Now that I'm coming up on my first anniversary of blogging (Oct), I started thinking about all the other people out there who are starting their new blogs for the first time. And there are a lot! According to Technorati, an estimated 75,000 new blogs are created every day. That's nearly one every second!
When I first contemplated starting this one I had a lot of questions - and could have used the wise advice of someone who was just completing his first year of experience. How convenient! Why it seems I could provide that same advice right now. What a coincidence!
For example, just 11 months ago I was sitting at my computer scratching my head and wondering such things as: What should I write about? What should my blog look like? Do I want anyone to read it? If so, how will I attract an audience? And most importantly -
So, from someone who has just finished blogger bootcamp, here are a few points to consider - in no particular order:
- Keep it short. In general, anyone who reads more than 10 blogs a day will appreciate this one. Most busy readers will only skim the lengthy posts - or worse, bypass them and wait for a shorter one the next day. As a new blogger it's tempting to want to share all your insights with the rest of the world right away, but trust me - you'll be glad you spread out your thoughts later on, when you're scrambling for something new to say.
- Slow down. Some people may debate this one, but as a reader I don't necessarily have time to read something new from a blogger every day. Give your readers a few days to cycle through the other blogs on their list. Besides, there are relatively few people out there who are creative enough to come up with clever new material every day, and like me, you're probably not going to be one of them for awhile.
- As well - Write when you've got something to write. In other words, you don't need to put a post out there that says, "Nothing exciting happened today, but hey - check back tomorrow!" just because you feel you need to post frequently. Frequency is not a replacement for content.
- Make sure you provide a subscription service or RSS feed. Most busy readers will subscribe to your blog and read it "off-line." This means they might not actually visit your blog - but it doesn't mean they're not reading it.
- Reciprocate. If someone is leaving comments on your blog on a regular basis, return the favor. It doesn't have to be anything prolific - just a few words that says "I heard that!" When your blog becomes so famous that you can't possibly reply to all your loyal readers, then you'll know you've finally succeeded! Karl, over at Secondhand Tryptophan initiated a great conversation today on both of these last two points. Check it out.
- Keep it clean. There's no real reason to have to drop F-bombs (or worse) in every other sentence. If you think that's required to make your posts interesting or funny, then your writing probably doesn't stand up on its own. I do find it funny however when someone uses a strategically placed expletive to drive home a humorous point - as long as it's relative to the story and not vulgar.
- Don't stress out on the whole "designer template" thing. Sure it's nice to have something a little different than the 5 standard default templates your blog service offers, but once the readers have seen your layout the first time, the only reason they come back is for the content - not the pretty header. The most important thing is to keep it readable. Don't sacrifice readability for an overly "artsy" appearance. A pink font on a dark blue background might be pretty, but is also very hard on the eyes and will eventually turn your readers away.
What advice would you offer to a new blogger?