Friday, June 16, 2017

Blogging Dos & Blogging Don'ts

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Learn the basics of successful blogging
I love to blog, and I try to share my love of blogging when I teach at writing conferences.

I also know that many of you aren’t such fans. Many try to love blogging because it’s a good way to connect with readers and build an online presence. Others, don’t even try to love it, but do it out of necessity. The rest are like me, and enjoy the process as well as the connections it brings.

No matter where you are with blogging, it’s important to do it well. Whether you blog twice a month on a group blog, or daily on your own site, there are some essential dos and don’ts of blogging that I’d like to share today.

Blogging is a great way to build relationships with our audience. 

But a lot of people forget that, just like building relationship in person, it’s never a good idea to talk so much that others don’t have a chance to share their thoughts. 

I often visit blogs where I want to ask the blogger, “Are you blogging or lecturing?” There are things we can do to make sure our posts encourage conversation. And there are things we can do that discourage interaction.

The Dos of Blogging
  • End every blog post with an open-ended question. It’s not enough to ask a question at the end of the post. We must make sure the answer to the question isn’t just yes or no.
  • Make sure the question posed doesn’t have an assumed right or wrong answer. This will shut down conversation even faster than a yes or no question. If we ask a question that has a definite right or wrong answer, very few people will be willing to risk the wrong answer. And after several have answered the question correctly, we’ll find no one else is answering because they feel like everything that needs to be said has been said.
  • Ask readers to share an experience that relates to the post. Sometimes a blog post won’t lend itself to a question. In those instances we can encourage our audience to share their experience.
  • Ask readers to add to a list of suggestions or tips that have been shared. I do that a lot on here. (And I’ll do it at the end of this post.) Again, if a question isn’t appropriate or feel right, ask them to contribute to the topic already introduced.
  • Avoid using the pronoun you whenever possible. This is especially true if the post is pointing out something negative. Using the word you carries a finger-pointing connotation that we want to avoid. For example, in the point above, I would never say, “you must make sure the answer to the question isn’t just yes or no.” Instead, I phrased it, “We must make sure the answer to the question isn’t just yes or no.” 
  • Share your own personal experience. If we’re asking someone else to share, we need to make sure our blogs are a safe place for that. Going first rarely feels safe. So I always try to make sure I share my own experience before asking my readers to share theirs.
  • Always try to answer blog comments. This doesn’t mean every single comment has to be answered individually, although I do try to do that. It’s important that your readers don’t feel like they’re commenting to nobody.
  • Do Keep a Schedule: I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it until the day I die. If we expect our readers to come back regularly, we must be dependable. How often would you visit a business if you never knew whether or not it would be open? If we don’t have a new post up when we say we will, it’s like we’re not open for business.
  • Do Include Social Media Links in Your Sidebar: Don’t miss out on valuable connections on other networks just because you’ve forgotten to add social media links to your blog.
  • Do Use Proper Formatting & Images: This means utilize bold headings, bullet points, and images to illustrate your posts. Proper formatting will break up the text and make the blog easier to be read. Make your post scannable. This proves your post’s value and makes it more likely to be read.    
The Don’ts of Blogging
  • Don’t Make Your Post too Long: The ideal post length is between 500-700 words. Any longer and it’s much less likely to be read. Yes, there are exceptions. But those exceptions are just that, and many bloggers I talk to think they're the exception but they aren’t. It’s a hard truth, but shorter posts will up the engagement and readership of 98% of the blogs out there.
  • Don’t Make Your Blog Hard to Read: Make sure the font used is a sans-serif font, like the one used here, which is VERDANA. As opposed to a serif font, like this one: Times New Roman. Also make sure your font is large enough to be easily read. Finally, be careful which colors you choose for your blog.
  • Don’t Use Vague Titles for Blog Posts: Our audience will judge our posts on the expectations we set in the titles we choose. Also, social media is often a world without context. Use this question when choosing a title: If someone were to only read the title, would they know what the post was about? If the answer’s no, then choose another title.
  • Don’t Clutter Your Blog’s Sidebar: The sidebar of our blogs should be organized in the order of importance. If the most important thing to you is having people sign up for updates for your blog, then email and RSS signups should be at the top of your sidebar. If it’s hard for people to find your sign up or your social media links, you’re missing out on building your online audience.
Remember the main purpose of blogging is building relationships. 

To build those relationships, we have to be good hosts when it comes to our blogs and make our readers fee welcome. We have to make it a place where people want to visit and want join the conversation. 

What makes you feel welcome when you visit a blog? What turns you off? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

TWEETABLES

17 comments:

  1. I'm there to learn and possibly share. Feeling safe and welcome is critical.
    Jay Wright

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  2. As a reader, I most appreciate the blogger taking the time to respond to my comment. As a blogger, responding is something I strive to do, even when a rogue comment from a past blog pops up. People lead busy lives so if someone takes a moment to share their thoughts on my blog, I want to honor their voice, as well as their time. Great advice, Edie. :)

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    1. Cathy, thanks for chiming in about this! blessings, E

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  3. Hi Edie, I love this post. You have helped me more than you know. What bothers me is going to a blog and the name of the author and/or a picture is not on the page. I like to know the author and see a face.

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    1. Cherrilynn, that's one of my pet peeves too! Blessings, E

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  4. Great tips, Edie. Thanks. I have two questions. First, what does it mean to make your post "scannable" (does it have to do with a scanner, somehow?) and how do you do that? What are good and bad colors for a blog post?

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    1. Ellen, scannable means someone can glance through a post and get enough information to reassure them the information in the post is valuable enough to take time to read. Good colors are a light background with dark text. Blessings, E

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  5. Thanks for the tips, Edie! For me, the biggest turn off when visiting a blog post is when I get a pop up window or add. Too much clutter on the page is also distracting.

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    1. Ingmar, that irritates me too. Unfortunately it also works when done right. If a site has a pop up that only appears once and can be easily declined (to keep down frustration) it will result in many more followers. It's a personal decision on whether to use one or not. Blessings, E

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  6. Blogs with light, colored backgrounds and tiny print are almost impossible to read. It's also important to be able to navigate easily to find what you're looking for. I once went to a blog site and searched it thoroughly. No name, photo, or contact info. Needless to say, I didn't go back. :)

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    1. Andrea, I greatly prefer light backgrounds, but small hard-to-read fonts sent me off the site as quick as possible! Blessings, E

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  7. Edie, I so appreciate this post. As I looked at my own sidebar, I see some changes I can and am beginning to make. I have one question for you. I have a brief bio up under my gravatar pic. I've noticed you don't include a bio on the home page. Is it better to just save the information about me for my About page? I'd love your thoughts. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I can always use it! ;)

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  8. Thanks. Excellent blog. I'm attracted to websites that provide useful information. In most of my Google searches, that is NOT a Blog.

    I avoid leaving my contact information. I'm already inundated by hundreds of emails with people trying to get my attention for whatever they are promoting. I delete most of them without reading them.

    The quickest thing that will cause me to leave a website is an annoying pop-up that will not allow me to easily get out of it.

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  9. Great information, Edie! I'm soaking up as much information as I can, since I'm planning a new blog with a new brand.
    Thanks for all you do!

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  10. Oh, almost forgot. Your book is amazing! So helpful with all the tips.

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  11. Thanks for the helpful blogging points, Edie. You are the best social media guru I have encountered. The Connections workbook is a must for every serious blogger. Keep up the good work and be blessed.

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