“Blogging” just isn’t a very graceful word. For many, it sounds a lot like the words drudgery or slogging or dragging through something unpleasant. However, widespread blogging is nevertheless one of the most engaging developments on the Internet. As a medium it has given rise to many new and worthy voices, and now plays a new and vital force in shaping opinions, political realities, setting trends, and even changing our language.
I believe that a blog is simply a tool to use for someone who’s got something to say. Let me be clear in saying that a blog is a poor choice for someone who just wants a megaphone to shout in order to elicit a meaningful response from users. If you want attention and want it now and expect blogging to bring it to you, then this medium will surely be a disappointment for you. But, if you like to write and engage other people on subjects for which you have some command or experience, then it’s a great tool with which you can interact with people who share similar interests with you. Believe the hype…
If you are still reading, then you have just started a blog, or seriously thinking about starting one as part of your “new year, new you.” (hint, hint!)So, here are a few tips from a slightly seasoned blogger …
1. Stay on-topic, on-point. Sure, you can write about lots of different things, just not all at once. Cohesiveness in your message is not optional. If your message is haphazard then few readers will bother remembering to return to your blog because it offers little worth remembering.
The beauty of staying on point and on topic is that eventually, due to the nature of the Internet, you will find other people who are interested solely in your topic.
2. Stay fresh. Refresh your content often. Create a schedule and stick to it. Accept early in your process that blogging will require time and effort. Don’t create unrealistic expectations and then not be able to deliver. An occasional lapse or a holiday break is generally understood and overlooked by readers. But returning often to find the same, stale, out-dated content will push them off to find another blog with similar content. New blogs pop up on a daily basis. If you have worked hard to develop an audience and a community you don’t want to lose them because of lack of communication.
And, you will read many different opinions about how often to blog. Get on a schedule that you can maintain. Many blogs do well posting once a day. There are even a few bloggers who somehow manage to post several times a day. Many also do well posting once or twice a month. Do what works for you, and experiment.
3. Watch you language. Be clear. Blessed are the blogs with clear lines of logic. Make every effort to write without relying on inside jokes, clique-y catch-phrases or ambiguous logic. First time readers need to feel close to your message in order to consider a return visit. They are much more likely to return to the blogs that strike them positively. If the first read is confusing there will probably not be a second read!
4. Feed the Spiders. Search engines take notice of active blogs and blog search engines are especially sensitive to activity. If nothing else, search engines are smarter today than they have been in the past, and continue getting smarter. In constantly improving they are seeking to aggregate quality. Quality blogs tend to be those are updated frequently. No, I am not going to pin you down on frequency, see #2. But remember that a big spider is always watching, so dance for them.
5. Spell check. Use your spell-check. I do. If I didn’t you probably wouldn’t have made it all the way to #5. Bad spelling is a major tun-off, and it takes less than a minute to run through. This can also save you from looking like a hack.
At first, your audience will be small. And really, I think that is a good thing. You need time to build up your skills and confidence, and get your schedule under control through trial and error. But, if you can tough it out while keeping your quality up, your own unique audience will emerge.