The 2 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Blogging

Sharing the TWO things that can be a big problem down the road if you don’t know about them now! What I wish I had known then that would make my life so much easier today.

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#1. SEO

If there is anything I would tell Ashley of February 2014 now, it would be this: know what SEO is.

If you’re actually reading this, you’re probably a blogger, or have some sort of web site (or you’re really, really bored).

If you’re a blogger, or you own some sort of web site, most of you are going to be closing this and heading to a real blogging expert now who is actually going to challenge you. But maybe, just maybe, there are a few of you out there who don’t really have a good idea what SEO — Search Engine Optimization — is (does anybody??) and maybe you might want to make sure you’re not making the same mistakes I made for Way Too Long.

*These resource posts are geared toward bloggers who are just starting out, or just thinking about starting out, and who want to know what I think are the most important things to focus on right from the beginning.

I wrote many, many, many blog posts before I realized that SEO was a thing. I blame this on my lack of interaction with other bloggers (*read: find some blogging friends who are going to let you know when you’re making stupid mistakes!). Bloggers are really good at networking and helping each other fix problems — you need them.

And sometimes I got lucky, and I managed to throw in a few keywords here and there. And that’s about as far as it got.

But then you get to a point, maybe a year later, when you’re making a little bit of money from your blog. And you think, “maybe I could make a little bit more.” You decide you’d really like to be friends with Google, and then you realize you’ve written 100 posts that are not “optimized”.

You don’t have to do a bunch of research and pull your hair out over it. Just at least do the bare minimum so you’re not kicking yourself later!

The Bare Minimum:

1.) Install the Yoast SEO plugin: it’s free, and you need it. At the very least, fill in the General section and make sure you’re getting green lights everywhere. The Yoast SEO plugin helps to make sure that your keywords are in all the right places, so pick one keyword, and try to stick with it as you’re writing. This doesn’t mean that you have to write unnaturally. This just means that you should write your title or keywords in the same order in at least a few different places, and plug that keyword in your plugin (which shows up on every post), and make sure it’s all green.

There are lots of other things that the Yoast SEO plugin can do, but at the very least, do that!

2.) Don’t pick weird names for recipes: there are some recipes that I named, and now I have no idea why I named them something so strange. Try to think about what people would search for if they were looking for that type of recipe! What kinds of things would stand out to them? Also, think about the order people would type them when they’re typing. What would people actually type in who are looking for that? (And yes, there are other things to keep in mind like “long tail keywords” and search competition, but we’re talking the Bare Minimum here — a good start is better than having no idea).

3.) Keep site speed in mind, even in the beginning: Site speed is a bigger part of SEO than I ever imagined when I thought I kind of knew what SEO was. The thing is, when you have 10 posts and 25 images on your site, your site is probably still going to be pretty fast. It’s only when you get to 100, or 200 posts that you really start to notice all of those mistakes you made before! Which leads me to:

#2. Don’t upload images that are 1MB in size.

Now, most of you are sitting there chuckling to yourself, thinking, “she did what?!?!” But just maybe there are a few people left out there that don’t realize this will hurt you in the long run.

When I started blogging, I would edit my photos, save at the best quality, not even resized, and upload them to the blog.

Eventually, I started resizing them, or reducing them slightly… and then I started to catch on and reduce them even more, until I got to the point where I usually upload photos that are between 80-100kb.

So I’ve reduced my photo sizes by 90% over the last year. And you can just imagine what kind of havoc those 1Mb+ images are wreaking on my site!

The worst part is that there’s no easy way to fix this. You can install an image optimizing plugin, but they really aren’t effective at all. The only way? Take your photos down and resize them.

The Bare Minimum:

1.) Resize your photos so they fit exactly on your blog — not smaller, not larger.

2.) Take it a step further and optimize your images (or if you use Lightroom, restrict image size to 100-150kb) so that they’re no bigger than 100-200kb.

PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES: How to Start a Food Blog (How I Started My Food Blogging Business)

So I know if you’re an experienced blogger, or if you’re not a blogger, you might not find these posts all that useful. And that’s okay! All I really want is to be able to help those who are just starting out avoid making some of the same mistakes I made in the past.

Seasoned food bloggers: I’d love to hear your thoughts! What is something you’d tell your beginning food blogger if you could?

Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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  1. Trish Nagel says

    Thank you Ashley!! I love how easy it is to follow your ideas and that you keep it simple for us newbies! i am so excited to get going with my blog – and you have helped a lot!

  2. Aisha says

    Hi Ashley..i have been toying with the idea of starting a blog fir quite a while now and i have just gotten serious about it..i wonder if you can help me answer this one; should i buy my own domain name or should i stick with something free like blogger tumblr?

  3. Naomi says

    Thank you Ashley, for your information. Iā€™m interesting in doing a blog. Your information is enlightening. Working on what I may need to be.

  4. Kim says

    Thank you Ashley for your post on this! I’m a fellow Canadian who just started a blog on interior decorating ideas for vacation rentals & small accommodation businesses. There is soooo much to learn and research, so its much appreciated to randomly come across your blog that was super easy to understand and wasn’t’ over my head!

    This is actually the first time I’ve felt the urge to leave a comment on someones post as after you stated how important other bloggers will be on this journey, I figured I’d better jump right on in! Thank you!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Thanks Kim! I’m so glad that it helped somewhat! When I started it was really overwhelming — there’s so much to learn and things that you don’t even know you need to learn! Thankfully the blogging community is SO supportive šŸ™‚

  5. Ann says

    I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a while now, but didn’t know where to start! So thank you SO much for sharing all your tips and tricks, you really don’t know how much I appreciate this!

  6. Carol Ateah says

    Hello Ashly, I’ve just read most of your blogging for a career posts and found them so clearly written, easy to understand and above all completely relevant information …. and I’m not even a blogger. lol

    I’m a Canadian family therapist who is starting a website connecting therapists with clients for online therapy. The site will launch I hope next month. It’s occurred to me that I won’t be writing blogs … I’m not a writer and so started the search for …hmmm can I get someone to write on my blog and do I have to pay them ..?
    I got this information and so much more practical tips to use to build my site up as well for example; what SEOs are and the tip about Yoast, advertising = huge tip: tap influencer. Thank YOU!! Mediavine I will check out as well as what an IMB image is.
    You have a gift for writing (love your conversational style) and getting your point across clearly. I think you will make a terrific e-author and don’t just stick to food writing (not that there’s anything wrong with it) as you have a talent that could be applied in many areas.
    Thank you again for all the information.

  7. Shelley Brezinsky says

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I’m just starting out and admire other bloggers for their thoughtfulness.

  8. Adell Goff says

    Thanks so much for this! I now need to go change all my images to the correct size šŸ™‚ I have a question, in Lightroom do you keep it right at 100 K for limit file size to? And do you keep the quality at 100 if you are limiting the file size? Thanks again!

  9. Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron says

    Great tips, and things I still need to work on, too! I didn’t know about Yoast and I downloaded the All In One SEO plugin, and that seems to work pretty well, too! I definitely need to think about page load speed, because although I export my photos to the width of my blog, I don’t limit the size or compress them in any way. Definitely something on my list! Loving this series, Ashley!

  10. Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor says

    I love reading posts like this because there are so many things I wish I knew when I first started. I wish I knew about SEO when I started because it makes a huge difference when you start using SEO tactics from day 1. And image optimization is so important!

  11. Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy says

    Great advice. There is SO much to know, and trying to get everything right from the start is almost impossible. I did pick the brains of a fellow very successful blogger when I started. At least I managed to get a few of the important things right at the beginning. Still have LOTS to learn….and I will say it is SO frustrating!!

  12. Danielle says

    SEO still confuses me, but I do use the Yoast plugin and it helps a lot! I really wish I would’ve known about image size too, I used to upload massive images on my site, yikes! Loved this post, Ashley. Definitely helpful for new bloggers and even those who aren’t. Now I’m off to check my image sizes and make sure they stay in that range!

  13. Johlene@FlavoursandFrosting says

    SEO! When I heard the term for the first time I was in the complete dark! Many bloggers focus their attention on Social Networking, which is great too, but once your blog is sorted SEO wise, you can just sit back and enjoy the “free: traffic!
    Great post Ashley!

  14. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says

    These are the two main things that I wish I would’ve known last year, too! I’m still puzzled on SEO, but at least I know it’s critical now and have plugins to help me out. And yes about the photo size too! You nailed it, Ashley.There are so many things I wish I could tell myself when I first started out, but I think one of those would be to learn how to take decent pictures and not post ones on my blog that were taken on my counter in artificial light. Makes me cringe! Not that I’m an expert now, but at least I know that’s just not right, or pretty! šŸ™‚

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Yes, that is a big one too! I think photography is something that can just take time to figure out, especially if you don’t spend a good chunk of time learning it at the beginning. That’s probably what I should have done!

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