A while back FHM asked me to write an article containing some blogging tips (as a part of Project Alpha), I’ve never really blogged about blogging (how to make money, blogging tips, SEO etc) so it was an interesting departure for me. I have written a bunch of technical stuff here, but never something like this. So now the next issue of FHM is coming up I thought I’d publish it here, I actually meant to publish it earlier but I completely forgot about it..I have to thank Tian Chad for remind me about it on Twitter.
Now I’m not claiming to be any kind of blogging expert or guru, but I hope I’ve learned a thing or two in the past 6 years of blogging and from reading all the fantastic blogs that are out there. This is the version I submitted, it was edited slightly for publication but the gist of the thing is the same. I’ve been in FHM before, but it’s not usually for writing – more often for taking pictures. Anyway, here it is.
Well here we are on the hallowed pages of FHM, one of the corner-stones of traditional media. And what are we talking about you may ask? Well today we are talking about a disruptive new media platform known as blogging. I’ll skip the overly simplistic explanation of what a blog is and the rather clichÃ©d quote from Wikipedia — if you want that I suggest you head over to Google.
What I’ll be sharing with you today is some of the things I’ve learned over the past 6 years of blogging and countless years online before that. It’ll mostly be in relevance to your own blog (if you have one) or the hope that I may cultivate enough interest in you to start one and give you some tips to get you going.
Well here we go, 10 tips for your blogging future in an easy to digest bullet-point format.
1. DO NOT start blogging for money.
The biggest and most important thing I can tell you is please don’t start a blog for money, don’t dream that you’re going to be the next ‘pro-blogger’ or Internet mogul by running a blog about collecting carrots or whatever it is you’re interested in. Frankly, it’s not going to happen.
2. Blog about YOUR passion
This is related to the first point, but don’t start a blog because you think it’s filling a niche and it’s needed. No one cares, really. Write about what you are truly interested in and passionate about and people will come AND read AND care. Plus it’s much easier to keep it updated if you are truly interested in what you’re writing about.
3. Don’t write for an audience, write for yourself
Again linked to the first two points, write for YOU and not for an audience. By writing what you want to write you will cultivate true fans and the kind of readers who will appreciate your content. By writing for your audience you are effectively diluting your opinions to please the masses.
4. Use a decent platform
The platform is basically the software tools you use to publish your content, if you are fairly serious and can remain committed to blogging just buy a domain straight away and install WordPress. If you’re not sure start on a free platform like Blogger or WordPress.com — avoid hard to use sites like Livejournal, Myspace and Xanga.
5. KISS — Keep It Simple Stupid
Don’t overload your blog with widgets, scrolling things, flashing pictures and any other nonsense you can find online. Make sure it loads fast, is easy to navigate and people can find your archives and other posts of interest. Whatever you do, NEVER EVER EVER put auto-playing music on your blog which is impossible to turn off.
6. Layout is important but not everything
Don’t spend too much time worrying about your theme, your colour scheme and your blog template. They can easily be changed as your blog evolves, content is still king so work on developing that more than anything else. You aren’t developing a corporate branding strategy, so just get moving.
7. Be patient
Don’t expect to be an over-night success, or even within the first few months. Building traffic for any web property takes time and a lot of effort, it takes a lot of time and don’t be surprised if your traffic stays below 50 visitors a day for quite a long time. Set yourself targets, for example within 3 months I want to average 100 visitors a day and work towards that.
8. Be consistent
The most important thing about a blog is obvious enough, updating it. It may sound simple but it’s not, try and keep consistent with your posts. So if you think you can post every day, do it! If you can only manage 3 times a week that’s fine too — just make sure whatever you decide on you stick to it. Blogs live or die by frequency and consistency of updates.
9. Be interactive
Reply to people that comment on your blog, comment on other blogs you find interesting, get on Twitter and converse with other bloggers, share your blog on relevant platforms and forums. Being social and interactive is the best way to build a solid readership that will stick with you.
10. The Tipping Point
Having a successful blog combines a lot of factors, some which can be equated to The Tipping Point theory. You have to publish the right post, at the right time, to the right audience, in the right climate, on the right platform and have the right people read it. If you can accomplish all of these you will have a successful blog.
That’s all folks
Blogging can be fun, it can be stressful, it can be boring — it all depends what you make it. And well when your blog starts to gain momentum, what it makes you. Either way, don’t take it too seriously and don’t take yourself too seriously. If you have fun writing and publishing, your readers will have fun reading it and it will be reflected by their return visits. There are some hugely popular blogs out there which use a default template on Blogger and they have insane traffic and have landed book deals. Don’t over-think what you plan to do, just get out there on the net and start writing. If what you are writing is compelling, people will find you and they will tell others.
And that’ll be the end of that; you can then proudly call yourself a blogger.
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