If you plan to start blogging, here are 9 simple secrets to ensure you are on the right blogging track. (I’ve been blogging since 2002 and I am still blogging!)
1. Start with something you know about
Always begin with something you are passionate and enthusiastic about. You cannot write if you are forcing yourself to. You must write about a topic you care strongly about. Investigate your strengths and recall compliments you have received. What do friends or colleagues praise you most about? What do you often find yourself talking to others about? What is your area of expertise? If you can zoom in on one specific area which you enjoy, you will find that blogging on that topic becomes easy.
2. Blog regularly
Blogs are different from websites because people expect blogs to be updated more regularly than websites. If you start a blog, ensure you update your blog (or ‘post a blog entry’ in blogspeak) regularly. Of course, what is regular is up to each blogger. Once you have set a schedule for blogging, stick to it. Your readers will expect it. But if you worry you cannot blog regularly, try my time-saver tip – set aside a day to focus on drafting 4 or 5 blog entries. Save them for days when you’re pressed for time or have writer’s block and cannot think of anything to blog about.
3. Show your personality
Don’t be afraid to show your personality when you blog. In fact, a blog is the best place to show the best of yourself – share as much as you can about how you feel and why you say the things you do. Don’t be afraid to use humour or honesty. Your readers will love you for being frank. Having said that, do set some personal rules as a blogger. My personal mantra is that I don’t cuss or have four-letter words in my business blog.
4. Encourage feedback
Your blog exists because you want to start ‘conversations’ with your readers. You have an opinion to share. Some bloggers disable the Comments section on their blogs to prevent unwanted comments or criticism. My advice is this: allow your readers to provide you feedback but moderate these comments – as a blogger, you have a right to remove comments which are rude. If you worry about being spammed, get readers to register first before they can comment or get comments sent to you for approval prior to being posted on your blog.
5. Use photos to illuminate
Photographs always capture attention and convey emotions so use them on your blog. Photographs also help break the monotony of chunks of text. These days, photographs can be captured easily using mobile phones and digital cameras. Remember to re-size them before you upload these photos. I usually re-size photos to 400 pixels wide by 300 pixels tall. If you don’t care much for taking photos, you can get free digital photographs from sites such as www.freefoto.com or www.yotofoto.com
6. Share links generously
The fun part about blogging is that you get to point your readers to other interesting websites and blogs on the Internet. You get to show what nifty websites you’ve discovered and what super cool tools and software you’ve unearthed. So link freely. The mistake most people make is that they don’t want to link out because they want to prevent their readers from going elsewhere. First of all, this won’t work because readers will leave. Don’t worry about them leaving; focus on writing engaging content! With engaging content, you will be sure your readers will bookmark your blog and return again and again!
7. Use proper grammar and use a spellchecker
I can’t stress enough the importance of using proper language when blogging, whatever language you may be using. You don’t have to be a linguistic expert but you must remember that your blog postings should be clear and easy to understand without spelling or grammatical errors. Don’t mar your good reputation with unsightly errors! Strive to write clearly and weed out jargon or industry-specific words. Your purpose is to communicate.
8. Ensure readability
When you blog, keep in mind that you need to ensure that your readers will be able to read these blog posts easily. Follow newspaper conventions: keep one idea to one paragraph and keep paragraphs short and to the point. Don’t torture your readers by using white text on a dark or black background. It’s better to have black text on a white or light background because this helps your readers read with ease. Maximum readability equals better communication.
9. Be personal
Blogs allow you to be personal even if you’re writing a business blog. The easiest way to be personal is to use ‘you’ and ‘I’ liberally throughout your blog posts. This keeps the tone casual, friendly and easygoing. You definitely don’t want to blog in the third person because that would defeat the purpose of blogging. Imagine you are having a conversation with your best friend. Use this mental image when you are blogging and you’ll never be short of ideas or words!