As a blogging advocate and a non-stop blogging dork, I get asked a lot of questions from peers and other folks about what it means to be a good blogger....
Smart ass that I am, I am usually tempted to reply "good spelling and an endless amount of opinions," but I usually refrain... usually. Sure, there's a hair of truth to the comment, as we all have seen, but there really is a lot more to it.
This is a topic covered frequently here, so none of my comments can really shed any new light on the subject. However, as somebody who likes to hear himself talk, I'm gonna give my own Masiguy's Top Five Blogging Guidelines...
Know your topic; too often, I come across blogs that are really poorly informed, no matter how well-written they may be. It doesn't matter how great your command of the language, 2 + 2 will always equal 4, no matter how badly you believe it should equal 5. Sorry, the facts are the facts.
Know your audience; if your readers are not tech-heads, don't beat them over the head with your tech-laden ideas. Conversely, if your audience is waiting for you to give them the details of your latest and greatest technology, don't talk about what you had for lunch. If your readers are asking you for information on a topic, via your comment section or otherwise, give'em what they ask for. If you notice that your site visitors climb sharply when you talk tech and vanish when you talk about the pastrami on rye you had for lunch on Thursday... skip the pastrami story. Tasty, yes... good blog material, maybe not.
Read other blogs and leave comments on them; good bloggers are a part of the community of blogs. Mack recently talked about this. The lesson is that building a community or increasing traffic to your blog means being out there in the greater community.
I know a lot of bloggers who just kind of create a blog, post on it and sit back waiting for people to discover their genius. Ummm... unless you really are the next Faulkner, you're gonna need to go out and find like-minded bloggers to talk to. They'll help you spread your ideas a lot faster than you can all alone in your genius tower.
Follow the links; if you're tracking your links in Technorati or some other source, follow them back to their point of origin. Once there, drop'em a note of thanks -- you'd be surprised how far that goes. Heck, even if they are linking to you because they think you're an idiot, you need to know what is being said. Maybe you can win them over with a few comments or explanations. You'll never get the chance if you don't go looking. I've been able to find out a lot of neat things about my readers by simply following the links. In the end, it's another tool to create a vibrant and healthy community.
Say thanks; I'm a big fan of saying thank you to people. It goes a long way, in my mind. I try to periodically remember to thank the readers of my blogs for taking the time to visit- especially during those times when I am posting infrequently or posting too often about my lunch because I'm too busy to post about more significant things.
Your readers like to know that you are aware they are there. Really, they are reading you because they are developing a relationship with you. Just like any other meaningful relationship, saying "I love you" is important. There have been many times when I've either been too busy to post new content or have been too busy to post meaningful thoughts, that I've simply posted a "thank you for your patience". Amazingly, readership traffic has stayed healthy during those lean times. Remember who loves you...
So there you have it. That's the best advice I can offer. It ain't earth-shattering, by any standard, but it has worked well for me. If it makes you feel better, I'll let you mail me a check for changing your blogging life. Just shoot me an email and I'll give you an address.
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