Better Blogging, Part One
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Mar 16, 2011
If any of you remember reading my goals for 2011 for this blog, you’ll remember that one of those goals was to write 2 pillar posts for the year. If you don’t remember the concept of the pillar post, follow the link to the description of what it’s all about.
Basically, this is about to be a very long post. Its intention is to put as many concepts of my belief of what better blogging is all about in one place. Most of the concepts in this post I have covered elsewhere on this blog, but they’re scattered in many different articles, including the series I have up at the top of this blog talking about blogging tips. For the majority of you who visit this blog all the time, this post really isn’t for you. I’d love you to take the time to read it and comment on it if you wish to, but the truth of the matter is I don’t expect most of you to take the time to read this entire post. I know Beverly’s not going to read it, but Bev, this is a post that you might want to share with some of your readers or radio listeners whenever the topic of what blogging is all about comes up.
And I’ve made a slight change to what I was originally going to do. This post has ended up being more than 5,300 words long, and even for a pillar post that’s a bit long. So, I’ve broken it up into two posts, which I’m going to run back to back. That means two blog posts in a row are going to be extremely long; oh joy! But I’m adding some pictures here and there to help break things up some; you can thank or curse me for it later.
Everybody has been warned this is going to be long; let’s get started.
Let’s get this first concept out of the way; what is real blogging? I’m using that term to differentiate it from other types of blogging that, in my opinion, really aren’t blogging at all. Real blogging isn’t a bunch of sales posts. Real blogging isn’t a bunch of news posts. Real blogging is putting together posts that have to do with either your opinion, or the opportunity to show your expertise in something. If all you’re doing is posting a bunch of pictures or videos all the time, that’s not real blogging because you really haven’t given anything of yourself. That is, of course, not assuming that every video you put on a blog is you talking; I think we can make an allowance for that, because some people really hate writing and would rather make videos. And, as I’ve learned lately, it does take some work to get videos down to a science so that you don’t look like an idiot.
There are many pros to blogging. The number one pro is the opportunity to express yourself in the open to let people know how you feel and how you think. After all, wasn’t the point of blogging if you’re not going to do that? The sidebar pro to that is if you’re blogging to highlight your business or your expertise in something. Blogging is a great way to show that, and because blogs aren’t static, that meaning you have the opportunity to write something new every day if you want to, you also get to show the range of your expertise.
Another pro about blogging is that you can make money from it. Not all that many people make a lot of money from it, but it can happen. I don’t make a lot of money off of this blog, but I have a different blog where I’ve taken in a lot of money from people who want to advertise on it. I’m not rich by any means, but as I continue to add content and traffic continues to build the possibility of increasing how much money I make off that blog will grow. But anyone who blogs only for the reason of trying to make money will often find themselves failing, wondering why it didn’t work, and giving it up.
Of course you can’t have pros of something without talking about the negatives of something, and there are some negatives to blogging. One, it takes time to blog. Some people, like me, can put together a regular blog post within 10 minutes to a half hour. Some people take days to put together blog posts, and that’s okay as well. The overall thing to take away from this is that blogging isn’t something you can do quickly. True, you can hire someone to write your blog, but it’s still going to take them some time to get new articles onto your blog.
Another negative about blogging is the same as one of the pros, that being you put yourself out there for people to comment on what it is you have to say, and if they don’t like what you have to say you have to figure out whether you can handle their criticism or not. Not everybody will agree with everything you have to say, especially if you don’t say it in the way you mean it, and reacting the wrong way even once to a bad comment can hurt your blog for a long time to come.
One last negative is keeping a blog going for a long time. Some very well known bloggers who have had great success with their blogs and made money off their blogs have suddenly found themselves two or three years later feeling too much pressure to continue writing those blogs. A minor statistic I did for myself a couple of weeks ago, based on looking at people who make comments on this blog when it was new, show that almost 50% of those blogs no longer existed, or the people who had them had stopped writing on them. Other statistics have shown that close to 70% of all blogs that are created don’t last longer than a year. One thing I always say to people is that if you don’t think you can write on something for longer than a year don’t even start, because nothing looks worse than an abandoned blog.
If I haven’t scared you off yet, let’s talk about what you need to think about before you ever start blogging.
The first thing to postulate is what you’re going to write about. There are two things to consider when you’re going to look at this issue. The first issue is what do you know? For instance, if you’re an accountant and that’s what you know very well, then maybe you’ll decide to write on accounting. Or maybe you know a lot about fashion, even if that’s not your profession, and you can go that route. The more you know about a subject, the better the possibility is that you’ll be able to write on it for a long time, and the better blogging you’ll do.
The second issue is what is your passion? For instance, even if you’re an accountant and know a lot about accounting, you might want to talk about monster trucks instead because it’s a passion of yours. It certainly offers up the opportunity to appeal to more people than accounting might, and unless you’re writing a business blog, passion and enthusiasm goes a long way towards attracting other people to your blog. It also helps if you have a lot of knowledge in what you’re passionate about. It does no good to say you love television yet can’t remember the names of any of the TV shows you watch or the actors who are on those shows.
Something else to think about is the concept of niche versus non-niche blogging. A niche blog basically says you write on one subject and one subject only. Say for instance that you want to talk about painting, and I mean house or building painting, not art. Every article you write will concern painting and nothing else.
However, a niche blog doesn’t mean that you have to limit yourself as much as you might think. For instance, talking about painting houses or buildings offers a lot of things you can talk about. You can talk about different brands of paint; you can talk about the ways of mixing paints together; you can talk about the different types of paint; you can talk about different ways of painting, such as textures and the like; you can even talk about some of the problems and successes you have had in painting different surfaces. There are lot more topics I could come up with, and I don’t even know how to paint.
Non-niche blogging is a different story entirely. For instance, you might be someone who likes to write a lot of stories on different subjects, even funny stories. You might be a conspiracy theorist that sees government intrusions across the world in many different areas. Or you might be someone who just likes to tell things about your life, what you discover, or anything that comes to mind, kind of like this blog most of the time.
Not having a niche means you can pretty much write about anything, and therefore you should always have some kind of inspiration to continue going. It can be a lot easier to write, but it can be a lot harder to consistently keep certain people coming to your blog and it’s certainly hard to optimize. But it’s not a bad thing, and even non-niche blogs can make money, if that’s concern of yours, which might go against the grain of all those people out there who say the only way you can make money off a blog is to write a niche blog.
Something else to talk about is the concept of free versus self hosted blogs. There are a lot of free services out there where you can create a blog and start writing almost immediately. A service like Blogger (Blogspot), which is owned by Google, or WordPress.com, offers people a way to start a blog in minutes without having to worry about either paying for it or getting it set up.
Self hosting basically means you’re going to pay little bit of money for the freedom of being able to do whatever you want to do. There are always restrictions of some kind if you’re using a free service, and many people have found that if they cross the line without knowing it suddenly their blog is gone and they’ll lose access to anything that they’ve put on it previously. Self hosting means you’re going to pay for a domain name, and you’re going to pay for place to host your blog, which basically means you’re paying for storage space. There are a lot more choices and things you can do if you self host your blog then if you go with the free option. However, both of the free options I mentioned above also have a paid option, and that might be something you want to consider if you decide you want to blog for a long time.
The next thing to think about is, if you’re going to self host your blog, the blogging platform you want to use. Once again, there are free or paid options. I have chosen WordPress as my blogging platform. It’s free software that’s always being updated to protect against those bad guys who want to take it over, and there are literally tens of thousands of different templates out there that allow you to change the look of your blog. That plus it’s easy to use; if you know anything about coding or aren’t afraid to tinker you can make even further changes. There are also paid platforms such as FlexSqueeze and Thesis. There are some people who will tell you that you have to pay for a theme in order to look professional; that’s a bunch of garbage. What you need to be able to do is write quality content and possibly make some modifications to whatever theme you decide to use to make it seem more like your blog.
The final thing to think about before you start blogging is what your overall blogging goal is going to be. This is going to drive how you decide to move forward with your blog. Is your goal to make money? Is your goal to show expertise in a certain field? Is your goal to help spread your influence? Is your goal to help you publicize yourself? Is your goal to create controversy? You should think about all these things up front before you start, although there’s nothing saying that you can’t mix some of these things here and there.
This is the end of the first half of this topic on better blogging. Tomorrow you’ll have access to part deux of this pillar series of mine. I wonder if I get to count these two parts as the two pillar posts I was going to write for the year. Hmmm… 🙂