This is the 5th and final post in my popular series about starting a blog in 5 minutes or 5 days. In this post, I’m going to talk about some of the basics of a being a nice, friendly blogger and why it’s important to blog success. You might also want to read my other posts in this series 1 – questions to ask before starting a blog, 2 – picking a blog platform, 3 – branding your blog, and 4 – promoting, measuring and spreading your blog.
Step 5 – Win By Being A Nice Blogger
As I’ve said before, being a successful blogger is a slow rise to the top with quality posts produced consistently over time. In the realm of social media, just like in any social situation, you have to earn your reputation and that doesn’t happen overnight. I think there are some basic common sense things that hold true:
- Be Nice – It seems like a simple concept, but it’s easy to get carried away when the only filter between you and the object of your instant emotional gratification is a screen. Assume positive intent and give people the benefit of the doubt. Take the higher road.
- Love What You Write – If you have a genuine interest in sharing your topic, your enthusiasm will come through. If you’re just going through the motions, that will come through as well. There’s no substitute for excitement.
- Write From Experience and Your Heart – You can always tell a blogger who writes with a certain amount of authority and sincerity. The posts and tone of the blog just ring more true. If you’ve found your niche, this shouldn’t be hard.
Blog Like You Give A Damn
Setting up a blog is nearly frictionless (at least if you go the fully hosted route). Actually creating something worth reading, however, is still hard no matter what medium you’re in. When you start blogging, there are particular traps of the blogosphere that are worth avoiding.
- Create Original Content – Feeding the content beast is no small task (Lorelle has some ideas), which is exactly why it’s easy to fall into the “echo” chamber where all you do in blog about topics raised by other bloggers. Eventually, you’re just becoming reactionary. Give people something worth reading and writing about if you want to stand out. I think Copyblogger is the best example of this–they consistently produce educational and original posts about how to improve your copy.
- Be A Curator – If you still stumble across something that is worthy of posting, don’t just repost links. Take the time to synthesize the discussion and put out your own viewpoint or critique. This is what I did when discussing whether or not you should only hire experienced web analysts.
- Link Bait With Politesse -Don’t be afraid to stake out a position that other people might disagree with, but don’t be provocative or misleading for the sake of attention. If you’re going to offer commentary on other people’s posts, remember to clarify with them if you intend to take them to task. Again, with just a screen and a keyboard between anyone and their emotions, common courtesy rules the day.
None of these ground rules are earth shattering, in face they’re all common sense. It takes a little patience and hard work to earn a reputation, but only seconds to destroy it. Of course, you can have fun too…
Big Blog Group Hug – Love Your Readers!
You are nothing without your readers and subscribers (have you subscribed to Digital Alex yet?), so take care to nurture your virtual community. The same is true of your blogging peers, both big and small. This is not a zero-sum game, everyone can succeed at the same time. There is plenty of pie to go around, so let’s talk about ways to dish some out.
- Long Live Comments – It goes without saying that you should read and respond to comments on your blog. More important, you should do so promptly. I get email alerts and I’m on those things like a hawk. What’s also true is that, if appropriate, you should comment on someone else’s blog if they write about you or link to you in some way. You don’t want to be too overwhelming here, but if you have a way to add to the conversation, or just want to thank them, do so. You’re trying to cement these relationships and show your appreciation.
- Entertain Me – Don’t forget to make your fun to interact with: pictures, video, podcasts. Long, dense blocks of text are not very readable or approachable. People will definitely take the time to read relevant content that helps them, but why put up a barrier or turn off new readers? Think about how easy it is to scan and digest your blog.
- Write Better And For The Right People – Unless you’re pumping out podcasts or vodcasts, then you need to work on your writing and voice. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Again, I favor Copyblogger, but there are plenty of options. My opinion is that you should write for your audience first, but remember the search engines too (here and here). It’s your blog, so you can say whatever you want, but if you’re narcissistic and don’t keep your readers’ interests and needs in mind, soon you’ll be talking to yourself.
- Lift Other Bloggers Up – We’re all in this together. Whatever your niche, there is a community of bloggers of which you’re a part. Lift them up. Link to the ones you admire. Quote them if they say something great. Interview people in the space. The more you give, the more you get in my opinion. It’s something I learned from Keith Ferrazzi and his book Never Eat Alone and it’s true no matter what medium you operate in, especially the blogosphere.
More than anything, I hope you got the spirit of blogging from this post. It should be fun. It should be social. It should be rewarding. It may be tough, but it’s always an adventure. If you liked this post, you might also want to read my other posts in this series 1 – questions to ask before starting a blog, 2 – picking a blog platform, 3 – branding your blog, and 4 – promoting, measuring and spreading your blog.
Credit where credit is due, I consulted a variety of sources when I started up my blog and I’ve listed them below. Also, a big thank you to whoever submitted my post on picking a blog platform to StumbleUpon while I was in Barcelona. As you can see, it had just a tiny effect on traffic..