All too often, I get the following from a new blogger at my organization:
BLOG IDEAS (Photo credit: owenwbrown)
”It’s so daunting trying to blog. I can’t think of what to blog about, and I don’t have the first idea how to get started or what to do. This seems really difficult!”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Most of the concerns I hear from relative newcomers to blogging revolve around the fear of the unknown. With a little education and repetition, content creation does not have to be a daunting task.
Here are the answers to the most common questions and concerns I see from new bloggers:
How Often Should I Blog?
In order to grow readership over time, you need to post a minimum of one blog post per week. Two per week is better, and once a day is the best. If you blog less frequently than once per week, your audience will grow very slowly, if at all.
How Long Should My Posts Be?
Although this is a largely personal choice, best practices seem to indicate that you should stay on a focused topic throughout the length of a blog post. A few paragraphs on a very narrow topic is better than a textbook with five of six topics covered. Somewhere between 250 and 1000 words is probably about right.
What Time of Day or Day of the Week Should I Blog?
The answer to this depends on the topic of your blog, and your audience. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- Who is your most likely audience?
- What is the most likely day of the week that they will be able to read your blog?
- How are you going to reach them proactively? (more on this later)
- Publish posts in the morning (in whichever time zone your audience is)
- Try not to publish posts on Mondays or Fridays if you’re trying to attract an audience while they are at work
- Think about publishing a post on weekends if you’re trying to cater to hobbyists or an audience that might have more time to read blogs on weekends
- For a business audience, I’ve found that the best days of the week to post are Tuesdays and Thursdays. Your mileage may vary depending on your audience
- I have also seen spikes late in the evenings if you’re trying to cater to working parents. I have to assume that this happens because they’re trying to catch up on their internet reading after the kids are in bed
I’m Running out of Ideas! How can I Stay Inspired?
This is the most common question and the most likely source of fear, uncertainty, and doubt among new bloggers. The easiest answer is to have a very large stable of ideas before you even have a blog site.
I try to maintain a notepad document on my desktop called “blogs”. Anytime I’m reading something on the internet that’s related to the blog I write, I consider it to be an opportunity to get inspired. If something I am reading about social media or communities causes me to have a really strong opinion, I do the following:
- Open up my “blogs” file
- Write a note about the blog idea
- Link to the content that inspired me
When it’s time to write a blog post, I just open up my “blogs” file, pick a topic, and start writing!
Here are some other ideas:
- Comment on some other bloggers’ postings. Link back to their post(s), and talk about why you agree/disagree with them.
- Comment about a big move in the marketplace you cater to.
- Read the news about your market, and take notes on things that inspire you.
- If you’re in a business meeting with your laptop, and you get inspired, open up your blogs file and take notes. It’ll just look like you’re taking notes during the meeting!
Is it Bad Form to Call Out My Competitors by Name?
In general, it’s better to refer to “your competition” in a generic sense. If you provide enough detail, they’re going to know you’re talking about them anyways. If it’s a specific piece of news, you can still refer to them in the generic, and link to the news story that talks about them specifically.
Regardless of whether you use your competitions’ name, there is one simple rule that you need to follow:
Always show respect to your competition, even if they do not show respect to you or your organization.
Why Isn’t Anyone Reading My Blog?
This is the biggest source of disappointment I’ve seen from new bloggers. They built a blog, they write compelling content, and nobody reads it. The reasons usually come in three flavors:
- Potential audience size
- Lack of marketing
- SEO issues with the site
Not much you can do about #1. Unfortunately, that’s the least likely cause of your problems. #2 is the most common; you can write all day long and write really compelling stuff, but if you don’t make an effort to put it out there, your audience will grow extremely slowly. Meanwhile, the author gets frustrated at the lack of readership, and blogs less often, exacerbating the readership problem.
Suggestions to get your work out there:
- Start a Facebook and/or Twitter account, and syndicate your postings to those accounts. Spend time every week (an hour or so) finding and following people talking about the same topics on Twitter. A lot of them follow you back.
- Spend a half-hour after you publish a blog post looking for other blogs, forums, or online social networks that are talking about the topic you just blogged about. Post on their forums and link back to your post. If your blog was a response or a retort about someone else’s content, make sure to post on their blog pointing them to yours.
In short, work to get your content out there, and your audience will grow faster.
Why Aren’t More People Commenting on My Blog?
This is another source of common angst among bloggers. This is the facet of blogging that takes the most time to build. Comments will start eventually coming in once your audience gets to know you. Suggestions:
- Ask questions in your blog post. Ask for opinions.
- When someone DOES comment, make sure to answer them, even if it’s just to thank them for their compliment/criticism.
- Engage with someone who comments outside of your blog by sending them an email or following them on a social network.
I’ll also be writing another post in a few weeks about link trading, which is a great way to get more traffic to your blog.
If you have any questions about blogging, post them in the comments section!
Until next time!