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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blogging Etiquette and how to market your blog

Blogging Etiquette and how to market your blog 
by Published Author Christi Silbaugh

I have been blogging for almost 4 years now. It has been a wonderful process with a lot of learning. I wanted to share with you the successes and failures in blogging. So this will be filed in as a rant. So many people hear what I do, and they think: "I am going to start a blog". They go in blind, break a lot of rules, and go about things the hard way sometimes. If you are one of those people that wants to start one, or just started one, this article is for you. 

Rule #1. Always always always link back. If you look at a picture, recipe, article, store, or anything else that inspires your post, link back to who you got the idea from, or what sparked the idea. This helps you with your ranking (google likes sites that link out, not just internal). It helps the person or business that sparked your idea. I use "Adapted from: " because the recipe, or idea is never the same, but it is still what inspired me to make it. Sometimes it is just me, myself, and I, so I don't link out, but I try to as much as possible. 

Rule #2. Never ever ever use someone else's content or pictures without permission. In the beginning of my blogging I had a reader send me a recipe with pictures. I made the recipe and it was yummy and I posted the recipe and the pictures she sent. Turns out it was another bloggers pictures and recipe. I was mortified! Since then I only post my own pictures unless it is a sponsored post where they ask me to use theirs. It is just safer that way. Let me go one step further and say it is downright stealing to use someone else's work without written permission. Simply put: "When you write a blog post about a topic you found via another blog or website, you should attribute your source with a link. Give credit where credit is due. Bloggers who publish content on the public Internet are bound by copyright laws. You don’t want to be accused of plagiarizing another person’s work, so it’s imperative that you always publish original content on your blog and properly cite your sources." - Idiots guide to blogging This is the part when I can call out some people that continue to steal my work, and other bloggers work.  #1 worst offender: http://flavorstory.com/cheesy-garlic-cauliflower-bread-sticks/ This is my post, my photography, and she just stole it all and put it up. I am in the process of legal action against her. It takes hours to develop a recipe, make it, perfect it, take pictures, write it up, and she just thinks she can steal it. Not going to happen. Another horrible offender: https://www.facebook.com/ElegantFoodsDesserts?fref=ts 90% of their stuff is stolen copyright images and content. I have been contacted by over 18 bloggers and we are going to ban together to get this site taken down. There are so many others, but these two sites pissed me off this week, so I am going to just leave it at that.

Rule #3 Consistency. Pick a time, day, days, weeks, that you are going to post. If you want to develop an audience, you need to be consistent or your audience will lose interest fast. I have decided to post 5 days a week. Sometimes it is more, but it is never less. My readers know that each morning during the week I will have some content for them. Yes, your blog is still there in months to come, but it is just like TV. People know when to tune in at a certain time to watch the shows they like. Yes they can record them, and many people do, but it still good to have a set broadcasting time. 

Rule #4 It takes work. This will not come fast or easy. It takes work. If you are not willing to treat your blog like a job, then don't expect to get paid from it. You don't start a blog to get rich. We work hard for little return. So if it is not something you love to do, you will most likely get discouraged from the lack of audience and return you get. It took 3 years for me to get syndicated and start making a good living. I started my blog to document my recipes for my daughter and didn't really think of it as something that could potentially make money. It can take off, but don't expect it to be fast. If you are not a patient person, this venue is not for you. 

Rule #5 You have to market yourself and your work or you will not get noticed. Every single morning I spend over an hour posting to numerous sites my recipe of the day. Yes, by now you have all heard of pinterest. It is ONE of the many many places I post almost every single day. Just posting to one or two it will take years and years to get noticed enough to generate advertising and income.  Here is an example of the places I submit to. Yes it takes time and it is monotonous. 4 years later I am very thankful for my persistence. My biggest recommendation is that you never stop submitting. Be persistent. 

        my foodgawker 

gallery My KitchenArtistry 

Gallery my foodepix galleryRecipeNewZ My Gallery    my healthy aperture gallery

Rule #6 Get a good camera. If your shots don't look appetizing, no one will want the recipe. I still post some pictures that are not the best, because I am a good cook, not a good photographer. But I improve each day and am often featured on fabulous food photography sites like foodgawker and Tastespotting. 

Rule #7 Don't buy a domain just yet. It is going to take some time to gain readers and any income whatsoever, so why would you want to invest in a domain, and the price of hosting it, when there are unlimited free blog sites out there. A lot of people will come back with: "well I want to own my own content and my own name". Listen, I have domains now that point to my blogger site. I own independent domains for all of my blogs, but I didn't start out that way. Get a free blog site. If you are consistent and able to post to it regularly, then you can buy a domain and point to it once you are already getting an income. If you don't, then you are paying to work and it is just silly and a waste of money. Here is a list of free blog sites courtesy of Top Sites. I agree with them that Blogger is the best choice.
Blogger is one of the most popular blog websites and now it is owned by Google. Blogger is a great starting site to get to know blogging and its user dashboard is very user friendly.
WordPress is another major blog website besides blogger. With its own blogging platform WordPress, you can easily choose your favorite theme and blog layout.
Livejournal is not only a great blogging website but also a social networking website where you can search people by interests and school and participate in community discussions.
Blog.com offers free blog hosting with unlimited bandwidth for free members, more benefits for paid members.
5. Tumblr
Tumblr is a micro-blogging website where users can post text, images, videos, and more to their tumblelog.
Another blog website offering free web hosting for blogs. Blogsome is powered by wordpress.
Offers unlimited storage and posts, low cost subscription rates for advanced features.
Blogetery is a blog website that offers you payment to write blogs. You will get 90% of the profit, which is much more higher than other sites.
Blogster offers free blogs as well as free image hosting.
Weebly is one of TIME’s 50 Best Websites, which has an easy, drag & drop interface to create your own website.

Rule #8 Treat other bloggers as you want to be treated. You can hardly expect others to comment on your site and spend time on it, if you are not willing to do the same. If you are a selfish blogger, don't expect to get anywhere. Blogging is a community. We all help each other. There is room for everyone. It is not a competition, it is a family. If you are only interested in self promotion, you are in the wrong business. That being said, these are some of my favorite blogs that are an example of how you should be in the blogging community:

I am sure there are a ton out there I am forgetting. These are friends of mine and people that have proven their Etiquette to be top notch. I highly recommend following them. 

Rule #9 Always be willing to answer reader's questions, and do it nicely. This can be hard sometimes. Be prepared to be under a microscope. Miserable people like to try to bring you down and make you miserable. If you can't say anything nicely, then it is best to not say anything. I am referring to the nice readers that have genuine questions. Everyone reads things differently and if you are cooking, be prepared for a lot of questions!

I hope this article helped you out! 
Happy Blogging!