General Blogging Tips
Friday, March 30th, 2012
“Above the fold” is a term that was originally used to describe the top half of the newspaper, the part you would see first because papers arrived folded. The most important information was always placed “above the fold.”
Today, this term is used in web design to describe the part of the page a visitor sees without having to scroll down in their browser window. Again, this is the part of the page where you want to place your most important information.
But when we usually talk about “above the fold” on websites, we’re discussing static websites built for selling, not blogs. Does “above the fold” even matter in blogging?
Of course it does! As with newspapers and other websites, it’s important that you place your most important elements “above the fold” on your blog. Which elements should earn this coveted space?
- Subscription button—One of the most important things that you need to do to build a successful blog is to attract an audience of loyal readers. That’s why you need to build up your list of subscribers. The more subscribers you have, the bigger and more successful your blog will be. That’s why it’s so important that you place your subscription button “above the fold”. It should be among the first things a visitor sees when landing on your blog, and it should compel them to click and subscribe.
- Your branding—There are millions of blogs crowding the web. Even in your niche, there are likely thousands of other blogs fighting for the attention of your target audience. A key to differentiating your blog is to brand it. You need a unique name, look, and logo for your blog so that it stands out from all the others. You want your blog to become a known brand. So, you should create your branding and place it “above the fold” on your blog.
- Blog content—You can’t have a blog if you don’t have content. When you get down to it, your content is the most important element of your blog. It’s why people come to your blog in the first place, so it only makes sense to make sure your content is featured prominently. When someone arrives at your blog, they shouldn’t have to scroll around to find your content.
Are there any other important elements I missed that should be placed “above the fold” on a blog?
Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
You already know that one of the keys to publishing a blog post that goes viral is to have high-quality, interesting content that readers respond strongly to and want to share. But having great content is only part of the battle. You can create a truly amazing post and still fail at driving tons of traffic to it. What I’m saying is this: Just because you build (write) it, doesn’t mean they (readers) will come.
Chances are that you’ve probably written some really great blog posts…posts that you were certain would go viral, but just didn’t. Why did that great blog post fail to catch on? Here are some possible reasons.
- Your content is difficult to share—You have to make it as easy as possible for your readers to share your content. Make sure you have all the basic social media sharing buttons on your blog, and be sure they’re in a place where they’re easily visible.
- You aren’t encouraging others to spread the word—You’ve written a great post, so you think everyone will automatically share it all across Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, the blogosphere, email, etc. WRONG. Just like anything else, if you want people to do something, you need to ask them to do it. Encourage your blog readers to share the post.
- You don’t have a strong network of promoters—For a blog post to go viral, you need a bunch of people to share it. One of the keys to success is to get the ball rolling quickly by having your network of friends, colleagues, and fellow marketers push it out to their networks. Of course, if you don’t have a strong network in place, you won’t be able to get the ball rolling and your post won’t spread very far.
- You just ran into bad luck—You can’t always manufacture viral marketing success on your blog. Sure, there are many things you can do to put yourself in the best possible position for a post to go viral, but it still takes a pinch of luck for it to actually happen. And Lady Luck isn’t always going to be on your side. Sometimes, you’ll create truly great content that really should have been a smash hit, but it just doesn’t work out. That’s just how it goes sometimes.
What are some other reasons that great blog posts fail to attain viral success?
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
One of the most common tips you’ll hear from “blogging experts” is to create a posting schedule and stick with it. It doesn’t matter if you post daily, a few times a week, once a week, or even once every couple of weeks; the theory is that you need to set a posting schedule and adhere to it so that your readers will know exactly when to expect new content.
Heck, I’ve even preached the importance of setting a blogging schedule on multiple occasions, but lately, I’ve been questioning if this is really sound advice. Surely, there are some drawbacks to creating a blogging schedule, right?
There are. Here are just a few of them.
- Blogging often becomes a chore—When you have to write a new post on a certain day, it’s very easy for blogging to turn into a job, rather than something you’re passionate about. And when that happens, blogger’s burnout often sets in. And when blogger’s burnout sets in, the death of your blog usually isn’t too far away.
- You publish filler content just to meet your schedule—I’ve found that my best posts (in all aspects: quality, traffic, comments, ReTweets, etc.) are the ones I’ve written when I was passionate about something. The thing about passion is that you can’t schedule it. Passion shows up unexpectedly, and it’s difficult to hold onto. When passion isn’t there, you usually end up with forgettable, filler content.
- Your readers might get sick of hearing from you—I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is the oh-so-small chance that your readers might get sick of you if you’re always posting something new. If you’re posting even when you don’t have something particular interesting or useful to say, your readers will tune you out and leave.
Quality Over Quantity
At the end of the day, it comes down to the old quality vs. quantity debate. To me, quality always trumps quality. Substance is what really matters, not regularity. If you’re only posting just because you have to stick to a schedule, you’ll end up with a regular blog that doesn’t excite you or your readers.
What do you think? Is having a blogging schedule perhaps a bad idea?
Friday, March 16th, 2012
Running a business means that you always have more on your plate than you can handle. That’s why it’s important to look for tasks that you can pass off to someone else, so you can focus on handling the most important aspects of growing your business.
That’s why many companies hire bloggers. A busy entrepreneur just doesn’t have the time to write posts on a daily, or even weekly, basis. And let’s face it, most people aren’t great writers to begin with, so hiring a professional blogger just makes good sense on multiple levels.
But sometimes, you might find that the blogger you hire just isn’t the right fit for your company or your social media marketing strategy. How can you tell when it’s time to fire your blogger?
- The blogger doesn’t meet deadlines—Deadlines are important. You have a blog and a business to grow. If you’re not getting new content when you need it, everything will be put on hold while you sit around waiting for your blogger to get you a new post. It’s important that the writer you hire takes deadlines seriously. A missed deadline here or there deserves a warning, but when it becomes a habit, it’s time to cut ties.
- The blogger is obviously pumping out filler content at a feverish pace—Bloggers only get paid when they provide you with new content. Maybe you pay by the post or by the word. The point is the blogger doesn’t get paid until the words are written. Now, the faster the blogger writes, the more profitable the gig is for him. That’s why many writers fall into the nasty habit of cranking out mediocre content as quickly as they can. And while that might be good for their wallets, it’s not good for your blog.
- The blogger is stealing content—Is your blogger lifting content from other blogs? Whether he’s straight up copying-and-pasting it or just spinning it slightly to make it “original” is irrelevant. You can’t publish stolen content on your blog. Period. This is a one-strike-and-you’re-out offense. Immediate termination.
- The blogger doesn’t understand your company’s voice—The writer you hire has to be able to capture the voice of your brand. If your brand communicates one way and your blog sounds totally different, your audience will be confused. You need consistency to build a memorable brand, and if your blogger can’t capture that voice, you need to find someone else who can.
Have you ever fired a blogger? Why did you do it?
Friday, March 2nd, 2012
Today, we continue our “5 reasons _____ sucks” by shifting our focus to blogs. Specifically, we will be focusing on blog writing and the reasons so many bloggers struggle with it.
There are hundreds of millions of blogs online. How many of those do you actually devotedly follow? 5? Maybe less. Personally, I have dozens of blogs that I enjoy, but I really only read maybe 3-5 of them on a daily basis. The rest I could do without.
The truth is that most blogs are forgettable. And most also suck. But why? Why is it that most blog writing sends me running away screaming and wanting to stick sharp objects deep into my eyeballs?
Here are 5 reasons most blog writing sucks.
- It’s all been done before—With hundreds of millions of blogs littering the web, you can bet that there are a lot of other blogs out there focused on the same subjects you’re writing about. And that’s fine, but that means you have to really go out of your way to provide readers with something they can’t find anywhere else. Unfortunately, most bloggers play it safe and simply rewrite and slightly tweak the content they come across on other blogs. The result? A copycat blog that brings nothing new to the table. Why would anyone want to read that?
- It’s trying to be something it’s not—You can find this is any niche. In copywriting, the most popular blog is probably Copyblogger. The blog has its own style, and not surprisingly, you can find tons of other copywriting blogs that try to mimic that style. When it comes to reporting sports news, Deadspin offers an edgy, irreverent approach that is often imitated (poorly, I might add) but never duplicated. Don’t try to copy the writing style of other bloggers. Be yourself. Strive to be the writer who others want to copy.
- It doesn’t engage the reader—Your blog shouldn’t read like a stuffy academic essay that has no personality and creates no connection with its reader. Blogging is all about interaction. It’s incredibly important that you speak directly to the reader and get them so engaged that they want to leave a comment and interact with you.
- It’s riddled with errors—Make no mistake. With blogging, you have a little leeway to be more informal and bend some of the traditional rules of writing. However, that doesn’t mean you can get sloppy. If your blog is riddled with typos and poor grammar, readers won’t trust you. Your credibility will take a major hit, and you’ll have trouble building and sustaining an audience.
- It’s obvious filler—When you’re maintaining a blog over the long haul, it’s inevitable that you’ll publish filler content. Filler content is content that’s not up to your usual standards. It’s usually pretty bland and uninspired, but you publish it just because you need to publish something. Don’t do it. If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all. Get a guest poster. Publish a roundup with links to your favorite blog posts of the week. Just don’t publish crap.
What are some of the other reasons most blogs suck? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.