This was originally posted on June 18, 2008...it seemed to be helpful to some, so I thought I'd bring it back to the top for those who missed it the first time. Plus, I've added a few more tips.
So, several people have asked me for some blogging tips. It seems that Tricia and I have helped to inspire several people to begin blogging, which I think can be a good thing. Blogs can be fun and informative and even impacting, sometimes. But, they can also be used for a whole lot of nasty stuff as well. Here are a few tips I have if you're just starting out. Some of these tips are just my personal opinion, and some are pretty tried and true.
> Decide what the purpose of your blog is going to be. Whether it's to share your life with family and friends, create discussion about certain topics, educate people about a particular subject, etc. Whether you don't care about readers or hope that you'll retain a large amount of regular readers. It will be extremely helpful if you and your readers know what your blog is all about so that you and they can know what to expect.
> Don't start a blog unless you're serious about continuing on with it for however long you're willing to commit. Nothing's more frustrating that getting involved in a good blog (as a reader), only to have the author stop posting for no good reason.
> Pick a blog title that is descriptive. It can be funny, or cute or matter-of-fact...just make sure that it describes what your blog is about. I check out blogs every now and then just because I see an interesting blog title, and it can be frustrating when the blog seemingly has nothing to do with it's witty title. I have three blogs that I update regularly, and all three have titles that are descriptive to a certain extent. Again, it will help your readers to know what to expect.
> Blog about what you're passionate about. I'm passionate about the things/people I blog about here on CFHusband, which makes it easy to write often, and gives my readers the feeling that I mean what I say (and say what I mean). I believe, that blogging is both at it's best and worst when people are compassionately honest. The key is speaking the truth in love. I've lost a lot of readers because my writing is not always butterflies and cotton candy, which is a bummer, but a reality. But, I've gained a ton of readers for the same reason, which is very cool.
> Find your niche. Don't be hesitant to read other blogs and borrow from their writing style, topics, themes, but don't feel like you've got to do everything that every other cool blogger is doing. My blog is unique for many reasons, most of which have come naturally and simply from my own personality and preferences. Most of the time, when I try to copy something unique that other bloggers are doing, it just doesn't work or feel right...I've got to be me and blog in the way that feels natural and fun.
> If you're wanting people (other than family and friends) to read your blog on a consistent basis, you'll need to commit to posting, at least, a few times per week. I've discovered, as an author and reader, people quickly lose interest if you don't post every 3-5 days. And, obviously, the more you post about the stuff your passionate about, the more people want to read.
> If you want to build your readership, invest some time into reading and commenting on other blogs that are similar to yours. Blogging is a great way to connect with other people like yourself, and the best way to do that is to seriously become interested in other people. Having said that, there's nothing I hate more than people who comment on my blog JUST to try to get people to go read their blog...BLAH! Keep your motives true.
>Link like there's no tomorrow. Anytime you mention something that your average blog reader may not be familiar with, link to a story/article/website where they can learn more. Anytime you mention a specific movie, person, website, book, etc., link it so your readers can have more to look at. Most people read, to a certain extent, to learn something new, so give them as much info as possible without having to spell everything out by writing it yourself. Linking makes it easy for you and your readers to get the most out of your blog. Just make sure your links are trustworthy.
> Unless you want to deal with idiot comments from idiot people (and by "idiot", I mean people who comment only to be incredibly nasty/cruel), either limit comments to only people who have blogger accounts or enable comment moderation. This is the only big thing I would do differently from the start with my blog if I could. 'Nuff said.
> Prepare for the trolls. An internet troll is someone (usually anonymous, but not always) who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion. If you're blogging, about anything, you will eventually attract a troll or two...just trust me on that. Know ahead of time how you're going to deal with the mean, nasty, hurtful and ignorant comments. If you want my advice, see my last tip and simply choose to delete and ignore.
> Keep the clutter to a minimum and the organization to a maximum. There's nothing worse, IMO, than a blog that is cluttered with an unorganized mess of pictures, videos, links, music playlists, etc. It's not bad to have all of those things, just try to present them in an organized way. Aesthetics go a long way in making people feel welcome and comfortable when reading your blog.
> Label everything! Whether you have a minimum number of labels, or a whole lot like me, label every one of your posts as well as anything you have listed on your sidebar(s). This will not only make it much easier for you to find something you wrote five months ago, it will also give your readers more accessibility to everything your blog has to offer. I get asked the same questions over and over again, mostly by newer people who missed it the first time I gave a piece on info, and while I'd love to answer every question, every time, I just don't have the time. Give your readers the resources to answer their own questions (and don't get too frustrated when, no matter how many different ways you link CFF.org and GOOGLE.com, people still ask you for a piece of info that they could easily find themselves in 30 seconds).
> Write in short paragraphs like a normal person. If you want people to enjoy reading your blog, please, break your posts into smaller paragraphs. It just makes it easier to read. My brain just cannot concentrate long enough to make it very far through on a 500 word paragraph. End of story.
> Unless you want to cause early blindness among your readers, stay away from the following in your posts: - White font on black background (or anything similar). - Yellow font on white background (or anything similar). - Red font on any background for more than a few words. - Bright, Neon colors, especially pink and yellow. - Multiple colors of fonts in one post. Seriously. Just trust me. Please. Check out this good Color Palate Website for help in coming up with a good color scheme for your blog. You may be the most creative, eloquent writer on the face of the planet, but if you're blog isn't aesthetically pleasing, you won't have many return readers.
> Also stay away from using the following words (at least, excessively): - Random - Musings - Ponderings Do a google blog search for any of these words sometime...it's not that they're bad words, it's just that everyone and their great uncle uses them on their blog too. Unless you like getting lost in the crowd, or you really are random, or you have some seriously deep and/or funny musings and ponderings (check my sil, Janet's blog for a good example of seriously funny "musings"), just avoid using them. (and by "seriously", I don't mean that your mom or kid brother tells you how random you are...ever watch the American Idol auditions?)
Anyway, there are my slightly sarcastic, but completely honest tips on blogging. Take 'em or leave 'em. Don't be offended if your blog doesn't follow all of my tips, unless you think I'm really that important, which you shouldn't, unless that also means you're going to include me in your will, which you really shouldn't do either.