Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beginning Blogging: Advice

I've learned a few things about blogging, stuff I wished I knew before I began. I thought I'd write some of it down and share it with you.

1. Find a home for your blog

There are many different blog hosts out there, each with their own special features that other hosts don't have. No host is better than any other so it ultimately comes down to preference on which one you choose to use. Here are the three well known blog hosts: Blogger/Blogspot, LiveJournal, Wordpress.

2. Decide what your blog is about

While it might be easier said than done, the best thing to blog about is something that you are interested in and want to blog about; BUT it should also be something that you won't burn out blogging about. If the subject is too narrow and specific, chanced are you won't have a whole lot to say after a few months worth of posts. You'll have said it all. On the flip side, your blog shouldn't be so broadly categorized that it can only be summed up as a blog about everything. Choose a definable subject. If you fancy blogging about more than one subject, then don’t be scared to create more than one blog. It is ok to have more than one interest that you want to post about. It is just easier to partition them into different blogs.

3. Post something

Now that you have your blog and know what it is about, it is time to get down to busy and start posting. Hopefully you will have picked a subject that you know well enough and your mind is full of ideas of what to talk about. Great! Start posting.

If you find yourself drawing a blank, don’t worry you can overcome it. If you don’t know what to post for your very first post then why not just post a little about yourself. Who are you? Why are you blogging? What do you hope to achieve with your blog? Just let it all come out.

Ok, what if you’ve already been posting for a while and are now drawing a blank? Again, don’t worry. Read back over your old posts for some ideas. Maybe you could expand on something you’ve said earlier. See what other people are saying about the subject that you want to write about, maybe you can say something different or expand on it more. Do a news search about your subject. An idea will come.

4. Update Often

If you ever hope that people will become regular readers of your blog then you will have to become a regular poster to the very blog you hope they will read. You need to update often. A good target to shoot for it at least one post everyday. Not only do this create more content on your blog, it also helps to keep your blog relevant, attract more readers, and makes your blog feature higher on searches.

If you find that you are brimming with ideas for more and more posts and can’t wait to write them, the go ahead and write them. You don’t have to post them today, you can save them for a later day when you might not have any time to post or find yourself experiencing a writers block. You mother might have told you that it was good to save you money, well I’m tell you that it is good to save your posts too.

5. Find some friends

I’ll bet dollars to donuts that you are not the only person blogging about a specific subject (unless that subject is you). By finding others that are blogging about the same thing you are, linking to them and asking for the favor returned, you are creating and also become part of a larger blogging web. It makes it easier for readers of one blog to find another blog and maybe become a reader of that one too. By being part of a community of like-minded bloggers, you can gain ideas from each other, share readers and maybe even build deeper and more meaningful content.

6. Find some readers

This is what it is all about. I don’t know any blogger who writes just for themselves, it is all for the reader. If you have followed the above steps and created some content worth reading, then the reader will start finding you. Of course you can make it a lot easier for them!
Search for blog listings and submit your blog to them. Technorati is a great resource. Look on other blogs and see if they have any tags for blog listings you didn’t know about. Follow the link and submit there too.

Learn about ‘Search Engine Optimization’.

Comment on other blogs, especially if you can link back to something relevant on your blog. Word of warning though: When commenting on other blogs, remember that quality is better than quantity. Don’t over do it and become a ‘one line’ spammer.

7. Ping, Tag and Label

Since you are now on a few blog lists, you will need to remember to ping them to make them aware that you have new content. While most blog lists do track new content automatically, with such a large quantity of blogs to track, it will be awhile before they get to you.

Learn about Technorati’s tags. It makes it easier for people to find you when they are searching for the subject that you are posting about.

Label your posts. This helps organize you blog so that your readers can search through what you’ve written before. If you’ve been adding one post everyday, you’ll have 365 after one year. Help your reader out and make it easy for them to navigate though your content.

8. Write your pillars

Pillars are the articles that you write that hold up your blog. They are the big, juicy and informative posts that have impact. Pillars are timeless beauties that are tutorials or educational posts that are of use to your reader. Typically they are of a length greater than 700 words, if not longer.

The purpose of ‘pillars’ is to draw in more readers with some of your best work. When I say they are ‘timeless beauties’, I mean that they will be just as relevant a few years from now as they are today.

They also give you something more to advertise. Instead of just pimping your blog, you can also start pimping your pillars in places where they would be more appropriate.

9. Sticky your popular posts

Now that you’ve gotten a few pillars wrote, it is would be a good idea to ‘sticky’ them on your sidebar. While you are at it, why don’t you sticky your most favorite and your most popular posts are well. Don’t know what blogs are most popular? They are probably the ones with the most comments, or if you are tracking your blogs stats, then they are the ones that are the most viewed. This is all about creating an easy to navigate blog and making sure that your best work doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

10. Track your stats

By tracking your stats, you can learn a lot of information about your reader that can help you out. You can see where they are coming from, what they are looking at and how long they are staying. Many stat trackers will allow you to see what word searches people are finding you with.
Doing a search on ‘blog stats’ will find you a few free stat trackers. Most will tell you how to load their tracker on your blog and how to make everything work.

There you have it, start blogging, have fun!

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