My Advice On Being A More Effective Blogger!
Michele Martin (The Bamboo Project) has written some excellent posts on Getting Started with Blogging: Advice for New Bloggers from her readers and Maintaining your Blog: More Advice for New Bloggers from her readers. [image by Auntie P]
Unfortunately I was busy back when Michele asked Readers for their Advice for New Bloggers so was unable to provide my advice; but since I have now caught up I thought I would add my tips to bloggers in this post.
I should also add that Brian C. Smith (Streaming Thoughts) Welcome to Blogging post also inspired me to expand on the tips I gave his readers. Make the time to read the comments on his post and add your own comments to it! Worth the read to glimpse the thoughts of commenters at different stages in their blogging journey — from no experience to ones who already have their own blog.
Blogging is about conversations not writing posts
The most important aspect of blogging is the conversations. Engaging with others , sharing each others ideas and thoughts so that all gain because because each individual sees a different perspective – giving all greater “food for thought!”. The more effective you are as a blogger the greater your gain will be from these conversations.
Here are my tips for being a better blogger:
1. Subscribe to numerous, diverse blogs
The more posts you read the better you get at working out what works/doesn’t work and how to present information in a manner that will engage readers. Start out with a few blogs that interest you, and as you become more efficient at reading, increase the number you subscribe to.
Reading blog posts is part of my daily routine –note “my blogs I read list” doesn’t reflect the number of read of blogs I read which is expanding all the time. Here is my tips for locating and subscribing to blogs.
2. Actively engage in commenting on other’s blog posts and your own posts
Demonstrate that you are commented to conversations by commenting on other people’s blog posts and by responding back to comments on your own posts.
You can’t expect people to engage in conversations with you and share their thoughts if you don’t make the effort to interact with them on their own blogs. Part of my daily routine of reading blogs involves making time to comment on other people’s posts and responding back, if appropriate, to further comments on these posts. Once again it is about the conversations not just commenting.
I use co-mment to tracks comments I have written on other people’s blog posts — it notifies me automatically of any new comments by sending the comment to my Google Reader account. Here is my explanation of how I have set up co-mment to do this.
3. Have a blogging routine
The more you write the better you will become as a writer. A blogging routine helps you stay on track — new bloggers either write lots of posts initially and then drop off; or struggle to write any posts.
Some people I know prefer to blogging once a week, Kathryn Greenhill (Librarian Matters) routine is 3 times a week and I have found whenever possible I try to blog once daily — it is all about what works best for you and your lifestyle. I try not to blog more than once a day because I know it can be overwhelming for my readers; even once daily can be a struggle for them which is why Kathryn sticks to 3 times weekly.
4. Make a commitment to improve your blogging skills
I was part of 31 Days to Build A Better Blog and I can not stress enough how much this improved my ability to blog.
If you are serious about improving your skills I strongly recommend that you work through the tasks I have adapted from the 31 Day Blog Project for new bloggers and more advanced bloggers. But more importantly work out a way of forming a community to undertake this challenge — even if you need to use chocolate as an incentive. Your knowledge gain will be greater working as a team and you are more likely to complete the tasks when working in a community (you can always join us for support at Better Blog Community or ask me for support).
Understandably time is always an issue so will understand if you don’t do the tasks however I do strongly recommend that you at least Write Your About Page and Run an Audit on Other People’s Blogs (refer to Day 2 and Day 3 tasks towards the bottom of this page).
5. Remember to focus on the Bulls Eye
Ideally you need to keep your posts short and sweet (mine are too long! but luckily work most times).
When you write your post focus most of your content on the MUST KNOW, include a bit of SHOULD KNOW and keep the COULD KNOW to a minimum! Full explanation of the bulls eye principle can be found in this post.
- Must Know – What is the most important information you are trying to tell your readers
- Should Know – what is the additional information that is less critical
- Could know – What is the other information which could be of further use but is not essential
6. MOAN – Focus on How You Lay Out Your Post
My number of blog subscriptions is currently 171 — this means I read a lot of posts per day!!! If you want me to read your posts you need to make your posts really easy to read.
Pay attention here are my pet hates:
Bloggers that don’t use full feeds! — PLEEEEASE switch to full feeds!!! With the number of posts I read do you honestly think I have time to click on READ MORE?
Lack of Paragraphs — Can I say here that some of the educators are the absolute worst offenders. What The? Very simple:
- Break your posts up with paragraphs
- Short paragraphs are better than long
- Make the first sentence of each paragraph make me want to read! My secret = I read the first sentence of each paragraph — if these don’t grab my attention you have lost me!
- Use headings and where suitable dot points/bullet points to break up the post into manageable bit size chunks (Michele Martin is really good at doing this)
Use Italics sparingly, if at all! — posts with italics slow down my reading speed= not happy! Posts that are entirely italics are not read!
Use standard size text font — I know of at least one blogger who looks like they are enlarging their font size. DON’T! I can’t read it – not pleasing to my eyes!
Don’t embed videos, slideshares etc into posts without an explanation on what you have embedded, why you have embedded it and pleeease add link to the original location of the embed! Feed Reader, like Google Reader, strip your embed from the post. This means I am often left with a blank looking post or worse still I don’t even realise that the Feed Reader has stolen the great video that you really thought I needed to see!
Hope my tips have been of help — here are more of my posts on blogging that may also help!
Bound to have missed some tips on blogging — What tips do you feel are essential for being a better blogger?
16 thoughts on “My Advice On Being A More Effective Blogger!”
Some useful points, thanks.
However, I’m not entirely sure about your point of subscribing to “numerous” blogs. I agree with the diverse – and I see in your list quite a few that I subscribe to. However, I think that maintaining the list (often as a fluid list – add a few, remove a few) helps to keep it workable. (Some, e.g Stephen Downes, who lead me here are definite must-keeps!)
I certainly agree about the pointlessness of an embedded bit of media with no explanation.
Finally – thanks for the most readable captcha I’ve ever seen!
All great points, but point five stands out the most for me.
If blog posts are about conversations, I don’t know of any conversation that I’ve ever been in where any participant required, or took, 1500+ words to get his or her point across. In my opinion, that is a speech or an essay, not a conversation.
I really enjoyed your post. I’m a new blogger and point #2 really resonates with me. I was wondering how to get people to view my blog and the answer is so simple! Thanks!
Hi Emma – I am glad you found some useful points. I agree — the number of subscriptions really gets back to the time you have available. Fortunately I have become really quick reading posts which helps. Definitely the more you read the better you tend to write — top bloggers tend to subscribe to lots of blogs.
Hi Kevin – Yes lots of people have liked my Bulls eye and have adapted it for instructional design of elearning.
Post length as you pointed out is an interesting area. Most recommend the optimum to be about 500 words however there are some well known bloggers who tend to write really long posts.
This post was definitely too long and the solution would have been to break it into separate posts but I decided that I did not want to do that.
Hi cthompson – definitely commenting on other people’s posts helps get people to view your blog. However now that I have made it part of my daily routine I do it because I enjoy the conversations and it helps with my own learning.
Though I stand by my opinion on length of posts, I guess I should qualify that a bit.
I don’t think this post was too lengthy — I didn’t mean to imply that. Lists like this or instructional type posts can easily grow in length. Sure they could be broken up in to multiple posts, but as much as I dislike lengthy posts, I also dislike breaking up lists or instruction that could easily be accommodated within a single post.
Posts that I tend to shy away from are those that are in the 1500 word neighborhood and seem to drone on and on.
There is something to be said for being succinct in my opinion.
Hi Kevin – actually length of post is a really important point that is worth discussing. Your comment gave me the opportunity to discuss this in detail that I was unable to within the post.
And I did not take it that you were implying it was too long. Length is always the issue for me. I prefer to include all the information in a post if I can rather than break it into section. My latest post on Google Reader has the same issue. Break into separate posts but then the information is separated or accept as a longer post.
I am glad to hear you have similar thoughts that keeping information together is often the better option.
Bloggers that don’t use full feeds!
Actually Sue I would have to disagree with you on this one. The whole point of RSS for me is I can scim a large number of articles in a very short time. The heading and the first one or two sentences should be sufficient to tell me if I want to read the article or delete it and move on.
If you force me to have to read the whole page to find out what its about, then I am less likely to look at it.
For me RSS is filtering what I read and reducing the time I spend online looking through webs sites to see if there is anything new and interesting.
Valid point Daniel and it does get back to personal preference on how you read the posts in your reader. I like to read the first sentence of each paragraph because often the first paragraph does not give a true indication of the value of the post. Sometimes it is the little gem near the bottom of a post that makes the difference.
If all my feeds were on partial feeds it would mean I would have to click on every link to see if it was actually worth reading. Most times if a person has partial feeds I give up and unsubscribe because for me it is added work to read.
Well! What more could I ask of my network??? I start a new endeavor, am struggling to find a style that fits, and without even asking, am given advice! I’m so grateful that you emailed me, it means so much to me that someone is taking the time to help. I started my blog mostly as a place of reflection, but really like to share ideas, as well. I’m definitely going to shorten up my posts, but will KEEP the lists. I love lists, couldn’t live without them. What do you think of my blog presentation? Worth taking the time to change, or keepable? Thanks for participating in my education 🙂
Loved the list Sue – lots of food for thought here. A comment about the full text RSS – my 5 cents worth on this is that I believe there’s a lot to learn in terms of how we construct our topic sentences that could make the use of feeds more productive. I tend to agree with Daniel about the ideal use of RSS feeds being to enable you to skim a lot of feeds in a short time. Notwithstanding your comment about gems being buried further down, I think the issue is one of education and the developing literacy of blogs that might (hopefully) see blog writers become more creative and focused in what they include in their topic sentences.
Thank you for all the support your provide firstly. Some great points and I seem to be flying on my blog after a couple of weeks. A quick question – when I reply to comments (or other people do) they don’t seem to get an email notification that somebody has replied. How can I fix this?
Hi Simone, you need to enable Subscribe to Comments in Plugins > Installed. They then just need to select Notify me of follow comments when they write their comments.