The time is ripe to get self-publishing. Stevie Martin gets blogging tips from Paul Bradshaw, Visiting Professor of Journalism at City University London; Audrey Rogers, founder of successful fashion blog Frassy; and The Media Briefing blogging master Patrick Smith...
Write about what you love
Don’t just follow the trends. “Be genuine and people will keep coming back,” Audrey Rogers advises, “If you write about the stuff you love, you’ll keep it fresh and it’s more likely to be a success.” Still not sure? Get googling: “So many blogs just recycle old news – read as many blogs as you can to get ideas. Write what you’d want to read.” Whether you’re into dogs on trains or obsessed with nachos, there’ll be people out there who love it too.
Keep it simple
“When you’re passionate about a subject it can be easy to drown your blog posts in confusing detail,” warns Paul Bradshaw, “Before you sit down to write, ask yourself: what is my point? Ask yourself again when you’ve finished your post and ruthlessly edit.” A post should be short and sweet to match the attention span of the average internet reader – concentrate especially on the intro: “More often than not, you’ll delete the first paragraph,” says Paul, “the second paragraph is usually when you get to the point.”
Pay attention to headers
The aim is to get people who search for your subject stumbling upon your blog. “Write what the article is about in the headline, the summary and the first line,” says Patrick Smith, master of SEO (aka Search Engine Optimization), “This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, but you must be informative, not only to appear high up in Google results, but to persuade people to click on something.”
Post a lot
“One of the main qualities that marks successful blogs apart is simply this: they keep posting, regardless of whether they think it’s ‘working’ or not,” says Paul. Even a quick update will do – WordPress have a free app allowing you to post from your phone – and try to post daily if at all possible; writing constantly is the key to getting those creative juices bubbling. Also, you can always edit it later.
Make friends with other blogs
Comment on their posts or, even better, feature them on your blog (making sure to link properly) and they’ll return the favour, giving you more readers. “People are interested in you if you’re interested in them,” advises Paul, “Content is mostly a means to an end – and that end is community.” It’s a community that can lead to some exciting stuff. “Collaborating with other bloggers on side projects not only boosts your hits but keeps things fresh and interesting,” adds Audrey.
If you’re on Twitter, set up an account specifically for your blog. If you’re not on Twitter, get on Twitter. “If you want to build a Twitter audience, and you should, think about what kind of things make people click on something,” says Patrick, “Too long, people won’t see it. Too boring, they won’t pay attention. Personality is key so don’t just churn out links.”
Don’t get bogged down with hits
As Patrick wisely says: “Web traffic shouldn’t be the goal for bloggers, a good conversation and the right kind of audience is more valuable.” Keep in mind that, while building a successful blog takes time and effort, it should always be fun!
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Image: Working by Stefan 1981, under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.