Most people like to get tips. Especially those who work waiting tables. But that’s not the tip I’m alluding to in this post.
After having my virtual footprints in the blogosphere for 11 years, I believe that I have gained some insights to give tips for blogging. Have I become a guru or an authority to give these tips? Not really, but who is? So here’s my audacious and unsolicited advice for new bloggers.
1. Be consistent.
Whatever you decide on how frequently you will blog is up to you. Even if it’s just once a week or once every two weeks, that would be good enough. Though less frequent posting than that and the readers would lose interest. However, you need to be consistent.
If you’re having a writer’s block, then post a short one, or post a photo instead. Is there such a thing as photographer’s block too? Let’s say you write every day for four weeks, then all of a sudden you stop, and your next entry will be in four months. All the momentum you have built would be gone, as well as your readers.
The other extreme could also be dangerous. I have seen new bloggers that are producing 3 to 4 entries a day at the beginning. I mean, that is good, as you’re probably having a diarrhea of ideas to write. But that is not sustainable in the long run. You would burn yourself out. It is better that if you’re having a lot of ideas right now, keep the other entries in your draft bin and schedule to release them some other days. Consistency is better than having a feast in one day and then having famine in other days.
2. Make your post engaging.
Start with a catchy title. Even if the content of your post is not that interesting, if your title is an attention-grabber, then at least some readers would take a look at it. But make the body of your post interesting as well, so not to disappointment your readers.
Make the opening line or the first few sentences fascinating that could pique your reader’s curiosity. If they are enthralled with the first part of your piece then they are likely to finish reading your whole article. However, I suggest that you also save the best kick for the ending. Leave them with a sweet taste in their mouth when they finish reading your post.
If you’re trying to write a lengthy post, throw in something interesting or funny facts every few paragraphs to keep your readers engaged. For example, do you know that rabbit’s teeth don’t stop growing? For real! Maybe it is not even related to your post, but it is an interesting fact anyway. Many readers, including myself, have short attention span, so make an effort to keep them entertained.
3. Keep your blog site visually appealing.
If a house has a curb appeal, the same thing with a blog site. The first thing that might lead a reader to linger a little longer in your space is if your blog site is visually captivating.
Choose a good lay out. It could be simple and yet stylish. I know WordPress.com offers different layout and design for their blog sites, and some are even free. Pick one that suits your taste. Go ahead, splash some color on your homepage background.
Make sure you pick a font that is big and easy to read. I have visited blogs that even though they have a good content but their font is too small or too faint for me to read that I stopped reading. A good picture to go with your article also adds some attraction. There are many free photos in the web, like Pexels.com from WordPress. If the image you posted is not yours, please give credit to the owner of the said photo.
4. Edit your work.
Edit, edit, edit. This should be your mantra. If you must edit your work more than 100 times, then do so. I edit my article probably 20 times or more before I post them. And even then some misspelling or wrong grammar still escapes me.
Most of the computers have built-in spellcheck or autocorrect app. They could be helpful, except when you’re writing in a different language, then these programs can be a pain. I turn them off when I am writing in Tagalog, because they just annoy me. For example, I wrote “buto” (bones) and it autocorrect into butt – the bone pain became pain in the butt. That could cause me trouble.
There are also programs that help with grammar, like Grammarly.com. This could be handy, especially if English is not your primary language.
5. Content matters.
Your grammar may be pristine, but if your content is lousy, I’ll take the one with less than perfect grammar but with an impressive content.
I have seen some blogs that journals their daily mundane activities, like their breakfast, and the time they took a shower, and the time they went to sleep. That might catch my fancy for a day or so, but if you write only about that all the time, then you would lose me as a reader.
What would make people go back to your site is if your writing has made an impact on them. Did they enjoy it? Did they learn from it? Did it inspire them? Or was it a letdown?
After reading your work, people would ask themselves, did I just waste my 10 minutes in reading a rant? So if you must rant, at least have some lessons your readers can take away out of that rant. Make your work worth their while.
6. Be a part of the blogging community.
Visit other blogs. Comment if you will. Hitting the “like” button would be nice, but leaving a comment is much better appreciated by the owner of the blog you have visited. That means you really read their article and that you show real interest in what they wrote.
Speaking of the “like” button, if you must hit it, please do it genuinely. Don’t hit the “like” button expecting that they would reciprocate and “like” your blog too. I have experienced so many times that some bloggers “liked” my post, but I know that they are only doing it so I would look into their blog. How do I know that? Some posts of mine are in my native tongue and the context can only be understood by a local like me. So unless you have that insight, you would not have a clue of what I am talking about. So hit the “like” button for real.
You also don’t have to “follow” all the blogs that “follow” you. Follow only if you are truly interested in their work. That to me is being a good neighbor in the blogging community.
7. Have a purpose in your writing.
I believe this is the most important thing. What is your reason for writing? Unless your purpose is clear, only then can you achieve what you wanted to be.
Let’s say you want to feature playing the Kalimba (thumb piano) to the world, then learn this instrument very well. I know a blog dedicated just on that. Or if you want to earn from blogging, then enhance your skills in writing. However if you intend to monetize your blog, this is not the site to get that advice. I have deliberately made a decision from the start not to monetize my site. Even if last year I had more than 150,000 visits, I still kept this site ads free.
If your purpose is just to write, then it does not matter if you’re the only one reading you article. If you are happy on what you are doing, then that’s all you need. Yes, having readers is good, having followers is good, making some money blogging is good, but they are only secondary if you are happy in what you are doing.
As for me, I am writing truly just for the joy of writing. And if some readers, like you, are impacted by my work, then that’s an added reward.
(*photos taken with an iPhone)