Last week I attended the Guardian’s How to Blog Like A Professional course. It was a very interesting day, covering general advice, blog structure, maximising the user experience and even monetising the blog, and they absolutely stuffed me with food. As most of us are bloggers, I thought I would share with you the top tips I gleaned from the day. You’re welcome!
- Regular posting
This is an absolute must. Professionals recommend daily posting, but whatever you do, you must do it consistently. I have considered this for this blog, as I have been posting everything once a week. However, from now on I shall be doing one post a day, Monday to Friday. It is apparently one of the easiest ways to attract a core group of readers.
- Don’t make the posts too long
On the internet, people’s attention spans are shorter than if they are reading on paper. This means that when they are faced with a long post, they are much more likely to skip on than read on. I have found this before on my other blog, Daily Writings, where my haikus are by far the most popular things despite the fact that they clearly take less effort than longer pieces of fiction.
- Make your blog easy to read
This is more to do with formatting than subject matter. It is more tiring for poor eyes to look at a screen than paper, so short paragraphs, lists, bullet points, white space and clear emphasis (particularly using bold) are all very helpful for your reader. Using images will also make it more attractive, although you must ensure that you are using pictures in accordance with copyright law. If in doubt, take your own.
- Consider your mobile readers
How many of you are reading this now on your mobile? It is vital to ensure your blog reacts to the device viewing it, otherwise it will be difficult to view and your reader will click on. There are many themes on WordPress that are responsive so make sure you pick one of those.
- Consider guest posting
A great way to accrue more followers is to guest post on someone else’s blog. There are many blogs which invite guest postings, usually the more professional ones, so all you need to do is find one that accords with your writing and send them a pitch. Don’t worry if you haven’t got that many followers. Blogs like this are only looking for good writing. They don’t need to attract more readers.
- Writing for the internet is just like any other writing
It’s important to structure your posts properly, with a beginning, middle and an end. Just because it’s written for the internet doesn’t mean that structure, spelling and editing isn’t important. Similarly, if you decide to pitch for a guest post, you need to do so as professionally as you would if you were writing to a publisher or sending out your CV for a job.
- Schedule your posts
Sometimes, you can get to the time when you would usually put up your post and realise you haven’t even written it yet. Panic ensues. I learned that you can write the posts and schedule them to come out at a certain time. This obviously helps with the consistency of your blog. You can also do the same with Twitter if you are using social media to promote your blog.
- Using social media
On the subject of Twitter et al, consistency is also vital here. You need to be posting and interacting frequently, not just when you have written a new post you want to share. Social media is about being sociable, so you have to be personable, sharing posts, commenting and generally allowing your personality to come through. If you don’t, people won’t be interested.
- Tracking your stats
This came up time and time again throughout the day. If you don’t track your stats, be it just on your blog or through Google Analytics, how can you know your reader? Looking at your stats allows you to understand what people are interested in, where your readers come from, even what time of day is best to upload your post. Apparently between nine and ten in the evening is the busiest time for Facebook. Make of that what you will.
- Keep enjoying yourself
While it’s important to look at all these things, you mustn’t lose sight of why you are blogging and who you are doing it for. We all want to increase our followers, but I think we also all want people who are interested in our writing and will come back because they find it interesting and/or funny, rather than people who click in and out again. All of this can help you, but you have to make sure it fits in with the ethos of your blog overall, rather than doing a post about Justin Bieber because you think it will get lots of hits.
I hope this has been interesting and useful to you. I have sheaves of notes – it really was a day packed with information! – so I am happy to spread more knowledge should you wish. Or perhaps you have tips of your own? If so, please let me know!