Thursday, September 6, 2012

For The New Blogger: Suggestions For A Successful Blog, And Prepping Your Thick Skin

Ways To Run A Successful Blog, Including Collaboration?

Over on ProBlogger (A great site for new and experienced bloggers), they put out a great piece on tips for having a successful Blog.  It's a positive-minded piece showing some basic premises to running a blog.  It's not a comprehensive list, but a list of decent points to keep in mind.  The one set of tips they don't have are some of the precautionary practices or mindsets you should be ready for.

The tips they do include, in a nutshell, are

-Having a system in place as far as how often you want to write, then tweet, then FB then whatever other social time sinks you want to employ to help your blog grow.  (For either to work, it sometimes feels like you need to spend more time tweeting and FB'ing than writing for your blog.  But that's a beginner's take on the issue.)

-Reviewing older posts to see if they can use some sprucing up and what not.  (It's been my experience/observation that rather than sprucing up old posts, some blogs just cover the same subject over and over, usually on an annual basis.)

-Experiment with different strategies to attract traffic.

-Try selling your own product, if you have one.  That makes sense... or "advertise" your other blogs on your primary blog.  This idea has many different aspects that can be explored.

-It's suggested to monetize your blog.  They talk about advertisers looking to sell.  Beware the offers out of thin air that land in your inbox, and don't hold your breath for the advertiser of choice.  Google Adsense is a great start, as is the Amazon Affiliate program.  But be prepared.  Some advertisers out there require a specific amount of sales/traffic or they close your account and don't let you know about it.  Unless you log in to the site constantly)  All the while the ads you've put in place for them continue to generate income or traffic for them.  (That reminds me, I should go check my Commission Junction account.)

-The point that got my attention and sparked my "fingers of opinion," was the point about "Blogger collaboration."  This particular aspect is a tricky one, depending on the subject or niche you're in.

The primary point that Mei of CCFoodTravel makes in her guest post on ProBlogger is trying to guest post on other sites. (Hmm...) And that's cool, but there's something you need to be careful of.  I've made huge mistakes sacrificing opportunities out of loyalty to others and other oops on my part.  Stay true to your own personal goals.  That's the big one.  (I totally support the guest blogger premise though as I reflect on one of my bigger flubs.)

If you want to make friends or peers, one suggestion is if you see a typo or word-o in someone's post, don't leave a comment.  But rather, find their contact info and send an email.  Comments are like public flogging.  It sucks to have your screw ups pointed out for all to see.  But there are those out there that will appreciate the quiet nudge.  (Well, a few.)

As far as networking, well, that's an interesting aspect of the blogging community.  Some blogs turn their nose up at ya, saying they won't have anything to do with websites whose traffic doesn't meet certain criteria.  There are others that look like they took a can of paint and threw it on a wall to see what sticks.  You need to be picky about this aspect.  And yet, willing to be ready to cross-pollinate with similar ranked sites like your own.

There are millions of blogs out there with just as many niches.  With my consumer related blog, I've met some great and willing peers.  My NASCAR/sports blog is surrounded by a tight knit world of peers and fans and are some of the best. 

The entertainment niche is another beast altogether.  There you'll encounter frustrated niche chasers, devious editors, lazy site owners, sites that bash on each other or writers that take pot-shots at each other.  Every now and then, you'll even get a Twitter skirmish going.  And then there's the surprise when you find yourself ignored/dissed when you do need help and reach out to folks you thought you established a connection with.

If you're looking to just make money, there are some blogs out there that seem to break all the SEO rules and do just that, from sourcing themselves or running short articles while 70% of the page is stuffed with ads.  And of those, there are some that could give a crap if their info is right or wrong with what they've reported.  All they're looking for is traffic to come by and click on ads.  I found one site that posted foreign based artwork, suggesting a movie was coming out abut the subject.  I translated the words (meaning I did their homework) and saw it was only fan art.  I let them know.  They didn't change a thing.  'Nuff said there.

My point is if you're a small fry blog, you're going to be at a huge disadvantage you need to be ready for. 

My biggest nit or I should say observation, is that if you come up with a good idea or subject while covering your niche you WILL see it pop up on other sites that "quietly" follow your blog.  And there's nothing you can really do about it.  You could point your finger... but it's hard to prove.  You can quietly point it out to your circle of peers you've developed, just so they know or see the patterns.  Or you can just think that it's just plumb "luck" that they consistently come up with the same ideas or cover some of the sub-niche pieces you do. (And that is possible too) 

But in the long run, it's somewhat moot.  I like just "mentioning" it to a circle of folk, and that can act as your list.  If you ever have to do this.

I have a few "fans" of my feed that do generate articles and ideas off me consistently.  And there's nothing you can do about it.  If you make noise, some site owners wash their hands of it and tell you it's between you and their staff.  Others won't even address or answer your emails.

But more than likely, a site that scrapes your ideas or articles will be a known site that does this to everyone.  Those too, are the cheap, annoying sites.

But what you can do if/when someone credits you, and it's not a scrapper site, is to try and return the favor as best you can.

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But these situations are just the small part or ugly side of the blogging world.

If you're just starting out, and you've got some patience under your belt or a thick skin, you should be fine!  This is a slow, grinding crawl of a hobby.  It can be fun and infectious, and there will be days where readers or the competition can create upsetting situations.  You have to take the gruff and roll with it. 

The big rule of thumb that I think is pretty critical is don't let some of your commenters rub you the wrong way and get the best of you. There are some real winners out there that speak their mind due to the anonymity of the keyboard.  Over on another website, I had written about the 80k head injuries bicycle riders receive each year because they weren't wearing helmets.  I suggested precautions about riding a bike and one reader piped in with threats at me and anguish about how his life is his to choose what to do and he doesn't want anyone controlling him.  Hey, like I said, it takes all kinds.

So keep your head down and do your best to have fun.  And in the end, you'll find yourself with a core of readers and when some of your stuff is shared at just the right time, by just the right people, every now and then, you'll get a huge amount of attention.  That, you need to be ready for.  And also know that if something goes viral, you can probably expect to retain maybe 1/2 of one percent of everyone who goes bonkers about your viral piece.  Most web surfers are in a huge hurry and don't stick around and have no need for loyally returning to your site unless you've touched a chord with them.

And if by some fluke, you find yourself on the receiving end of being interviewed, be ready!  Do your homework on the subject.  Read up on your old posts on whatever the subject is and do some quick research to make sure there haven't been any updates on the matter.  Then you might just sound pretty smart.

Anyway, that's a piece of what I've experienced over the years.  It's not applicable to everyone, but heck, I thought it would be something to toss out there for the new blogger to see, just in case.



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