Writing to make ends meet…

Archive for April, 2007

Blogging All the Time

I am fortunate enough to have applied for and been given the VH1 blogging job at 451press.  Check out my new blog all about CelebReality and VH1 programming at http://www.watchingvh1.com.

I’m trying to become a better blogger to make WatchingVH1 the best it can be.  Here are 10 tips I picked up that may seem obvious to most bloggers, but it’s always a nice reminder of what makes a good blog a great blog.

1.  Make your blog interactive.  Articles are great to write, but a blog should involve the reader in some way.  Put out some thought provoking questions or ideas and urge your readers to discuss them in your comments section.  This doesn’t mean every post has to be controversial or ask questions, but there should be more posts in that vein than straight up articles.

2.  Do something unique.  There are so many blogs out there nowadays that you have to have a reason for your readers to return.  This could be something as simple as a weekly commentary or feature on your chosen topic, or maybe your writing style will be sufficient.

3.  Update frequently.  This is where I have problems with my personal blogs (obviously…when was the last time I had the time to write in this one?).  My personal blogs get put aside, naturally, to cater to my paying gigs and teaching, and that is how it should be. However, if you want to keep people coming back, the entries need to be fresh and relevant often.  There is nothing more disappointing than taking time to surf to a blog and see nothing new for you to read.

4.  Know your subject inside and out.  If you are blogging frequently, you have to be able to come up with enough ideas for fresh content as often as possible.  If you pick an extremely narrow topic, there just may not be enough ideas to keep it up for very long.  If you know a lot about your subject, you can be more creative and are more likely to be able to come up with more ideas to keep readers interested.

5.  Listen to your readers.  They are who are keeping your blog in business, so read your comments and reply to them when appropriate.  If someone suggests something to make your blog better, and it’s a reasonable request, try to accommodate them and use their ideas.

6.  Word of mouth is your best marketing tool.  Sure, search engines are great, but your blog may be on page 1674 of 1 million for your keywords.  This is why you have to get some loyal readers who will tell their friends how awesome and unique your blog is.  Reciprocal links to your blog is a great way to get surfers, so make friends with people who have similar blogs and link, link, link!

7.  Don’t overwhelm your writing with your blog design.  You definitely should make your blog pleasant to look at, but it also needs to be functional.  Your writing needs to speak for itself and if your blog design is what’s getting the attention, that defeats the purpose of spending all that time writing posts.

8.  The fewer ads, the better.  Of course we’d all like to make some money with our labor of love, but if you have too many ads crowding up the page, your readers are going to get tired of searching for the real writing on your blog.  AdSense and other advertising opportunities can bring in some cash, but keep it to what’s relevant to your blog topic and put it somewhere that won’t interfere with the flow of your blog.

9.  Brush up on your writing skills.  You can have a beautifully designed background for your blog, but if you can’t coherently string sentences together, no one is going to want to read what you have to say.  Isn’t the point of a blog to get your ideas out there to the internet audience?  How are they going to know what you’re trying to say if your writing is poor and your spelling is worse?

10.  Don’t be self indulgent.  Yes, it’s your blog–your little piece of the internet pie, but if you want people to read it, you have to cater to what’s important to them.  It’s fine every now and then to write all about yourself and your exciting day of laundry and eating Doritos, but give readers some sort of useful information–or at least a lesson in your life story–that applies to them.  The best personal blog are stories that are written so others can relate or get a chuckle out of.  Remember that your blog is just as much for everyone else as it is for you.

What are some of your rules for blogging?  Did I cover most of the important things or did I leave something important out of this post?  Leave me a comment or email me and let me know!

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