Gini Dietrich asked a question last week (one of many every day that get you thinking).
The question was, “What other things do you see missing in blogs?” In the post, she reflects on her six years of blogging and what she has learned from the mistakes made along the way.
It prompted me to look back at my first blog post written over five years ago as a way to do my own introspection. As a result, I offer up my own lessons learned that has hopefully made me a better (but certainly not perfect) blogger. (I’m not stealing content, Gini, just the basis of a post. I’ll call it perhaps the start of a meme
Pay it forward
My first blog post was short and only offered surface level opinion about Facebook’s first developer conference. If I was reading it now, I would not be inclined to share it or post a comment. It didn’t give the reader anything to take away to help them solve a problem, do their job better or feel like they got value that they feel compelled to want to share it.
I make sure now that I don’t hit the publish button unless I feel like I’m giving my readers something they use. It not only begets engagement, but also helps build the audience.
Don’t set and forget
Are you only thinking about that post you are writing now, or the ones in the future? What about the ones you wrote five years ago, or last month? How did they do in terms of traffic, comments or shares?
There’s a lot to learn both good and bad from per post metrics that help you fine tune your approach going forward. Or there may be posts that are still relevant and useful now that you can re-share, or better yet re-write to incorporate more of those good blogging practices you’ve picked up over time.
For example, is there a blog post that someone you follow wrote that relates to what you covered six months ago that you can freshen up and link back to that blogger to show a vote of approval of their stuff?
Lose the blinders
In Gini’s post linked above, she recommends doing a Google search on the topic you want to write about to be aware of the competition for that topic or headline. It’s good to know this for sure, but for me, it’s more important so that you can 1) make sure you’re giving a unique perspective on the topic and 2) can know what other blogger to link to. Most good bloggers will now when you’re linking to them and will appreciate the value added perspective.
If you obliviously write on a topic, not many will know you have and those that do will not feel compelled to share because the content will be too insular.
(Another side benefit: You can learn an awful lot by searching on topics you want to write about.)
Forget some of what you learned in 6th grade English
I was a solid English student because I worked hard at writing and was diligent about the principles of good prose.
What I’ve come to realize from blogging, however, is that some of those principles aren’t compatible. Case in point: thinking about paragraph breaks. In our attention starved world, copy needs to be scannable, so large blocks of text don’t work. This means to be more liberal with the paragraph breaks.
Similarly, don’t ignore those formatting buttons in your blog CMS.
Don’t be afraid to get personal
Since I started this blog at the beginning of this year, two of the most popular posts were ones that told about evolution of my career in a very personal way and one that related my favorite personal passion, running, to social media. It’s not a coincidence that these posts did well.
So many people that blog for professional reasons would do just as well to show their personal side more often.
What blogging mistakes have you made that helped you become better at the craft? Don’t be afraid to admit them…