Welcome to the second part of our Top 10 Blogging Issues. Yesterday, amongst other things, we covered Social Media, RSS feeds, and the Blogosphere. If you missed it, please check out Part 1 when you can! I'm sure you'll find something useful for you, or if not, browse this post for some tips on what to do, or what NOT to do, in the world of blogging.
Here we go.
And where would a blog be without readers? Absolutely nowhere. Make sure you enable conversations on your blog by not turning comments off, and go a step further in actively sparking debate by asking questions or raising issues in your content. Once these comments begin to fly in, not replying to comments is a huge no-no. The great thing about a blog is that it's a great read, which you can then talk about with its author once you've read the article. Without this, considering such a focus on sociability in today's webscape, it becomes flat, uninteresting, and you'll lose readers fast. The sooner you realise the importance of the relationships you hold with your readers, and the sooner you act upon it, the better. They are the foundations of your blog.
Before anything, submit your blog to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and any other search engine you can think of. For increased traffic and SEO, you can also submit your blog to Wikio - our parent company, which aggregates news from millions of media sources every day - and ranks your blog in addition.
Now, SEO is important. You've heard it said enough times, I'm sure. But here it is again. It starts with such a simple thing: your own domain name. Many bloggers have expressed regret at not having their own personal URL for their blog from the very start. It makes you seem more professional, and gives you an extra dimension in search engines, especially if the URL is relevant to the category you're blogging in. A blog about cats shouldn't be called www.dog-haven.co.uk or something like that. Also, try to avoid .orgs and .nets if you can. The sought-after .com is sought after for a reason.
But as for SEO itself, firstly make sure you tag your posts with relevant keywords, and ensure that your posts don't have meaningless titles. The more they bear relevance to the following writing, the better. In fact, you should be researching keywords. What is most searched for? What's a hot topic? Try to cover things that have everyone talking, current events, scandals, new technologies - all will help you rise up in the search pages.
#8 TIME MANAGEMENT
You want your blog to be read by anyone who's not your mum or your workmates, right? Well, you should work on it as if it is a small business, a magazine or something, not underestimating the time commitments you have to make. Don't always think of it as just a 'blog' - sometimes this implies more journal-based writing, or personal diary stuff, when in actuality it's much more like an interactive publication. It's an important thing and you need to set aside time for it every day (if you can manage it). Don't expect too much too soon: you won't be attracting thousands of unique visitors a month until you've done your homework.
Start slow and be patient. There's no reason to rush headlong into blogging without any forward planning, maybe setting up multiple blogs, because this won't help you at all. And this lack of a quick route into becoming an influential, widely-read blogger begs that you have persistence. No persistence can lead to a dead blog in months, or even weeks. Allocate yourself a couple of hours hear and there to work on your blog. Doing this, you'll avoid rushed posts, and you'll be at a much better advantage to write multiple posts per day, but schedule them throughout the week, letting you get on with other aspects of the blog some days. Forward planning is a must. Blogging may seem very off-the-hoof, but in fact, it takes a very organised person to run a truly reputable blog.
Lastly, not updating your blog does nothing but annoy your readers. Random lapses in posting lasting months at a time do not look good on your blog, and in many aggregation systems, will relegate your blog to the depths of unreadland. Be consistent and start as you mean to go on; if you begin by posting an article a day, then it should only follow that this is how you should continue to run your blog. Most importantly, blog regularly (at least 3 times a week) and you'll keep your audience, and Google, very happy.
Like the man who built his house on sand, a blog is destined to crumble if its foundations are terrible. By terrible foundations, we mean bad content. Content covers everything from your main topics of interest to your writing style. Let's start with style. A blog that reads like a lecture or an impenetrable tome of philosophy will not do; nor will one that reads like it's written by a 5-year-old. Even if you have problems with spelling and grammar, not checking your posts before they go live is tantamount to laziness, and your readers will notice this. Badly written posts will get you nowhere. Try to develop a recognisable style, or voice, that you think will appeal to your readers. In this voice, you should be personal in your writing - try to write as if you would talk to someone. Not only is this much, much easier to read, but it also instantly sparks comments from readers, as you seem much more friendly and approachable. However, some readers don't even get down to the bottom of the article as it is very text heavy. Avoid this, or break up the post with images and videos, as much to illustrate your article as to give your poor readers' eyes a rest.
Being resourceful and original I think are the key points to comment on here. By resourceful, this is being able to write articles on nearly all subjects with an angle that will interest your audience or be relevant to the rest of your blog's content. Cliché and unoriginal posts are boring, and your readers will show you this by their sheer unwillingness to comment on these types of posts. Be diverse, by all means, but don't go overboard - there's being original and interesting, and then there's being just downright unpredictable and irrelevant. Again, moderation, moderation, moderation. Find a unique, original middle ground you're happy with and occupy it enthusiastically.
Don't cater for too many press releases. Ones that you genuinely find interesting are fine, but don't just copy-paste in the hope that an upcoming event, album release, or art exhibition will land you with a ton of visitors, because they won't. Pepper your blog with these like a seasoning, but with all seasonings, too much makes the food inedible. And speaking of copy-pasting, don't duplicate, emulate, steal, rob, or in any way thieve the content of your fellow bloggers. No one likes a copycat and it looks rubbish - and in a lot of situations could be illegal. Don't do it. And if you do, give credit where it is due.
Above all, have a vision of your topics and what kind of content you want to be featuring on your site. A forward-thinking blog with even a single thought behind its content, and where it could be progressing, is one that will succeed. This brings me to the most important thing.
Have goals. Make realistic goals. Don't wing it, or your blog will seem aimless. If your goal is to be aimless, fine, but if you want people to read your blog, no matter how aimless you want to be, make aims for the blog itself. Ask yourself questions that might prompt you to think about the general direction of your blog. How many people do you want visiting your site? Do you want to make money from it? What kind of people do you want reading your articles? Do you want to get famous? It helps to have an idea of where you'd like to be blog-wise in 6 months or even a year. Plan, commit yourself, and you will find that you'll meet your goals.
So, esteemed bloggers and lovely readers, there you have it. 10 Blogging Issues to be mindful of at all times. We hope that you find something within that will help your blog to be the best that it can be, or at the very least, a tidbit of information that you didn't know before. Of course, this is by no means the final say! The world of blogging is always changing, always shifting and innovating, so keep up-to-date and do your research if you want to get seriously into social media or SEO, for example.
As always we'd love to hear your views on blogging. Do you agree with our little list, the ordering, or do you have anything else to add? Your experiences may help others to do great things with their blogs in the future.
Thanks for reading and happy blogging!
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Please note: Once again, images used here are not our own, and we do not claim as such. If you notice an image here that is yours, please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll credit you here. The line drawing (second image) comes, of course, from Toothpaste For Dinner.