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30 Aug 2011

Blogging 101

I try not to preach. I try really hard.
A little because I don't sound nice when I'm preachy,
But mostly because I know how I react to preachy people and posts.

But since I started blogging I have had certain Great Realizations, some on my own and some from Spiff (which I found to be 200 'parsant' true) and I thought I should share; might be of use to those who are just starting out. Maybe they can steer clear of those mistakes that I thoroughly plodded through like a big, fat buffalo on rampage.

Anyway, coming to the point, there are two three parts to it -

The Writing Part:
1) Be honest in your posts. Readers can detect fakers a mile away. You don't have to over-dramatize everything just to make up a good post. And don't attempt abstract nonsense just to sound intellectual unless abstractness is your forte and you make perfect sense.

2) Write about something of common interest to readers. Even though blogs are a place to express yourself, nobody wants to read about how you brush your teeth in the morning and how many times you yawned in advanced history class. Unless you have a blog and followers which/who are exclusively dedicated to your life and times in which case, it's o.k.

3) Please do a grammar check before you post, you don't want to sound illiterate to the world, do you? And running a spell-check  is pretty simple too, so DO it. N 4 gawd's sak plz don typ lik dis n da blg - annoys the shit out of everyone. It's called text language for a reason.
Also, don't type whole sentences in capitals. It hurts the eye and the page. Use bold html tags.

4) Include pictures in the posts. RELEVANT ones. It helps break up boring text into digestible bits - says almost every blog-advice site. Heed if you want to be read. But this does not give you the license to go crazy and include like ten pictures for every three lines you write (unless you have a photo blog).

5) Reply to comments. DO reply. Readers don't comment because they are entirely jobless and have no lives. They comment because they like your work and want you to know they appreciate it. Acknowledge that. Even if you are the most popular blogger on the planet, reply. For without readers, you'd just be another person talking to himself.
Also, don't comment and leave a link JUST to increase your traffic without even reading the post, you'll only repel the blogger.

6) And for HEAVEN'S SAKE remove word verification on comments. This is a personal request as well. I comment on a lot of blogs and it makes it really painful. I don't see the point either. If you don't want direct comments, enable moderation. But please, NO word verification.

The Technical Part (even if you are a tech-geek, don't ignore this part)

1) Take pains to learn how your blog works. What comes from where, goes where et al. Blogger and WordPress both are very, very customize-able platforms. Learn a wee bit of HTML code, exercise common sense and you can work wonders for your blog. Customize, customize and more customize.

2) I recommend strongly that you pick one address that you are completely happy with, one name for the blog that makes you pat yourself on the back for your exemplary creativity every time you think of it and forget about changing it. EVER. You'll lose readers otherwise. Trust me I speak from experience.

3) I know templates are aplenty and us, writers, are a dissatisfied and easily bored lot but try and stick to one template for at least six months at a time.

4) Don't crowd your homepage with widgets. They might be cool but they take away the attention from the post itself. Keep it simple. Or atleast pick put those which are complimentary.

5) Make sure everything in your blog fits a certain theme, your theme. By everything I mean, color combinations, lettering and such. And please don't ignore alignment issues.

6) If you don't want to experiment on your blog as such, create a tester blog and use it as a lab rat.
Also, try opening your blog in different browsers. They tend to have technical glitches where everything seems fine to you while your readers can't see shizz (remember a very recent time when my blog was black and entirely too difficult to read?)

7) For God's sake, make sure your page loads fast. As an owner of a blog that loads like a snail (and doesn't know what to do about it), I strongly recommend that you do WHATever it takes to load the fastest. There is no bigger put off than a slow webpage.

The General Part:

1) Don't copy. I can't stress that enough. Respect yourself enough not to copy.

2) Don't be egoistical to admit someone else's blog is wayyy more awesome then your's will ever be. But take pride in your own niche as well. The key is to find the balance.

3) Don't be rude. If it's meant to be funny and a lot of people find it funny, it's ok. But telling your readers that you are better than a the whole lot of them put together, might not go down well with them.

4) Don't blog about current issues unless you know what exactly is going on and you are some kind of authority on it. Opinions are o.k but updates and newsy posts are not. Readers get those from far more authoritative sources then you.

And most importantly, be genuine. When you compliment, mean it.
Popularity comes second. Integrity, first. 

Happy blogging, y'all:)
Veteran bloggers, anymore? Let me know.

P.S: I don't claim to be an expert. This is from one learner to another.