My name is Mitch Mitchell and I’m many things. Today, I’m a blogger. I have 4 blogs of my own and have written for many others; still do in fact. I’ve been blogging since 2005 but for my most popular blog, I’m Just Sharing (which is this one of course), I’ve been writing for 13 1/2 years.
Over the course of all that time I’ve come to realize that there are some things that are certainties when it comes to blogging. Those are the things I’ll talk about in a minute.
What I want to get out of the way is that there’s no one way of doing anything. Everyone ends up having their own style and that’s pretty cool. Some people have multiple styles depending on what it is they’re writing about or who they’re writing for. Some people hate writing, others like it and some just dream about it. I’m of the opinion that if you’re reading this you actually want to write and are most probably writing.
This post is geared towards people who are fairly new at blogging, or are considering it for the most part. Some of you will have seen some these tips before; it never hurts to have them reinforced.
However, as I get to the last 3 I can honestly say that you’ll find bloggers who have been writing for years who haven’t learned these lessons, which means if you do them you’ll be way ahead of those people and your readers will thank you for it; trust me on this one.
Are you ready for the journey? Here we go:
1. Don’t start if you don’t think you can keep it up
There are more than 600 million blogs on the internet, and there are thousands that start anew every day. The overwhelming number of blogs you come across have fewer than 5 posts on them; that’s a shame. More than 70% of all blogs you come across haven’t had a new post in at least a year; that’s a shame as well.
Truth be told blogging takes dedication. Some people find it a chore. Some people find it intimidating. Some people think they have nothing to say. Some people are too finite in what they think they want to write about. Some people lose the thrill because they want more comments, more participation on their blogs, aren’t selling or making enough money and can’t figure out where the readers are.
There are lots of posts that will tell you how to drive traffic to your blog; I’ll leave you to find those. What I will say is that blogging takes courage, imagination and, as I said before, dedication. If you’re thinking about blogging but don’t think you have all 3 of the above, don’t even start, especially if you were thinking about doing it for business purposes. The world doesn’t need more clutter on the internet.
I’ll offer you a caveat though. If you’re unsure and want to give it a try then set up a blog in a free space and give it a shot. Before you do that, decide what you want to write about and then write 10 articles. That’s just to prove to yourself that you can do it; if not, walk away.
When you get serious about blogging you should at least buy a domain name and pay for hosting, but to see if you think you can do it, try one of the free places; you can always pay for your blog later on and move your articles over. These last two tips I’ve mentioned often here.
2. You can get better if you care
I read where people say “I’m a terrible writer” or “my grammar is horrible” or “I make so many typos” or… well, you get the picture. You want to know a truth? Every great writer started out just like you somewhere along the line. Some figure it out sooner than others, but no one starts out like whoever your favorite writer happens to be.
Not only that but almost every great writer had someone who initially thought what they’d written was awful, even when it wasn’t. What this tells you is that no one is perfect, not the writer, not the reviewer, and not the reader.
Still, if you want to get better you can. Here are some simple steps:
* turn on spell check
* read what you’ve just written out loud
* if you use certain words too often remove some of them and try to find a different way of stating your case or use a different word
* just start writing
That’s it; not too hard to do is it?
3. Write about what you know
There are a lot of people who write about how to make money online. The overwhelming number of those people have no idea how to make money online. Some actually do make money, but not a living wage. I don’t mind there being so many people writing on the topic; I do mind people writing about things they know nothing about, mostly because they tend to say the same thing over and over; a lack of imagination is boring to read.
I hear some voices now saying “But no one would be interested in the things I know”. Says who? Here’s a few truths about this type of statement. One, it’s never the topic but how you write about it. Two, every niche has someone who wants to learn more about it or comment on it. Three, depending on why you’re writing, even if you only end up with 100 dedicated readers that’s much better than someone with 10,000 visitors a day who don’t engage with you.
When you write about what you know, and when you can show passion about what you write about, it attracts those who care about the same thing. If you decide you want to try to market based on what you care about, those visitors are more apt to buy from you if they can identify with you; definitely if they care about you and what you’re writing about.
Earlier I mentioned that I have multiple blogs. Someone might ask “how can you know something about multiple things”? Are you kidding me? Who among us only knows one thing? For that matter who among us only knows one thing well?
I don’t recommend that everyone have multiple blogs though; it’s hard to keep that sort of thing going. I do recommend that you write about what you know, and if what you know doesn’t always work for one blog, then think about a second blog if you believe you have enough to contribute.
4. Length means nothing; content does
I sometimes write some very long posts; this one is going to be long like my post offering 55 blog tips. I used to write a lot of posts that were only around 500 words or so. To some that’s too long; for me, it is what it was, until the search engines started encouraging longer content… which is what I always wanted to write anyway.
There are lots of discussions as to what the proper blog length should be. The a reality is that if search engines can’t figure out what your blog is about it’ll be hard for them to rank you and log you on a consistent basis. And yet, there are some pretty cool blogs out there with a nice following that are mainly images.
In those instances it probably comes down to how they promote their blogs and to whom. Some fancy bloggers will tell you to write for search engines so that they’ll rank you higher. I’m not going to say that SEO isn’t important, but I will say that offering compelling content is way more important than SEO for blogs. After all, do you want people coming back or for search engines?
It’s up to each blog owner to determine what they think is compelling content. If you as a blog writer believe that writing a quote a day as a blog post is compelling, then go for it. However, that probably will only be compelling to you. If you want more from your blog, you’re going to have to write a little bit more than that (I’m being nice).
The “how much more” depends on you, but I will add this. Just like good stories you need a beginning, middle and end. I know people who write 2,000 word posts that could have been written in 400 words if they had stopped repeating themselves over and over. I’ve also known people who stick to 250 to 300 words that leave so much out that it’s frustrating to read, especially if they’re trying to teach you how to do or fix something. Try to go by the Mozart principle; write as much as you need to get your point across, then stop and move on.
5. Diversify every once in a while
My business blog is on the topic of leadership and health care finance, though I touch upon other business issues that involve people. To some, leadership can be a boring subject, tough to stay interested in and even tougher to make interesting. Yet I’ve written posts comparing leadership to Cling Wrap, discussed the leadership styles of Charlie Brown, Kermit the Frog and Harry Potter, talked about leadership lessons by taking piano lessons, written multiple series posts, etc.
Every once in a while I’ve gone off topic. I talked about why it’s smart to always have an emergency bag packed in case you have to leave town in an emergency. I’ve talked about tragedies that have happened here and there. I’ve done book reviews, and every once in a while I answer questions.
Diversification gives you a lot of things to talk about, overcoming the worry that your niche might limit what you can talk about. Always remember that it’s your blog, and even if you’re trying to show your expertise, it never hurts to show people a positive side of your personality; just make sure you don’t make yourself look like a jerk. 🙂
6. Be a gracious and discriminate host
If people take the time to comment on your blog the best courtesy you can offer is to respond to those comments. No one says your response has to be War and Peace, but it certainly needs to be more than “thank you for your comment.” What is that anyway? Whenever I see that I’m mad at myself for wasting my time and I never go back. Is that how you want people to see your blog? Do you want to waste all that time promoting your blog (if you are promoting it) to get people to come and leave comments and then give them that? Really?
At the same time you need to remember that your blog is representative of you, and that includes comments. Very few people want to be associated with a blog that allows a lot of bad language, hate speech, or spam in the comments. I write often that the concept of free speech doesn’t apply to you if you’re paying for the space.
Don’t ever censor someone’s opinion that doesn’t agree with yours; use your skills in responding to those who disagree with you. But make sure people behave in your space. Deleting comments isn’t always a bad thing, especially if it’s spam. How do you know it’s spam? If the comment doesn’t address what you’ve written about in any way, it’s spam.
7. Have fun
When all is said and done, blogging is supposed to be a fun venture. Unless you’re being paid to write and manage a blog for someone else’s business, what’s the point of doing it if you can’t get enjoyment out of it. Even if you’re trying to promote yourself, if you really can’t stand blogging then find other ways to promote yourself.
Blogging is the best way to have your say without it being filtered by someone else. It’s the best way to promote yourself, your business or your product. The two things that get shared the most on other social media spaces are blogs and news stories. If you write content that’s compelling enough to get others to share it… well, you can’t pay enough for that type of thing, yet you’re getting free publicity. At the very least you’ll have something to promote if that’s what you want to do.
Let blogging be a positive outlet for you. If it can’t be that, then just sit back and enjoy reading blogs and get your fun that way instead. Oh yeah; sometimes add a picture of you, or multiple pictures of yourself, so people feel like they know you. 😉
Did any of this help? What do you think?