If you haven't already, check out the Before and After Party below! I think I'll make this a monthly shindig. I'm highlighting some of the projects on my Facebook page, so join me there if you want to check them out. (You can find my button to the left of my site.)

So a few days ago, Thrifty Decor Chick hit one million hits. Wowzers. I still can't even believe that. I mean, that's a lot. Especially considering a year ago, I had about 1,000. And those were probably just from my four friends who read my site. I've learned some things along the way that I wanted to share with all of you. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I know about one million hits worth. So let's start from the beginning!

Starting a blog:
I went with blogger because it's so incredibly easy to start up and operate. I am pretty computer savvy, but not overly so, and blogger is very user friendly. And it's FER-REE. Score!

When I was creating the name for TDC, I wanted something fun but that perfectly described what I was going to write about. (I had Thrifty Decor Girl at first. Chick is so much more caaute.) I think my name helps bring folks to my site, because they know exactly what it is I write about. So if you want to start a blog about a certain subject, I recommend creating a title that alludes to what you are going to write about -- if it's a cooking blog, include words about food or cooking in the title. If it's a gardening blog, the same. If you have a family blog and want to start making it more specific to something you love, I suggest starting up a separate blog just for that.

Your site design:
Make it easy for people to read your site! I have a background in marketing/journalism, which included a lot of graphic design. I know white space (empty space) is a good thing, serif font is a good thing (the one with "feet" -- easier to read), people read left to right (meaning their eye travels across the page that way) and the average population reads at an eighth grade level. (Not sure if that is still the case but it was back in the day.) Please don't think I assume you all read at the eighth grade level folks -- it's just a standard writers use and it works!

This one is very important -- make it easy for people to COMMENT on your site. I like my comment form because it opens a separate box for comments, and commenters can still see the page they are commenting on. I highly recommend you go to your own site, while you are logged out, and try leaving a comment. See what is the easiest for your readers. There is one blogger comment form that seriously takes me four steps if I'm not logged in. Many times I've almost said forget it. :)

The comment moderation (where you are required to enter the "word" they give you) is a big topic of discussion among bloggers. I don't find it necessary. It's just another step your readers have to go through to leave you a message. In almost a year I've had mine off, I've only gotten about four of five spam-type comments I've had to delete. It's worth it to me to have it off.

Bringing people to your site:
I didn't even realize there were many decorating blogs out there for the first three months I blogged. I did it for my friends and family to see what I did around the house. When I discovered this big, beautiful bloggy world, I quickly realized how important commenting was to getting my name out there.

I did it a LOT. And often. And I was sincere. And when I realized I could add a "blog roll" to my site, I would comment and let people know I was adding them, then ask them to stop by if they had a chance. Some did, some didn't. It did help bring people over to see what I was doing. (If you ask me to come by your site, I ALWAYS do, it just takes time.)

One big tip I have is to change your name you use when commenting to include your blog title. So instead of "Sarah," mine says "Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick." If people see my name in a list of comments, they also see what kind of blog I have, and if they are interested in decorating, they may click over.

There are many sites dedicated to highlighting bloggers -- I am so fortunate that I have been highlighted by a few of the big ones, including Tip Junkie, Today's Creative Blogs and The Secret is in the Sauce. I recommend you go to these sites and check them out (see my blogroll on the right.) Most of the time you need to submit to be featured on these sites, so please do so!! They will drive an insane amount of traffic to your site.

Keeping them coming back:
When things started to get busier around TDC last fall, and just because of the time of year it was, I was posting a LOT. Almost every day. That is the nature of this time of the year for me (it's going to get crazy here in about a few days folks!) but I also wanted to have something new to keep people coming back.

I think this is important to do to drive traffic to your site, but I also want to warn you -- blogging gets addicting. You will quickly get obsessed with it, both as a blogger and a reader. PLEASE do not let it interfere with your life. If you have the time, post every day. If you don't -- DON'T. I got so busy with it last fall, I realized I was letting it take over my life just a bit, and I didn't want that, and I don't want that for any of you.

Stay true to you. If you are goofy, funny, sarcastic, crude, whatever -- don't CHANGE. People that love your site love it because you are goofy, funny, sarcastic, crude, whatever. Don't think you need to change because more people are visiting. Don't stop being funny. PLEASE. And whatever you do, don't stop saying "cauuute" and "lurve." No matter what.

Extra little tips:
I succumbed to the Twitter bandwagon and really do love it (thought I would NEVER do it). My "hits" went WAY up when I started really using it. It is a fun, unique way to get your site out there, and I recommend it if you are interested. There are some spammers within Twitter that you have to watch for, but otherwise I've found it really enjoyable.

This is a big one -- YOU WILL NOT PLEASE EVERYONE ALL THE TIME. You will also offend someone, no matter how much you try not to. It's just the nature of the beast. You can't please everyone, and even though the disgruntled comments hurt, you have to move past them and stay true to you.
Speaking of not pleasing everyone, you will most likely never hear me discuss anything controversial on this blog, my Facebook page or my Twitter account. For example, I am a VERY passionate, opinionated person when it comes to politics. As hard as it is for me not to discuss it at times, it would take something really big for me to break this rule. I want this site to be fun, stress-free and enjoyable for everyone -- no matter if they share my views or not. I don't like seeing it (unless I agree -- hee!!) and I never want to make anyone mad or uncomfortable. I mean, this is a decorating blog. If you have one about politics or where you are sharing your opinions on a regular basis -- that's what people expect.

ALL of this being said -- these are MY thoughts, and what I follow on MY blog. As with your home, you can do whatever, whenever, however you want!! It's your blog. (Whateva whateva, I do what I want! Who says THAT?)

Just wanted to thank you all for visiting, reading, commenting, and inspiring me! Here's to another meeeeeellion hits!!


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