Starting a Blog? Here are 10 Things to Keep in Mind.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when you start a blog. This excellent post by Jamie Turner was featured  on his excellent blog and is now republished here, with Jamie’s kind permission …

Are you thinking about starting a blog? If so, there are several things you should keep in mind. Here are the top 10 tips you should keep in mind before you launch a blog.

  1. Be Specific About Your Goals: Oh, sure, everyone knows that you should have an objective for your blog before you launch it. But most people aren’t specific in their goal-setting. Do you want it to attract customers? Do you want it to add personality to your brand? Or do you simply want a channel to communicate your take on the latest headlines? Be specific.
  2. Think Backwards: Jerry Brown was a great advertising man who decided the best way to sell a product was to get inside the mind of the customer. He called it Thinking Backwards. When you’re Thinking Backwards about your blog, ask yourself “What’s in it for my reader?” Nobody comes back to a blog unless they get tools, tips or techniques that improve their lives in one way or another.
  3. Write Headlines that People Will Google: If you want traffic to your site, then write headlines that are Google-able. People don’t Google “Engines,” they Google “How to fix a 1954 V-8 Chrysler engine” or “V-8 Chrysler engine.” Write your headlines the way people Google. That’ll ensure better traffic and readership.
  4. Vary the Length of Your Blogs: A lot of people wonder how long a blog post should be. The correct answer is as long as you want it to be. That said, your readers will appreciate it (and come back for more) if your posts vary in length. Remember, variety is the spice of life.
  5. Use Guest Bloggers: Eventually, all bloggers need a break now and then. You can keep your ideas and your writing fresh by taking time off and stepping away from your blog. Make a policy of having regular guest bloggers. That way, you can maintain the quality of your work without sacrificing quantity.
  6. Blog 3 to 5 Times a Week: Some people won’t agree with this, but we’ve found that unless you blog 3 to 5 times a week, Google, Yahoo and MSN won’t rank your blog as high.
  7. Know Your Blogging Platforms: The most common blogging platforms are WordPress, Drupal, Typepad and Google’s Blogger. They’re all good. We use WordPress and love it. Drupal has a more graphical interface. Typepad has been around a long time. And Blogger is good if you’re a beginner.
  8. Enhance Your Blog with Plugins: Plugins are mini-software programs that make your blog more user-friendly. No matter what platform you use, be sure to check out the Plugins. Your visitors will have a better experience that way.
  9. Stay on Topic: It’s easy to get distracted on your blog or to write about off-topic subjects. But your readers aren’t interested in off-topic subjects. They’re interested in whatever it is you specialize in. So stay on-topic as much as possible.
  10. Ask Questions: To encourage reader-engagement, you should ask questions at the end of your posts. Don’t ask just for the sake of asking. Ask because your readers probably have a lot of good ideas and comments you haven’t thought of.

Does that make sense? Is there anything we’ve left off? If you were giving advice to a new blogger, what would you tell them?

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  • Thank you for this- as a clothing company blogging is something we constantly have to do and knowing how to do it better will increase our traffic and make our fans feel more part of the family.

  • All true Robert, but I would also suggest you tweak the HTML code of any posts so that any links to other websites are not followed by Google so that you dont lose your Google ranking.
    In addition, I add relevant rollovers and all links open in new pages.
    Always helps to keep one eye on yoru Blog as an SEO tool!

  • I started blogging just 8 months ago. What would I tell a new blogger? Be patient. Above all, be patient. At first it seems as if you’re just talking to yourself. Then you get a few readers, and then a little momentum!

  • I started blogging 7 weeks ago. I blog everyday. I stay on topic but interpret it broadly and also run a fun musical weekly off-topic feature every Sunday. The length of my posts varies. I embrace multi-media so the nature of my post also varies. Sometimes, it’s just a video. Sometimes, it’s a photo gallery. Sometimes, it’s an article peppered with multimedia inputs. Sometimes, it’s just an article. Sometimes, it’s a story out of twitter conversations. I have no intention of allowing guests on my blog until I have effectively established my personal brand and gained a loyal readership. I have already written off-topic guest posts for other blogs and duly acknowledged them on mine. I’d love to write humorous headlines but know better than that. I make sure my headlines contain the keywords people are likely to search. I’ve experimented with plugins and badges. Now, I keep it simple on the sidebar with a blog archive, categories, recent comments, popular posts and traffic stats. I ask questions at the end of some posts. I reply to every comment. I use Disqus. I don’t know how to make Disqus do-follow but am not sure if that’s even a good idea wrt Google PR. I participate in blogging communities. I conduct blogwalks and hope for a positive response.

    Your tips are terrific. I would also add:
    1) Keep growing. Keep learning the technical aspects of the art of blogging. Don’t neglect the template design. People will come to you for the substance but even more will be seduced by the style.
    2) Reach out to a community of bloggers, follow blogwalking etiquette.
    3) Write fresh content for people, not search engines. The Alexa Rank and Google PR will follow.

    • Thank you very much for your in-depth comment. You’ve given lots of great pointers that will be helpful to anyone starting a blog. Appreciated 😉

  • If I could emphasize have a super cool headline – that would be my tip. Boring headlines don’t let people think that your content is worth reading. Have somethign “zippy” in the headline. Reference pop culture – poke fun – use a movie reference….let your personality come through – but be sure to have a good headline….even a bit of a curious headline is intriguing. NIce post! agree with adding posts more frequently! (i need to follow that advice actually lol)

    • Hi Jan, I agree the headline or title of the post is the absolute key to getting someone to read a post. Case in point, one of my posts here just wasn’t getting the readership it deserved. I changed the headline a couple of times but it still didn’t perform. Finally, I re-read the piece and the words I wanted were right there in the post and just jumped out at me. I changed the headline to those words and the post just took off. It makes a world of difference. And the point about adding posts more frequently is one that I need to attend to as well!

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  • CharlieCates

    Paul, what changes would have to be make to the HTML code in order to accomplish this?

  • CharlieCates

    Thanks for this! I really appreciated points 3 and 10.

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