Thursday, 26 June 2014

Essential Tips and Advice from the Cosmopolitan Superblogger Masterclass

As promised in my previous post , I'm going to share with you some of the crucial tips and advice that I picked up whilst at the Cosmopolitan Superblogger Masterclass. Almost everyone at the event was quite new to blogging, just like myself, and I know there are a lot more of you out there. Sharing is caring and all that. 

Blog Housekeeping
·         Blogger vs Wordpress:  There was a lot of discussion about which is the best site to use when starting your blog, and although all members of the panel tried to remain impartial, it was obvious that Wordpress was held above Blogger in terms of  long-term choice, flexibility, and professionalism. There are also self-hosting options with Wordpress. However if you’re having no problems with Blogger right now and you are new to blogging, there’s no need to put yourself through the stress of moving elsewhere.
·         Online courses /books : With 30,000 blogs being created every day, guides, how-tos and instruction manuals on the subject are growing. Online courses and books are a good way of getting some expert know-how on blogging efficiently and turning your blog into a business.  Kat Williams from  Rock n Roll Bride blog is also currently running a Blogcademy : an event consisting of two-day workshops that travels all over the world. For those unable to attend, she also runs Blogcademy Home School : a series of videos packed full of essential blogging tips and advice.
·    Consistency: Being consistent in your posting is essential for a variety of reasons. Not only does it look professional, but for your readers, knowing when to look at your blog for new content helps them stay a regular reader, and encourages regularity for any new readers.  At the moment I’m trying to post at least two times a week, but am on the way to creating a schedule/timetable as to when particular posts will be posted and how often.
·         Blog Design – A lot of bloggers at the event were worrying that their blogs don’t look like top notch websites, but we were all reassured that the design is not as important as the content. At the end of the day, no amount of flashy tabs/ stunning fonts will make up for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors – Dribbble was recommended as a good sight for design inspiration. 

          How to Stand Out
·       Who are you: It’s all about you and your blog’s imagery.  Regardless of what your blog is about, you must treat it like a brand, and figure out how you’re going to represent yourself. Photography and the way you write have a large part to play in this. Develop your own voice and style. With so many bloggers at the moment, it’s easy to think ‘what’s the point.’ But there’s always room for new bloggers.  Figure out what makes you different /weird and run with it. This is something I personally have struggled with, so found this advice quite encouraging.
·       Social media: Use them to your full advantage. Instagram and Twitter are the best ways of presenting your image/ brand to the public. They should be a priority and are brilliant ways of attracting traffic to your blog. Followers on these sites are considered amongst your traffic by PR and brands.
·         Relationships with other bloggers: A lot can be gained by meeting other bloggers. Not only is it a support network, but you can learn from each other and motivate each other. Vicki  Fogwill (Social Media Manager of Next) recommended Next Blogger Network as a way to meet other bloggers and connect with Next.
·         Guest blogging: Can build an audience. If you guest post for a blog with a lot of followers, and someone likes what you had to contribute, chances are they’ll want to check you out. was recommended as a directory for guest blogging.
·         Bloglovin: Someone asked if it was worth being involved in Bloglovin, to which Fleur de Force replied ‘Absolutely’. It is a very easy way to get into that blogging community and discover like-minded bloggers. Also, it’s an easy avenue for other bloggers to find you.  
·         Agencies: Having checked out some blogging agencies, this seems to be something for those more established blogs who are needing a helping hand managing all the opportunities that are knocking on their door, but it’s something worth keeping in mind for the future, and also something to aim towards. Fleur de Force recommended Gleam, which is also working with Zoella , The Beauty Crush and In The Frow.
·         Affiliates: Affiliate programmes are a little bit more accessible for those of you like me who are just starting out. It’s a great way of working with brands and making them aware of what you have to offer, whilst promoting them and bringing more traffic to your blog. Fleur recommended Etsy , Reward Style  and Shopsense.

Monetizing Your Blog
·         Advice: Joe Williams (Founder of Zen Optimise) recommended Problogger as a good site packed with tips and advice on how to monetize your blog. He also mentioned Copyblogger for those wanting copywriting advice.
·         Pinterest: – Apparently Pinterest can be monetized. No one at the Cosmo event went into detail about how to do this, so I did a little bit of research, and found thisstep-by-step article as to how to go about it.
·         Outreaching to Brands:– When contacting brands with an aim of earning money off of whatever post you do for them, make sure your emails are well constructed.  Be specific in identifying what the blog post is actually going to be about and from what angle you’ll look at their brand/ product from.  State if there is a particular product you want and why.
·     Receiving money/products in return? Make sure any links you put to the brand or product are ‘no follow.’ Google can get pretty touchy about these things apparently.  
·         Banner ads: – These make it obvious that you’re available for monetized content.
·         Google Adsense: A way of earning money on your blog through advertising.

·      Title tag: Joe Williams said it’s vital to pay attention to this area in order for your blog to be featured on Google. I may not be interpreting his advice correctly, as when it comes to this kind of thing I get very confused, and I’m not even sure if Blogger has the facilities to edit a title tag.  
·         Google Keyword Finder:  If you are using hashtags/keywords etc, this is a great place to find the ones that are gaining the most traffic/ are the most popular, so you know which ones to use when tagging your blog/ pictures.
·         Wordpress SEO Plugin: - This helps improve your SEO on all possible aspects. It takes care of technical optimization whilst also helping you to write better content. Yet another reason for considering Wordpress  over Blogger.

Career Paths
·         Journalism and PR:There is a lot of discussion online about careers blogging can lead to. This question was brought up at the event, and Kate Lucey (Digital Content Lead) mentioned how when looking through job applications for Cosmopolitan, it always helps if you have a blog. Blogging also always gives you a multitude of opportunities to interact with PR professionals.