Apr 24, 2009
kosmo - See all 770 of my articles
I have only been blogging seriously for a
couple of months few years, so I am by no means an expert. However, I do think I have learned a few things along the way that brand new bloggers could find helpful. If you want to jump to the next level and get advice from a professional, check out ProBlogger.
- Write often. Without writing, there is no blog. It is important to get yourself into the habit of writing. I’m not saying that it is necessary to write something every day. In fact, for some people (such as those of us with toddlers in the house), this may be a physical impossibility. However, see if you can write 4+ days a week. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that the act of writing spurs creativity. Find a time and location that work for you. I try to write between 8 and 10 PM each night in a quiet area of the house. I also have a few notebooks strewn around the house so that I can always grab one to jot down ideas when they pop into my head.
- Post often. I try to post about 6 times per week. Sometimes I will have 2 posts in a day, but most of the time I will have exactly one posts each day. Am I writing exactly one post each day? No, of course not. When I have productive writing sessions, I may write 2 or 3 articles. Your blog platform almost certainly allows you to schedule articles to be displayed at a future date and time. Note that this does not work for posts that are timely in nature – a Super Bowl article would not be very appropriate in March, for example. However, certain topics lend themselves to so-called “evergreen” posts – articles that will be as relevant a year from now as they are today. On most Fridays, I write an original short story for this blog. Nobody will know if I write these the night before they are posted, or one month earlier.
- Write about something you enjoy. Most successful bloggers write about a niche that interests them – such as personal finance or sports. In my particular case, my interests are widley varied, and I didn’t want to constrain myself to a single niche (I blame this on the fact that I am a Gemini). I write about everything from a celebration of Simpson stamps to grief over meth users who are looting arhaeological sites. This was a conscious choice that was made with the understanding that a lack of niche would likely limit my readership. However, this is what I wanted to write, so I followed Sinatra’s cue and did it my way.
- Take advice graciously. I fell into a lucky situation where I happened to encounter a successful blogger through another aspect of my “real life”. This guy has already jumped over a lot of the hurdles that I face now and will face in the future. It would be pretty stupid not to listen to his advice. I might not always take the direction he suggests, but I always listen. You might not have a fairy blogfather, but you’ll probably have friends and readers give you advice. Don’t dismiss these ideas out of hand – consider them carefully.
- Read other blogs. I read several other blogs. Not only do these spark writing ideas for my own blog, but I ocassionally pick up some cool widget that is being used on another blog and end up incorporating it into my blog. Also, some people see my comments and go to visit my blog. Note: this does not mean you should leave “go check out my blog” comments on a bunch of blogs. Only leave a comment when you are actually adding value to the conversation. If a comment on another blog generates new traffic for you, that’s nice, but it should not be the sole reason for a comment.
- Encourage comments. Make it easy for people to leave comments. If you allow anonymous comments, you might get a few more spam comments, but you might also get more legitiate comments as well. Also, allow commenters to link to their own sites or blogs when it is relevant. The CommentLuv plug-in inserts a short “footer” at the bottom of the comment showing the commenter’s most recent post. You will see this at work on my blog. Another plug-in that I like is the “related websites” plug-in. This shows posts that are related to your current posts, but also finds related articles on other people’s blog. The benefit is that your blog’s articles show up as related websites on the other blogs, as well. You can also use plugins that change URLs within a comment from “no follow” (not indexed by Google) to “do follow” (indexed by Google) so that your commenters will see their own site become more popular in Google (yes, I realize that I have not yet implemented “do follow” on my own blog. It’s on the agenda, I promise).
- Use guest writers. Using a guest writer has a lot of benefits. First, they provide blog content for you, reducing the number of posts you need to write in a month – while also providing a bit of a change of pace for your readers. Second, if your guest writer is another blogger, you may get a link from their blog (you should also link to their blog from the guest post, of course). If they aren’t a blogger, you may get a long term fan. You might be surprised how easy it is to find guest writers. I have approached about a half dozen people so far, and I don’t think any of them have competely turned down the request. Many people in your social circle have interesting stories to tell – let the world hear them.
- Tell people about your blog. You probably have friends who have interest that are similar to yours. When you write something that they might like, send them a link to the article. Don’t make them dig around in your blog to find it – send them the permalink.
- Get some stats. I like using Sitemeter and Google Analytics to take a look at my traffic patterns. This allows me to see what my total traffic is, as well as analyzing various aspects of the traffic. Do you have higher traffic on certain days or certain times of the day? Why? Are you seeing a lot of Google hits on certain posts? It’s also just cool to look at the geographical data. I get a fair percentage of my traffic from outside of the US, and it’s cool to see which countries are generating the traffic.
- Have fun.
OK – does anyone else have any helpful tips for blogger newbies?