It amazes me how many bloggers spent an inordinate amount of time trying to improve their hits, comments, etc. that they forget the most important element in having a good blog. If the content is found lacking then often it doesn’t matter how pretty your site is, or how often your site gets hit. The content of your blog is what separates the good from the bad, and the visited to the not visited.
What will follow are tips that will help to ensure that your sphere of influence in the blogging realm will continue to grow. Remember that this year’s Time magazine’s person of the year is: “You,” and that pronoun refers to the people who are generating influential, thought-provoking content through the Internet medium.
The suggestions will cover a range of issues from syndication to structure and back again. I hope it encourages the reader to be mindful and to create meaningful blog content.
Remember Your Syndication
Why does RSS exist? It exists to all my content to be portable across applications. I no longer have to worry about visiting my favorite sites to get updates, because now I am notified. In my RSS reader, I don’t care what your website looks like, because all I see is your content. If the content lacks in quality then it will eventually be removed from my list.
Further, sites such as 9 Rules do a good job of ensuring that the best writers get the recognition over those with the flashiest sites. It’s true that many of them look fantastic and have fantastic content, but they make their judgments on who has the best content.
Writing with Well-Structured Content
Being readable is also a fundamental principle in ensuring that your now well-written content gets read. It seems all-to-often that good web writing structure gets lost in the mix of making sure that our blog reflects the latest design trends. Remember the 7th grade when you learned about topic sentences, grammar, and other methods to make your writing look intelligent? Go ahead, use them, don’t be afraid.
Structuring your content into a readable format is also helpful. Give bold headlines to each section of your article, and always use a overview and concluding statement (that should reflect one another). Be poignant in your article, and stick to your thesis. It will go a long way to ensuring that your message is clearly conveyed. Remember that your readers (and you as well) scan and not read most content on the Internet. Give them a reason to stay around and hear all your thoughts. Be sure to exercise brevity whenever possible, and avoid using needless words
to convey your ideas.
Jakob Nielson gives us some good tips pertaining to writing for the web.
- 79% of users scan the page instead of reading word-for-word
- Reading from computer screens is 25% slower than from paper
- Web content should have 50% of the word count of its paper equivalent
The Need For Consistently New Content
There is nothing worse than a deceased blog. Imagine the hundreds of Blogger and Xanga accounts that haven’t been updated in two years. Most people tend to give up, because they don’t see a drastic surge in comments, hits, and publicity. They need to remember that those things don’t come instantly. It’s kind of like losing weight. How many people do you know that get excited to work out and eat healthy only to get discouraged when they don’t see immediate results? Sadly, they often end up reverting to their old manner of living.
The popular bloggers out there didn’t start writing one day and have 1,000 subscribers to their feed. They spend time and energy writing fresh content continually for a sustained amount of time. If your users come back again and again only to find old content, they won’t be doing that much longer.
Write with Passion Not Passivity
I can’t tell you how many blogs I go to that write in a lackadaisical manner. Who would want to continue to read content that doesn’t display and promote passion concerning the issue at hand? I always want to ensure that I don’t just write to write, although it’s an easy thing to do. You’ve got readers that want new content (see point above), and it’s easy to write content that is sub-par at best simply for the sake of writing. But I’ve found that I have to make sure that the content I write concerns something that I’m concerned about. Your passion for the topic at hand will be conveyed, and it will encourage the reader to action (especially if it’s a persuasive writing).
Just remember that consistently updating your blog doesn’t mean throwing anything out there. Be mindful that your readers come and keep coming back, because they feel your writing has something that can benefit them. Don’t write half-heartedly, but instead write with a sense of purpose.
Engage Your Readers
The last thing worth mentioning is that you write a blog, and there are certain expectations associated with that. I can’t understand why anyone (who isn’t insanely popular and prone to bad comments) would have a blog without the ability to interact with the writer. I tend to get discouraged if I can’t ask a question or throw in my $.02 on the article.
It’s also not enough to just allow comments, you have to be willing to engage your readers and satisfy their inquiries and/or comments. Make interacting with you a joyful, interactive process and not a laborious one. It will keep them coming back, and it will get people to actually visit your site instead of just reading it in their RSS reader. Be sure also that if someone comes to your blog then for heaven’s sake, it won’t hurt you to visit their site and participate.
Think about what you would expect and how you behave on someone else’s blog site. If you expect a certain degree of readability, interactivity, etc. then be sure to extend that to your readers. It will go along way to ensuring that your online experience, and your readers, will be satisfying and worthwhile.
(This essay was written and published for the Weblog Tools Essay Competition.)