Archive for August 2008

Advice for Beginner Bloggers: Be Patient

Successful blogging is kind of like building a skyscraper--it takes time to do it right:

*It takes time to build an audience of faithful readers.

*It takes time to develop a collection of high quality posts.

*It takes time to improve your writing skills. 

*It takes time for word to spread about your blog (by word of mouth, links, etc).

There are exceptions—blogs that become popular overnight.  Even in these cases, such blog authors will have to keep posting in order to keep their readers interested.  Otherwise, they might turn into “one hit wonders” (borrowing a reference from the musical world).  They may fade away as soon as they appear.

Do some research—you’ll find that most of the top blogs have been around for at least two or three years. 

Be patient!  Good blogs take time to build.

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Advice for Beginners Bloggers: Tip#3 Content

What attracts loyal readers? High quality content.

What brings repeat visits to blogs? High quality content.

What separates good blogs from wasted bandwidth? High quality content.

What causes your blog to get recommended to others? You guessed it--high quality content.

Quality Content is the key to a successful blog.

Maybe you think your writing isn’t good enough to be considered “quality.” Good writing is important, but there are several different types of blog posts: pictures, videos, links, news, etc. Whatever direction you take, aim for quality.

Here are a few suggestions to improve the quality of your posts:

Check out other successful blogs. This will give you new ideas for design, content, etc. You can see what other bloggers are writing about. You’ll also be able to see if your posts are original. You might decide to publicly respond to another website/blogger, as I’ve done before.

Research. You can find a wealth of information online—do some research before you write. Become an “expert” at your chosen subject/theme. I have 11 books listed in the “recommended reading” section of Basta LoveLife. I read all of these books after moving to the Philippines—I read them in order to be a better minister to my students. I can think of at least three more relationship books that I’ve read in 2008.

Use word processors. Write your article in Microsoft Word (or a similar program) before posting. Word programs will catch some of the spelling/grammatical problems (but it won’t catch everything—don’t rely completely on the software). Save it, re-read it, and edit it. Sometimes it takes days (or weeks) before I decide an article is ready for posting. This step also keeps you from losing your writing if your browser crashes.

Practice your writing skills. The more you write, the more you’ll improve. Don’t wait until your writing is perfect—it will never happen. I make mistakes all of the time—it is part of learning.

Quote other blogs, books, magazines, etc. As long as it is relevant to your blog’s theme, your readers will appreciate learning about these sources of information. Be sure to give credit!

Watch the comments/feedback. Readers will let you know which posts they particularly enjoyed.

Write down your ideas. I keep my blog ideas on a “sticky note” software here on my computer. Some ideas get abandoned, others get developed, and some are put on hold.

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Advice for Beginner Bloggers (part 2)

Tip #2 Post with Passion; Develop Major Themes

I originally planned to write these as two separate steps, but they kind of go together.

Here goes:

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do when I first started this blog. At first I was writing about some of the political issues happening in my religious denomination back in the States (yawn). Those posts were deleted. My first post (that I didn’t delete) was a movie review.

I eventually focused on two major themes: relationship advice (for men, for women) and devotionals. Once I chose these themes, the writing just flowed. It isn’t hard for me to find inspiration to write—I already care about these subjects. Over two years (and a book) later, I’m still writing regularly.

It’s OK if you only want to write about your day-to-day life (after all, this is just a hobby). People you know personally may be interested in anything that comes to your mind. Just remember that the masses probably won’t care to read about what you had for breakfast.

If you want a broader audience, write about subjects that will appeal to those outside your immediate circle of friends.
Relatively few of my readers know me personally. They read my blog because of the subject matter. In the same way, I tend to read blogs related to subjects I’m interested in (Christian issues, technology, etc). The Internet’s reach is vast—chances are you’ll find readers who share similar interests/passions.

Hopefully you can develop a few major themes. Some of the most visited blogs, in fact, are focused on one major subject (technology, making money, etc). It may take some trial and error, but try to find some general direction for your writing.

Write about things you care about, choose a general direction, and you’ll be one step closer to attracting a loyal reader base.

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