10 Tips for Starting a Rip-Roaring Blog
These blogging tips have been put together as a favour to a friend. They are by no means a definitive list, but more a combination of practical and ethical considerations for someone looking to start a blog.
I would also like to thank the people who Tweeted and emailed me hints, tips and words of advice, it is much appreciated.
1. Word Press
There are many blogging platforms out there, but Word Press is free, easy to use and is pretty much the industry standard. It has in-depth stats, good SEO and allows you to do lots of creative things with layouts etc. There are also plenty of tutorials available to explain the dashboard, widgets and various functions etc.
2. Create a blogroll
Add lots of other blogs that are a similar subject matter to your own blog or those that interest you. Once you have blogged for a month or so, contact them to say you have added them to your blogroll. Once you are established, other blogs are more likely to link back. This is good for SEO, but also lets your readers get an idea of the blogs you read.
3. Promote your blog
It is no good having a blog if nobody reads it! Create a Facebook group, Tweet it, put it on your Linked In page, email footer etc. Using the stats from Word Press you can see where web traffic comes from. It is also worth using something like Stat Counter to check traffic too (copy and paste some HTML text into the blog). If you comment on industry issues, argue or agree with people, let them know via Twitter or other social networking sites, this will encourage people to comment and you can form a relationship with them.
4. How much and often
Best practice seems to be around 500 words and weekly. Content needs to be current, perhaps read an industry publication or other specialist magazines to be up to date with industry issues.
5. Ground rules
Include some blog rules e.g. state it is your own opinion, how people can contact you, brief biography etc. This is good for disclosure, but also allows people to contact you and gain a greater understanding of the blog author.
People are increasingly offered money to blog, which many find unethical. If you comment about a client or product etc, be sure to disclose. If you get found out praising a client and you have not disclosed your relationship you will lose trust, authenticity and credibility. It is basically astroturfing. By all means praise good work with clients, but always be open, honest and transparent. It’s the ‘new ethics’. Also, it is best not to write blogs on behalf of clients. It is more interesting if an employee writes them. Google ‘ghost blog’ for more on this issue.
We often hear that ‘content is king’, to me this means a good dose of personal opinion, mixed in with other people’s quotes and links – this all makes for a good argument. The ease of entry to blogging means that anyone with an internet connection can start a blog. However, this opening up inevitably means that the overall quality decreases, so the quality of the blog is important e.g. spelling, punctuation, grammar, but also how easy on the eye is it to read, namely text size, font, colour, layout etc.
8. Do some research
Have a look and see what blogs you like and what features and widgets work. From here you can make a list of features you like and then include these in your blog.
Make sure your personality shines through and avoid corporate jargon which tends to be dry and uninspiring. Add something to the debate – don’t just sit on the fence.
If people leave comments on your blog be sure to reply. It is a privilege that people read and feel moved enough to leave a comment on your blog, so best practice is to reply. The best blogs are those that create a dialogue between the author and audience. Likewise read other people’s blogs, leave comments for them – hopefully this should help promote your blog too.
I would be interested to hear any other considerations that you think new bloggers should take into account.
You can download a printer friendly version of these tips from Scribd by clicking here.