Here’s a few things I’ve learned recently about blogging and online social media presence. These are taken from The Golden Rules of Blogging by Robin Houghton. Houghton discusses 28 tips; These are just 10 that I found most helpful:
- Figure out your target audience and blog for them. Don’t try to impress the whole world. Settle for influencing your own sphere, however big or small it is.
- Keep blog posts short. You think you’re the only one who’s too busy to read a blog? Think again. Most people view a blog the same way you do…for about 10 seconds. Give them something quick, interesting, and quickly digestible.
- Always end with a question. If you want readers to respond, follow, or comment, prompt them to do so by asking a question.
- Blog about your topic, not yourself. Rarely are blogs successful when they are about a person. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, people are interested in your content, not just in you. Save the personal, nitty gritty details for Facebook…
- Include at least one image. We are all drawn to visible content, and images are a simple way to increase interest in what your blog post has to say. Blogs with images are much more interesting to view and therefore read.
- Killer headlines are key. The reality is that many people won’t take the time to read a lot of blog posts, but they can’t avoid reading a catchy post title they see on Twitter or Facebook. You’re likely to get more likes on catchy titles than on the content below it.
- Avoid light text on a dark background. The alternative is much more readable: dark text on a light background.
- Comment on other blogs. Why would we expect others to read and comment on our blog when we’re not doing the same? Commenting on other blogs is a great way to attract attention to your own.
- Post something every day (or as often as possible). Bloggers give up most often because they didn’t attract enough followers. However, blogging is like a relationship: it must be maintained to be successful, otherwise it will shrivel and die. Experienced bloggers say it took years for them to build a following, but they also say that building a following was not their ultimate goal. A workshop by George Curos at the MACUL Conference taught me an important lesson about blogging: Build a site that focuses on what you’ve found in your pursuit of life-long learning, not one that is fishing for followers. Whether anybody else cares about it or not, you’ll have a file cabinet to remind yourself of things you’ve learned along the way.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes kill blogs and professional writing. Attention to detail is an indication of the type of person you are and whether or not you should be taken seriously. I recently reviewed a dissertation manuscript for a doctoral candidate in a class I teach, and the document was full of grammar and citation errors. When I corrected the student, the response came back, “Yah, I was going to fix those eventually.” Wrong answer bro. Your credibility as an author is under scrutiny with every word you write, so take it seriously.
So, in keeping with #3, got any other suggestions for successful blogging?