A friend came to me yesterday asking advice on how to start a blog. After explaining how qualified I was to answer his question, I gently patted him on the back and said, “Have a seat” (I figured that patronizing him would make him listen more carefully).
I’ve maintained a blog for about nine years, and as I offered my sage advice to my friend, I realized that I had not followed most of it myself. This destroyed my credibility, but at the very least I knew I could end up with a blog post out of this.
So here are the top five things I’ve learned about blogging that I have never actually applied to my own blog:
1. Have unique, focused subject matter. Is the simple life one of your passions? Technology? Theology? Use a topic you enjoy, then stick with it. If your blog is about existentialism, avoid the occasional post about the Penn State game last weekend, unless you are dealing with the deeper questions of whether or not Joe Paterno will ever cease to exist as their coach.
2. Write something everyday. This one isn’t as hard as it may look. If you create post ideas that you can rotate throughout the week, then you have the opportunity to write ahead, knocking out two or three posts in a sitting. Once you have a few in the hopper, just schedule them to automatically post on certain days. Being ahead of your daily posting schedule will take some of the pressure off so that you can focus on good content.
3. Create a following by visiting other like-minded blogs and posting comments on their articles. Then be sure to post reply comments to all comments you receive at your site.
4. Keep your posts at around 300 words. If you are going for a longer form, be sure to review it for redundancy or wordiness. Take this post for example. You are at 330 words right about…. now. Let me guess: you are just about ready for this one to reach its conclusion, aren’t you?
5. Don’t post book reviews on your main blog page. Book reviews are great if you want to put them on a separate page and link to them. But it’s tough to be concise when reviewing an entire book. Consider an alternative approach. For example, you could do a series of posts on Sundays that respond to various quotes from that book? This kind of content will be more accessible to more people, and more potential to attract them to the book.
So why don’t I follow my own counsel? Because the best advice anyone could give about a blog is to just be yourself and do the thing.
*Here’s the one piece of advice I actually heed: Use WordPress.com to create your blog. It’s the easiest, most flexible, blog platform available.