“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” ~ Steven Wright
Last month, if you’ll remember, I talked about starting a blog. I began with a reality check, which I’ll repeat here: Blogging can be a great marketing tool, but it takes a lot of work to keep one up. And don’t expect riches!
I gave you four other tips as well: make sure you have something to say, know your goals, identify your audience, and read other blogs. Those tips are just as important when you sit down to write individual posts, too.
Remember my second cousin Flora, the cat lady? I told you about her last month. She has a blog called “Cats.” I’m afraid it’s not very good. The background is hot pink, the text is yellow, and there’s a hamster dancing around in the corner. As soon as you enter the site, you hear the song for the Chicken Dance. I’m pretty sure she has posted every single picture she’s ever taken of her 34 cats, including the pictures that are blurry and underexposed. Plus, she adds lots of kitty pictures off the web. Oh, and a recipe for Flora’s Skinny Butterscotch Potatoes. And that was just yesterday.
Thank goodness she only posts about three times a year!
So let’s start with content. What makes a good blog post? Well, if you’re a beginner, it should probably be short and cover just one topic. I don’t know about you, but when I open a blog and I see a wall of words, my eyes kind of glaze over. I’m a lot more likely to read a post that’s just a paragraph or two. But it’s got to be interesting. Pictures are nice, too, but watch for copyright issues. You should also include Internet links to your sources if you can.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to sound like a writer. Flowery will get you nowhere. The best writers are the ones where you don’t notice that they’re writing.
Now, it’s all well and good to blog. It’s a lot more fun if you can actually get people to read it. There are a few ways to do that. First and foremost is the content and design. It does you no good to get people to your blog if there’s nothing worth looking at. So make sure the design is clean, attractive, and the site loads quickly – and make sure you’ve done your best on the content.
Another tip: Think carefully when you name your blog. The name should be unique and interesting. Here’s a little homework assignment: Google “real estate blog.” Which blogs are you most interested in visiting? Which ones sound like all the others?
When you’re learning about Internet marketing, you’ll hear a lot of talk about keywords and search terms. Some blog platforms will let you identify keywords or tags – common words someone might use for an Internet search – to help bring in visitors. For professional sites, search words are important, and you’ll want to title each post with that in mind. However, given the choice between a good search term and good writing, good writing should win every time.
Here are some other ways to get your blog noticed: visit other blogs and comment on their posts, with a link to your blog. Add your blog address to your business cards and marketing materials. Join a network of blogs, and find out how to win blogging awards. Develop relationships with other bloggers. Invite a well-known blogger to write a guest post for you.
Once you’ve got your blog up and running and you’re getting some traffic, you’ll want to grow your readership. This will probably happen slowly over time. The three most important factors here are the quality of the content, how often you post, and how easy you are to visit.
Post as often as you can, and make it high quality. It’s no fun to visit a blog that never changes. Many successful blogs post several times a day. You don’t have to do that, but you should at least blog once a week, even if it’s just a paragraph.
Another way to build readership is to make sure you’re set up for RSS. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” If you have an RSS link on your blog, people can subscribe to it. They’ll get a notice every time you post, and you’ll get the pleasure of watching the number of visitors rise.
Clean. Well-written. Frequent. Easily accessible. Those are just a few keys to successful blogging. Past that, just have fun. If you enjoy what you’re doing, your enthusiasm will be contagious!