The 10 Basics of Blogging
- Write about what you care about – blogging is (largely) an enthusiast's game. If you're not enthusiastic, it really, really shows in your writing. If you're not enthusiastic about what you're writing about, you've just bought a one-way ticket to FAIL.
- Learn to link – the basic skill of blogging is to spot something that's interesting. That's where blogging started as weblogs (literally logs of web travels). If you're not linking out to other blogs, you're not joining in the wide conversation that is the blogosphere.
- Write in your own voice – blogging is a personal medium. Write in your own voice. Not in that of other bloggers you admire. Not in the voice you think you should have. Write in your voice. This blog is often sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and flippant, because that's how I feel about WoW most of the time. It's a fun game to me, and I can't take it too seriously. (Except when I do.) Think of your blog as an extension of yourself, and write like you would if talking to a group of friends.That's conversational writing, and that's what attracts readers to blogs.
- Know what you're writing about, if you want traffic – Niche blogs do better than generalist blogs, unless the generalist blog has several contributors and loads of posts a day (eg this old thing). It's a fact of blogging life. If you're happy with a small but loyal audience, go general by all means. If you want the big numbers, define yourself a little.
- Enjoy yourself – Really, really important. Blogging is a slog, because it takes effort to build an audience. But it should be a fun slog, something you want to do. You should look forward to opening your blog platform and communicating with your readers, and every comment or in-bound link should quicken your pulse a little. You need to be a wee bit obsessed to be a good blogger.
- Keep posting – Regular postings build audience. Simple as that. The post doesn't need to be a 2,000 word magnum opus, though. It can just be a link to another post you found interesting. Get into the discipline of sharing interesting stuff you find with your readers, and this become easy.
- Vary the pace – Imagine heading to the pub with a friend who only every gave 10 minute speeches, but never did any chit-chat. That's what your 1,000 word posts only blog is like. Vary the pace. Old media publishers have know this forever. Short pieces at the front and back of the mag, longer pieces in the middle. Vary the pace. Make things more interesting for your readers.
- Read and comment on other blogs – the best single way to become a better blogger is to read and get involved in the conversations happening in the blogosphere. Leave comments elsewhere if your immediate reaction is short. Link and react on your own blog if your reaction is long. You will absorb by osmosis the best techniques of other bloggers just by reading their work.
- Answer comments – Duh. Blogs are a conversation. If you talk to friends down the pub, but ignore everything they have to say, you'll probably find that they stop inviting you.
- Remember that you're doing this for fun – You're not going to make a living WoW Blogging, so if you're not having fun, why do it? Oh, and if you're not having fun, the readers can tell. And that'll drive them away.
1 Yes, I am aware of the irony of writing a guide in response to a complaint about all the guides out there. I am a contrary tree.