The 30DC newbie bloggers are asking me lots about blogging. Good! It’s one of my very favourite topics. Here are some of my top tips in answer to the first few of those questions, with plenty more where that came from.
Disclaimer: These are my personal opinions after blogging for a very long time. Many experts* would disagree with me. My opinions come from my personal experience and I write as I find.
How long should a blog post be?
I like short myself. I’m a busy woman. I advise that you write little and often. 400-600 words is good if you are writing every day or 2-3 times a week. For sure, some “pillar” content needs to be longer so that you can demonstrate your expertise and some topics demand length for their exploration; this is one of those. If you are writing longer and taking ages over it, then you can afford to write far fewer posts and spend your time publicising that valuable post instead of writing more little ones for me.
How often should you blog?
I blog every day. You might aim for 2-3 times a week, particularly to begin with until you have a goodly quantum of content on your blog/website. [Tweet “The more traffic you want, the more often you might choose to blog”]. Regular is good, sporadic is not. Don’t let your blog look unloved by your posts being too far and few between. Don’t blog and go off the boil. If you enjoy writing online and will prioritise it so that you see the desired results, make it a central part of your marketing plan.
Who’s interested in what you have to say?
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The short answer is anyone like you who’s interested in the things you are writing about. If you share one of your own photos and some of your own wisdom, I think you will be gratified by the following you’ll be able to grow, given time. If you regurgitate boring stuff or plagiarise others, no-one’s interested. Find your own voice.
What should you write about? Where do you find inspiration for your blogs?
Once you start to tune in to blogging, the blogosphere and social media, blog fodder is all around. News. TV. Advertising. Twitter. Topical content. Controversial content. Things which interest you. You can write up anything which causes you to be curious and go on a little voyage of discovery, even thought-wise. Anything we have in common, or not. All the things you and your friends talk about. What you notice your colleagues, contemporaries and clients struggling with. Provide solutions. Share answers. Be generous with your wisdom and knowledge and experience. Give away your best stuff with abundance. Encourage questions, answer those. Have an opinion.
Keep notes once it starts to occur to you all day long what would make a good blog post. Start to notice how often you think and say “oh, that would make a good blog” and take note, jot that down. Not just a couple of words, because you’ll forget what you meant. Expand a bit in your notes so you have some thoughts to develop and you can remember what on earth you were on about when next you come to blog.
“I’m thinking of turning off Comments. I’m frightened of attracting flame wars.”
Say what? I didn’t even know what a flame war was and had to ask for further explanation. I am pleased to say I have never attracted a flame war, not do I expect to. You are missing a trick if you turn comments off, you want engagement with your readers to create a community around your blog. You can moderate comments before they appear and you have total control over what you publish and who comments on your own blog/website, you can also simply delete any comments you find offensive or you don’t want to give virtual house room too. You are Da Boss when it comes to your own blog. No fear. Oh, and get a decent plug in which deals with spam and bot-generated comments.
I’m scared to publish my first blog – everyone’s looking!
No, trust me, they are not. Almost no-one is looking when you start and, if they are, it’s by accident and they will click away immediately. This is good because it means you have plenty of time to hone your writing craft, get your site looking respectable and your house in order before the visitors start to come in their hordes. Yes, you do feel a bit naked to begin with; get over yourself.
I’m scared to publish – no-one’s looking! I feel like I’m writing for myself
I know. Told ya. But they will be looking if you keep on keeping on. You are writing for yourself initially but you will attract others just like you who are maybe too timid to blog or think they are not writers, preferring instead to read the thoughts of others, namely yours. If you build it (and keep on building it) they will come. There are more than 2 billion people online and, soon, sufficient of those will find you to make it worth your while blogging. Practice makes
perfect good enough.
How do I get blog subscribers?
I don’t think you necessarily want blog subscribers unless you are blogging because you are a writer and you just want people to consume your words. If you are blogging to bring traffic to your site, then it has done its job in bringing people there and what you want instead are subscribers to your newsletter list. So offer them something to tempt them to opt in and subscribe to your ezine instead.
If readers want to subscribe to your blog there are various ways they can help themselves to that – RSS and Feedly to name but two. If you want to encourage that you can invite them to subscribe via Feedburner et al but I’ve already explained why I don’t think this is always a good idea. The experts say we should remove the RSS option from our site and I agree with them, but that’s another topic for another day.
Some of my clients say they like the convenience of my blogs coming to them, but they are already my clients so my blog has done its job. For them I might put a link to the good ones in my newsletter now and again, but please don’t make a newsletter which is just a selection of links to your blog posts. Yawn. I’ve given you my email address, my most precious of precious jewels, so that you will give me something which is not already in the public domain and which will make me feel special and tempt me to pay you money one day. However, if you do write a STONKING blog post which is very well received, you might want to share the content of that in full, i.e. not a link, with your newsletter readers too, to be sure they don’t miss your important announcement or best writing.
For those readers who ask me to bring my blogs to them, I share links to my blog posts on social media where they might also catch them there. As a writer, it is lovely to have clients, fans and followers appreciate my writing on my blog, but I am blogging for Google and the Search Engines (sounds like a band), so that they will direct searchers to my site in response to whatever collection of words they put into the search bar, so that I am found as the business coach/mentor solution to their small business/entrepreneur problem or pain.
What other blogs do you read?
I read all of the blogs of all of my clients. I subscribe in my Feedly and read them on my iPad, often in bed. This enables me to share their content with my readers, fans and followers if I think they too will enjoy the content. And it gives me a chance to keep an eye on their marketing and provide feedback and encouragement and also gives me opportunities to feel proud of them as they develop their skills as marketers.
My favourite bloggers (who are not my clients) are:
*What other blogs do I think you should read?
These are the experts I referred to earlier who may frequently have opinions different to my own. What I recommend is that you study what they do and what they advise, then make up your own mind. Do not be slavish, be your own blogger.
I’m just giving you three in each of those last two categories because you are a newbie and I don’t want to overwhelm you, but if you want more just ask. There’s plenty more inspiration where that came from.