Tag Archives: five tips for blogging

Top five rules for blogging: #5 comment elsewhere

Blog readers don’t just fall from the sky… well that’s only partly true. A lot of readers come via Google. And they may as well fall from the sky.

To significantly boost your traffic you can do one of two things – you can write google friendly copy, or you can try to steal other people’s readers by getting involved in their blog community.

I don’t know how many readers I’ve pilfered from Ben and Simone – but I’d suggest the link love I score from them was a significant factor in my moving to more than 500 unique readers a week.

500 readers a week isn’t a significant number. I’m certainly not about to quit my job and become a full time blogger. But I’m comfortable with that. I think if I wanted to increase that figure dramatically I’d take one strategy – I’d comment on popular blogs. Particularly popular blogs that cover similar topics to mine.

Readership is only part of the picture. Blogging regularly can be tough. I think that’s why so many blogs falter. One of the things that makes it easier is the support of people who leave encouraging comments, and post links to stuff they like that you’ve written. You don’t get this sort of support unless you know the person in real life and as such want to see their blog continue, or you comment and share the link love elsewhere.

That’s my theory anyway.

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Top five rules for blogging: #4 Be prepared to write stupid posts

This is, as the heading indicates, the  number four in a series of five posts. Here are all five tips, and here’s my post on the first one, here’s the second one, and here’s the third.

As we discussed in tip number one – nothing kills a blog like a loss of momentum. I think this tip is particularly important in the early stages of a blog.

Blogs aren’t a great medium for people wanting to publish polished essays every time. Some posts are going to be not as good as other posts.

More often than not it’s the posts I think are a bit rubbish that get a spike in traffic or see increased comments.

The best solution I’ve come up with in order to keep my blogging juices flowing is to just post. As often as possible. This means I’ve written some absolute rubbish in my time, which on the whole has contributed to the quality of this blog in a negative manner. But, I’ve also managed to stick at blogging for almost 4 years and almost 2,600 posts.

My post rate, and my traffic, have picked up since I decided to take the “just post any old thing” approach…

I have one or two rules that I use when deciding whether or not to post something. There is a limit to how stupid my posts can be without cheapening the experience of visiting this site.

There’s an important overarching precept guiding my posts – I am a Christian before I am a blogger, and this creates a tension… I want to glorify God with this blog – and I use it as a vehicle for articulating my thoughts on what I’m learning or thinking about Christianity. But I also like posting really silly things. Things that are probably at the pinnacle of human stupidity. And toilet humour. Having two columns has helped me come to grips with this tension – it probably doesn’t help feed readers.

I am, in this post, dealing with my tip to be prepared to post stupid stuff, I’m not sure that I see this stupid stuff as a way to do anything but keep momentum going and perhaps entice people here to be amused – I suspect more people come for the stupid stuff than for the thought out stuff.

Here is, for want of a better label, my checklist for posting a stupid post.

  1. Did it amuse me? – If the answer is yes I’ll probably post it. If the answer is no, I’ll consider whether it may impress, amuse, or inform, anybody else who I know reads my blog.
  2. Will it amuse other people – this one’s not a deal breaker and comes down to the blogging for comments principle. I like having readers, but I’d probably approach blogging the same way even if I didn’t.
  3. Is it likely to offend people I care about. I probably won’t post these – or I’ll check first.
  4. Has it been posted everywhere/watched by millions? It has to be really worthwhile to post if everybody has already seen it – you won’t find any dancing wedding entrances here…
  5. Am I breaking any laws? This one is pretty important. Don’t post anything illegal.
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Top five rules for blogging: #3 write lists

Here are all five tips, and here’s my post on the first one, and here’s the second one.

I think this post is perhaps best expressed in list form… here’s a list I wrote some time ago about why I write lists, and another almost identical post that in turn is almost identical to this one.

And here’s why you should write them if you want your blog to keep going.

  1. Lists are quick and easy. They’re good for keeping momentum. If in doubt write a list.
  2. Lists kill writer’s block.
  3. Lists encourage discussion – nobody ever agrees with what you’ve included or the order in which you include it.
  4. Lists are linkbait – they get shared. My most amazing day of traffic ever came from a list.
  5. Lists allow you to share unfinished ideas in batches.
  6. Lists force you to structure your thoughts in a succinct manner. They’re good for the reader as well. I’ll read lists that come through my RSS feeds every time. They offer a good return on reader investment.
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Top five rules for blogging: #2 don’t blog for comments

Here are all five tips, and here’s my post on the first one.

Comments are great. All bloggers love comments. They make us feel special. Almost as special as a link. Depending on your blog love language (which Simone posted about back in January).

Comments indicate reader engagement. Comments – even negative ones – show that someone cares enough about your ideas to respond.

But if you hang your blogging hat on the number of comments you get – and make a decision to continue, or not to continue, on that basis – then you’re bound for disappointment. People don’t like to comment. I read about 300 blogs, I comment on a handful. I should comment on more – knowing as I do that people like getting comments.

Comments are not a measure of quality. They’re not a measure of how much your post is appreciated. They’re not really a measure of anything except how good you are at annoying people or how cleverly you hook your readers.

Because I like awesome scientific analysis I’ll repost this graph I made a while back.

And further analysis – I mentioned how bad my blog was when I first started the other day (prompting some people to head back to the archives). It was really bad. Terrible. And yet I scored more comments per post in those days by a long shot.

If you’re going to blog for any measurable outcome regular visitors and subscribers. Or blog for google keywords so that you can attract random visitors who might subscribe.

Blogging for comments is a thankless exercise.

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Top Five Rules for blogging: #1 Keep it regular

Yesterday I posted a list of my top five rules for blogging.

Mikey posted a response on Christian Reflections – and a comment – reminding me of the cardinal rule of blogging (that I missed). Link to other people. Regularly.  I like that rule. There will now be six posts in this series. Starting with this one…

Rule One – Blog Regularly

If you want your blog to last past the first week you need to have a plan to go past the first week.

Figure out a scope of topics you want to talk about. Come up with a regular feature. Do whatever it takes to have a steady stream of content – but in my experience most would be bloggers start up with big dreams and fall over after the second post.

The best way not to do this is to just post for the sake of posting until you develop a rhythm. Blogging is all about momentum. Momentum doesn’t build itself. The physical definition of the concept is that momentum is mass multiplied by velocity. You can’t generate blogging momentum without content posted regularly.

Readers won’t stick around if you don’t post often. Your friends might. But unless they subscribe straight away they’ll probably forget about you.

You need to be prepared to publish half polished thoughts and let your commenters do some work – if you can get commenters (but that’s rule two). That’s the beauty of the medium. Don’t see blogging as a place to share essays. It can be. But the pressure will kill you and keep you from posting.