We all start blogs for different reasons. I started this blog a little over three years ago as a means to personally document our travels and keep family and friends up to date on our journey. I’ll admit, it’s morphed into something much more than I ever expected.I never anticipated the social aspect of blogging and the making of some wonderful friends along the way…. what an amazing discovery. Some of those friendships will remain cyber based while others have and will develop into more. Thus, I’m very pleased I started the blog.
The past couple of weeks, hubby and I have been doing some remodeling on our son’s home and having a lot of fun in the process. I know, our son thinks we’re crazy too. While painting cabinets, my mind wandered as I thought about blog material. “What ever shall I write about?” I thought about how comfortable I’ve become with writing and sharing. It sure wasn’t that way in the beginning. It took me awhile to find my style, my voice, and learn some lessons along the way. So today I thought I’d share a few of MY personal thoughts and opinions on blogging and a few lessons learned.
1. First off, there’s no right or wrong way to blog. Blogging is personal. Some folks blog as an outlet to express themselves while others hope to monetize their site. Some of my favorite blog sites are the ones that are educational. I’ve picked up great photography tips as well as discovered some ‘must see’ places to visit from other bloggers.
2. Finding my voice. It took me awhile to find my voice and style. I really struggled with this in the beginning. I remember watching American Idol years ago and the judges would always tell the contestants to make the song their own. That’s easier said than done, but in the end it’s all about being yourself, being honest, and true to yourself. There’s no need to copy or plagiarise.
3. Writing has never been easy for me. I can’t tell you how many times I stare at a blank computer screen with severe writers block. It took me awhile to find what works for me. I need to visualize.
Al and I went on a fabulous hike several weeks ago and I couldn’t wait to write about it, but couldn’t seem to find the words. A friend of ours wanted to know all about the trail and whether or not he and his wife should attempt the hike.
As soon as I envisioned myself sitting across the table having a drink with Gary, the story of that hike made it onto the blog in quick order. So now whenever I get stuck with that blank computer screen, I visualize I’m chatting over coffee with a dear friend.
4. White space. It’s important to break up text with paragraphs and pictures. By breaking up the text it’s easier to read and less overwhelming.
5. Speaking of pictures – always, always include a photograph, cartoon, or graph of some sort to hold the reader’s attention. Think of an ad in a newspaper. All ads have some visual content that draws the reader’s eye in. It’s important to add that visual content even if your blog is writing based. That visual aid will help tell the story and keep a reader’s attention. It’s also extremely important to display the photo or graph large enough for readers to see it clearly.
Do not expect readers to click on an image to enlarge it. Most folks don’t have the time or inclination to enlarge individual photos. I know I don’t. I will however enlarge a gallery when it’s displayed in a slide show fashion, IF I have time. In many of my earlier blog posts, my photos were entered in the thumbnail or medium size format. It was only after a couple of seasoned bloggers recommended that I post my photos in a larger format that I started doing just that.
6. Write an About page letting folks know what you and your blog are all about. Before I decide to “follow” a blog, I always read the About page. Not everyone is
comfortable posting a photo of themselves, but I find a photo along with general information of residency to be more engaging – more relatable.
7. Editing is a biggie. I’ve learned to edit and then re-edit….. proof read, reread, and spell check.
I try to do my homework on a subject by doing proper research before publishing. I do get it wrong sometimes and am never insulted when a reader enlightens me to my faux pas. I also like linking to other sites giving my readers the option of more information if they’re interested.
Keeping my posts simple and under 1,000 words is my goal. If I have a long story, I break it up into parts.
8. And then there’s the social aspect of blogging; this has been the most fun for me. Make sure your Gravatar is linked properly or other bloggers can’t visit your site. That is if you enjoy the social aspect of the blogosphere, and if not, that’s ok too.
I love receiving comments and responding, but every now and then a troll stops by…. you know, someone looking to pick a fight. I can honestly say in the time I’ve been blogging I think I’ve only had 2 such encounters. So embrace the positive comments and ignore the negative ones.9. Be a student….. as I read other blogs I pay attention to design, layout, ease of site navigation, and other details. I also check to see how my blog shows up on different devices. I use my hubby’s laptop to check how fast my site loads. Some WordPress themes load faster than others. You don’t want a slow site or you may not have many readers.
Design – Is the site easy to navigate? Can a visitor quickly tell what the blogs purpose is? What color text to use? Black with white text versus white with black text? A lot of blogs specializing in photography use a black background with white text. Supposedly the photos show better. My aging eyes have difficulty with the black background. Thus, I personally follow only one or two blogs that use black with white text. Give me a nice white background any day whether the blog’s focus is photography or writing.10. Write for yourself first. Remember this is suppose to be fun and we don’t want to make blogging feel like a job (unless that’s the intent). Some say publish posts consistently and on a schedule. I say… post when you feel like it.
Oops, I’ve surpassed my 1,000 word count limit….. happy blogging!
BUT one last thought, my cyber friend Sue and I had a telepathic moment…. check out her recent post on “Getting more blog comments” – click here for more insightful suggestions.