Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging
A friend has decided to jump into the blogosphere and tonight, we sat down and talked about the things I learned along the way. (BTW, please go check out James' blog, because he's a very cool guy!) I equated it to something we learn in Web Page Design, that of creating a 'wire frame' before you build out a website. Blogging is no different, but a lot of us get into it without thinking it through.
So, wire frames. The concept when you create a site is to decide what exactly your message will be. In blogging, this translates into deciding what you want to write about, who is the audience you wish to reach and what is your end goal. I started to keep in touch with my friends out of state, and not much else. Some friends are way more successful in building an audience, get more offers for contests, to attend events on a sponsor's dime and you know what? That is perfectly okay-it just isn't why I started writing.
When you decide what your message will be, your raison d'etre for pounding out a couple hundred words in cyberspace, think about what you topics you want to explore. In web page parlance, you've got your home page, now what are the tabs you'll have, then what will be the subtopics under it? As I explained to James, I found a lot more focus and readers when I focused on writing about restaurants, about those nails of mine, I write about music. At first, to get in the routine, getting in the practice of having a topic for each day you write is a good one. (Wordless Wednesday, Haiku Friday, Saturday Rewind...you get the idea.) The point is, get in the habit of writing regularly, know what you generally will write about and the ideas will come.
Oh yeah, if an idea comes to you for a topic that isn't coming back around for three days-WRITE IT, then save it in draft. Otherwise, you may forget what it is when that day rolls around.
Don't be afraid to ask well established bloggers to add your link to their blog, especially if you've made a connection or have been a frequent commenter. This is one I never did, but wish I had.
Hyperlinks are your friend. Use them well, use them often.
Tags are an even bigger friend. As I explained to James, well chosen tags make it easier for your readers to find other posts of interest and can help your page come up in searches. I have about two dozen posts now that are front page in Google searches, which point to me getting it right some of the time.
Read other blogs. Don't copy their style, but sometimes, what someone else says resounds with you and sends you off on a tangent. This is good, because it means they're inspiring you to think more.
Other things we didn't talk about, but are important:
Give credit where credit is due-even overdo it a bit. Be the bloggers want as their friend, not the one who ticks others off. (Kind of like being the kind of friend you want others to be to you.)
Don't lift a sentence of someone else's blog without saying where it came from. It's just not nice, it isn't cool and if you're found out, you're just going to be run off from the blogosphere. You wouldn't want someone stealing the words you wrote, would you?
A picture is worth a 1,000 words is so true. When I started adding pictures to the blog on a regular basis, more people stopped by every day. This is one I suspect James will have NO trouble doing.
Most of all, do it because you enjoy it. If you're doing it because you want to make a living at it, that's something that less that 1/10th of 1% of bloggers achieve. If it's not fun, don't torture yourself.
Somehow, I suspect that James is going to add blogging to the list of many things he is talented in doing. I'm looking forward to seeing what he has to say. And if this post inspired you to take your own journey, let me know-I'd love to read all about your passions...