If you are new to blogging, chances are good that you have unrealistic expectations and no idea what you’re doing. Not a problem. This post will make you an expert! Well, probably not, but hopefully, I can give you a few tips. Over the years, I’ve operated over a half a dozen blogs. Many of them failed, not because they lacked potential, but because I lost interest. Others are average, but one of my blogs succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. I can’t give you the name of that blog because I author it under strict anonymity, so you’ll just have to trust me. Or not. Doesn’t twist my britches either way.
What to write, what to write?
Write what you know. Write what you care about.
How to write, how to write?
Write from your heart. Don’t do it because that’s what will make your readers feel all fuzzy inside. Do it because if you don’t, you’ll eventually get bored and lose interest. Be yourself, but please be a more grammatically correct yourself. Blog readers, on the whole, are a reasonably bright lot, and they prefer decent writing. Pay attention to capitalization, typographical errors, sentence structure, and all that life-sucking stuff. Blogging provides a great opportunity to improve your writing, so work at it!
Pictures are worth a… please God, not that awful cliche again! People like pictures. Even if it’s completely irrelevant to the subject, people will look at the picture repeatedly. That being said, don’t steal pictures willy-nilly from the silly web. If you do take what’s not yours, at least attribute it. Check out the very bottom of this post for my attribution for the above image. Flickr makes things easy. By doing an advanced search, you can choose to limit your search to those pictures under a Creative Commons license.
When to write, when to write?
Write regularly, but don’t deluge your readers. If you feel the need to write a shitload (exactly 3.14 cubic feet) of posts all at one time, use your blogging platform’s (i.e. WordPress, Blogger, etc.) scheduling feature to schedule some of them to be published at future dates. I wrote this post weeks ago, and you would never have known.
If you’re really cool, schedule your posts at about the time when the most readers are online and reading blogs. My guess is that would be in the evening. More people may see your post if they’re searching one of your keywords at that time.
What’s the point?
Write primarily for yourself. If you would be happy pouring your energy and time into a blog, even if only a handful of people will ever read it, you aren’t as likely to be disappointed. Sad, I know. You are probably not good enough of a writer, and your life is probably not interesting enough to attract thousands of readers, so don’t write for that purpose. Not very inspiring am I? Do write for yourself. There are many good reasons to blog. It can be like a personal (but public) journal. It can be a way for you to hone your writing skills. It can be a way for you to inflict your sense of humor onto some poor readers. The long-awaited point is that you must enjoy putting in the time and energy to write and promote your blog. Such an enjoyment shines through in your writing and will make it more appealing to readers.
There are many great WordPress themes out there. However, I would strongly suggest that you make sure that readers can actually see the words. Don’t use a black text on a black background. Obviously. For that matter, don’t use a black background at all. I’m talking about the text background, not the wider background. Use a normal font, not some fancy script. If I get a headache trying to read your blog, I won’t return no matter how well you or interestingly you write. Don’t use shockingly huge images. I once got electrocuted… No I didn’t. Don’t hit people with some big flashing red banner. It makes readers want to stab their computer, and that doesn’t bode well for anybody concerned.
How to promote?
Be sure to tag all of your posts with relevant keywords. How else will people searching for your keywords find your blog? Visit similar blogs. Take a look at the keywords you’ve tagged your post with, then search your blog reader for those tags. If after reading a similar blog, you have a relevant comment, by all means–comment. Don’t overtly advertise yourself or your blog. That’s just seems whiny and needy. Don’t post links back to one of your posts unless it’s truly relevant. If you don’t have a comment to make, like the post. The author will see that, and if he or she is anything like me, she or he will think, “Ahah! Another victim!” He or she will then click on your name and perhaps accidentally follow your blog. For you, that means fame. The gist of this paragraph is simply this; become an active part of the blogosphere. Comment and like other blogs, and you’ll get the same.
If you don’t get thousands of followers, don’t beat yourself up. Fame is overrated. After all, what’s fame if not merely having the admiration of millions of fairly stupid animals. Don’t expect too much. Don’t expect a meteoric rise, which incidentally, doesn’t make sense. Meteors don’t rise. Just have fun!
Can I make money?
Maybe. One of my blogs (Sorry, I can’t give the name because I am strictly anonymous on that blog, and I may not always be on here), took off like a rocket, followed subsequently by a meteoric fall. The “meteoric fall” isn’t entirely true, but I did get to use it in a sentence and so soon after pointing out the illogic of the ‘meteoric rise.’ I had unique and inside knowledge of a popular event, and I wrote about it on that blog. My page views jumped from 30 or so a day to thousands a day. My best day was just over 40,000 views. As soon as my readership started going up like that, I signed up for WordPress advertisements, and I ended up making several hundred bucks over the next six months. That was a fluke. I had not planned on it happening, and I didn’t anticipate it. If you start blogging with the intent of making a living, you will most likely fail. Not the most inspirational guy, am I?
That’s it for this episode of Essential Notes for the Clueless Noob. Follow this blog for possible future episodes.
Image credit: Chimp at laptop copyright (c) (2009) patriziasoliani and made available under Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license.