Monday, November 07, 2005

Sucessful blogging

Well, since numerous other bloggers have commented on the blog-hints article, I figured I might as well join the trend. . .

Blogs can be a very marketable and very profitable tool if used correctly.

If I wanted to make money from writing, I'd be a journalist or author. A large amount of the point of most blogs is that they aren't written for the money. That's a large part of the point. If you worry about making money, you stop saying what you really think.

Profiting from blogs is just a matter of grabbing the attention of an audience and not doing any actual salesmen selling. In this article you will learn the 13 most essential steps to successful blogging.

Successful profitable blogging, maybe. But that's not what most blogs are for.

1) Where to start?

You should begin your blog with a free blog hosting service such as Journal Home.

Well. . . insofar as there's not much point in paying for something that you can get free, that's true. And it's a truism that "nothing dispels enthusiasm like a small admission fee." Fair enough, can't argue with this one. Unless there's a non-free host that offers you a feature you need or want. Or if you're enough of a geek to already have a website with unlimited subdomains. . . *ahem*

2) Niche

A niche is a targeted product, service, or topic. You should first decide on a product, service, or topic which interest you. Choose an area which you can enthusiastically write about on a daily basis.

Hmmm... a qualified agreement. I wrote a blog about my daily life a while ago, it wasn't much fun and I gave up after a while. In particular, it felt like I couldn't really spend much time on geeky Linux stuff on what was an otherwise non-geeky blog. Having a blog that's got Linux built into the URL makes it much easier - you don't like geeky stuff? Then you shouldn't have clicked the link, should you? :oP

But on the other hand, a blog is for writing whatever you feel like. Software, politics, or just the weather. That's a large part of the point.

So I'd say that it's more a case of "Decide on & make clear your biases". Don't feel constrained to stick to one subject, but do make it clear that "This is a blog devoted to. . . " - it stops you and/or your audience feeling that an article on a certain topic is a waste of time.

3) Update Daily (nothing less)

This step is a must and not a suggestion.

Completely disagree here, I'm afraid. Update as often as you have something to say. No more, no less. If you post when you've nothing to say, the blog becomes a chore and your quality takes a dive. When you're sitting at your keyboard and you have something to say, say it. When you have nothing to say, say it.

4) Traffic

It's no secret. You must have traffic to profit from blogs.

That's true, but see the start.

However, there's much more satisfaction in writing when you know people are reading. I've generally used the strategy of writing an article which I hope is a worthwhile read on a subject, and linking to it on forums & such when it's relevant. That gets people visiting, and also thinking of your pages as a place where useful & informative content is available. And that gets you word-of-mouth. And it also gets your search engine ranking higher.

Paid advertising is anathema to an unpaid blogging service.

5) Track Your Blog

How do you know if your blog has traffic?

I'll go along with this - I've always tracked all my web pages. It's interesting to see who's linking to you, and why - if somebody posts your link with "This is worth reading" or with "Get a load of this garbage", it can tell you a lot about the impact your writing is making. Not everybody will send you an email or leave a comment.

6) Listen to Your Audience

When using the proper page counter you should begin to see how others are finding your blog and if through search engines then which keywords are being used to find your blog. If constantly your blog is being found by 1 or more keywords then focus your blog around those keywords to make it even more powerful. When writing entry titles and entries use the keywords as often as possible while keeping the blog legible and interesting.

Nope, disagree here. A quicker way to have a monotonous and boring blog, I can't imagine. The two most popular web pages I ever wrote were a "linux vs. windows" on my linux site, and a "reasons why this is a lousy bit of dive gear" on my scuba site. Both are fine in their place, but constantly slagging something off will get old very fast. Variety is the spice of life.

7) Multiple blogs

Use multiple blogging accounts (free) to attract more people.

Hmm... mixed here. I do actually have another blog, it's actually entirely for my own use but online if anybody wants to read it. It's a record of my experiences in learning meditation. I'd say this depends on your biases (#2) - if you have wild differences, such as computing and meditating, then by all means split them so you don't bore geeks with meditation techniques or meditators with source code. But other than that, a blog is not a monologue.

In fact, maybe I'll create a new word (if somebody didn't think of it already): monoblog, noun; a blog devoted to only one specific topic. Synonym: yawn


8) Short & Concise

Aside from the lengthy article a week for syndication and publication your blog entries should be short & concise (if you can help it).

My bias has always been concise writing. I have to battle against it when writing fiction, as "The good guy fought the bad guy and won" doesn't make for much of a story ;o)

Concise or verbose, it depends on the subject. Sometime you need exhaustive detail. I'd say it's more a case of being aware of what you're writing, and make sure it's appropriate to the subject.

9) Digital Art

Try to include non-advertising graphics, pictures, photos, and art in your blog entries.

Why? Would an article about Linux really be embellished by adding superflous Tux images?

Include graphics when it enhances the article you're writing, certainly. I did that with, for instance, my post on the GP2X - a picture is worth a thousand words, and it made the description a lot clearer. But putting in pictures for the sake of it? That's a direct contradiction of his own point #8 to me

10) Keep it Personal

A blog is most successful when it is kept personal. Try to include personal experiences which relates to the topic of your blog entry.

Yeah. . . I wouldn't really rate it as hugely important, but it's not bad advice. Unless you're aiming at a professional-appearing blog, don't write like a journalist. Write as yourself. With the rider that that shouldn't mean writing "Hey guyz & girlz, did u have a w/end as bad as like I did?" - keep the slang & l33tspeak to IRC, a blog is a place where you should be concerned about spelling & grammar. Absence of either makes your writing as hard to read AS PUTTING THE WHOLE THING IN CAPITALS.

11) Interact With Your Visitors

You now have the traffic you deserve. You should begin interacting with your visitors. Create a regular theme such as: "Monday Money Tip" or "Picture of the Week" which entices your readers to look forward to each week.

The heading I can agree with. But the following paragraph. . . If I'm writing a blog, I expect my readers to look forward to my posts. I they don't, no number of "regular themes" is going to help, my blog is a failure.

Try your best to find exclusive information that not many have.

I suppose that can be construed to cover things like "Write a howto guide for Linux" once you've figured out an annoying problem, so I'll give him that.

12) Make Money

See the start. . .

By all means, shove in some ads - I did. But doing it with expectations of making a good profit? No. I don't advise it. Very few bloggers get that level of success. Heck, first thing I did on inserting google ads was explain how to block them if they annoyed you. . .

Apart from anything else, it can cut down on your ability to link to yourself. I've linked to some of my pages from LinuxQuestions, for instance, because they have content I feel is relevant. If I were making money from ads on those pages, I'd quickly go from being tagged "Bloke who posts informative links" to "Bloke who spams us with links to make money" - fair or unfair, it would happen, and that wouldn't be a good thing.

13) You're a Professional

Thanks, but when it comes to blogging, I'd like to stay an amateur. . .


titanium said...

GREAT response. Really liked the definition of "monoblog" - it's a word that we should adopt. :)
I also agree with the sentiment that cash isn't the goal, write about something you like. And don't sell out to the man.

Thanks- a really good read

5:26 PM  
hari said...

Nice commentary. Your views are quite similar to mine although I disagree on a few points. Overall I think we agree on most points.

2:18 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home