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This is a continuation of my Blogging 101 post which seemed to be quite popular, so here’s Blogging 102.
As was the case with Blogging 101, this is in no way a comprehensive list and it touches on different aspects of blogging but here are a few thoughts.
Each and every point is my opinion only, of course:
6. Install a comment reply notification system. But don’t flood.
Your readers will ask you questions in your comment field, and should answer them. Yes, answer their questions. To ignore reader questions, unless it’s truly off base or just an isolated circumstance or oversight on your part, is not advised. I know some bloggers don’t answer their readers’ questions but that’s not my style.
However, you wouldn’t want to spend your precious time replying to your readers questions in the comment field for them never to be seen.
Most people and readers (based on many informal polls I’ve taken) do not go back and re-read comments on someone else’s blog.
They may, but what a nice gift to give your readers to have a system that delivers your reply into their inbox.
And it’s a gift to you, too, because you know with 100% certainty your reply was emailed to them and it wasn’t just wasted keystrokes.
For WordPress blogs, I like this Comment Reply Notification system. A very simple plugin to install from your dashboard. It’s affiliated with FairyFish.net (which has a lot of characters I can’t read) but the two work together.
A caveat on comment replies: Your readers/commenters don’t want to receive every single other person’s comments nor your comment replies to others, in their inbox. I call this flooding and no one likes a flood.
Sometimes on WordPress blogs there’s the option of checking a little box to “receive email updates”.
I have checked those in the past only to receive every other person’s comments who comments behind me and/or the blog author’s comment replies to everyone else. Bad!
Flooding your readers’ inboxes with all your other readers comments is a way to really tick them off.
Make sure you have tested your blog with some friends who can act like “guinea pigs” for you with trial and error and testing it all out to make sure if someone checks that box they are not being emailed 50+ comments. I have done that on some high traffic blogs by mistake. Never again!
7. WordPress is better than Blogger. I recommend using it. There are so many, many reasons why, and too many to even bother going into, but just suffice to say I think it’s far superior.
Ok you really want to know why I believe it’s superior: plugins, pings, greater customization capabilities, more functions and tools, it’s just more.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have started blogging on WP but I didn’t, and 18 months later had a helluva time migrating to self-hosted WP, but I did made it to SH-WP and am so happy I did.
I strongly urge you to make the move to WordPress if you’re on Blogger, sooner rather than later. You can do this yourself by googling it, or you can pay for help. (See 8 & 9 below)
If you’re just contemplating starting a blog, start it on WordPress.
I am not familiar with Tumblr, Squarespace, or some of the other blogging platforms personally, but I’d advise going with WordPress, period.
8. Google is your best friend. If you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s ok because no one starting a blog does. Google it. I cannot repeat this enough.
Use google or other search engines, YouTube videos, chat room forums, and anything you can find online. If you want to learn how to do something, figure something out, it’s probably out there somewhere on the internet already and just have to find it and apply it to your own situation.
As with everything in life, do your own research. Blogging, technology, and various aspects of them are no different. (It all goes back to point #5 in Blogging 101: time)
9. Know when you’re in over your head and ask/pay for help. As much as I’d love to be able to do every single thing myself on my blog, and I did for the first 18 months, I now occasionally pay for tech help and minor blog maintenance services, as needed (such as my blog revamping and blog name change).
Having certain graphics created for my site, or disclaimers added into the CSS style sheet in the footer of my blog, yes I could do this.
I googled it and read about it and almost deleted my whole blog and therefore decided it was better to pay for it. It was a better and more practical use of my time to hire certain things out, but again, I use paid help very minimally and for 18 months was a 100% Do-It-Myself blogger.
Ask other bloggers who they’ve used, and who they’ve been happy with. Most bloggers will tell you I used so-and-so and liked him/her or don’t use so-and-so because of these reasons. Word of mouth referrals from other bloggers you “know” are worth their weight in gold.
You want someone working on your site and working for you who is hard-working, trustworthy, shares your vision for your site and can get the job done; which isn’t necessarily the cheapest person. Make certain you know what you’re getting into before hiring someone from timetables to turnaround times to fees to creative vision.
You don’t have to be made of money to start a blog. You do have to be resourceful and determined (see #8 again) and just dive in.
10. Have fun & Find Your Own Voice! If you’re not having fun, re-examine why you started a blog.
There have been times over the past few years where I was not having fun with my blog. It felt like a chore and as I look back, it likely felt that way because I was pandering too much to what I thought my readers wanted to read about rather than just finding my voice and blogging from the heart and being true to myself.
As I said in point #1 in Blogging 101, Thou Shall Not Steal, and that includes stealing another blogger’s vocabulary or voice.
You must find your own path in life, and on your blog.
Yes, you do need to keep readership and their desires and what they will find interesting in mind when you’re blogging, but this is your blog and if you’re not having fun, they’ll know it anyway.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog, it is fun. Not every day is easy, sometimes there will be some doosie things that happen that throw you for a loop, but overall the good far outweighs the bad for me.
In fact, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and is a platform for my career fantasies, goals, and doing what I want.
Time to stop talking about blogs and blogging and talk about food. Food that has chocolate in it, too.
These would make an easy Memorial Day party dessert that everyone will love!
Or maybe some dip for fresh fruit.
From my last pictorial post, Savoring Aruba, I am glad you liked my photos and thanks for letting me know which were your favorites. And also what you’re savoring right now.
1. What resonates with you in this post?
2. What do you want to hear more about?
There will be a Blogging 103 and some topics I’m toying with include:
Self-hosted vs. Free WordPress
Handling product reviews
Doing reader giveaways
Handling rvealing yourself to the world when you start a blog
3. Any plans for Memorial Day Weekend?
Mine include this in Aruba
Have a safe and fun Holiday Weekend to everyone celebrating!
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