Joshua Clare-Flagg, Lead Front-End Developer at ADAO, has something up his sleeve; he runs a popular blog on the side. He also has a googolplex of other items up his sleeves – as his blog is about watches. Not a week goes by without a watch delivery, and in this article he shares some valuable lessons he has learnt regarding blogging over the years.
Watch It All About receives approximately 30,000 visits every month, and it’s been running since January 2013. I initially thought up 10 tips, but as the creative juices started flowing more popped up in my mind. So you’re getting a bonus 2; you’re welcome. If you want an award-winning design and development team behind your blog, then please feel free to contact ADAO. We don’t bite, and we’re all extremely friendly. Chances are, right now (if in office hours) we’re singing away in the office typing away with steely determination on sites like yours could potentially be.
So here we go with my top tips for starting / running a successful blog:
There’s little wonder why WordPress is the most used CMS (Content Management System) in the world; it’s intuitive, has a plugin for everything, and great for SEO straight out of the box. Of course, you need to keep on top of all updates – WordPress core itself, all plugins, and if you’re using a pre-built template, that too. Here at ADAO we build completely bespoke WordPress sites (check out our portfolio) and find that WordPress can’t be beat.
I see so many blogs popup using a Blogger / Blogspot / WordPress domain (such as myamazingblog.blogspot.com). This is an instant turnoff for many – it shows that you and your blog aren’t really serious, so probably not worth the time reading.
Logos can be had for literally a fiver (that’s £5 for those of you not in the UK) from Fiverr, so there’s no excuse to not get something mocked up. This would suffice for a personal blog, but if you’re a high-flying professional and want something high quality to match, then a design agency like ourselves would be your best bet. Get in touch or check out our portfolio.
Because you can’t.
Unless you splat adverts all over the gaff (which I wouldn’t recommend, it makes for a horrible user experience) you need to realise that you can’t setup a blog, put a couple of adverts on it and expect the dosh to come rolling in. To put it into perspective, I’d say that you can get approximately £20 GBP max for every 10,000 visits per month if using Google Adsense.
YouTube is another viable option for monetisation, but recently they’ve made it more difficult to monetise your videos. Now you need at least 4,000 hours of watchtime in the past year and 1,000 subscribers. So again, be prepared to put in some hard graft, which leads us into our next point.
I’m going to be realistic; you’re not going to get recognised overnight – I certainly didn’t. It was around about the 1 year mark where people really started to notice my work, and Google did too. Google tends to avoid listing new domains (can you imagine how many new domains popup each and every day and then disappear?), so you need a bit of time behind your site to gain some trust. Don’t get upset or disappointed if you’ve been running a blog for a good few months but it’s not going anywhere. Just knuckle down, get your head down and carry on with some hard graft.
A simple one really. How else will you track your visitors and if your site is performing well or gradually getting more popular? Events and goals such as “submitted contact form” and notes placed on the days of each post can help you track what performed particularly well if there’s a spike in traffic.
This is one that may not be so well known, but first of all make sure you have an XML Sitemap and then setup a Google Webmaster Tools account. You can then submit your sitemap to Google – which tells it that not only does your blog exist, but also all the pages that’s within it. This increases your chances and speed of getting spidered by Google.
We always install WP Super Cache and Autoptimize on our WordPress sites. These activate caching and minification / concatenation of files, making your site much smaller in size and quicker to load. A much more pleasurable experience for your visitors! This also leads on to the next point…
This is a common issue we see on so many of the sites we develop at ADAO. Uploading an image straight from your 20MP DSLR is a terrible idea, as each picture is at least 5MB. Add 4 images to a blog post which are that size and all of a sudden you have a page size of at least 20MB, which would load as fast a snail travelling through peanut butter. An instant turn off for Google and any visitor. Of course, not everyone will have Photoshop at their disposal, but there are plenty of online alternatives. I always go by the following 2 rules: images shouldn’t be wider than 1400px, and no larger than 400kb in file size.
If you Google “affordable watch reviews” then watchitallabout.com is first (at least in the UK).
There is it is in all its glory. Don’t click on the other sites. Ever. Please.
Obviously that’s more specific than just “watch reviews”. This means I can create precise and pointed content and am more likely to be the top listed site for that specific search term.
Your page title is the most important tag on a page, so use it wisely. You can also use your headings in conjunction with this to tell Google the gist of the content of the page and if it deems it relevant. There should only ever be one H1 on a page – this is the second most important element on a page (in SEO terms) – any more and they’ll all get watered down. Feel free to use H2s (no more than 6 really) to provide additional information.
This is the easiest and most powerful way to get traffic to your blog. Every time you post something new, share it on forums (that are relevant, I wouldn’t share my watch reviews on The Sewing Forum) and social media. By social media, I mean setup Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts (but not all are suitable, it depends on what topic your blog is about). If, like me, you have a full time job and a family too, then online tools such as Hootsuite and IFTTT (If This Then That) can greatly reduce the time spent on posting. For instance, I just post an image on Instagram and IFTTT will automatically add it to my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I can even do this whilst walking the dog or with my 2 year old daughter hanging off me.
Technically you don’t need a copyright; when you create something in this country it is by definition copyrighted to you. However, not everyone knows this and if you don’t want people using your images and text, a copyright is the first step you should take to put them off.
This actually happened to me; some guy was using my watch pictures to sell his watch on eBay. After sending him a message he said “well you don’t have a copyright” on the site. He was right! 10 minutes later I slapped that bad boy in the footer and got back to him.
That’s all the most important points I can think of, and have personally experienced. In reality, the key points are that you should be serious and make your blog look professional, but most of all be determined and patient.
You can follow Josh on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or on his YouTube channel which has received over 2.5 Million views. Or keep an eye out on ADAO’s latest websites, as it’s most likely his little fingers that have coded them.