Monday, March 20, 2017

A List of Blogging Dos & Don'ts

by Edie Melson 
@EdieMelson

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!
  • 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


5 comments:

  1. I love that your blog has a strong font on the almost white background. I visit several blogs and a couple of them have white backgrounds with very thin fonts which make the blog very hard to read. I won't stop reading their blogs because the content is so good, but...

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  2. Edie, You always have words of wisdom. Thank you for refocusing me. I sometimes forget that the main purpose of blogging is to build relationships and not just followers.

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  3. I didn't realize the Times New Roman font was a serif font. I really don't see any flourishes at the end of the letters. I will try to research this so I can do better about things like this.

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  4. Thanks for these tips, Edie . . . good to know I'm headed in the right direction!

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