Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 12, 2015
That looks like an antagonistic title, doesn’t it? In a way it is, but in a way it’s not. This is one of those posts where I’m going to use my own expertise to dispute something someone else wrote where, in my opinion, they’re totally wrong. I’m also going to link to the post because one, it allows you the visitor to go see the entire post, and two, linking to someone you’re talking about, good or bad, is just being courteous.
Before I move on I just want to add that this is the type of thing that can help to make a business blog work well. It’s not bad when you agree with what someone else says and want to enhance it, but it’s also not bad when you don’t just follow along with what someone else says when you don’t agree.
Anyway, on a blog called Hongkiat, the writer wrote a post titled Popular Blogging Advice That Don’t Work (and What Does). Forgiving the grammar since English isn’t his first language, he listed 5 points that he believed don’t work, or aren’t true about blogging. I disagree with 3 of his points, and I brought those points up on his blog in the comments. But I wanted to say a bit more, hence this post.
Here’s the points and my commentary on them; I’m paraphrasing them since he wrote the points differently:
1. Blogging every day doesn’t do your blog any good.
His point was that no one could write every day because they’d run out of things to say and that the content wouldn’t be very good. I want to negate that statement; it’s not impossible but it’s not easy. On one of my blogs I was an almost every day blogger. I averaged just over 300 posts a year my first three years with that blog. In one stretch, I wrote 37 days in a row, 5 of those days 2 posts a day. Were there some duds? Yes, but I felt that all the rest were pretty good.
Here’s the truth. The more you write, the more traffic you’ll get. That’s been proven over and over. The other truth is that, for a blog, if there are too many articles in a day or in a week, visitors might get confused by what they need to read. Sure, I had a great output, and my traffic showed it, and thus my rankings went up; that was good. But I didn’t get tons of comments, and some posts didn’t get any comments at all.
Still, it built up my web presence, and I was willing to write that much to help that blog gain prominence, which it has. After 3 years I decided to slow down some, not commit to writing every day, but to commit to having a new post at least every 3 days or so. That I have stuck with, and I now get way more comments. But writing a lot established the blog, so it does work.
2. It’s impossible to write great content if you blog every day.
As I mentioned above, this is a fallacy, but let me take it a step further. In a post I wrote back in 2011 titled What Is High Quality Content, I stated that it’s a recommendation I see people making all the time but no one has ever tried defining it. So I did, and came up with these four points:
* If you’re writing about something that’s supposed to teach someone something new, did you explain it well enough?
* If you’re trying to tell a story and you don’t skip on details, such that people are left wondering “what the heck was that about”, then you’re creating high quality content.
* Are you writing something about a particular belief or thought? Have you taken the time to explain why believe as you do, or are you just saying something and moving on?
* Are you being true to yourself?
People from my generation remember B-sides of 45’s, and sometimes those songs were just as good as the songs being pushed by the studios. Not every post you write will be a home run, but if you tried to get it right in some fashion, were on point, and even if it was short it’s an honest post, it’s great content. You’re telling me that you can’t do that every time out, even if you wrote something every day? Sure you can; never sell yourself short.
3. Commenting frequently on other blogs doesn’t do anything for your blog.
In 2011 I did something as an experiment. I was interviewed on a very prominent blog by a young man who’s an up and comer in the online social media world. I also
wrote a guest post for a very high ranking blog, something I don’t do all that often. During the same period, I decided to complete the test by making sure I wrote comments on 5 blogs every day for at least a week; I do comment on a lot of blogs but often I do a bunch in one day.
The results were staggering. Out of all the traffic numbers 85% of my visits came from blog commenting out of those 3 things. The guest post I wrote had around 200 comments, which is pretty phenomenal since I’ve never reached that on any of my blogs, but it only accounted for 9% of visits. The interview I gave accounted for the other 6%. I tracked these numbers via Google Analytics. Indeed, blog commenting does work, especially if you make sure your comments are good.
Since that time I’ve tested this one a few times, and blog commenting always works. They can’t be garbage, throwaway comments; you have to offer something based on the topic, even if it’s minor criticism or faint praise. If your comments are pretty good, people other than the owner tend to read them.
There you go. Myths dispelled with some home testing and proof. Now, does it take a lot of work? Yes. Does it take time? Yes. But if you have it, and can apply these 3 things, your blog will take off and you’ll be a very happy person.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 29, 2014
Suffice it to say, 2014 is almost over. Last Friday I put out a post talking about my goals for 2015. Those were mainly personal goals, mainly for myself, though sometimes I like to share because they might inspire others to do the same.
This post is a little different, some quick hitters. There are things I’ve seen over the past year, both good and bad, from bloggers all over the place. There are some things I needed to do myself, some I did, some I didn’t. I figure if I’m going to pick on others then I might as well call myself out where I can.
I don’t expect anyone to change a thing because I don’t like it; people will do what people do. Still, at least I’ll be on record once again, in case some people who are doing some of these things wonder why I don’t stop by all that often, or do stop by more often than not. I’m doing 15 since the upcoming year has “15” in it; kind of cheesy but I’m going with it anyway.
Enough of the preamble. Let’s get to it:
1. Stop sending notices to people asking them to subscribe to comments when they leave one. That’s one of the most irksome things in the world to me. I hate when I get something asking me to subscribe to the blog but I can deal with that. Telling me, after I checked the box, that I have to now subscribe to comments to get a response to my comment… ugh. You’re wasting my time because I’m never subscribing; I wouldn’t have left a comment if I thought you could care less if I saw it.
2. Please check to see if your comment notifications work. I comment on lots of blogs. I don’t keep a list of blogs I comment on. Therefore, unless I get an email telling me you’ve responded to me I may never know that you responded, and I won’t be alone.
The way to test this is to either log off your blog or use a different browser, go to a post and leave a comment. If you don’t get an email from your blog then you know it’s not working and should fix it. I test my blogs at least 3 times a year; it only takes a couple of minutes to do.
3. Respond to comments, and not just the new ones. I’m sometimes late to visiting a blog. It might only be a day, it might be a couple of weeks. Either way, all of us who talk about blogging tell you how important it is to respond to comments. However, some of the bloggers who talk about it only respond to comments left the day the post goes live.
If you don’t care about comments after that or the people who leave them why not set your blog up to not accept comments after one day? I can tell you how to do it. What, you think that would make your blog look like an unfriendly place? Same with not responding to almost all comments in my opinion.
4. Leave real comments. Here’s a truth; sometimes, if you know the person, a one line comment isn’t such a bad thing. However, if you’re not known by the blog owner, a one line comment looks like spam. Even a two line comment can look like spam. Sometimes I delete those comments, sometimes I’ll leave them, but if you haven’t really said anything I’m probably not responding to your comment. As always, if the comment doesn’t address anything within the post, it’s probably being deleted.
5. Misleading titles; stop that! In all the years I’ve had this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever left a misleading title just to get visitors. I’m not going to lie; I’m not great at titles anyway, so maybe I have a bias against being mislead.
Still, if you tell me something is going to be shocking, it had better be. If you tell me there’s one thing that’s the most important thing ever, I hope you make your case for it instead of going around the bush, mentioning it once, then going off on a tangent.
6. If you accept guest posts, do two things: write at least half of the content on your blog; read the posts before they’re released. First off, I’m probably coming to your blog because I liked your writing style or reading what you had to say. However, if you’re only writing a post every once in a while and everything else is from someone else, and they’re not regular contributors, I feel cheated. Second, if someone else’s article isn’t up to your writing standard, realize that it can only bring you down eventually, even if traffic numbers stay up because of the new content consistently being posted.
When I was accepting guest posts on my finance blog, I spent lots of time reading those things, editing some of them and sending the rest back to the writer to fix them. Frankly, that was time consuming, but I knew someone else’s bad writing would reflect on me. Please don’t give up quality for expediency and traffic.
7. It’s okay to revisit topics and thoughts you’ve previously written about if they’re timely or evergreen. Above I linked to my post talking about 7 years of writing this blog. Linking back to old posts makes a lot of sense, both because of SEO and because people who like your content will want to check out things related to new articles.
Thing is, as I was looking back through some of my content I realized that there are things I touched upon once years ago that are still pertinent, but few people are going to go searching for those old posts unless I guide them there through a new post. Thus, writing about a topic again, even if some things haven’t changed all that much, can work wonders. If you’ve changed a point of view or added something new you can always link to the old article. I need to do this more often, especially with nearly 1,600 articles here.
8. Your popups are irritating; at least let me finish reading your article. Along with some other gripes I had about blogs I was visiting in 2013, the biggest was pop-ups. I really hated it, as I addressed two versions of it in that post.
I get it; some guru told you that even though they irritate people, you’ll get lots of them to sign up for it and it’s better to care about people you’re probably going to market to and irritate a different way instead of worrying about popups irritating people who actually might want to read your blog; sigh…
Fine. If you’re going to do it anyway, why not at least think about those who are reading your content? Don’t have your popup jump out when someone gets to your page. Don’t have your popup jump up when people might be 30 seconds into reading your article, unless it’s extremely short. Don’t have your popup hiding the X we’re hoping to find as quickly as possible to close it if we’re not interested.
If it’s going to pop up every single time people stop by tell them, instead of the “lie” (misstatement) I’ve been told that it will only pop up the first time I visit. Because it’s either a lie or you don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’m probably not coming back… probably, since sometimes I forget and visit a second time, have that sucker pop up and immediately leave.
9. Learn the difference between fact and opinion. Most of us write opinions on our blog; that’s a fact. lol A fact is more along the lines of a tutorial where you’re telling someone how to do something, or the results of a study you’ve conducted and what your results are. Even then that’s just your fact, since for both of those examples someone might be doing those things a different way or coming up with different results.
Debating whether content is king (which I believe) or not is really more opinion than anything else. Telling someone that writing “butter” 50 times in every single blog post they write will not only hurt their website but will eventually get them delisted from Google is fact because Google told us so.
10. Worry more about your content than about keywords and SEO. This is a tough one for many bloggers but I’m going to clarify my position here. There’s nothing wrong with shooting for keywords in a post, just like we try to go with our websites. But I read many posts that feel “fake” because the writer isn’t writing naturally.
Readability is the biggest thing in the eyes of search engines these days. If their algorithms can discern what you’re talking about, it’s all good. Helping them by adding some keywords or keyword phrases will definitely help, but if it’s the only thing you’re worried about then you’re missing the concept of blogging which, in the long run, is about readers.
11. Being contrarian; don’t always write “for” the readers. I’m going against #10 but only for this one reason. I’ve had conversations with some bloggers where many of them feel their content isn’t worth anything if they don’t write to their audience. This often means condescending 3rd grade level content that either says nothing or repeats exactly what a reader can find elsewhere.
My reasoning here is to look at your writing style, your errors, your misspellings, and ask yourself this question; would you want to read this? Then ask yourself the next question; will you ever go back and read this?
As with my videos, I always go back and read my own content at least once after its published. I’ll read it when comments start to come in, or else if it’s a post that didn’t get many comments I’ll go back to see what it looks like.
This might sound like braggadocio but I tend to like most of what I write and most of my videos. There are some posts and videos that I’m not crazy about and I might go in and change a sentence or two (with videos I might go back and make them private).
One should feel comfortable with their own content; if not, your audience probably won’t be comfortable with it either.
12. Share more of what you read, and offer commentary when possible. Did you read this post? Even if you didn’t comment on it did you share it?
I’m big on sharing stuff I read, especially blogs. I share mostly on Twitter, though occasionally I’ll share on Google Plus or Facebook (rare for blog posts). When I share in other spaces, if there’s room left I’ll almost always make a little comment, whether I commented on the actual post or not. Even if I can only squeeze in a couple of words I’ll do it.
Why? I want people to know that I read it and where I might be leaning as far as my opinion of it. I tend to believe that goes a long way towards encouraging people to check it out. It helps other bloggers and helps to encourage them to write more. Also, it’s a way to get some reciprocation because people know they can trust you and trust what you write. That’s not the reason I do it but it’s a nice side benefit.
13. There are true “ranking lists” posts and then there’s linkbait. I’ve not hidden the fact that I want to be more known for blogging. I’ve started my campaign on Twitter and, in 2015, I’ll be expanding it to other social media circles, as well as making sure I highlight things from at least 3 of my blogs more often.
I also want to be mentioned on more blogs that have top 25, 50 or 100 blogs, no matter the topic. However, I recognize that some of the lists are what we call linkbait, which means you’re trying to get attention from the people who you’re highlighting and pretty much nothing else.
What’s the difference? People who are giving it real attention will say something about those blogs rather than just list them. For instance, back in 2012 I wrote a series of 19 posts on the topic Black Web Friday where I highlighted black bloggers and websites. I didn’t just pop up links to sites without commentary. I gave a bit of explanation for each link and, when possible, something about the writer.
In my opinion that was true value to the readers and not just linkbait which, if that had been my intention I’d have failed miserably because most of the bloggers and websites I highlighted never found out about it. lol
14. Don’t only be kinder in 2015 but acknowledge social issues as well. I’ve got to tell you, 2014 was a tough year for me mentally. Forget the fact that politics didn’t quite go how I had envisioned and go straight to the fact that the biggest issue that could have potentially affected me were all the stories of bad police conduct and black people… okay, black males mainly, although if I were to be fully truthful it was minorities in general.
I was bothered a lot about it. However, I didn’t write about any of it on this blog, though I really wanted to. I did address it once on my business blog and in a couple of my YouTube videos because I had to get things off my chest.
How many blogs did I visit that touched upon the subject? Not a single one. Did I visit any blogs? Lots! That’s a shame people; we can’t fix stuff if we don’t talk about it.
That one scare you? This year I participated in the Blog Action Day project, where the topic was inequality. How many of my blogging friends were a part of it? None. Did I visit any of the blogs I usually visit on that day looking for it? Yes, lots. I at least got to visit blogs of people I didn’t know to see how they wrote about it and enjoyed that, but it would have been nice to talk about the subject with people I knew. Oh yeah; that post only got 2 real comments also, which is a major shame.
I get it; social issues are scary. Here’s the problem; if you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything. Not only that but if you don’t let people know where you stand on something that’s important for you here and there, you run the risk of being bogarted without knowing it or without knowing who else might support your position or might even be against your position. Taking a stand takes some bravery, and even if your blog is considered a niche blog every once in a while diverting to something else makes you look like a real person.
And yes, this one is totally opinion (see #9).
Still, we can address issues like these and still be relatively nice. There are lots of very nice people online who complain about this or that every once in a while. I like to think I’m one of those people. I’ll never shy away from an opinion but it’s rare that I’ll specifically call someone out here or anywhere else. That’s not necessary; neither is bad language. You’ll always be safe visiting this blog, even if I touch upon something I know will be truly controversial to someone.
15. At the end of the day, blog because you enjoy it, comment on other people’s blogs because you enjoy the camaraderie, and share because you enjoy helping others. When I started blogging almost 10 years ago (my business blog turns 10 in February), I’ll admit that I had a business purpose for it. Thing is, almost no one was writing the types of things about blogging that I, Adrienne, Brian, Peter (he’ll be getting back to more blogging and making money tips when he has time lol) and a host of other long time friends do or have done. In a way, we were part of the first wave of bloggers writing about blogging; how cool is that?
We’re still at it all these years later. Can’t do that if you don’t enjoy it. I’ve seen lots of blogs that have left the blogosphere, never to be heard from again. Those folks didn’t enjoy it enough to continue, or got into it for a reason other than enjoyment and couldn’t flip the switch.
When it’s done for pure purposes, with other things such as making money in some fashion as a side benefit, you’ll find that writing becomes easier, sharing becomes easier, and reading other blogs isn’t a chore but a pleasure… unless the blog you’re trying to read is written badly or has too many popups.
That’s for reading. For commenting, it’s fun unless the blog moderates comments (I hate that), has captcha (hate that also), or uses commenting systems that try to manipulate you into having to create new passwords (Disqus, Livefyre… nope, not me) or is using you to help promote their blog (by having your comments show up on Google + or Facebook only).
If you don’t enjoy blogging or reading blogs or commenting on blogs… don’t participate at all. That is, unless you’re famous enough to get away with it, like Seth Godin (whose “blog” I still won’t visit), who openly admits he could care less if anyone reads it and doesn’t care what you have to say about what he’s writing. That’s okay; I may not visit his blog for that reason but I have read one of his books and liked it. See, I said something most people might find controversial then ended it with something nice (see #14 lol).
I think that’s enough; I wonder how many people will read this to the end. At least there are pictures. These are my wishes; do you have any you’d like to mention? Enjoy your day!
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 19, 2011
I seem to be seeing two things occurring more often these days to try to get around spam; at least I assume it’s trying to get around spam. One is that more people are moderating their comments; the second is that more people are having you double opt-in to comments by sending you an email asking you to subscribe to comments.
Since I’ve talked often enough about why I don’t like comment moderation, I’ll move onto the second one, which I’ve mentioned here and there but I’m unsure if it’s something I’ve ever addressed on its own.
I hate the double opt-in system. I’m betting some of you are saying “it’s not double, since I’m only sending an email once.” That’s what double opt-in; remember the days when everyone that had a newsletter required you to confirm that it was actually you requesting it by sending you an email asking if it was you? Remember how, instead of consistently doing it, you just stopped subscribing to any newsletters because you didn’t want to be bothered, especially if there wasn’t any notification that you were going to have to do it?
I do. I had a newsletter, and I did the double opt-in thing for a couple of months many years ago after I got a rash of emails saying that they hadn’t subscribed to my newsletter, even though I had their email address. So I went to the double opt-in system, only to find that more than half the people who got it decided they didn’t want to play the game and never finished subscribing.
I really wasn’t all that surprised since I had already started doing that myself. However, I had put it on my newsletter page that I was going to do it, which make me think that I at least had given some kind of warning about it so people should have been expecting it.
Frankly, I see it as another way the internet gets cluttered with lots of digital garbage that never quite goes away because it’s somewhat unnecessary. There aren’t all that many people that are sneakily subscribing someone to someone else’s newsletter, although there are definitely a lot of people who will add you to theirs without your asking, just because they met you somewhere. The same goes for spam.
My blog does pretty well, and if I’m not all that bothered by the relatively low amount of spam I get because of the plugins I use, I can’t figure out why anyone else would be. Yeah, I know about the sneaky spam like the type I wrote about, but it’s like when you were in school and the teacher punished everyone in class because of that one kid that always acted stupid; remember how no one liked that?
I’m just saying that it’s not quite logical in today’s age to punish everyone for the sins of the few. At least I’m not doing it and you can bet I’m not playing either. There are always other ways folks, and they’re easier to deal with.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Mar 17, 2011
I hope you checked out the first part of this mega-pillar post yesterday. If not, you can see the first half of Better Blogging here. It was a monster, but this one is even larger as I drive my points home.
It’s time to talk about actually writing blog posts. Every blog post is going to need a title, but there’s nothing saying you have to have a title first. Some blogging experts will tell you that you should create a title for maximum SEO benefits. Whereas I’m sure that can help, sometimes creating a title that will entice readers to come by works just as well. Would you rather read a post that has a title like “How To Regularly Acknowledge Your Direct Reports” or a title like “5 Ways To Make Employees Happy?” Also, try not to make your titles too long; it makes it harder for people who might want to give you acknowledgment for anarticle you’ve written on their blogs if you have a title that’s so long it’s unwieldy.
Next, let’s talk about actually writing posts. Do you remember writing stories back when you were in grade school? The teachers always talked about the concept of a story having a beginning, middle, and an end. Blog posting is kind of like that, even if you can bend the rules a little bit. It never hurts to establish near the beginning of the post what the post is going to be about, especially if it’s an educational post. If you’re telling a story, the beginning doesn’t necessarily have to flow as well, but it does need to have something to capture people’s attention so that they will stick around to read the rest of it. The ending of a blog post is important as well, mainly to help indicate to people that it’s officially over. I have read a lot of blog posts where you get to the end and you’re thinking there should be more to it. Leaving people hanging will irritate them and make them not want to come back. I’m going to come back to talk about the “middle” in a few minutes.
The length of blog posts is something that a lot of people like to talk about. From my perspective, in general a blog post is as long as or as short as it needs to be. That of course leaves a lot of leeway and doesn’t really answer the question as to whether it’s better to write long or short blog posts. The truth of the matter is that there’s no real answer for that because some readers don’t mind reading long blog posts, and actually prefer them because they know they’re going to get all the answers they want and need, whereas some others only want to be given the first two or three paragraphs as the entire blog post and then move on with their lives. We have made it through the MTV generation after all, where many people learned how to get everything they wanted in three or four minute chunks and didn’t have to concentrate on anything any longer. But that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to anyone else’s view of how long or how short you want your post to be.
Having said that, it’s more important looking at how short a blog post is than how long one is. Studies have shown that if the majority of your blog posts aren’t at least 250 words long you’re probably not going to get much benefit out of them. With Google’s new algorithms looking at content that actually offers something of value, it’s hard to justify in their minds that most people can gain value out of consistently short blog posts. This doesn’t mean that every once in a while you can’t get away with writing a short post; after all, if you’re trying to get the word out about some disaster that’s happening now, and you only have a short period of time or only know so much about it, you can’t always be expected to come up with 250 words at a clip. If you don’t care whether Google or any other search engine will help your post or blog to gain traction, then write what you want to. However, if you’re really looking to spread your influence and want the help of the search engines, you’ve got to work on helping to give them what they’re looking for.
Now we come back to talking about the “middle” and thoughts of when to ramble and when to get to the point. Let’s do this in concepts of educating somebody versus customer service.
If you’re trying to teach someone how to do something, it doesn’t always help to go off on tangents of things that have nothing to do with what you’re trying to teach. For instance, in my college astronomy class, the teacher was always talking about fishing and things like casting, rods, and all other sorts of stuff that I had actually no idea what any of it meant. He was of the impression that he could connect fishing information with astronomy to teach us how to do calculations. It didn’t work for me, and even though I knew a lot about astronomy, having read a lot about it through my childhood years, it became a difficult course to pass because of how confused this man made me.
Now let’s relate this to customer service. On occasion I’ve had to call my ISP (internet service provider) to ask questions about my service. What invariably happens is that I get someone on the phone who hears a portion of what I have to say and then immediately cuts me off and starts trying to solve what they think is my issue. The problem is that I’m often more technically savvy than the first person I talk to, and thus they’re trying to solve a problem that’s not my issue, that I know isn’t my issue, and that I know won’t be solved by any of the advice they’re starting to give me because they haven’t taken the time to fully listen to what I have to say.
Sometimes life and blogging are just like that; you need to have some filler, which some people might consider as rambling, in order to get the nuances of what you have to say better understood. This works especially well when you’re telling a story of some kind. If you leave a lot of detail out, the accuracy of your story will be lacking. People either have questions, or leave without understanding what the heck you’re talking about. Trying to get to the point without making sure everyone understands what it is you’re talking about just to try to keep a blog post short will surely kill your blog because people like knowing everything they need to know to get where you’re coming from.
So when not to ramble? If you make a point about something, there’s no need to make that point 3 or 4 times in the same post. That type of thing gets on people’s nerves. Also, making extraneous points that don’t help to clarify anything or add to the enjoyment of the story can be left out. If you happen to be talking about someone and you’re giving a description that they have blue curly hair that flows into a mullet that merges in with a Chicago Blackhawks sweatshirt they’re wearing, that’s a funny image. But if you’re talking about someone you happen to think is overweight and then go on a rant about overweight people in general before getting back to the rest to your story, that was probably not needed and you might have turned off a lot of people. Circumspection is always your best friend when trying to decide whether you’ve rambled too much or whether you’ve told enough to give the story or whatever it is you’re writing about enough substance.
So now you’ve written your blog article and you’ve posted it for all to see. Before you did that, did you think about whether you wanted to receive comments or not? The overwhelming majority of bloggers want to have comments on their blog posts. Blogging is part of social media after all, and being able to interact with others who respond to the things we write about is what makes blogging so special.
But there are people who either don’t want comments or want to restrict comments. Seth Godin is a perfect example of someone who doesn’t allow comments on his blog. He’s a big name person who’s written a lot of books, and not allowing comments has not stopped a lot of people from reading his blog or sharing his thoughts with other people. But not everyone can get away with that. Some people will write blog posts and every once in a while and then write one that they don’t want anyone commenting on. Many times it’s either a very personal post or rant that someone just has to get out, but would rather not deal with the controversy that allowing comments could create. Some people write blog posts and have a very short period of time that they leave comments open before they shut them down. I’m not going to say that any of these are good or bad; what I am going to say is that you as the blog writer has to make a choice of which direction you want to go and what you’re hoping to accomplish.
If you’re going to allow comments on your blog, I’m always of the opinion that it’s best to make it easy for people to comment. I’m someone who doesn’t moderate comments, set up exclusive blogging comment systems, or make people jump through hoops in order to leave a comment. The reason I don’t do that is because there have been a number of studies which have shown that a majority of people don’t like always having to sign up for the right to offer their opinion on something; I’m one of those people. For instance, if you’ve ever visited newspaper sites that allow comments, you’ll notice eventually that you’re seeing the same names over and over. It makes sense for a newspaper site to screen people because their expectation should be higher to protect both their readers and their advertisers. It doesn’t happen enough in my opinion, but for those that are doing it I applaud them for that effort.
For the rest of us, it doesn’t engender enough good feeling from those people who visit our blogs to put up roadblocks to the act of commenting. There have been a number of studies that have shown that having a system like Disqus or Intense Debate might raise the quality of comments that show up on a blog, but between 50% and 60% of people won’t sign up for those services and will either just read the content without ever wanting to comment or stop visiting those blogs altogether because of the frustration of not being able to comment however they want to.
The case for moderating comments is entirely different. People have different reasons for wanting to moderate comments, which can go from wanting to make sure certain information doesn’t show up on a blog post or making sure that no comment gets through that potentially has people saying something that the owner of the blog wishes not to allow. My gripe about visiting blogs that moderate comments is that you often find that later on at some point, when you’re least expecting it, you suddenly getting a whole lot of messages all at once both from people who comment on the blog and the blog owner’s response to those people. If that blog happens to be popular it can be overwhelming. It also gives the appearance of not trusting people who want to comment on your blog. Now, if you put your reasons up as to why you moderate comments, many people will accept that but at least they get to then make the decision as to whether they want to participate or not. I hate when I don’t know someone has a moderation policy and I do leave a post, only to realize that I have no idea when, or if, it will ever show. And I’ve had a lot of comments that have never shown up on someone’s blog.
Of course the big thing most of us worry about is spam. We all hate spam, but there’s nothing we can do to stop it totally. However, with most blog platforms there are these things that are known as plugins that can help slow it down drastically. They’re easy to set up and easy to use for both the blog owner and those who wish to make comments, and if you’re setting up different blog commenting ways to reduce spam, such as moderating or coming up with things like Captcha or math problems, it’s a better way to go.
We’re coming into the home stretch, and if you’ve lasted this long I thank you for it. These are some final thoughts towards the concept of better blogging.
I’m often asked where I get inspiration for ideas to write my blog posts. My goodness, every day of life is an inspiration to write a blog post, and for non-niche blogs it’s even easier. But since I do try to stay on certain topics more than other topics, I find that doing a lot of reading of other blogs really helps my mind figure out what I want to write on. For instance, if I happen to be reading someone’s post and they’re talking about 10 ways to do something, I could not only decide to write a commentary post on that article, it also gives me an opportunity to link back to that article. That way the original writer gets a boost from my article, and I have a new article as well. I honestly get ideas from my real life on a consistent basis, but I can get ideas by turning on the TV, following a thread on Twitter, or almost anywhere else. My problem is that I come up with so many ideas that I sometimes forget what they are when it’s time to write something. Lucky for me, I can always come up with something else fairly quickly to write on. Inspiration is everywhere; you only have to be alert and open to it.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, there’s also the concept of “sharing the love”. People love knowing that you enjoyed their article enough to link to it, even if you disagree with their point of view. It never hurts to link to anybody, and that type of thing often encourages people to link to you as well. Something that works well with commenting, especially if you have a WordPress blog, is called CommentLuv. What that does is allows people to have a link back to their blog if they comment on yours showing the very last blog post they’ve written, and if they’ve registered with the site they get to choose from the last 10 blog posts they’ve written. I know that has gotten me a lot of visitors, and I also know that it’s provided me with enough blogs to be able to check out, see if I like them, and comment on.
Earlier I also talked about selling ad space on a blog, but that brings up your making the decision on whether you want to have advertising, marketing, or sell space on your blog or not. Google does have some rules for how you sell or market certain things on your blog (pertaining more to how you share certain types of links) to continue being listed on their search engine, but whether you care or not about that is irrelevant. If you’re using your blog to help you create influence or to get clients for projects or services, then marketing every once in a while isn’t such a bad thing for you to think about. If you’re trying to make money via affiliate marketing or MLM (multi-level marketing), that’s not such a bad thing either. If your blog happens to be popular enough and someone wants to pay for the space to add some kind of banner ad to it, that’s not so bad either. Each person has to make a decision on what they hope their blog will do or what they want to put on their blog. You just need to be aware of how these things might affect the people who visit your blog and determine how much or how little it might affect their enjoyment when they stop by. Also, you need to be aware that adding text ads that don’t ever have anything to do with what your content it about opens you up to someone reporting you and having your blog lose it’s Google PR (page rank). That’s what happened to my blog, although, as some of you know, I think PR is overrated anyway.
Something many bloggers forget to do is internally link to their own previous blog posts. With WordPress there are plugins that can handle some of this for you, and I know that with other blog platforms there are programs that can also do that. But any time you can link to your own content gives you the opportunity to keep people on your blog, get them interested in other things that they may be looking for, and helps to show your expertise while helping to spread your influence. It also helps with SEO, especially if you’re familiar with the concept of anchor links, which basically means using a link to highlight a certain word that is either also in the link or that will take you to a page that specifically talks about that word or topic.
Then there’s the concept of how frequent you want to put out blog posts, and what time you’re putting out blog posts. I happen to have four blogs, and my frequency schedule is different for all of them. For instance, on this blog I write 6 to 7 posts a week. On another blog I write for a five posts a week, but the posts are relegated to the business day. On the third blog the idea is to have 3 to 4 posts a week. And on my fourth blog I’m shooting for one post a week at this time, as it’s very new and it’s going to take a little bit of time for me to figure out everything I’m hoping that blog will end up being. I have a goal for that one, as I mentioned way back when that people should think about when they create a blog, but how to fully manifest it is something that one does not have to figure out before they start blogging. To me, it’s always important to just start something and get it going. As to what time of day… well, that one’s still under consideration, as I’ve yet to figure out whether it’s best to post in the morning or in the afternoon; posting in the evening means I risk a blog post not showing up in some areas until the following day, and that I don’t want to happen.
I know you’re starting to get tired, so the final thing to talk about is how to get the word out about your blog. You can’t just write a whole lot of posts and expect people to show up; blogging doesn’t work that way. You have many options available to you. One, you can send a link to your blog to everybody you know via email. Two, you can hook up on something like Twitter and make sure that every blog post also post itself to Twitter. Three, what you’ve done for Twitter you can also do for other social media outlets such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Four, you can make sure that every blog post automatically “pings” to what’s known as a blog pinging service such as Ping-o-Matic; this means it alerts blog directories that you’ve written a new post. Or five, you can learn how to work the blogging community and blog networking via the concept of commenting on a lot of other blogs. I’ve done all of these, and the one that I found most effective is commenting on other blogs. It just offers the most options across the board, especially if those blogs happen to have CommentLuv. It also takes the most time, but you can get the most enjoyment out of doing it.
And that’s the end of this killer pillar post on better blogging. I’ve covered a lot of ground here, and I make no promises that I didn’t leave anything out; after all, this is a huge subject. Any questions, just ask; I’m going to bed. 😉
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Mar 4, 2011
Tuesday night I found myself on a Twitter chat that I’d never participated in before. The hashtag for the chat is #SMmanners, and basically they talk about how people interact with each other through social media.
by Ron Magnes
One of the things we talked about was how people decide who to follow and if they participate in trying to be sociable with others. It seems I was a big hit when I stated that I only follow people who show that they will talk to others every once in awhile. I also stated that if you reach out to someone here and there and they don’t respond, not only are they missing a great opportunity to make a positive impact but I tend to drop those people after a couple of attempts and move on with life. I say I guess I made an impact because that one hour session ended up giving me 20 more people who decided to follow me regularly on Twitter.
Y’all have seen me talk about the need to talk to people on Twitter because true social media isn’t a one way street. There hasn’t been one person who’s commented on this blog and said they love following people who only post links, quotations, or retweets all the time. No one pays any attention to those people after awhile because they’re not really offering them anything new. No one pays any attention to someone whose only activity on Twitter is to post sales messages.
One of the reasons we have blogs is to get our points of view out. We hope that sometimes we’ll get people to comment on what we have to say, and if we’re smart we respond to people who stop by and take the time to comment. It’s known as courtesy, but it’s also the point of social media.
Of course, there’s the influence factor of it all as well. No matter what I write on a blog, if someone stops by and reads what I have to say, whether they agree or not, I’ve affected some kind of influence on the reader. If the person comments, it means my influence was stronger enough to elicit a response. If I comment back I have gained just a bit more influence, whether I’m in agreement with the commenter or not. Of course positive influence always works best long term, but many people who recommend that you be controversial in your posts have found that affecting people negatively can sometimes boost your ratings as well.
How does all of this affect your business? You want people to get to know you. If all you do is put out, put out, and put out, and you don’t respond to people who reach out to you, you’re not going to get any business if that’s your ultimate goal. There are multiple ways to reach people, but you have to be willing to give them something back if they respond. That’s the true essence of social media.
And that’s part of what I’ll be telling a group of people next Monday night at a presentation I’m doing for a local library on the business of social media. Yup, I’m staying busy.