Note: Also see
This is a continuation of my Blogging 101 post which seemed to be quite popular, so here’s Blogging 102.
As was the case with Blogging 101, this is in no way a comprehensive list and it touches on different aspects of blogging but here are a few thoughts.
Each and every point is my opinion only, of course:
6. Install a comment reply notification system. But don’t flood.
Your readers will ask you questions in your comment field, and should answer them. Yes, answer their questions. To ignore reader questions, unless it’s truly off base or just an isolated circumstance or oversight on your part, is not advised. I know some bloggers don’t answer their readers’ questions but that’s not my style.
However, you wouldn’t want to spend your precious time replying to your readers questions in the comment field for them never to be seen.
Most people and readers (based on many informal polls I’ve taken) do not go back and re-read comments on someone else’s blog.
They may, but what a nice gift to give your readers to have a system that delivers your reply into their inbox.
And it’s a gift to you, too, because you know with 100% certainty your reply was emailed to them and it wasn’t just wasted keystrokes.
For Blogger blogs, Intense Debate or Disqus has these capabilities to some capacity but it’s a little trickier.
For WordPress blogs, I like this Comment Reply Notification system. A very simple plugin to install from your dashboard. It’s affiliated with FairyFish.net (which has a lot of characters I can’t read) but the two work together.
A caveat on comment replies: Your readers/commenters don’t want to receive every single other person’s comments nor your comment replies to others, in their inbox. I call this flooding and no one likes a flood.
Sometimes on WordPress blogs there’s the option of checking a little box to “receive email updates”.
I have checked those in the past only to receive every other person’s comments who comments behind me and/or the blog author’s comment replies to everyone else. Bad!
Flooding your readers’ inboxes with all your other readers comments is a way to really tick them off.
Make sure you have tested your blog with some friends who can act like “guinea pigs” for you with trial and error and testing it all out to make sure if someone checks that box they are not being emailed 50+ comments. I have done that on some high traffic blogs by mistake. Never again!
7. WordPress is better than Blogger. I recommend using it. There are so many, many reasons why, and too many to even bother going into, but just suffice to say I think it’s far superior.
Ok you really want to know why I believe it’s superior: plugins, pings, greater customization capabilities, more functions and tools, it’s just more.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have started blogging on WP but I didn’t, and 18 months later had a helluva time migrating to self-hosted WP, but I did made it to SH-WP and am so happy I did.
I strongly urge you to make the move to WordPress if you’re on Blogger, sooner rather than later. You can do this yourself by googling it, or you can pay for help. (See 8 & 9 below)
If you’re just contemplating starting a blog, start it on WordPress.
I am not familiar with Tumblr, Squarespace, or some of the other blogging platforms personally, but I’d advise going with WordPress, period.
8. Google is your best friend. If you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s ok because no one starting a blog does. Google it. I cannot repeat this enough.
Use google or other search engines, YouTube videos, chat room forums, and anything you can find online. If you want to learn how to do something, figure something out, it’s probably out there somewhere on the internet already and just have to find it and apply it to your own situation.
As with everything in life, do your own research. Blogging, technology, and various aspects of them are no different. (It all goes back to point #5 in Blogging 101: time)
9. Know when you’re in over your head and ask/pay for help. As much as I’d love to be able to do every single thing myself on my blog, and I did for the first 18 months, I now occasionally pay for tech help and minor blog maintenance services, as needed (such as my blog revamping and blog name change).
The migration from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress was a challenge too great for me. I paid for it.
Having certain graphics created for my site, or disclaimers added into the CSS style sheet in the footer of my blog, yes I could do this.
I googled it and read about it and almost deleted my whole blog and therefore decided it was better to pay for it. It was a better and more practical use of my time to hire certain things out, but again, I use paid help very minimally and for 18 months was a 100% Do-It-Myself blogger.
Ask other bloggers who they’ve used, and who they’ve been happy with. Most bloggers will tell you I used so-and-so and liked him/her or don’t use so-and-so because of these reasons. Word of mouth referrals from other bloggers you “know” are worth their weight in gold.
You want someone working on your site and working for you who is hard-working, trustworthy, shares your vision for your site and can get the job done; which isn’t necessarily the cheapest person. Make certain you know what you’re getting into before hiring someone from timetables to turnaround times to fees to creative vision.
You don’t have to be made of money to start a blog. You do have to be resourceful and determined (see #8 again) and just dive in.
10. Have fun & Find Your Own Voice! If you’re not having fun, re-examine why you started a blog.
There have been times over the past few years where I was not having fun with my blog. It felt like a chore and as I look back, it likely felt that way because I was pandering too much to what I thought my readers wanted to read about rather than just finding my voice and blogging from the heart and being true to myself.
As I said in point #1 in Blogging 101, Thou Shall Not Steal, and that includes stealing another blogger’s vocabulary or voice.
You must find your own path in life, and on your blog.
Yes, you do need to keep readership and their desires and what they will find interesting in mind when you’re blogging, but this is your blog and if you’re not having fun, they’ll know it anyway.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog, it is fun. Not every day is easy, sometimes there will be some doosie things that happen that throw you for a loop, but overall the good far outweighs the bad for me.
In fact, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and is a platform for my career fantasies, goals, and doing what I want.
Time to stop talking about blogs and blogging and talk about food. Food that has chocolate in it, too.
These would make an easy Memorial Day party dessert that everyone will love!
No Bake Nutter Butter Special K Bars
Or maybe some dip for fresh fruit.
Chocolate Coconut Cashew Butter
From my last pictorial post, Savoring Aruba, I am glad you liked my photos and thanks for letting me know which were your favorites. And also what you’re savoring right now.
1. What resonates with you in this post?
2. What do you want to hear more about?
There will be a Blogging 103 and some topics I’m toying with include:
Self-hosted vs. Free WordPress
Handling product reviews
Doing reader giveaways
Handling rvealing yourself to the world when you start a blog
3. Any plans for Memorial Day Weekend?
Mine include this in Aruba
Have a safe and fun Holiday Weekend to everyone celebrating!
Thank you for these tips! I assumed that emails were automatically generated when a comment was replied to. I had no idea I had to install a plugin! My goodness, I have so much to learn!
Hi Averie! I was actually researching FM Publishing (prior to tangling myself up in a contract) and accessed your site through their Publisher’s page, though I follow your comment links here from other blogs on the regular (and I think you’ve commented on my posts once or twice!). This is the first time I’ve read this series and it is great!! I migrated from WordPress.com to WP-SH not long ago, and even THAT was a feat that almost reduced me to tears/a computer-smashing frenzy (I just wrote a post on that last week). Your advice is spot-on! Google is my bff, but I really just wanted to take a sec to say thanks!! for putting all this info in one organized place. That plug-in… priceless. I’ve totally been looking for something like it and am configuring as we speak. Thank you!!
Glad you got migrated over and that it’s behind you. All the tech changes are stressful and can give me a heart attack – I can relate to what you describe! I wrote this series on the heels of all my more major changes and it feels like a lifetime ago now but glad the info still is helpful!
This is a great post. Looking foward to reading more.
glad you like it!
who can you pay to help?
Google and there are names that pop up. Be prepared to spend anywhere from $25 dollars an hour on up…is what I’ve found and some are by the project, i.e. a new header plus something else for a project total of $200 or whatever….that’s why self-learning in the end is great. Google away!
I started reading your blog recently and am hooked: you take beautiful pictures, and I enjoy your insightful writing. Skylar is such a cutie!
I love your posts about blogging. Definitely bookmarking them! With time and lots of love, I hope my blog will grow beyond what I have even dreamed of. I really appreciate your helpful tips that will guide me along the way!
These tips are very helpful!!! Thanks for posting them..I’m just getting started as of TODAY. Although, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now.. and have tried a few of your recipes. (:
I totally owe you an email ;) I think the most interesting topic for me right now is free wordpress versus self-hosted WP. I want to make the switch from blogger but i’m beyond terrified to lose all my followers, comments, and shenanigans in the process!
great post girl!
Comment reply system: Yes! I love it when blogs have this feature.
Testing: As a programmer I always recommend this – and backing up your files, photos & content :)
Google: Best resource for anything really. If it is out on the internet, Google will find it for you.
Amazing how so many of your tips can be applied to most other areas of life.
Self hosted versus free please! I’m on free wordpress right now but I’m contemplating a blog makeover and if I’m going to makeover I better go all the way – so is it worth it? Should I self host?
yes and yes. and stayed tuned.
I’m loving this series, Averie! My film/book/tv review blog has nothing to do with food, fitness, or yoga, but I’ve been a fan of your blog for years, and I love reading your tips for us less experienced bloggers.
I would love to see a post on Free WP vs. Self-hosted WP. I would also love to hear your thoughts and advice on revealing your own personal self through blog. I’m still deciding how much of my own identity to reveal, and I don’t even write personal life entries!
thanks for the nice words and reading for years :)
I really want to switch to wordpress, but I am scared!
I have had nothing but problems with blogger.
Also, I have no way of replying to comments on my blog without them going at the end of the comments. I wish that I could reply to a comment in a way that it would automatically just email the reply to the intended person … if that makes sense.
im still playing catch up on your posts – there are a TON since ive been gone, but i loved your 101 post yesterday and this one is equally as helpful. not too much info, but a nice sampling of your thoguhts. def enjoying. hope the vacay is going well. hope all the work part is done and youre living the easy life now. your pics are gorg. even though i just went on vacation im a bit jealous, haha.
and yep, 2 posts a day, every day, rain or shine :)
your trip has been wonderful to watch…between you and gabriela i felt like i went to europe without having to cross the atlantic :)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I really appreciate this, especially your talk about comments, and blogger vs wordpress. I don’t get that many comments (yet?!) but I laboriously forward them to people manually. Blogger and disqus always send me the entire thread, which I am not always delighted by! I love how your blog and a few others just sends me a personal reply (and you’re right, they’re all wp blogs).
Agree too about being proactive, figuring stuff out for yourself, but knowing when to ask for help.
I’m so happy to hear that you’re feeling like blogging is great for you: I remember the times when it seemed like more of a chore, and am glad that that time is past. Your happiness definitely comes through!
thanks ela for the nice comment (as always) and yes ive noticed you “hand” deliver, or hand email, your comment replies..thank you!
and yes, i love my blog and the bumps in the road are a distant memory!
Very helpful post! I’m really interested in Blogging 103 because I’m trying to move from wordpress.com to self-hosted, and I’m totally confused. I might just pay the $100 to do the guided transfer because I don’t want to risk messing things up. :)
well worth the $money if you ask me! some things i’d rather pay for and know i am safe, rather than sorry but to each her own.
I totally agree with the FLOODING of the inbox. When I check those boxes.. I do so because I am hoping to get a reply from the author of the post.. but end up with tons.. (sometimes 100s if it is popular blog) of emails that I have NO interest in reading. Thanks for the post, Averie!
oh the 100s if a popular blog…yeah, ive been there. I want to tell them hey, do you know…
But I never have. I dont want to be the complainer :)
I definitely like the fact that your comment replies go to my email. It’s just nice and well-appreciated!
I also really want to move my blogspot blog over to wordpress BUT I am scared that I’ll lose something or won’t know how to move it all over. I’m not quite ready for a challenge (I’ve heard it can be really messy) like that juuust yet, but really want to soon.
Completely agree with the self hosted thing. I’m actually kind of mad I started on wordpress.com it was a bit of a waste of time, but it was a good learning experience and at least I know how to move to self hosted and at least now I can help my sister in law out who used wordpress.com. Self hosted is so much better it’s not even funny and haven’t even customized my site very much since I moved. Totally agree about google too. Honestly, in this day and age I look at people weird when they say they can’t find information. Seriously? It’s called google, haha. I still need to test my comment notification thingy. I wonder if I can test it myself with an email address that’s not the email I use for my site? I guess I’ll find out.
Thanks so so much for your postst on blogging, Averie. They are really helpful and inspiring to new bloggers like me. I really like how you tell readers to just be themselves and have fun with their bloggs! thats what blogging is all about, it should be something you want to do and are excited about, not somehting that feels like a chore.
And lucky you getting to spend the holiday in Aruba! i am so jealous girl. I have a 3 hour yoga and meditation workshop on the agenda for tomorrow that i’m really excited about :)
Happy Memorial Day!
WordPress is so much better. I was on blogger for about 10 months and then moved over after it went offline for something like 36 hours. I’m so glad I moved.
Oh my gosh, I’m so glad you touched upon the comment situation! I love getting an e-mail alerting me to the fact that my question has been answered, but I can’t stand it when I receive an e-mail every single time any comment is added. It’s such a pain! I was practically jumping out of my chair I was nodding so much!
Great post, very informative!
1. That WordPress is better than Blogger, so true! Agreed on the comment reply mod too, important to interact with readers.
2. How you choose your content, formatting, etc.
3. Nope and that’s alright after this week! Maybe a nature hike with the camera, who knows.
I am trying to install the comment reply system for wordpress, but I am MAJORLY confused. I don’t see a plug in option on my dashboard. HELP! Please ,if you can. :)
dashboard, left hand side of your screen, by appearance, widgets, plugins, etc.
GOOGLE is your best friend :) good luck and it will be worth it.
Just a quickie since I’m not blogging anymore and this is off topic but THANKS for sharing your Aruba pics (last post), no wonder you love that place! WHAT a refuge – I hope it’s every bit as good for you guys as it looks :-)
So you’ve officially inspired me, and I’m making the switch from blogger to wordpress right now. Wish me luck!
So glad you did another one of these!!! So many helpful tips yet again. I’m SO glad that I started with WordPress. It was just luck really because I didn’t know what I was doing, but in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t choose Blogger instead. My blog hasn’t grown to the point where I need to pay others to help out, but I hope that one day it will, and I will know to ask for help when that day comes! Keep the tips comin’ Averie–this is great! :D
I loove how you have the comment reply system set up. Occasionally I’ll go to see if I got a reply, but that’s only if I remember which post I posted on and whose blog haha!
I’d like to see a post about how you got companies to start sending you stuff for reviews :)?
I assume you’re still getting my comment replies in your email inbox, just checking. Another reader told me she’s not!
Yep I am! That stinks that she’s not? Maybe double check that her email is typed correctly or that it’s not going into the spam folder? Sometimes it may just be simple mistakes =/
Ok thanks for lmk you still are. Whew!!
And yes, I am thinking it’s a spam issue too b/c everyone else so far still is..things CAN and do glitch all the time on blogs out of no where so it’s always good to double check w/ ppl to make sure everything is still working properly.
Glad to know it is for you and you’re still getting everything.
Great post! I deeply admire you blogging skills, and hope to continue to improve my own! That being said, I will be searching online for how to switch over to wordpress. I’m also interested in the ways in which you can get paid for blogging?? I have not been able to read much about this.
By the way, I’ve been loving your Aruba photography lately.
Thanks again for sharing such helpful info. with your readers.
thanks for the compliments.
as for money, google it…start reading and familiarizing yourself with all the ways!
Another excellent post! Thank you for the shout outs. Working with you has been a pleasure and an honor, as well as a learning experience. You continually challenge me to be a better blogger and plunge into the unknown. You inspire me in so many ways, you’re just awesome. :) xoxo
tell me if you get this reply in your inbox!!!!
The only thing I don’t like about Blogger is the commenting. I go back and comment to questions, but otherwise, it’s too hard to find out how to respond to someone. There are certain comments that i want to say something back, but don’t just because it’s too hard to respond. I can’t do the commenting programs because I have a custom design and you can only add them to basic templates. Frustrating! I will eventually move over to self hosting, but for now, blogger is it for me…bummer.
Thanks again for this useful information Averie!
For me it’s kinda hard to give money for my blog because I’m still a student (not for long anymore though). I chose blogger when I started blogging. It’s would be kinda weird to move to WordPress but I get why you choose that over blogger. Blogger is really plain and simple, there’s not a lot you can do with it. So I’m going to have to think about moving my blog again.
PS : Please help me choose from the cooking books listed on The Veggie Eco-Life!
the book? I have no idea. Whatever you get will be great, Im sure.
Great tips. I’m so glad I made the switch from blogger > wordpress soon. And going self-hosted is worth it just for the comment-reply plugin. I would always end up replying via e-mail to reader questions, but then if anyone else was reading comments and saw the same question they had, they don’t see my answer…which is a problem and probably just made me look rude!
(speaking of which; i never receive e-mails from your system when you reply to my comments anymore…? not sure if it’s just my e-mail or…?)
Ok I am replying to you on my site.
Also going to email you…lmk what you get and don’t!
I’ve been thinking of switching from blogger to wp for a long time now, but I’m afraid of losing my google links after working them up all these years. Blogger is very frustrating, I agree. Thanks for the input-good job!
Love these tips! I totally agree with the commenting point – as a read I appreciate receiving a notification when my comment had been replied to, but I do NOT need to know about every comment to a post.
I can’t wait for blogging 103. I feel like there is so much to learn and I agree 100% with you (duh I had her help me too!) about asking for help. Jenn was so helpful in getting me moved to self hosted and although I asked her a million questions, she never made me feel like an idiot!
I agree with staying true to your own voice — I tried being like the bigger blogs a few months ago and I hated it! I didn’t feel like me and I felt like I had to do a certain # of recipes each week, certain # of workouts each week, etc and that only resulted in me being burnt out and quitting blogging for 2 months! Now I’m doing what I want to do and I love it.
Aww, thanks, Holly! It was great working with you. Just like Averie, you were a pleasure to work with and I am so happy to have met you! Don’t ever hesitate to holla at yo koala. I got you! :) xoxo
I am glad you’re back to your happy blogging place!
I use Intense Debate but I still don’t think I have figured out how to do the Notification Reply with it going to their inbox and on my blog??? Is there a trick that you know of? If I could figure this one out, it would be the all to end all on my blog!! I’ve been trying for YEARS!
I wish I could go back and start my blog with wordpress. I think we both know how much blogger stinks. Thanks for all these tips. I could use them ALL right now. ANd maybe some Aruba time, haha.
This is my passion. Thank you for te inspiration!
great tips, averie – many thanks. my next goals are to change my reply system (your comments on this are super helpful), and one day i’d like to go self-hosted. i will def contract this out! thanks for sharing your own experiences. i’m lucky i started on WP right from day one – only because my SIL recommended it, i had no clue!
sooo important to stay true to your own voice. when i get writer’s block, don’t feel like blogging, it’s almost always because i have lost my focus on why i blog, who i’m blogging for.
def do a 103 version, please! i’m most interested in self-hosted vs wordpress and product reviews (seeing morgan spurlock’s “the greatest movie ever made” made me think of the blog world/product placement/advertising).
have a great saturday!
I love that you said hwo you paid for someone else to do some of the grunt work for you. I without a doubt know that doing CSS is way too big of a feat for me, which is why I am now in the process of paying someone else as well! It’s a beautiful thing, really.
these are awesome tips!! i never knew there was a wordpress plugin for replies!! ima check that out now cuz thats awesome!! oh and agreed! wordress> blogger!