It has been over three years since I stepped into the blogging arena. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started, and while I have made many mistakes, I have learned from all of those mistakes. It was June 2007 when I decided to try my hand a blogging, and I am glad that I have kept at it for over three years.
I have been thinking about what I have done with regards to my blog in those three years, some goals that I have achieved, but mainly what I have learned. I decided to share several things that I have learned to help others new to blogging learn quicker than I did.
Some Things I Have Learned While Blogging
Since starting Technically Easy over three years ago, I have learned a lot of that time. Below I list the top 10 things that I have learned over that time. There are many things that could be added to such a list, but I wanted to keep it small, and simple to focus the list on a few points.
- You can’t stop others from copying your work. I decided to put this first since it is a common question that I see come up with regards to blogging. In reality, you can’t prevent others from copying your posts, images, or your other work that you publish online. While you can put a watermark in your images, or disable the right-click button on your blog, there are ways around many of these things. There are, however, other alternatives to finding those that copy your work such as finding RSS scrapers with a WordPress plugin. You may not be able to prevent people from copying your work, but you can take action. Plagiarism Today is a great reference with regards to plagiarism.
- Those large, free link exchanges are worthless – and trouble. When someone starts a blog, or web site for that matter, for the first time, they are usually concerned with generating traffic to their blog. Once of the first places many of them turn to is those large link exchanges. I was one of those people when I first started. Let me tell you, they are useless in that you get no real quality backlink to your site. The link to your site will usually be placed on a page with about a thousand other links, on a site that gets no real traffic, and is usually banned by Google. Using many of these link exchanges will also get you banned by Google.
- Be social online with sites such as Twitter and Facebook. This is a point that I am still learning – the being social part. I have had a Twitter and Facebook account for some time, but haven’t really taking advantage of them. Many of the other bloggers that I have met online use such sites to promote their blog, and they seem to have a larger following than me. I have just started to become more active in the social media world, but if you are new, I would advice you to join this world sooner rather than later.
- Be social on your blog. In addition to the previous point, it is also important that you don’t publish it, and forget it. In the past few months I have been replying to all the comments on my blog, as best as I can. It is important that when you start out to reply to many of those that leave a comment. The comments of your blog are a great place to converse with your visitors, so it is important to be part of the conversation.
- Don’t delete comments that disagree with your opinion. You will probably receive many comments that don’t agree with what you have said, but it is important not to delete those comments. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so it is important to give your visitors a chance to voice theirs. I have had several comments that haven’t agreed with what I wrote, but I kept them as is, without modification, on my blog. I will, however, remove comments that are hateful to others.
- Leave meaningful, value-added comments on other blogs . While it important to respond to comments on your blog, it is also important to visit other blogs and add your thoughts to the conversations that are developing there as well. When you do leave a comment, ensure it adds to the conversation, and adds value to what was said. Don’t leave comments such as “great post” as these types of comments are useless and are usually deleted.
- Don’t choose a niche that is too broad. This is a point that I didn’t think about when I first started Technically Easy. I chose to write about technology in general, which is a very broad niche. This has caused me to split my writing among various topics, which probably also contributes to less RSS subscribers than a well-defined niche blog of a similar size. Many of my subscribers are probably looking for a post about a specific topic, which I may not publish for weeks on end, so they may drop the subscription. When starting a blog, choose a more defined niche – one that you enjoy writing about.
- Join sites and networks that are related to your blog’s niche – become an expert. There are pretty much sites, forums, and networks online about every niche you can think of for your blog. You should search for them and then join their community. Once you engage with others in topics pertaining to your niche, you may begin to be known as an expert in your niche, which helps to add credibility to both you and your blog. Expert-authored blogs usually do really well.
- Provide value to your visitors, and readers. The value I try to add is by helping others solve the issues they face with using such things as computers, routers, security, and blogging. Some of my best posts are “how to” articles that provided step-by-step instructions on performing a task. Other value might be such things as providing free ebooks, or a blog that engages in conversation. Every blog will measure value differently, but it is important to provide value to your readers. Everyone likes something that has value-added.
- Keep your blog design simple. While this may seem like a personal preference, it can at times be shared by many who visit blogs. I have been to many blogs where there are hundreds of widgets, ads, and other items loaded in the sidebars of every page. Loading all the widgets from all your social sites can bog down your blog, taking it forever to load, and hiding much of the navigation links. Keep your blog as clutter free as possible, providing only a few widgets to your visitors. Chances are many of your visitors won’t care that your last visitor came from Bayannuur, Mongolia.