27
May
10

writing a blog

Ladies and gents, I have returned from the underworld!

And I’m back to write some more advice. So here goes.

Reader D. M. asks:

this is a ridiculous image.

I kinda' found this image ridiculous. But still. Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m thinking of starting a blog, but I’m not sure how to start. Here are my most urgent, pressing questions about it.

1. How long should a blog entry be? I would like to go a little longer than usual (like 500 to 1000 words). Is that too long?
2. How do you promote a blog?
3. I set up an e-mail specifically for blog feedback that I was going to publish on the blog. Is that a good or bad idea?
4. Here’s a big one: How often should I blog? Once a month seems like enough, but what is a good rate?
5. Do you have to be good at website design? I’m not.

Dear D. M.:

I love numbered lists. It means I can answer with a numbered list!

1. Thanks to the fact that we have all this digital technology, blogs can be as long as you want.  This is both a blessing and a curse. The thing about blogs is that people can get bored with them easily, and, just like with a book or magazine, quit reading them. The rules about writing for internet interests are a bit weirder than, say, the New Yorker. You’re supposed to break up blocks of text and keep paragraphs short so that the text appeals to the human eye. If people notice your blog is long, they’re going to be less likely to read it. Still, 500 – 1000 words isn’t necessarily too long, depending on your audience, and on how well you write.

2. There are dozens of ways to promote a blog, and many of them are not things I actually do (sadly). Social networks are basically free advertising. Post a link to your blog entries on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — wherever you have a network. In fact, you should make a page on facebook  Make sure you have an RSS feed or a subscription service set up, too, so folks will get emails whenever you write something new. If you’re not averse to paying for advertising, Google Ads and Facebook Ads are both pretty solid and relatively inexpensive ways to go. They’re simple and easy to use, as well. Plus they provide metrics for you, so you can see how well they’re working.

3. An email for blog feedback is a wonderful idea. Just make sure you check it regularly. Most blogs provide a space for comments, but email can be a less public way for people to tell you what they think of your writing. Of course, you should be prepared for the spam that will come with having an email address published on a web site. Think about publishing it as something like “myblogatgmaildotcom” rather than the actual email address, just to avoid a bit more of the spam. Not that I find spam particularly harmful — it’s just annoying.

4. You should blog as often as you can, actually. Once a month isn’t really that much at all. I would say you should blog at least once a week to keep the readership interested in what you’re doing. Otherwise, people will completely forget your blog exists. Most of the really good, popular blogs I know actually do short updates three or four times a day. Content is king in this internet era. You’re not publishing a quarterly magazine, unfortunately. People will wonder why the updates are so infrequent.

5. You definitely don’t have to be good at website design to start a blog. Case in point: me! 🙂 Most blogging sites provide templates that do all the HTML coding for you. WordPress, for instance, does all the work for me. It helps to know a little bit of HTML, just in case your photos do something weird or your headings get out of whack, but really, all you need is a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) editor, and you’re all set.

I’m sure you’ve got other questions, too. Keep ’em coming!

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