The Art of Blogging: Write Without Being A Megalomaniac

Yes, another blog in The Art of Blogging series. This covers the subject that I see quite frequently when I visit and read other blogs. It is when the blogger says that nobody or everybody is doing something. For example:

“Nobody likes that girl. Everybody thinks that we are fun.”

These are both false statements. If it were nobody or everybody, then we probably would not have arguments or an opinion on an individual level. It would be like the Borg on Star Trek who are of a collective mind.

Sometimes when there are a handful of people that agree or disagree, it is to be called a few or you can mention the exact number. In serious topics that involve facts and statistics, the art of being a megalomaniac has no room or business to come into play. In fact, even a rant about you and your friends versus another person should not say “everybody” because that is false. Instead, “my friends” should have been used.

Besides blogging, this tip can be used in regular everyday conversation. It makes you less abrasive and more intelligent when you are not including everyone in your opinion. In including them, you are attaching their name and thoughts to your own, and frankly, that is a bit presumptuous. It is also close-minded. Of course, your friends mean the world to you and perhaps they agree, but in the end, when it comes down to it, not everything is “all or nothing.”

The Art of Blogging: What is Your Site’s Focus?

Your blog is usually something you write that comes from your experience and interests. Blogs can be written to any number of subjects from medical to sports, and even art to technology. There is always a rumor that a blog with a wide variety of subjects is not worth the time to read. This is of course, only a rumor. A blog can be about anything as long as it is somehow relatable to your readers.

Your Content HereWho are your readers? Well, when you made a site, you had to have thought of who you wanted to connect with online to share your interests and experiences. Of course, with many subjects, you have to do more work in spreading your word, especially if you want to have some traffic. However, for those who are just wanting to have a blog or already have one, but really do not know what to do in order to make a focus on their blog, try to answer these questions for yourself:

  • 1. Who do you want to read your blog? What type of people and what age group do you want your blog to be available to?
  • 2. What are your interests? Are they relatable? Can you research and give more information on the subject for your reads to find out more? Are you wanting to just have a special interest blog that only focuses on one thing? Do you want to provide a blog that elaborates on many subjects? In general, what type of site do you want to have?
  • 3. How much traffic do you want to your site? Are you wanting to make money? Do you want to give away things for free?

quote Your content is one of the most important things that attract people to keep coming to your site, even if it is just for you to make friends in your targeted age group. The best ways to help your visitors know what to expect are several things:

  • Make a navigation that is clear and concise on what to expect in the site. This gives them a way to navigate the site so make sure it can be reached from any part of your website.
  • Make categories that your readers can click on or look through a drop down and go to those areas they are interested in reading.
  • Put a search attribute on your site for your readers to be able to search for things within your site’s content.
  • Tag clouds are an iffy matter as some can have over 100 words and look a bit cluttered, but if you have a site that have under 50 tags, then you place one. It works like the search and your categories in allowing your readers to click on the tag of interest they want.
  • Try to post related links within your site or to other sites that will allow you to give more information to your readers. Your readers will thank you for being resourceful.

The Art of Blogging: Trends for Commenting

Blog commenting as strange as it sounds has become somewhat of a science. In the past few years alone there have been trends that still exist in order to help bloggers obtain the comments they want. If you give good comments, there are noticeable results.

1. Your blog receives comments back that may also be great feedback.
2. You meet others with the same interests.
3. You are creating a link back to your website for others to follow.

There have been quite a few ways to allow people to connect with other bloggers throughout the past few years.

1. Plugboards. Sites like Plugboard.org have been open since 2004 and allow people to enter their site’s link and a link to their website’s button for others to be able to click on. This is where the term ‘plugging your site’ really took off. The only downside a lot of people just plug their site and then be on their way without visiting others. Originally the plugboard was designed that if you plugged, then you visited the others that plugged. In return, the people who plug after you will also visit.

Quote2. Comment Exchange sites. You can sign up for and you get to comment on several sites, and in return, you get also receive comments. This is great if you are able to take the time. The concept of this was that the site sends emails sent out 3 times a week, so that means you have to comment on 9 blogs. The problem is that some bloggers do not return comments, some blogs might have downtime issues, some do not even participate, or those who do are not reporting those who are not commenting.

3. Banner and Link Exchanges. This is probably one of the oldest versions to attract bloggers. Like plugsites, your link or your banner are the face for your site.

3. CommentLuv. This tool gives the commenter a way to leave a little preview of what to expect at their website for both the site owner and other visitors.

4. Twitter is becoming a titan in social media. There are new tools created on a daily basis to allow Tweeps to fully use the site. Twitter Tools and Tweet This are just some of the best tools out there for bloggers. Twitter Tools allows the blogger to tweet the new post while Tweet This allows the user to tweet the blog post if they like what they have read.

5. Backtype is a social venue that runs on giving people a run down on where and what you have commented. This program recognizes your comments from Twitter, LiveJournal, social bookmarking sites, and your blog. In general, it is a way to archive your comments.

Of course, there are other tools out there like other social networks (example: Facebook), but to me, these have been the ones to stand out the past few years. Perhaps you have used a couple of them in the past? What have you noticed… care to share?

Authenticity – Blog And Be Yourself

Liz Strauss speaking at WordCamp Chicago 2009 Liz Strauss (@lizstrauss on Twitter) had been at WordCamp Chicago (June 6-7, 2009) and talked about many basics behind blogging. However, it was one thing that I could not pass up to blog about and share. I am always finding time to pull up notes from presentations I have attended because there is a meaningful lesson to be learned or reminded of.

When you blog, you need to be authentic- be yourself. I found myself nodding while listening to Liz. I can remember all the wank through the years from bloggers not being who they were. I even remember people trying to call me out, and guess what… I have always been myself.

How can people visit another’s blog and comment when they do not believe you? Are you consistent about yourself? Are you blogging from experience or are you there to just be another person handing out the same information as other websites?

I can agree with Liz when she said, “I can find information anywhere, blog your experience with your information.”

When your blog might have a similar subject like so many other blogs, I choose to come to read and comment because I am reading about your experience. Especially with blogs about WordPress, I am fairly picky. I want more layman’s terms and a little bit of personality. I want to know why I should use one particular code string, versus another, especially since I tend to read blogs late at night when I am slightly tired and blurry-eyed. If I want WordPress information, cut, dry and straight, I will go to the Codex, but if you are going to pass a catchy-phrased tutorial link through my Twitter stream, it better be as catchy as it sounds.

Remember this, your blog may be visited by many people, or very few, but each are different. The only thing in common is that they choose to visit your site because they find you authentic.

Are your authentic? Do you blog from experience? Have you had experiences with people who were not who they said they were?

(Note: Photo is compliments of @LisaSabinWilson.)

What To Do When Your to Blog Inspiration Hits A Dry Spell

Sometimes blog inspiration might seem hard to come by. What can you do to prevent hitting that dry spell? Inspiration can come from many places, but it is how you harness it that counts. However, there are factors that can get in the way of getting your words to jump to your mind and onto your blog.

Well, you need to think about your blogging habits:

  • When do you normally blog? In the evening? In the morning? Midday?
  • Have you eaten properly?
  • Are you having some type of exercise, even in small increments of time, like 10-20 minutes.
  • Have you done your homework by reading around your niche and a little outside of it to keep on top of the news?
  • Are you blogging way to frequently?
  • Does blogging have to be done in a rush?
  • Are you just painfully continuing to blog in a niche you no longer have enough material to provide for?

All of the above factors can affect your blog habits. You do need to blog when you are most creative because this is when you will at least have that extra oomph to get that article done. Also, never rush blogging. If you have an article you think you have to squeeze in before a certain time, you really do not. You are not putting a newspaper to bed for publishing on the next day. Your thoughts might be rushed and not come across as logical as it should.

Yes, your health can be a big factor! If you are ill or not eating properly, you could be running low on both energy and the brain power to even get through the day. Make sure you are eating well and incorporating a few exercises. Some bloggers may even freelance online, so that means those who are living the freelancing lifestyle need to take extra care. 10 or 20 minutes might make a difference. Remember in health class – exercise encourages your body to release endorphins. Endorphins make you happy and a bit more energetic.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK! You might not have a boss overlooking… wait – YOU ARE YOUR OWN BOSS! Make sure to keep yourself on target and do your research. Surf the sites you enjoy, read from people within and outside of your niche. You never know – someone might write an article that you may have a response well worth writing your own blog post.

The biggest thing of all in this is that if you are just doing this for the money and not because you are at least passionate about it – STOP! Most people who are passionate about certain topics are more than likely able to nit pick everything apart and find something new to write about. They are also more willing to do the research and stay on top of the game.

These are merely some things to think about when your blogging inspiration hits a dry spell. However, I know others have their own rituals – so what do you recommend?

What Makes A Person An Expert in Social Media?

No matter how many ridiculous lists there are on how to either be better at social media or how to commit social media suicide, or something similar. Yep, I am on a soapbox right now. Remember, social media is just another fancy word for marketing. It is not the monetary aspect, but more on the level of pushing your content into the public where people are interested. In fact, the term really is not new and really, it really is not fancy. This year, I have heard “social media” this and that in many places. However, people are still trying to figure it out.

THAT is the sad truth.

There are people going around saying they are social media ‘gurus’ or ‘experts.’ The problem is that they are only experts because the people they have influenced call them that. You cannot say you are an expert unless someone says you are. I remember hearing Micah Baldwin (Micah on Twitter) saying something to that sort. Say you have two people on twitter who delve into “social media”, but they are experts at different levels. The reason: the one who has shared their experience, applied it on a widespread public level (like Chris Brogan or my favorite and one who I have met in person – Liz Strauss). Now, I do not claim to be some “social media expert” nor will I ever.

Quoted from Social Media Rockstar:

You Haven’t Yet Monetized Your Social Media Presence into Consistent, Substantial Income. Do spend the bulk of your time on social media tasks that don’t really make you any money ? Do you have a corporate or agency “social media day job” where you’re constantly being reigned-in or encouraged to perform below your true potential? Are you a consultant who doesn’t spend half your day fighting off big budget project + speaking proposals with a stick? Then you’re probably not a social media expert, yet!

My response to the Social Media Rockstar article called 5 Signs You’re NOT a Social Media Expert, Yet:

The thing about social media is that it does NOT have to exactly sell something for money. You can sell your blog content for the awesome price of $0. The thing is promoting your content and that is an investment of time rather than money. Of course, you could offer advertising on your site, but if your main goal of your site, like mine for Blondish.net is to provide informational content to my readers, I want to be able to reach those in my niche which fall along the following categories: tech websites, webmaster resources, graphic design, web design, graphic freebies, WordPress, tutorials, and social media/ marketing.

My Goals:

  • Maintain focus of website
  • Improve traffic to site
  • Improve external links to site
  • Improve relations with my followers
  • Provide adequate content or excell in providing content to readers in my niche

Eventually that effort could evolve into a monetary solution for visitors seeking to advertise on that site. However my primary directive is to attract quality traffic that could produce regular visitors and/or more visitors. When you get into the marketing aspect of social media, you are dealing more with making goals toward making money – the deeper end of marketing.

To you, what makes a person a social media expert?

6 Basic Ways to Becoming a Better Blogger

Running a site takes time and effort. However, it is not hard to do. By simply applying some of the following to your site, you might become a better website host/ hostess as well as a blogger. These suggestions could prevent you from losing valuable traffic.

Keep your blog updated regularly. No, this does not mean you have to blog daily, but if that is your norm, you might want to stay consistent, even harnessing the power of scheduling future blog posts if necessary.

Visit and comment at other blogs. Visit people you blog roll and people who have commented on your site. You might even want to go out of your way every so often by commenting on sites you have not visited before. You never know – you might learn something.

Be a regular participant on the social networks. Like blogging regularly, it is not necessary to be on Twitter or Facebook all the time, but make sure to continually connect with your friends/ followers to keep updated.

Keep your comment open and remember to participate in your own comment streams to keep the conversation going. Sometimes your readers comment because they would love to carry on the conversation that you started with your blog. If you do not participate, then why bother to have written the article?

Offer something even if it is advice, graphics, layouts, or a giveaway of some sort. People love free stuff. Contests are great, but they are only a quick way at attracting temporary traffic. There are no guarantees that your visitors will stay after the contest or giveaway has ended.

Be open-minded and willing to not always be the center of attention. There are always people who are or will be better, and you must be open-minded as you could be stifling your own learning as well as others who are interested in the topic at hand.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to be a better blogger?

How To Be More Relatable to Your Readers

One thing that really impresses me about one blogger over another is their relatability with their readers. Ever person has a different background filled with hundreds of unique experiences. It is often at this point, no matter what the article might be about, that a reader can become turned off.

Here is how to be more relatable to your readers.

  • Be open and friendly. While you might have some serious topics covered on your blog, while engaging in conversation when readers who comment, make sure to make them feel welcome and that you respect their opinion. Not every reader will agree with you, but if you can make that extra effect to reply, and make sure that they know you at least read their side, they will come back.
  • Be honest. “Honesty is the best policy.” That quote rings true in so many ways. When you decide to promote your work on the social network streams, you better be giving honest information. People react in very negative ways and are quick to tell others if you are a dishonest character.
  • Be uniquely informative and accurate. You need to be able to give something to people that will stand above other blogs, especially if you are trying to compete for their attention. You might agree with another website on a topic, and you can always link to the original article and expand on your own opinion. That actually keeps the conversation going and for some people, when you link them back, you end up making a nice blog friend that is open to linking you back.
  • Do not overwhelm your readers. Long paragraphs are known to be a bore for some readers. Break them up. If your articles are going over 700 or even 1000 words, perhaps look into your article and find a way to break it up into parts. This will allow you to have several posts instead of one, AND those who liked the first part, will be eager to read the rest. :)
  • Use words that are easy and do not intimidate your readers. Another thing is if you choose to use vocabulary that might be difficult for others to understand, you may want to provide a short footnote or some type of explanation. Within the US, most people have an average reading level of a 6th grader. Outside of the US, you are dealing with language barriers, so they will have to look up difficult words in a translator sometimes.
  • Always be open for new ideas. If you ever feel you site is missing something, ask your readers for suggestions of what topics they believe you need to cover. Do a survey or create polls. Create open events for your readers to drop in and ask questions.

What other ways do you suggest on how to be more relatable to your readers?