Reader Question: What Advice Would You Have For a New Blogger?
Christine Martell and I are preparing to present a session on blogging at a conference next week and I'd like your help. We think that the group will be mostly beginners, with a few experienced folks thrown in, but like any conference presentation, we aren't totally sure about this. Here's where you come in.
I'd like to hear your advice for new bloggers.
- What tips do you have for getting into blogging?
- What should new bloggers be doing to get the most out of the experience?
- What challenges did you face as a new blogger and what did you do to overcome them?
- What thoughts do you have on the best ways to ease into blogging?
If you aren't a blogger, I'd like to hear from you too:
- What questions do you have about blogging and how to get started?
- What holds you back from starting to blog?
- What would help you get started?
Please leave a note in comments or drop me an email. Any and all thoughts welcome! And as always, thanks for your feedback. I'll do a summary post to share what I get back.
P.S. Posting is more sparse this week as I'm doing 12-hour days with a client. Hopefully we'll be back to some regular programming by the weekend.
What tips do you have for getting into blogging?
I'm in two minds here; its either don't, unless you have something to say, or jump in the deep end and see where it takes you. I think I'm leaning to the "don't" theory. My reasoning here is that unless you feel that there is some value in what you write, that will generally show through. ("What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." Samuel Johnson) Additionally without some purpose, disillusionment will not be far behind. I jumped in, thinking it was something that I should try. Thankfully, I had some very supportive people to help me.
What should new bloggers be doing to get the most out of the experience?
When I figure that one out, I'll let you know - I'm kind of new to this myself.
What challenges did you face as a new blogger and what did you do to overcome them?
Content. I have problems coming to terms with the fact that what I am thinking/writing willbe of interest to others. The reality is that somtimes it won't be - deal with it. But at other times, you will hit on a topic that, for one reason or another, will generate interest.
Length. I have had to restrain myself at times to prevent rambling for too long. I was given some good advice by Sue Waters - break it up into a number of posts.
What thoughts do you have on the best ways to ease into blogging?
Be realistic - you are not going to have a huge reader base when you start. Tenacity is required. Keep at it and write as if the world were reading it.
Hopefully this is of some assistance.
Posted by: Lance | November 01, 2007 at 08:36 AM
I think it's quite simple. Write for yourself and on something that you're passionate about. Your readers, if you engage them in authentic dialogue, will then help you shape the ongoing conversation.
It's been working for me so far :-)
Posted by: Harold Jarche | November 01, 2007 at 10:17 AM
Hi Michele, I don't have any thoughts of my own today, but here's a link to an article that I'd recommend: http://www.skelliewag.org/101-essential-blogging-skills-67.htm
And if I got this link from you, thanks!
Posted by: Robin Reagler | November 01, 2007 at 12:52 PM
Looking forward to seeing your summary post because I am facing the question as I introduce undergraduates and registered midwives to blogging.
Posted by: Sarah Stewart | November 01, 2007 at 03:25 PM
How to ease into blogging: A good sign that it's time to start your own blog is when you leave long comments on other people's blogs and still want to say more. Regularly reading several blogs will also give you ideas for your own blog's content and design.
One challenge I faced: I'm a design and control freak, so I spent too long tweaking my WordPress design. I'd recommend that a new WP blogger get a recent design that supports widgets and simply accept that it won't ever look exactly right.
Posted by: Cathy Moore | November 01, 2007 at 05:31 PM
In addition to all the good comments above....
What you say really depends on the audience. Will you be talking to young people who spend a lot of time on MySpace/FaceBook, or older professionals who live and die by email? If it's the latter group, you're likely to run into a lot of skepticism. Be prepared to meet them more than halfway. The issues they will raise are real. They may even help you become a better blogger.
Two pieces of advice for beginning bloggers: First, don't think you have to be an expert on *everything* in your subject area. Do assume you're an expert in the things you know, and that part of your job as a blogger is to encourage others who have areas of expertise that complement yours to comment on your blog.
Second, before starting, write your first week of posts. Then, instead of posting them all in one week, space them out at one per week. It's easy to go crazy when you start, then burn out quickly. Pace yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Posted by: Bronwyn | November 02, 2007 at 12:26 PM
1. Just write, darn it!
2. Try to keep your posts below 400 words.
3. Post frequently.
4. Always credit those to whom you link.
5. Leave relevant comments on other blogs.
6. Cornect punctuation and good grammer r important
7. Have a good reason if they list you on their blogroll & you don't return the favor.
8. Read blogs such as this one, Copyblogger, ProBlogger, and others who write about writing and blogging.
9. Be ethical in your writing and the way you represent yourself.
10. Always, Always, Always, root for the Dallas Cowboys, never for the Washington Redskins.
11. When you make a mistake, admit it quickly & emphatically--Dale Carnegie
12. Learn about SEO but don't let it dominate your writing style.
13. Always thank people for leaving comments.
14. Don't say "blah blah," when "blah" will do.
15. Don't be afraid of your sense of humor.
Glenn (Blogging for 3+ years and having fun doing it.)
Posted by: Glenn (Customer Service Experience) Ross | November 02, 2007 at 08:14 PM
Give link love & credit often! Do this not for the PageRank or LinkBack benefits - do it because it makes you a responsible and generous netizen.
Don't get bogged down with stats - or monetization.
And please don't use the words "whilest" or "learnt."
Posted by: Rob O. | November 03, 2007 at 12:00 PM
As always, you guys are AWESOME! This is what I love about the blogosphere--I ask a question and I get back all these great idea. Now let's see if we can get some more people blogging thanks to your feedback!
Posted by: Michele Martin | November 04, 2007 at 08:03 AM
I started off with a comment, but turned it into a blog post: "Words of Advice for Beginning Bloggers". (Here's the link if this textbox isn't HTML enabled: http://thenewjew.wordpress.com/2007/11/04/words-of-advice-for-beginning-bloggers/.)
The six main ideas were:
1. Study the Craft: Writing for a Blog Audience
2. Learn from the Experts
3. Treat Blogging as a Business and Your Blog as Your Brand
4. Make and Keep Track of Improvements
5. Give Yourself a Break
6. Make Blogging a Conversation and the Blogosphere Your Community
Thanks for the inspiration.
I look forward to hearing how the conference goes.
The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy
Posted by: Maya Norton | November 04, 2007 at 05:55 PM
I recently wrote a 25 Point guide for blogging beginners. Hope it would be of use to you :D
Posted by: PabloPabla | November 06, 2007 at 11:08 PM
Hi, great post.. I've been developing my own blog for beginners and have posted My Top 10 must read Blogging Articles for Beginners which you can access from my website.. hope it's ok to post my URL link to this, because they might be useful to your readers starting off with blogging...
Posted by: Daniel Hunt | November 06, 2008 at 05:49 PM