4/1/10

10 Pieces of Advice for New Bloggers


A couple years ago I published a post on tips and advice for new bloggers. Looking back on it, it was so horribly unbelievably wrong that I simply had to delete it (it’s the only post I’ve written that I’ve killed). I think it was perhaps a bit premature to dish out advice; however, now I think I’ve got a few things to share that might actually be useful to folks trying to start up a new blog. I wish I’d learned these things when I started out. So, here goes my community service to the blogging world (I didn’t use the term “blogosphere because I effing hate that term):


1. Post every single day; several times a day if possible

Certainly, posting once a week is better than nothing at all; however, if your goal is to get good at it and generate a decent base of readers, you need to publish as often as possible. Blogs that only feature a new post 3-4 times a month take a long, long time to get off the ground. Like the ladies in the picture say: "Permanent Results Involve Daily Effort". (gag)

This may sound extremely time consuming, but once you get a handle on it, it doesn’t take as long as you might think. I can crank out a post in about an hour, and I find the time goes by quickly. If it seems like work, you’re probably going about it the wrong way. This brings me to my next piece of advice…


2. This is not your "big break" and it will not make you rich.

If blogging becomes tedious, it’s over. If you find yourself complaining that “I’ve got to make another post”, get out now. You will not be able to sustain quality posting for much longer. Blogging is a creative outlet, a hobby, a pastime, not a legitimate job.

But some people make tons of money blogging, right? Sure. Out of the 350 million bloggers, a handful earn big bucks. After your blog becomes established (usually after a year or so of consistent quality posting), you might be able to earn a small check. I’ll go ahead and tell you that Retrospace currently gets <$100 per month. If you translate that into actual wages – it comes to about $2.50 an hour! The fact of the matter is, I would do this if I didn’t get one penny.


3. You get readers by making quality posts and connecting with other bloggers.

Initially, you will write posts and hear nothing but crickets chirping. No one knows about it, and no one will comment. You will feel like a singer performing to an empty room. Stick with it, have fun with it, and the readers will start trickling in, I promise. It may take months and months, but that’s okay. Eventually, word will get out, Google will find your site, and bloggers will link to you.



4. Go easy on your readers - don't overload them with too much text. 

This is a blog not a dissertation– people want a relatively short amount of text with tons of pictures. You’re not an editorialist for The New York Times, and you’re not Nathaniel Hawthorne. The world we live in is so glutted with information and imagery, people can’t commit to lengthy posts heavy on text. People swallow their information in bite sized portions – a few lines on Twitter, a picture and snappy comment on Facebook, a headline on Yahoo, a 30 second video on YouTube…. It’s the rare blog that can get the reader’s commitment to read beyond 100 words (Dammit, I’m violating my own rule within this very post!).




5. Don’t be resistant to using site statistics to dictate your post content.

Don’t get me wrong, post on what you like. Don’t try to create posts that appeal to public tastes – bring your unique perspective and interests to the table.

That being said, if your movie reviews (for example) are attracting tons of readers, perhaps you have tapped into a strong point you didn’t know you had. Maybe it’s time to do more movie reviews! However, the only way to know this is to use some site analytics program like Google Analytics or Sitemeter. If your posts averages 50 people per day, but your posts on horror movies are getting traffic in the thousands, it might be time head in that direction (if it sounds like something enjoyable).


6. Don’t be dismayed by a lack of comments

Can you tell how many people visit your site by the number of comments? HELL NO! There’s actually very little correlation between traffic and comments. My most popular post has had at least 30,000 page impressions, but has only 4 comments. Simply put: some posts inspire lots of comments, others don’t.

Blogging isn’t like Twitter or social networking venues. People typically read a post and move on. For instance, I may publish a post on Daisy Duke, but what’s there to say about it? “Yowza!’, “She’s HOT!” It’ll get tons of traffic, but there’s just not a whole lot to say that’s worthy of a comment.

I personally check in on a good many blogs every single day, but rarely comment. Why not? I just can’t think of anything particularly witty or interesting to say. There are only so many times you can write “Great post!”


7. Spend the $20 for the domain

When I started blogging, I figured I’d do it for a couple weeks out of curiosity, and then quit. Two years later, I’m still doing it, but I’m stuck with this freaking “blogspot.com” at the end of my URL. To change it now would create more trouble than it’s worth. Having your own domain opens you up to more opportunities in advertising – you’re fairly limited as long as Google owns you completely. They can also delete your ass at the drop of a hat. One day you’ll check on your blog and it’ll be like it never existed. …. This leads me to the next piece of advice…..



8. Back up your blog

Considering how much time I’ve devoted to Retrospace, it would be a damn shame if I lost it all. I think I’d cry like a baby, become a grizzled hermit and live off the land.

You’d be surprised how often this happens. You make a minor adjustment to your template, and BAM! you screwed the whole look of your blog, and can’t save it. Or some hacker decides to shut you down. Or a virus becomes embedded in your HTML. Or somebody flags your blog and Google decides to delete you. Any number of things can happen – so back up your blog somehow. For instance, in Blogger you can easily export your blog and save it somewhere.


9. Offer something not found in a zillion other blogs

For instance, if you’re going to start a horror movie blog, you’d damn well better have some incredible writing skills and outstanding pictures and information, because there’s easily another million horror movie blogs covering the exact same topics as you. Come at it from a unique perspective. Kindertrauma, for example, deals primarily with horror media, but they are successful because they only cover stuff that scared the bejesus out of us as kids. What a fun concept! I submitted my own Kindertrauma there once - my boyhood fear of the Sleestaks from Land of the Lost.



10. Utilize the Gene Roddenberry Principle

Like it or not, the more foxy mamas that grace your blog, the more traffic your blog will get. This is a fact, not an opinion. It’s the Law of the Universe: where there are boobs, men will come.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend you start inserting pornography into all your posts. If you’re looking for advice on how to start a porno site, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m simply saying a pretty baby here and there doesn’t hurt. It’s the Gene Roddenberry Principle: If you’re going to have aliens, they may as well be hot aliens.

Now go out there and get'em tiger!

18 comments:

  1. Great points - I would agree with all of those and very true about the glam aspect. Anytime I've posted on Bardot, All Girl Action (action movie stars) the hits and comments have peaked. A couple of other things I would suggest.

    Guest bloggers: Getting a guest in cross promotes both blogs and attracts new regular readers.

    Add Feedburner: The best way of getting the word out there.

    Do Q and As with any celeb that's up for it: I've interviewed authors, musicians and journalists on my blog. Once the fan forums get to know -watch your stats spike.

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  3. Absolutely WONDERFUL advice! I am going to tweet this for my other blogger peeps.

    The other thing I hear alot from people who are interested in blogging is: "I don't have anything to say that anyone would care about." My comment to them is always, this isn't about what other people want to read. It's about what YOU need to SAY. And you need to want to say it, whether anyone cares or not. My contention is, if you build it, they will come. But if they DON'T come, that hasta be okay, too.

    I blog because I must.

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  4. Great post!

    Oh man, I would love to see your original post on this topic. I may have seen it back then, but there are a lot of blog posts under the bridge since then.

    One thing I've discovered is that you can never know which posts will generate traffic and which ones won't. I've been baffled by this many, many times. I post something that I just KNOW will bring in traffic, and it's ho-hum. I post something average and I get a ton of hits.

    As to the domain name, I'm glad I did as I have control, but I don't get "followers."

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  5. Excellent advice, Gilligan! A few slight quibbles, though: For #4, I think it depends on the kind of blog you have. Academic blogs, of which there are many, will probably have longer posts, for instance. For #10, I would correlate the Majel Barret Principle: a hot man here and there doesn't hurt. Depending on you and what kind of blog you have, your readers might go for the beefcake instead of the cheesecake! *LOL*

    Otherwise, I think everything you say is great advice. #3 is especially important. Having blog friends is really the way you build traffic. I would add, though, for both this and #6 that one good way of making blogging friends is to post good comments on blogs YOU like. If you have something cool to say in someone else's comments, they and their readers are more apt to be curious and follow you back to your blog.

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  6. Great post! (ha ha) Completely agree with all of this, and would add 1 more - Create Original Content. Bloggers with more than 50% of their posts being images and information from other blogs just reposted turns me off. Another reason why I love Retrospace!

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  7. A zillion thank-yous! As a budding blogger, I am ALWAYS looking for this kind of advice.

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  8. I've been blogging for a little over two years myself. I agree with all of your points. I'll tell you though, blogging every day is tough. I'm pretty happy with 3-4 times a week. Any more than that and I feel more like it's a job than a hobby.

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  9. Agree with a lot of it. It' hard to keep up with. My blog is coming up to a 5th anniversary in the summer. I am not sure my writing has gotten any better, but the hits have grown and I get lots of promos to review. Sadly many bloggers give up after a year or so. I think back to the 20-30 blogs I read regularly around 2005-2007 and maybe four of them are still going.

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  10. I enjoyed reading this, even if it did make me feel a little embarrassed--I've kept a "sorta blog-page" going for a couple years now, but it's definitely not written for mass appeal, more for family or friends. (At the same time though, I've gotten some pretty interesting feedback on occasion from all sorts of people, which always surprised me--like I said, not exactly mass appeal.)

    Anyway--I actually don't visit a lot of blogs, but I stumbled on this site by accident a few months ago & was immediately hooked. I don't know how old Gilligan is, but I was born in '62 and felt like I found a kindred spirit. There is SO MUCH here I'd forgotten. (That recent blog on those old Detective magazines with the lurid covers & shocking headlines for instance; my grandmother was HOOKED on those things & I completely forgot they even existed until I saw some of those covers on here!)

    So Gilligan, just a personal thanks for a terrific site--and you may have had crickets chirping in the beginning, but I'll have you know that I spent many lunch hours at the office going back and reading every single one of your blogs. You are the man!

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  11. Some wonderful comments and suggestions. Much appreciated!

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  12. Good post!

    But the easier way might be clicking on the ad right below this post that says "Want More Hits On Your Website?"

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  13. RE #10: I've had boobs my whole life--and men too! So THAT'S the connection.

    Lovely pages, these. Thanks.

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  14. Great post. Funny, I just started a blog this week. I know I'll have a long way to go but at least it's a fun subject that I shouldn't lose intrest in too soon.

    Keep up the great posts. I view them every day.

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  15. Oh, my goodness, I never even thought about the possibility that my blog posts could be lost forever to cyberspace! Thank you for bringing up that point, I would cry also. Tonight that is my task! Thanks so much for that suggestion. I feel like I was told, "Hey, you might want to look both ways crossing the street." Duh!! Saved me from getting hit by a bus!
    Well done offering encouragement. Positivity begets positivity.

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  16. "4. Go easy on your readers - don't overload them with too much text."

    That's the one I like. Some blogs I read regularly have posts that make me feel like I'm back in college, I'm all like "TL;DR!!!" on them. Got to find that balance between image and word, don't want to be too cursory but a post really doesn't have to be a dissertation.

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  17. Yep! No other post on my BIG GLEE! blog has gotten more hits than "Princess Leia and her stunt double in slave girl outfits" posting.

    Sigh.

    Al Bigley

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  18. Great post. I'm fairly new to blogging and considering the content (weird/funny vinyl records, and now a retro blog of my own), I figured I would have more views than I do. Maybe following some of these tips will help!

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