Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 22, 2014
You’re in for a treat today and it’s all owed to the fact that I’m now 55 years old. I should be sad about that but it seems that I now qualify for senior discounts at some restaurants; I’ll take what I can get. By the way, before you wish me a happy birthday this happened 3 weeks ago so save it and enjoy the post.
I decided to put together a post sharing the same number of tips as the number of years I’ve been on this earth. Many of you know that I write articles pretty fast so you’ll be shocked to learn that this post actually took me a week to put together. With so many tips it’s all over the board, yet still may not be comprehensive enough for some people. But this is another pillar post on this blog as it tops 3,500 words, and hopefully shows many newer bloggers that with a little bit of effort one can always find stuff to write about.
Without further ado, here we go:
1 Before you start blogging write 10 articles. If you can’t do this, don’t start blogging.
2 If you need to test your courage start with a free blog. WordPress.com or Blogger are the big two that might whet your appetite.
3 Once you’re ready for big time blogging go self hosting. Either add the blog to your existing website or purchase a domain name and try to buy the same name as your blog is going to be. If the name is too long, buy a shortened version, something that will be easy for people to remember.
4 No matter which blogging software you go for, during the setup process do NOT make your username Admin in any form whatsoever. Although you can change it later through some gesticulations, as taught by my buddy Adrienne Smith, it’s easier if you start out on the proper road. Don’t make it or your password too easy, and have capital letters and numbers as a part of it.
5 Don’t leave that very first post that blogging software puts on there introducing it to the world. Delete it or add your first post to it and change the title and initial link.
Blog via Compfight
6 Everyone will tell you to write a niche blog. Do this if you’re hoping your blog will help make you money in some fashion. Otherwise, if you just want to write then write whatever you want to and don’t worry about it.
7 Some people will tell you that paid themes are better than free themes. Paid themes can be as tricky as free themes because of #11 on this list because sometimes you don’t know where images have come from. There should only be two rules for themes overall: one, don’t make it so busy looking that it takes eyes away from your content; two, don’t have colors that drive people’s eyes nuts like the combination of pink and lime green (ugh!).
8 Learn how to post date articles so you can write them ahead of time and set them up to go live whenever you want them to. Sometimes when I’m inspired I can write 5 or more articles in a day and I bet you can also.
9 Tags and categories are two different things. Tags pertain to a specific article, whereas categories are used for, well, categories of articles you might want to write. It’s best to try to stay under 10 tags if your blog is going to mainly be about the same subject all the time but you can always add as many tags to your blog as you want. However, don’t go tag crazy per blog post; search engines might have a tough time trying to figure out what your article is really supposed to be about.
10 Learn about different plugins and determine which ones you need versus what you want. Of paramount importance in my mind are those for security and protection, such as a good backup plugin, one that protects against too many logins and a firewall program.
11 While you’re at it, figure out which plugins you’re going to use to protect your blog from spam as much as possible. If you’re up to spending a few dollars I’d recommend purchasing CommentLuv Premium (I’m not an affiliate by the way) which will give you two great plugins for some protection, GASP Anti Spambot and Anti-Backlink. You can only get the second by purchasing the Premium product but it works wonders. Akismet comes with WordPress software and some people don’t like it, but I use them all and I’m fairly content.
12 Putting images in a post actually turns out to be a big help, and with longer posts, having more images can help also. However, learn the lesson that not all images that are on the internet can be used without attribution or payment. It’s best if you use your own images or go to a site that offers some images that mention Creative Commons. I use a plugin called Compfight when I’m not uploading my own images; works wonders.
13 A blog’s purpose should do one of these three things: inform, educate or entertain. The first two are fairly easy to understand but entertaining is an interesting one. Being intentionally abrasive or intolerant might be seen as entertaining to some people and if that’s your bailiwick then have at it. But being entertaining in other ways will keep more people coming and make the experience a positive one. And who doesn’t believe that more positivity in the world is a good thing?
14 With that said, sometimes truth will turn out to be controversial, whether you intended it to be or not. If you’re a blogger you have to realize that sometimes people aren’t going to like what you’ve written, and you might not like their comments. As long as people are courteous there’s nothing wrong with people who disagree with you.
15 It never pays to get into a long, protracted fight with one or two people on your blog because it’ll drive other people away. Stand up for yourself but also know when it’s time to leave. And never fear having to delete comments where people use language you don’t approve of, or don’t want your audience to see. Remember, you’re paying for it, thus that allows you to be a dictator in your space. Just be fair.
16 Even if planned well, sometimes people decide to change the focus of their blogs. Don’t worry about having to go buy another domain to start another one; just change and move on. However, if you can handle more than one subject at a time go for more domains. Right now I have 4 1/2 blogs… more on that another time.
17 If English is your first language you still don’t get a pass for horrible grammar. You will get a pass for typos but more often than not you’ll get that squiggly red line if you misspell something; try to pay attention to that. Most of the time, unless it’s egregious, people will be more interested in seeing if they can understand what you’re saying instead of whether you’ve spelled the words correctly or not… most of the time that is.
18 I don’t believe anyone can write too much most of the time but many people write too little. If you can’t write more than 100 word posts don’t create a blog. Instead, go to Tumblr and use that as your platform. However, I believe that with some structure anyone can write at least 300 words for each post.
19 Though I don’t believe articles can be too long, I do believe that horribly written articles can be too long. If you keep repeating the same thing over and over, you’re going to drive people crazy. That’s why I always recommend starting with an outline if you’re going to write something long or write a list post, like this one.
20 One other idea for writing long posts is to learn the art of storytelling. By starting with a story you can write about almost anything. On this blog and some of my other blogs I’ve used stories to talk about all sorts of things, trying to make sure my points integrate well together so people can enjoy the story and learn a lesson at the same time. Don’t you love a good story?
21 When you’ve published your first blog post, send the link to everyone you know, or at least everyone you’re comfortable with. Send it via email, social media, text… however you can get it out, do it. This might be the only time you can get away with it but the early criticism might help and you might get some supporters to help you on your way.
22 Online writing is different than offline writing. Online it’s easier to read content, even long content, if paragraphs are 4 lines or less. Some people have each line as a paragraph; depending on how long the sentences are that might be appropriate sometimes, but if your article has lots of sentences that are only 4 or 5 words please don’t do this. However, sometimes a paragraph needs to be longer to continue a singular thought, like we learned in school; just don’t make your entire article like this is you can help it.
23 Most of the time your first few lines need to be strong enough to capture people’s attention. Don’t overstate what the article is going to be about if it’s not about that because you’ll irk people. If you’re telling a story you can be evasive, but mysterious. Notice I didn’t do that for this post, but I had something to lead into what it was going to be about and why I wrote it.
24 Many times people, including me, will talk about the SEO principles of having a blog. They’re pretty valid and for people looking to make money off their blogs it’s the way to go. With that said it’s more important to write cogent posts that make sense so that visitors will keep coming back to read them, which helps your SEO work better.
25 Internal linking means linking to something that’s already on your blog or your website. When it’s valid, doing so helps not only with SEO but might entice readers to check those links out also. If you have a lot of posts it helps to bring attention to some of the older ones.
26 External linking doesn’t have any immediate benefits but can have some long term. For instance, if you link to someone else’s blog post and let them know, and it’s in a positive light, they may stop by & invite friends to see it. Search engines also love it, but for the people you’ve linked to, not you.
27 As it regards external linking, always give proper attribution, whether it’s a blog or website. Don’t represent it as if it’s your own work.
28 A great way to find something to write about is to search news stories or blogs talking about something you’re interested in and then writing about it. This is when external linking works best.
29 When trying to find inspiration for things to write about and you’ve done the previous idea, look back on previous things you’ve written to see if they need an update. Also, look at things you’ve written that might be on your computer already to see if any of those things might work for you.
30 The most popular blog posts are list posts, usually shorter than this one. Many people like having something that not only breaks things out for them but are relatively short and doesn’t take long for them to read. You can always go back and write longer, more in depth articles on those points.
31 Rehashing a blog topic after a year or longer isn’t such a bad idea. Most of the time you’ll find that maybe there’s a way to write a totally original thought that what you wrote previously. If you do this you should link back to your original post and if need be make changes.
32 Speaking of making changes, if you’ve written a post that no longer has any validity, it’s okay to make that post private. I wrote a post years ago on how to set up Oauth between blogs and Twitter but that no longer exists so I removed it.
33 You need to monitor blog comments to determine if they’re real or not, and if they’re real you need to get into the habit of responding to comments. Leaving a response like “thanks for your comment” and not adding anything to it doesn’t encourage people to interact with your blog. Unless you’re famous people won’t come back if you don’t show them value. They also won’t come back if there are too many spammy (not a real word by the way but we bloggers use it so… lol) comments.
34 You might decide you want to accept guest posts to help your blog grow. There are lots of people ready to load your blog up with articles. You need to know that editing will be a big part of your life, and that many writers won’t respond to any comments. Set your rules and if people don’t abide by them, remove their links and possibly the articles also.
35 If you guest post on someone else’s blog, try to write the best article possible, something you’d put more work into than on your own blog, especially if it’s a high traffic blog. You might only get one chance to be seen by a large group of blog readers and it could prove invaluable to you later on.
36 Every topic lends itself to creativity if you open your mind. On this blog I’ve related the topic to chess, airports, poker and a host of other things. On my business blog I’ve linked leadership to Charlie Brown, Harry Potter, piano lessons and such. One of my latest popular posts linked marketing and PR to Yosemite Sam.
37 Don’t ever be afraid to leave your main topic here and there to address something that’s special to you in some way. On September 11th I wrote a post about that, which I’ve done many years over the course of my blogs. I also often partake in something called Blog Action Day, where writers around the world all write on the same topic.
38 In addressing blog comments earlier, I talked about on your own blog. The top way to get people to come back to your blog is by commenting on other blogs, and leaving good comments. If you don’t have the time to go crazy pick at least 5 blogs you like and comment on just those when they have new comment. It’ll get things picking up pretty quickly for your blog.
39 Think about posting interviews on your blog. There are many interesting people in the world and most of them like talking about themselves. Try to find questions to ask that no one else will ask when possible. Also, if you’re asked to do an interview do it, then make sure you mention it somewhere on your blog at some point.
40 Adding videos to your blog here and there is a good lesson to learn. I’ve added some of my own videos but sometimes I find a video that I want to share with others, so I write a post and pop it in there. Every once in a while the video might not even be on topic, in which case I’ll add it to the end of a post with a caveat; people like that type of thing.
41 Many bloggers are offering podcasts, which is the audio equivalent of videos. As long as you don’t have audio starting as soon as someone shows up at your blog all will be fine.
42 Offering alternative ways for people to consume your content makes sense. On my blog I run an app called Readspeaker where people can listen if they’re not in the mood to read, since some of my posts are long. The technology isn’t perfect but it gets the job done.
43 If you’re up to it, at least once on your blog you should try to write a post that’s called a pillar post on your main topic. A pillar post is a very long article that helps to establish yourself as an authority on what you talk about. These work great on search engines, even if they might not get a lot of attention from readers who won’t read something long. By long, I mean close to 3,000 words or more. I’ve written 3 on this blog (actually 4 if I count this one); some bloggers only write posts that long.
44 Having some type of blogging schedule helps your consistent readers figure out when they should expect something new from you. The frequency is up to you, whether you want to try to write 5 articles a day (yeow!) or one article every 2 weeks or so. Writing often drives more traffic but it’s usually lots of new visitors. Not writing often enough does the same thing. Only you can figure it out based on your history.
45 Unless I’m writing a funny story that everyone knows isn’t true (which I’ve done once in all my years here), I follow my own moral code, the top 3 of which are these: loyalty, trustworthiness and honesty. As long as you always follow your codes of decency, if you have any, you can pretty much talk about anything. If your code of decency means putting others down for things that are out of their control, it’s probably better to keep it quiet.
46 Expounding on the previous thought, writing about things like religion, politics, race, sexuality, body types… probably not a good idea unless you’re using yourself as an example. With topics like these, there’s always going to be someone who disagrees. I will write about race though; that’s the main issue that drives me.
47 The previous points and #13 regards the topic of being controversial. Understand that sometimes you just have to go that route in being honest, but there are always ways to say things to minimize it. At the same time, sometimes you’ll write something that will become controversial and catch you off guard. You have to be ready for that and be ready to respond to defend your position if needed, or see someone else’s point of view as being valid.
48 Never plagiarize someone else’s work; never! What you can do, as long as you offer attribution and a link, is comment on something someone else wrote by listing their points and offering your commentary on it.
49 There are lots of commenting systems, some whose purpose is to try to limit spam. My only advice here is that anything you set up that irks a lot of commenters will reduce the number of comments you’ll get. If you’re popular you might get away with it unscathed, but if you average fewer than 10 comments per post and you do it you’ll kill traffic to your blog. There are so many ways to control spam, some of which I mentioned in #11 above.
50 Don’t be afraid to make money off your blog, no matter who likes it or not. Sell your own products, do affiliate sales, do joint ventures… whatever works for you. You can even start selling the day you start writing your blog, no matter what someone says. Just don’t push it all the time; without other content here and there, unless your site also markets coupons and special deals, recurring traffic might not work as well.
51 Although there’s a lot of great blogging advice in the world, there’s also a lot of bad advice. I’d recommend taking things that you might find workable and using them in what you do and ignoring things that aren’t for you. For instance, some people will say to define a niche to the nth degree but there are some topics where that’s just not going to work.
52 Make sure you add something to your blog that allows people to contact or connect with you, whether it’s a contact page or widgets for Twitter, Google Plus or others. While you’re at it, find a plugin that helps people share your content on these sites if they like it.
53 Always add an About page, whether you’re looking to do business or not. People love knowing something about the people whose blog they’re reading and this is the best way to control the message about who you are and what you do.
54 Get used to this fact: most of your friends and most of your family will NOT read your blog. Sometimes it’s better that way. It also might be hard getting people in your community reading your blog. Think about this while you’re writing your content; make it such that people around the world will also be interested because that’s going to be your biggest audience.
55 Even if you’re blogging for business this is supposed to be a fun thing to do. If you’re stressed about it in any way, including having to deal with other people, don’t do it or just stop doing it. Life is too short to continue doing something that’s upsetting you.
That’s it for now. Do you need more? Are you a masochist? Stay tuned as there’s plenty more articles coming around here. Please comment and share this bad boy if you think it’s worth it, and enjoy your week!