Sisterly Advice for New Bloggers

A couple of weeks ago my family and I all received an email from my brother, informing the family that he had decided to start a blog. I was overjoyed to welcome him to the blogosphere and was glad that, as an already talented writer, he decided to try his hand at a new medium.

Then, the other day, I received another email from my brother, this time asking me how exactly to get his blog ‘out there.’ And there you have it, the age-old question (or at least digital age-old question): Now that you’ve decided to write about something, how do you get people to read it?

The following is the email I sent him in reply:

Dear —-,

The bad news: There is no easy, one-step magic trick to getting a blog
“out there.”
The good news: Your problem is exactly the sort of work that I’m
looking for a career in, so I’d be happy to try my hand at helping you out.

Basically, what you’re asking about is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
People make careers out of driving traffic to websites, but alas you
are not a multi-million dollar corporation and I am but a mere novice
in the ways of SEO. Still, I’ll do my best to give you some quick and
easy tips, especially ones that I have followed with my own blog.

Now, keep in mind, my blog is no best-seller. It took me months to
get the limited readership that I have. Yes, sad but true, the basic rule of thumb is
that increasing traffic will take time– perhaps not months, but time
nonetheless.

First off, I hate to admit it to you, but don’t forget that in all
actuality, your blog’s premise isn’t unique (Sorry. Harsh. I know.) In
fact, you would be hard put to find any topic to write a blog on that
would be unique nowadays. It is the content, rather, that
sets a blog apart.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and I’ll give you some basic SEO
techniques:

1) Link your social media: I noticed you have already used Facebook to
publicize your blog, now go a step further. I suggest making a unique
Twitter account for your blog. You can then feature your tweets right
on your website. Also, you’ll be reaching a completely different
audience.  I also have a Tumblr, which you might want to look
into. There are also YouTube accounts, Stumbled Upon, Flickr, Digg,
MySpace, even LinkedIn. Whatever your feel will work best for you. And
then– connect!

2) Search Phrases: Use unique and specific tags for your posts. When
you just label something as ‘video games’ or ‘books,’ imagine the
number of search results that show up before your own. Be specific and
feel free to be liberal with the amount of tags you have. Also, the
words on the site itself all are put into some crazy mathematical
equation that determines your sequence in search results. I’ve found
that people have been driven to my site even by the words used in
images that I post. You can figure these things out by looking at your
WordPress stats. So be creative and feel free to be wordy.

3) Keep your content fresh, relevant, and user-friendly: Seems simple
enough, true, but just keep it in mind. Make sure that when a person
stumbles upon you after searching, they are getting exactly what they
are searching for. As far as keeping content fresh– you seem to be
doing that well. One thing I will point out is the ‘user-friendly’
aspect. Try not to let your posts get too looooong. While for some blog
readers, that’s not a problem, for others is a major deterrent. It’s
overwhelming to scroll down the length of a page and see that the post
you are (or were) about to read is much lengthier than you had
expected. I understand you’re not used to writing for this specific
format, but just keep in mind that it is a different format. Just like
you wouldn’t write a novel like a lab report, or vice versa, you don’t
write a blog post like a novel. I highly suggest looking at one of my
posts for further instructions on this front
(https://tessarickart.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/10-tips-of-blogging-tip-taking-blogger/).

4) Reciprocate: I know that you said you’ve been scouring the
blogosphere and to that I say: carry on. Also, comment back when you
do get comments. Visit other blogs and comment. If you see posts that
relate back to your own, comment and suggest that they take a look at
one of your posts (see my stealthy use of this tactic above).

I hope some of these ideas help. Like I said before, it’s not an
overnight process. It takes work and time. Just don’t become
discouraged. Stick to it.


Your fellow blogger,
Tessa

10 Tips of Blogging & a Tip Taking Blogger

I came across an article on Ragan.com today that claimed to reveal “10 tips for writing for the web.” While I usually tend to avoid these sorts of lists, for better or for worse, I decided to take a quick look and evaluate my own blog by these standards.

Here’s the list of ten, as well as an appraisal of my own blog. Spoiler alert: I might need to write less in future posts.

Here are 10 tips to help you write better Web copy:

1.  Keep it short

  • And right out of the gate, we see one of my first biggest problems. I understand that we have a tendency to scan articles– be it online or in the newspaper– but I just can’t stop myself from being overly verbose at times. I like words, and I also like getting my point across– as long windedly as possible.

2. Make your last point first

  • I always try to do this, especially because I know I am capable of quite random tangents. This is kind of liking stating your thesis in the introduction to a paper. The concept seems like common sense, but working as a writing tutor for the past four years has opened me up to a whole new world ‘college-level’ writing.

3. Keep paragraphs short

  • Once again, back to our tendency to scan. The appearance of large blocks of texts can be intimidating and must certainly scare-off the most timid of readers. Instead, and I feel like I’ve mastered this skill quite well, it’s important to keep paragraphs short and succinct. Check! What else you got?
  • (Oh, and by the way, I thought it was interesting to note that the article suggests checking out the BBC website, “one of the major U.K online media sites where content is written specifically for the Web.” And yes, I checked, this article is British-based).

4. Use numbered lists and bullets

  • While this particular post certainly meets those requirements, I can’t say I use lists/bullets on a regular basis. Note to self: make more lists– grocery lists, to-do lists, favorite things lists– and post them. Okay, maybe the topics of my lists need a bit of work…

5. Use emphasis/bold

  • I hereby solemnly swear to place more emphasis on my words, to use bold type more liberally, and to underline to my heart’s content.

6. Use links

  • I always try to provide as many relevant links as possible. If people are actually taken the time to read what I write, I can only assume they have some sort of actual interest in the topic. Therefore, it would be only natural that they would want to follow up on it. I like to make that easy for them! Plus, when credit is due, I feel a necessary obligation to give it.

7. Use headings and subheadings

  • I do not do this. I don’t think at all. But note to self– good idea. This is another helpful way for me to learn to break-up my wordy paragraphs. As the article states, these headings/subheadings act as “anchor points,” and I certainly don’t want anyone sailing away from my page!

8. Avoid ‘big’ words and marketing speak

  • I don’t think I use any jargon, or ‘marketing speak,’ but I would have to go back and look. As to ‘big’ words– it depends on the audience. I don’t think I exercise my vocabulary too liberally on this site, but then again…who knows? Well, I shall attempt my foremost to abstain from indulging in the employment of gratuitus prouncements.

9. Think carefully about the headline

  • Some posts are easier than others to come up with witty titles for. I always try to post my blogs with fun, attention-gathering names. For instance, as I write this very sentence, I’m try to think up some sort of clever play of words for the title. This might end in failure, however, and I’ll just have to hope that a listing above my blog is incredibly witty and a user mistakenly clicks on mine instead– only to find this wonderous trove of treasure!

10. Don’t forget SEO

  • SEO, Search Engine Optimization. When everyone and their mom ( I really do hate that expression) has a blog, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Especially those times when you fail to produce a witty title, you can at least include as many key words as possible to increase the chances of that blog post showing up during a search. For blogs such as WordPress, you can use the tag posts to help with this. In fact, I like to tag my posts with as many words as possible, meaning that I get a big A+ in this category.

My conclusion?

Well, my blog certainly isn’t perfect, but whose is? I feel like this list makes valid points, and I’ll certainly attempt to follow the 10 tips. What do you think? Anything this list got wrong? Anything you would add?

I’m open for suggestions. Oh, and I’m surprised it didn’t include anything about pictures. I love adding pictures.