When I first moved my blog over to WordPress, a number of friends asked for my help on doing the same. It’s not really that difficult, and mostly I just click on everything until I know what button does what. My best advice would be to just sit down and begin, even if you don’t quite know what you are doing yet. When in doubt, there is always someone writing a blog on how to do what you don’t know how to do, or even better: posting the tutorial on YouTube. Your blog should represent who you are. Anyone can make a blog, so who am I to tell you what you should and shouldn’t start blogging about? That being said, over and over again I see what doesn’t work, so I do have some good pointers for the bloggily challenged.
Easy on the Eyes: Your blog should represent your style. If photographing is your thing: add plenty of pictures. If you are into food: food it up baby. Just please, please make it something we can actually look at and read without being entirely distracted by what’s going on all around, behind and through. Nobody, and I repeat, NOBODY can read orange text on a pink background with swirly things everywhere and polka dots in-between. Stop doing that. WordPress makes nice little templates that look pretty darn good by people that actually got paid to make them. Feel free to customize your blog for your needs and desires. But screw around with our eyes too much and people will be too turned off to even bother making it to the second paragraph, never mind the last. If you are thinking about adding blurry pictures and homemade graphics that look weird when stretched out? Don’t bother. Your audience definitely notices and we’re not pleased.
Which Witch is Which: I am all for being casual with your words and making the text that you write your very own. Start your sentences with ‘but:‘ who cares, I do it. I admit that I have areas that still need some work, but proofreading is essential, so don’t you dare blog without it. No, you are not being graded here, but let me assure you: THE GRAMMAR POLICE ARE OUT THERE and they are more than happy to let you know just where your shortcomings are.
Keep It Short… Or Interesting: There is way too much on the Internet to waste time reading long boring blogs. Shorter is best, and when you can’t trim it down you had better keep my interest without blabbing on and on while not making your point. At this point it’s become a textbook, and we will have to resort to skimming. Don’t be that blog everyone has to skim through.
Stay on Topic: So, your intro is good, and I’m really driving through the post, then all of a sudden we’ve made a wrong turn and we’re discussing your brother’s wife’s cousin’s baby-mama’s gym socks. Uh, what is this blog about again? If you ever watch ‘Maury’ you know that only one baby-daddy gets paternity tested each episode, the rest are left behind for a different show. Reel it in. Focus. Save the extras for another blog. Plus, boom: you a have more to write about next week.
Write Something That Somebody Actually Wants to Read: I’m going to tread lightly here, and I get how you want to share everything about your story, but sometimes, not everyone is all that interested in every last detail of your life. You have great things to say, and even the mundane has a place, but give your blog a purpose and know your readers. If you are blogging to keep distant family involved with your day to day, that’s awesome, but don’t expect anyone else but grandma to care about what color Babies booties are on Tuesday.
Mix it Up: Try not to post the same thing over and over again every time you blog. You don’t have to go all multi-personality or anything on us in an effort to be variable, but your readers don’t want to read the same post week after week. Be consistent without repeating yourself over and over again. At some point we’re going to say: I’ve already read that a million times, I‘m over it. I’m not saying don’t have a niche, I’m just saying don’t beat a dead horse after it’s already been sent to the glue factory. We got it already.
Be Visible: Be more than a blogger. Like I said above, there is way to much on the Internet for us fickle surfers to keep up with your story, and certainly nobody is going to be chasing you down to read what you have to say if you don’t kindly direct us towards the light. If you don’t have an active blog that posts all the time, that’s okay, Suzy down the block does and she’s posting links and answering questions like it’s her job. Post regularly, be interactive and help us out to find your work. Everyone pimps their blogs and it does get annoying if that‘s all they do. Let’s not get carried away and think I want to befriend you and follow you around if that’s your only game. Interact and follow up on comments. You may not care what GenericReader123 has to say about their lives being just like yours, but act like you do. Isn’t connecting to others why we’re here in the first place.
Don’t leave us hanging: Don’t post chapter one and then make us wait for chapter two for two whole months. We’ll promptly forget the story and never think about it again. As a mom of three children, I can’t say that I’m going to be able to post several times a week, but don’t be a stranger. Let us know what you are up to, even it it’s just a picture. I’ve heard somewhere that they’re worth a thousand words anyway.
Make it You: This last tip may make you throw out the aforementioned rules, and that’s okay. Actually that’s fantastic. Make your blog your home. Make it something that you are proud of, and don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing. Let your flag fly, whatever kind of flag that may be, and be proud of the material you put out into the world. We don’t have to get it, and that’s ok, as long as you’re okay with it. But make sure that you are okay with it. Google is a brat and has the memory of ten thousand elephants.
I feel like there’s so much I didn’t tell you: timely posting, catchy titles, take risks, being relevant, adding advertisements, joining networks, asking questions, but I have to take my own advice and keep it short and simple and interesting and (hopefully) leaving you thirsty for more.