Being a Tech Blogger myself, Often working long hours, sometimes 7 days a week to write new content, and having spent years in the IT industry, I’ve had plenty of time to think about and make sense of what works and what doesn’t, as well as what is acceptable, and what is not when penning my latest blog posts. As with everything else in this world, when it comes to blogging, practice makes perfect! Unfortunately many don’t seem to get the concept, and most fail because their own ignorance trumps their common sense. Being a better blogger means learning from your mistakes, and some I’m about to share with you I’ve made myself.
Ignorance is The Bloggers Enemy:
The fact is we’re all ignorant about various things in our lives, and for the typical blogger, their own ignorance (essentially the inability to comprehend something because you lack the knowledge to) seems to be a major cause of blogging failure. Either you fully understand what you’re blogging about, or no one is going to take you seriously! If you plan to become a professional blogger you will have to be the best in your field, and provide insights into a subject matter that no one else can. The keyword here, “Knowledge”, get a handle on being knowledgeable about your subject matter before you ever hit publish on your first blog post.
Bloggers who have large followings and that perform well on the web consistently offer new insights and bring innovative ideas to the table, vs. the blogger who simply regurgitates the same ideas spun around for the hundredth time. That being said, the best bloggers are usually well educated, have thousands of hours of experience in their field, and perform consistent research on the subjects they blog about. Being a researcher means being a better blogger!
When it comes to blogging your education and experience concerning the subjects you write about are of the upmost importance. Having no education in your field will not help you, regardless of the industry you happen to pursue. If you aren’t educated in your subject matter now’s a good time to start. The reason being, bloggers just starting out haven’t yet made a name for themselves, so they are unrecognized, and therefore they need to provide good reasons for others to take notice of them to begin with. Having educational credentials to back you up is a great start, and having the ability to produce informative content based on your experience and education will afford you more listeners, dedicated followers, and help the public to build a measure of trust in you.
Don’t Get Too Personal:
While I think it’s great to share insights based on my experience, I also think there’s a place to draw the line. It’s probably best not to get too much of your personal life mixed into your writing. The problem here is, not everyone agrees on the same things, and some subjects are more sensitive than others, such as with political and religious values; these subjects should be left out of your blogging business entirely. If not, have fun dealing with the roaring sides of opinionated combatants on social media. I too have my own personal beliefs, but they have nothing to do with my website, or my business, so I don’t ever mention them here.
Bad Writing Form:
Unfortunately, of the thousands of blog posts that stream by me each week in the Google+ communities I manage, I see a bad trend taking place; its people writing like they’re taking notes and simply pasting them together into a blog post, along with the use of simple keywords and no real explanations. Content should be consistent in the sense you want to make one statement flow naturally to the next, tying those statements together as closely as possible. This means writing from one line to the next, not cropping together a bunch of short statements, you will lose consistency this way, and your story will fall apart.
As far as the lack of real explanations goes, often you will read a blog post that pronounces the “what”, the “why”, but not the “how” of something, this amounts to essentially useless information, despite giving us something to think about, it doesn’t solve a problem, which is what many people are looking for when reading a blog post. Think of it this way, someone could write about “The Benefits of Responsive Design”, explaining what responsive design is, the benefits of using this approach to others, etc, but if it doesn’t give any insights as to how to actually implement and use this technology, then it’s nothing more than an overview, which gives no real world value to users.
Asking questions and explaining something is great, but leaving out the part of how to actually do something new or differently doesn’t score new blog readers. The “how” part is essentially the answer to a problem, the means to help a reader accomplish a task, and it’s what adds real value to each and every blog post you make! That being said, ask yourselves this question, what information does my blog post portray that my readers can actually make use of?
Put Your Focus in The Right Place:
While focusing on promoting yourself as a blogger seems to be the norm these days, I actually found my success by promoting my blog as a brand and pointing the focus of my content towards readers and away from myself. From my experience, this blogging tactic works extremely well. To this day I don’t know who my entire audience consists of, as I have never personally met the majority of people who shared content from this site across social networks over the last year, and we don’t allow commenting on the site; but I can make a sure bet the reason people come back on a daily basis is because of the content, not me! In fact, the majority of them could careless who I am, they just like the content they find here.
That being said, I don’t recommend bloggers go on a mass rampage of self promoting themselves. Unfortunately, what many bloggers don’t understand is that, it’s not necessarily the blogger that readers are taking interest in, but in many cases rather the content itself. Often you will see bloggers who use their full name as their domain name, which I find to be a rather bad practice, and my recommendation is to completely avoid this practice altogether. Instead, create a domain name reflects your content and sites theme. In the case of this site, the domain is an exact match, and I’ve personally benefited from this. Also, people’s names can be tricky to remember, some more than others, and this is another reason to skip using your own name for your domain.
Another benefit to branding your blog with a name that reflects your site and content is that, these types of sites tend to rank better than blogs with someone’s name scrawled upon them. As far as having a personal blog where your name is included in your domain title, this practice is fine for leisurely blogging, but don’t count on getting a ton of traffic or making money from your blog this way, unless you’re a super prolific blogger that people happen to be searching for each and every day online.
Promote Your Blog:
A very big part of promoting your blog and marketing your content has to do with creating an “Exhilarating Experience” that user’s can remember later on. This means giving users some way to identify with your blog and its content, and there’s no easier way to do this than with the creation of a vibrant and colorful logo that represents your brand (your branded blog), along with a blog theme that sets your site apart from everything else on the internet. The more visual cues you can give your visitors to remember you by, the better! A lot people tend to have a strong visual memory of things, and having an easily identifiable brand logo can help to keep users onboard later on down the road.
While you’re at it, ditch the classic site design with the empty white background that does nothing but strain readers eyes and waste perfectly good space. For this site we stuck with a darker theme with a bordered area that houses the article itself, putting less stress on reader’s eyes. It also helps to focus the user’s attention since there is no obstructing visual noise in the background.
Speaking of promoting content, a fellow tech blogger, and now assigned community moderator of our Google+ community, Mervik Haums, created the character you see at the top of this post. He handed out a small set of 12 free characters for bloggers to use themselves. The cool part about this, other people on Google+ who made use of them, such as myself, will often mention the source of a piece of content in their posts, and more mentions means more links, as well as the possibility for more engagement! Mervik later released a Pro set of characters for a low fee, which you can view Here.
Merviks promotional tactics not only drive traffic to his blog, and engagement among his visitors, but he managed to develop and market a product with the use of his blog. The point here is that, making money from advertising as a blogger is a tough bet, so getting creative business ideas to promote on your blog can only be a good thing. Even if something you try doesn’t work, failures often lead to successes, so don’t be scared to take a chance.
Pumping Out Fresh Content:
If you want to be a successful blogger, you’re going to have to consistently pump out new and refreshing content each and every week! The reason being, you want to keep your content at the surface and moving throughout social media on a daily basis. One or two really good blog posts can bring a blogger tons of consistent traffic over time, but not publishing content on a regular basis doesn’t send a very good signal to search engines when it comes time to ranking. Google for one appears to make an effort to return content in its search results from domains who publish new content often. The reason being, they would rather send people to sites that are up to date with the information they portray. That being said, it’s also not a bad idea for bloggers to go back and beef up old posts with new insights once and while. When it comes to bloggers ranking, freshness counts!
One word of caution here, don’t just hit publish every time you make a new blog post! Unless its time sensitive, finish it up and come back to it tomorrow. This way you have more time to think about it, and based on my experience of using this tactic, I have to say it helps me to create much more compelling posts. On average I edit posts at least 3 times before publishing, at a bare minimum. The more you scrutinize your own posts the better, otherwise your readers will do this for you, what you don’t want.
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of statements from social media pro’s who state that you should publish more content more often, even if it’s a short post, and of lower quality, in order to keep your site relevant to users. Don’t get fooled into this! One low quality blog post means every person who reads it is now gone forever. If I come across a low quality blog post, I will immediately hit the back button and I will never trust your site enough to return. If there’s anything that angers readers online, its people wasting their time, so if your blog post has nothing useful to offer, then throw it away and start over, or try editing it to make it more compelling.
Don’t Spam Social Media:
Don’t do it! Google for one penalizes people who spam on its social network Google+ by marking all their posts as spam, hiding those posts from community members, and in some cases “PUBLIC” stream viewers. By the way, Google won’t tell the person they’re penalizing that they are doing so, only moderators are told. Unless you want to have a Google+ profile with hundreds of posts and no interaction (which I see all the time), then slow down on posting, and don’t post the same thing to multiple places, communities, etc. Posting the same content to more than one separate community is enough to set off Google’s spam filters, in which no one will ever see your content now.
Keep Your Website Clutter Free:
A lot of bloggers, actually almost all I’ve seen over the previous year, all have popup’s asking you to subscribe to their email list, or signup for a special offer the moment you enter their website. Don’t be a complete fool and do this yourself. The unfortunate truth is, a lot of people, including myself, will get really pissed off, and not only ignore your offer and never subscribe to your email list, but many will be unlikely to ever return to your site as a result. Instead, provide a friendly, well visible link so that people can decide for themselves whether they want to engage further with your content by email or not. Otherwise you will seriously make users angry when they’re reading your latest post only to be interrupted with another useless popup.
Throwing too much content in front of peoples’ faces amounts to nothing more than begging, and it won’t help you to gain confidence with readers. Your actions speak louder than words on the web! If you blog in confidence, people will find confidence in your work as well. On the other hand, If you appear to readers you are begging for attention, or that you’re vulnerable, rather than finding confidence in you, they will be more likely to assume you are insecure.
That being said, another issue to avoid here is the now gaining in momentum art of bloggers forcing users to socially engage with their content, and locking their content until the user does so! This means bloggers are essentially threatening their own readers they won’t be allowed to access a piece of content without +1’ing, liking, or sharing the content first. One thing to consider here is, if you have to beg people to like and share your content, then you probably should be looking for a new job. You just don’t win dedicated blog readers or followers by begging and threatening them.
Understand Your Audience:
The biggest single tip I could ever give to any aspiring blogger is to pay attention to your audience on social media as much as possible. You need to understand who they are, what they like, and why they like what they like! The reason being, one dedicated fan can bring hundreds if not thousands more readers to your blog. In some cases, there are individuals who share my content consistently on Google+, and the hundred or so people I associate with the most on social media, I know are partially directly responsible for a majority of the reason this site has managed to build such a wide spread audience.
As you progress as a blogger you will naturally learn what type of content people like based on your own experience. In my case I was writing IT based tutorials, in which I realized people would only read long enough to find the answer they were searching for then they were long gone! Once I started sharing more of my personal experiences in my blog posts, this place began to take off with lightning speed. So it’s not always that people read a blog post to find answers, but sometimes they are looking to read about others experiences, or hear someone else’s experience concerning a given situation. That being said, sometimes you can turn a blog post into a story, giving users something even more compelling to read than the latest “how to” guide on Mashable.
If the experience you share with your audience directly relates to your posts theme (which it should), then you will be more likely to retain readers for longer periods of time on your site, a big plus with search engines! The longer you can keep the average blog visitor reading and surfing your blog, the better! Typically speaking, the longer the average visitor continues reading your posts and surfing your blog, the higher you will rank! The objective here is to keep the average visitor on your site for at least a minute or longer, otherwise you probably won’t perform well in organic search results. A high bounce rate can also be bad news, especially if the average “time on site” per user factor is very low. Keeping time on site levels to a minute and a half or longer is really good, so aim in this direction.
In the end, becoming a successful blogger doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, a lot of time! If you are just starting out as a blogger, don’t focus on the monetary part, instead focus on the audience you are serving content too, as well as the quality of the content you produce. The money part comes later, as you just aren’t going to make a dime until your blog has a true audience that will drive real traffic. Again, the blogging mistakes I mentioned above are just a few of many, and it will take your own personal experience in order to fine tune your blogging strategies over time, but these tips are likely a good starting point for many.