking for ways to streamline my efforts.
Thanks for the advice! I’m working on SEO and responding to comments to build my community online. Any other advice now that you’ve been blogging for a lot longer?