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Saturday, August 20, 2011

You've decided to start a blog. Cool! (part 2)

An important thing to keep in mind  when writing and editing the blog is that your reader’s time, much like our own, is valuable and limited. If we can try to conjure up a “typical reader,” they will in all probability read several blogs and news items daily. They want to get in, get out, leave a comment (if you make it easy), and move on. We live in an age in which we are bombarded with an excessive amount of information, and we have precious little time to process it.

As bloggers, we have seconds to grab people’s attention. We want to capture their attention for their first read, and keep them coming back for more.

3. It won’t make you rich

We all have childhood dreams in which everything we touch turns to gold, we can then leave our day-job and never look back. Sorry, but this probably won’t be that “thing.” And, no matter how many of times you send your $49.00 to some teenager pictured sitting in a rented Porsche, or get-rich ads to maximize profits and boost your SEO, none of these is likely to be your magic bullet. It takes work to understand your craft and perform it well; just like anything else in life.

As a beginner, your first priority is to produce a good, readable product with good content.

Good content is King!

You will hear this time and again. And, it is true. If your posts are poorly written, use poor grammar, are replete with spelling errors, or just plain boring, the only people who will ever read it are your aunt and maybe a couple of people at church. And those, not for long.

There are several legitimate texts to help you get better at your craft, learn about SEO (search engine optimization), how to properly monetize, etc. Just reach out. There are people who can educate you better about these things than I can. There are also many affiliate links to legitimately maximize your blog, financially.

In its essence, the community of bloggers, is just that…a community. We are a community, and most people inside the community are more than happy to offer some type of help. It is a grievous error to treat the “others” as competition.

No matter what we are trying to sell, shoes, books, washing machines, computers, or the next big “thing”- we must first be in the business of selling ourselves! I certainly don’t mean selling-out, or selling our souls, but demonstrating that we (and our writing) are a product worth investing time in.

4. Remember, this is a ministry, and your vision!

Don’t let envy cloud your judgment. It is human nature to look at someone else’s work or someone else’s numbers and get sidetracked. But the world isn’t looking for and certainly doesn’t need a copy of someone else’s site. Don’t plagiarize. Don’t steal material. Get appropriate permission. Most people will gladly share their material, with no strings attached if you ask, and give proper attribution. This includes photos.

This is your ministry! This is the flock that has been entrusted to your care. That may mean 1, 100 or 1000 readers. Tend it well; be faithful over the small things.

5. Share

There are several blogs that I subscribe to and write comment to on a regular basis. There are many that merely scan the title. I do, after all still have a day-job; and a life.

Commenting on other people’s blogs comes with many benefits, and a few pitfalls:
  • It can provide an opportunity to improve your writing. Even though it’s a comment, use it wisely. Express your idea clearly, coherently and succinctly.
  • Give you exposure to prospective audience; get your name “out”
  • It is an opportunity to meet with and engage some great people, many of whom are willing to help you with an issue
  • It demonstrates your ability to think deeply and critically
  • Caveat: Be sure to read the whole blog if you are going to comment. There is nothing more damaging to you than to come across as a loose cannon, especially when you’re totally off-topic.
  • If you disagree, say so and explain why. Most bloggers are open to honest commentary, both positive and negative. However, stay on-point. This is not a place to promote your blog, promote yourself, or launch a personal attack. If you cannot contribute to what’s being discussed, stay out.

Share the blogs you enjoy with your readers.

[conclusion next week...]

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