Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tips for bloggers

Remember why you read a blog. Others do the same.

You want to read fun and interesting blogs. Yours better be one or both of those things. If it is not, just like you, nobody is going to bother reading it. Baby pictures and photos of your vacation are great..once..but if that is all you keep bringing to the table people will get bored with it. Content is key. Whether that is opinion, story,  entertainment or whatever it is that you do, it has to be interesting to the reader.

If they cant read it in 10 minutes, it is too long.

When people come to a blog, they are looking for something fairly quick. We live in a sound bite world. They want you to get to the point fairly fast and grab their attention right away. This isn't a novel, or War And Peace. If you ramble on and lose them early, they simply will move on. "Next". You got them to start reading, don't lose them by rambling on.

If you don't have photos or videos to jazz it up your words better be great.

Most of us grew up in the age of television. We are very visual. Sure, a lot of us still like to read, but we read books when we want to read. You need to break up the words with pictures and/or videos. In that way, they stay interested and get a break while maintaining interest.

The title must be catchy. It means everything.

There are thousands of blogs that any reader could choose to read. Even in my blogger group, there are 15 to 20 to choose from each day. Nobody is going to read them all. The title is going to make them look. If they don't like your title, they will just pass it by. If they like it, they will at least start reading to see if you maintain their interest. If you do one thing right, do this. Put some effort into a catchy title.

You must network but don't tag anyone unless they ask you to.
Find places to post your blog. Find the types of people who want to read what you write,  what you have to say. But don't smother them and annoy them like some overzealous telemarketer.  Don't go and tag your entire friend base. Find out who consistently likes your blog and then ask them if they want to be tagged. Target those that want to be targeted. Let the others decide on their own. Being pushy only gets you pushed out the door.

 Post an excerpt to give them a taste.
Having a great, catchy title is one thing, and that is important as mentioned above, but in addition, post something interesting from the blog to give them a taste of what you are talking about. Make it short, 20 to 30 words. Just enough to make them want to read it, but not enough to make them think they don't have to.

If you are blogging, you are a writer. You aren't just posting aimless status's and threads on facebook. Spelling errors are not acceptable. It is very easy to catch spelling errors. I write my blogs on google and it highlights any spelling mistake.  It takes me less than 30 seconds to fix them all. If you aren't willing to do that, then you should not be blogging. People who read blogs expect you to put out that kind of effort. The odd mistake will happen, but it should be very rare. If you spell check then it won't.

Build your blogs. It takes time.

Good blogs start from a simple idea,  thought or rant. But, it takes time to build them into more than that. As busy writers we don't always have the time to do that right away. A part here, an idea there, a sentence here and there. You need to build that blog into something that will keep the reader reading and coming back for your next one. That takes time. Take the time to build the blog. When it is ready,  or almost ready, then you can go ahead and finish it, edit it, polish it and present it as something that gets you noticed,  admired and ultimately followed.

Store ideas.

People who write have lots of ideas. A great blog starts from a great idea from which you can frame around to produce an entertaining and interesting blog. You get many ideas from many places. Just store them all and go back to them when you feel like it. I have hundreds of ideas stored. Some I write up same day. Others I go back to in a week or two. Others sit for months or years and I go back to them when I feel I have something fresh to make them viable. Store them all. Deal with it later. You never know when that great idea from way back  is going to come back up to the surface and be worthy of a complete blog. In that same vein, if you are storing them and they sit forever and never get used,  think about trimming and deleting those that just never went anywhere. Not every idea is a good one or works out. Some of the best blogs are the ones you just didn't bother with. Use your energy for the winners not the losers.

Know who your readers are.

If you want to write political or theoretical blogs based on long arguments with lots of proof go ahead and do that. But make sure the readers who follow you are interested in that. If they are looking for humor and light topics that is what they respond to. If you want to change directions then build a different following. You don't neccesarily write for others, but if you want to be read then you have to consider who your followers are.

Proofread it or don't post it.
Proofreading the average blog takes about 2 or 3 minutes. If you aren't willing to take the time to do that then don't blog. The readers can sense that. You might get away with it once or twice,  with the odd small mistake or typo,  but long term you won't. Sloppy work shows and readers will go elsewhere. This is the work you show others. Take pride in that and don't give them a stupid reason, like lack of spelling or grammar, to go elsewhere.

Make it personal. But not too personal. Just a taste or snippet.

People who read blogs want to get to know you. Some part of it should be personal. Maybe a quick story relating to the topic you are discussing. They don't want to know intimate details, and it should not be the focus of your blog, but if you give them a taste they feel like they know you and are more likely to read that blog and come back looking to know more about you and why you blog about what you do.

 Variety. Mix it up.

Don't blog about the same thing every day. Sure, everyone has their niche topic and genre. But mix it up. Do something different every now and then. The different thing you bring is your spin on it. You can only spin one topic so many ways. After a while you just begin to sound like a broken record. If you have talked about a subject and you have nothing new to add, move on. If you don't, the readers will.

Story. It is not a story it is a blog unless you are promoting a story.

A blog is a blog. Don't write a short story. If you have a story to promote, put that in the title and let the readers decide if they want to read your story. Generally, those that read blogs aren't looking to read a story when they go looking. If you are going to do this, perhaps just give a small sample of the story, and give them the link if they want to read more later or at another time.

You are not Hemmingway and you never will be. So just write it. It is a blog not War and Peace.

It is highly unlikely that you are Hemmingway. In the unlikely event you are Hemmingway, Hemmingway wrote novels. You are writing a blog. If you want to be a novelist, go write a novel.

Don't be a copycat.

Do what you do best. Don't start copying others because you see they have lots of followers and get attention. Just like any other form of art, the copycat only gets attention because they copy, not because they bring anything of value to the table. In most cases,  they do inferior work and what they are showing has been done before. To death. Do what you do, not what others do.

 Marketing is a must.

Just like anything, your blog is not going to get noticed right away. Secondly, if you don't promote it nobody will read it. Find ways to get noticed. Seek out those who are avid readers. Build a base of followers and get them to hook you up with others. They will likely do that willingly. You yourself should be reading blogs and networking with those people. They will lead you to more followers. As long as you have the content to back up the promotion, the blog will grow in following. But you can't let up. You must network and market your work daily. It is hard work to market your blog successfully, but if you don't it simply won't grow.

No comments:

Post a Comment