I’ve been asked more than once how to run a successful blog.
|Yes, you've seen this picture of me before,|
but James K Barnett did a great job
and I like it.
Yesterday, Noah asked me to write something about the subject on my blog.
Honestly, I don’t know what to tell you.
I don’t consider myself to be a successful blogger.
To be successful takes time, effort, energy, intent and a great deal of bloody hard work, and that’s just for starters. It’s also true of any pursuit. I don’t suppose that blogging is any different.
I suspect that the people who ask me how to become a successful blogger are simply people who like this blog and visit it regularly. That makes the blog successful in their frame of reference, because it draws them in and holds their attention. It makes them believe that the blog has some kind of universal appeal, and, therefore that lots of people must be reading it.
Lots of people aren’t reading my blog.
OK, quite a few people are, but I don’t attract lots of people, and many of my visitors come to look at the blog because of my other activities in the World.
Success is relative, I suppose.
I consider the blog a success if I manage to put my thoughts into the World on a fairly regular basis. The blog is a form of journal for me and a way to exercise my writing muscles, as much as it’s an interface with others. I have no interest in the numbers of visitors or hits that the blog gets, and I don’t monetise it.
Do I like it when people respond to the blog? Of course I do. Do I like it when people comment or share the blog? I love it. It’s a form of conversation from my computer and I like reaching out. Does it make me feel popular or validated? I suppose sometimes it does, but I’m also aware that I expose myself a good deal in the blog, because I don’t self-censor, so I’m just as likely to get negative feedback as positive.
What I’m saying is that if you want to be a successful blogger, you might not want to follow my example.
My blog is very simple and very honest. It is all about one cubic foot of real estate. It is about the unfiltered drivel in my head. The cult of personality won’t get most people very far. It doesn’t get me very far. Let’s face it, you’d have to be pretty damned interesting for it to get you very far.
I might also add that it would be pretty difficult to use me as an example for blogging, because I’ve come to learn that I’m unlike other people in the levels of honesty that I’m able to bring to situations. I speak my mind and I speak it freely. People struggle with that and it makes me unpopular, but it appears to be part of my personality; I just can’t help it. Most of you won’t want to test that water. It can be a sad and lonely place to live.
If you want to blog and you want to do it well, I suggest you work at it like you work at anything. Have a plan. Decide what your blog is going to be about so that people with the same interests can identify with it and rely on its content. Don’t confuse your readers.
Blog regularly, and research your material. Try not to be repetitive, but do reiterate your position regularly. Don’t take for granted that your readers read every blog.
Keep your blogs fairly short and lively. Too Long Didn’t Read will send people running for the hills and they won’t come back.
Only try to be funny if you’re actually funny.
Keep the page simple. Dark type on a pale page is best, and a readable typeface, please. Times New Roman and Helvetica are ubiquitous for a reason.
Use pictures, but do beware of copyright. We’ve all got smartphones, so taking your own pics is simple and saves confusion. Links are fine, but don’t overdo it, and don’t rely on them to explain the context of your blog, because not everyone is going to take the time to refer to them.
Here’s the big stuff. You’ve got to get your blog seen.
Check out hashtags for bloggers on Twitter and use them. There are plenty of blogging groups, and if your blog is any good other bloggers will share it. Be generous about sharing blogs. These communities are often very supportive.
If you’re brave enough, ask people to share your blog. I always post my blog on FaceBook and Twitter, and I shamelessly use the husband by posting on our joint Twitter account and his FaceBook pages. I wouldn’t do it if he minded, of course, but he’s generous like that.
Use descriptive headlines for your blogs and don’t be too obtuse or too clever. My most visited blogs have titles like, “For Native English Writers Wherever You May Be”, “Everyone’s Talking About Angelina Jolie’s Tits” and “The Blog in which I Eulogise Peter Ustinov”. The same applies to labels. Use them and keep them simple.
I didn’t do it on purpose, but my blog also appears first whenever my name is typed into Google. I gather it’s possible to make this happen deliberately, but I have no idea how. I guess I got lucky, because there’s only one person in the World with my name. Go figure.
There are, of course, lots of sites on the web that school bloggers in being better and more successful at it, so don’t trust this blog to help you with your struggles, and please, please don’t hold me up as an example of a successful blogger, or a successful anything.
Trust me when I tell you that there’s every likelihood your time will come long before mine does.
Now off you go and design a splendid blog, and then write on it. Do it. You know you want to.