A friend recently asked me to help her with setting up her own blog. As I began helping her out, it made me look at all that I have learnt and used in the last 3 years as a blogger.
A friend recently asked me to help her with a new blog. This made me revisit all that I acquired in the last few years with my own blog. My first advice to her was to spend some time reading and learning online. In fact, there is no dearth to the amazing amount of advice and data on blogging out there.
I guess I am just like anybody else out there who releases material online. In a nutshell I consider myself a small time blogger but a serious one. I guzzle information and material by the gallons and follow several blogs religiously for learning the ropes as well as the material. Now, based on all of this, how should I help my friend without rattling her?
Well, this is how I started. Blogging for me is like a relationship. The two basics for any relationship are association and intent. Make your choice. Think about your final goal, what do you want to achieve? When you begin researching, you are bound to find unlimited advice on this regarding every aspect of control and arrangement where your blog is concerned. However, none of it is specific and you will have to work around it for your own needs. Everything will depend on what you want as the end goal – the style, length of the posts, the program and the design – will depend on your final goal. Anything that may not seem very important at this point in time may seem crucial later!
Let us take for instance, self hosting which may seem like an unnecessary cost right now. If your goal is building a business with your website or to construct a personal brand then self hosting will be crucial sooner than later. It is important to keep it in mind that everything revolves around your audience. The design should reflect the personality of your blog. A design which is too plain may appear undesirable but a theme on minimalist lines sets the tone for the message, highlighting the material well. So you see, each thing matters a lot. Every choice you make at this point has the potential to move you that much closer to your goal or it could take you further away from it!
As far as I am concerned, generating traffic is not on my agenda so I do not bother much with the numbers. I do track the analytics every month but it is more out of curiosity. What I do with the analytics is figure out the trend, use some new ideas and basically understand and learn from my errors. I am more eager to appeal to readers who add to the discussion quality on my blog. This fits in well with my goals. Also, my figures have actually tripled since January of 2010. There is no dearth of information, opinion and expertise from an endless stream of sources.
I make it a point to follow other blogs and writers to keep up with the new ideas and trends out there. What is of essence if being legitimate and consistent. You may use certain tricks you have learnt but they are short lived and do not offer you long term loyalty from your readers. You could fool somebody into visiting your blog but if you are still fooling around, chances are they will never revisit. Pay some heed to barriers as well. Spam and privacy are certainly real threats but you must consider your readers’ need to connect with others as well.
Your writing must be free flowing and inviting. With the countless options out there, you will surely choose one that apes your communication style the best, won’t you? For instance, some blogs force you to use your Google ID. If you do not use your Google mail account, you are unlikely to see any follow up comments. This will push me to not even begin commenting even if I really liked the blog entry! There may be ways around it but why would anyone want to work hard just to appreciate your blog entry? I have figured over time that most people do not like to leave comments on public boards but prefer more personal contact. You could create a simple contact form eliminating the need to provide the writer’s email address.
It may seem obvious but this is what I told my friend to begin with – less barriers and better connection would translate into more readers. Is there anything you would have added to it?