cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,
cupidsbow
cupidsbow

Blogging Hints

Recently, an anonymous commenter asked:

I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to
the whole thing. Do you have any helpful hints for newbie blog
writers? I'd certainly appreciate it.

And as it happens, I do have some advice, although how helpful it is, I'll leave you to judge.

Before you start

There are two things I recommend you do before you start.

First, take some time to get yourself set up. Poke around and look at other bloggers and see which ones you keep going back to, and note the platforms they use. Choose a platform(s) that best matches your interests and sign up. Browse the add-ons for your browser, and set it up to help you manage information more easily. For example, I use Firefox, and I have these add-ons installed:
  • Textarea Cache - saves anything in a text box. Super handy so you don't lose long drafts of comments or posts. Some applications now have this built in, but it usually only works if you're logged in at the time. Textarea cache works all the time.
  • Diigo and the Diigo toolbar - a social bookmarking site, from which I can also make blog posts and Tweets of any bookmarks I make.
I have heaps of other things installed too, like Session Manager and Colorful Tabs, but you should pick the add-ons that suit you best.

Basically, get a feel for what's out there, both in terms of blogs and platforms, and in terms of the kinds of tools you might use.

Second, have a think about what kind of content you want to blog about -- what are you passionate about? What has you endlessly interested? If you have a particular interest, like social justice or cooking or film reviews, it's usually a good idea to focus your blog around that (brand yourself, in effect) so like-minded people can find it easily. If you don't have a particular interest, that's fine. There are heaps of diary-style blogs, in which people post about whatever takes their fancy. If you start one of those, use the tags, so that people can follow what they're interested in.

Blogging

There are a few things to keep in mind when blogging.

Post what you're passionate about. If it interests you, it will interest someone else no matter how weird, esoteric, specialised or niche the posts are.

Make a few posts and get the feel for things before you start telling people the blog exists. That way there's a back-catalogue of stuff to interest people and get them to subscribe. I know that when people friend my blog, I often go and have a look at theirs, but I don't friend back empty blogs. Make it easy and inviting for people to friend you back.

Once you have some posts up, it's time to start making connections. Friend other blogs, and leave comments so that people start to recognise your handle. Join communities or fests, and let people know what you're about -- this is where your initial preparation will come in very hand so that you understand some of the etiquette and don't make a blundering fool of yourself.

Other than that, have fun with it.

Traffic

If you really want to build up a network of followers, there are three main things you can do:
  • Ask open-ended questions about the topic you've posted on towards the end of the post. People love to give their own opinion, and they are more likely to do so if you encourage them. So ask "What do you think?" or put up polls, and reply to as many people as you can to encourage engagement. Don't feel you have to reply to everyone -- if you're successful traffic will be way too high to do so. You might like to think about whether you'll have some kind of policy on what you'll reply to -- some bloggers do and make it public (especially those likely to get wanky responses, like feminist blogs), some have a private one, some don't.
  • Have a regular posting schedule and stick to it; let people know if you are going on leave or changing the schedule. I find that when I have a fest and post every day, or post weekly reviews of a show, traffic upticks pretty quickly as casual visitors know to swing by. I don't bother tracking this, but it's obvious enough as a trend even without doing any number crunching.
  • Use other social networking sites to feed into each other and raise your profile -- talk to people on other sites, follow important trends on Twitter so you know what people are saying about current events in your field and chime in if you have something worth saying, post videos on YouTube and embed them in your blog, and so on.

I have no useful advice about using a blog to make money, but I'm sure there are heaps of guides out there if you Google it. A lot of people use blogging to raise interest for their Etsy stuff, for instance.

Have I missed anything? What other advice would you give to a new blogger? (<-- like that :)

This entry was originally posted at http://cupidsbow.dreamwidth.org/409929.html.
Tags: discussion, how-to
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