(How to avoid) Misadventures in Blogging
I am quickly approaching the 12-year mark for my little corner of the world. And while there are many others who have been blogging for a lot longer, there are still a lot of new bloggers joining the community every day.
As I travel through the blogosphere on a weekly basis reading over 100 blog posts each week, I also see a lot of new bloggers making some simple mistakes that are very easy to correct.
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Professionally, I have been working in online marketing for more than fifteen years, and the principles that make a good website also apply to blogs. I am also a certified usability analyst which means I have studied and passed a test to say that when it comes to knowing the best methods for the use of a website or a blog via design, content layout, navigation, etc., I've got you covered!
And I am happy to share some of the things I have learned (and those which I am still learning about).
I have actually already written some posts as well as guest-posted for friends about various topics that fall under this umbrella and I thought it might be a good idea to gather them together.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Ashley Stock of Little Miss Momma give the opening presentation at the SITS Girls Bloggy Boot Camp in San Diego. She is a relative newcomer, blogging for one year, already a good amount of time in my opinion.
One of the things she spoke about is making sure you think about and possibly write down in a journal or a post, why you are blogging. She said that there will come a day, maybe in the near future, maybe a lot further out, where you will question why you started blogging in the first place.
I think it is excellent advice and something that every blogger should think about doing whether they have been blogging for 5 years or 5 days. I had not previously published my “why” until recently when I provided my reasons to my friend Kasia of Love in the City of Lights in the form of a guest post.
Once you figure out why you are blogging there is “the how.” One thing that is extremely important to understand is that you own your blog. I was lucky enough to learn this mantra early on in my blogging career. I obtained this powerful nugget and guiding light when I attended my first blogging conference, Blissdom. It had such a profound impact on me and I still remind myself of it often.
What this means is that you set the rhythm for how often you blog, you define what success means for you. In addition, you should understand that you are not a number.
I choose to blog every day. That is what works for me. And in this second guest post, I wrote for Kasia, I describe how I do it, and what my methodology is.
Design and Usability
Once you know the why you do your blogging and how you do the writing – because no matter what, it all comes down to the content – you can begin to think about design.
A nice design is important but if a reader can't read your words or figure out what to click or is too distracted, they aren't going to stay and they aren't going to come back. I have previously written a post about this topic “Misadventures in Blog Design” which I think will help.
If you are new to blogging you may not know that there is some “legal stuff” that applies to you. The last thing you want to do is get in trouble for something you did on your blog. Make sure you are well-informed.
Help and Guidance
I am a big fan of Probloggers's 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. I did the program several years ago and it was a very useful project. You can try to catch the next cycle on the Problogger site or you can do it with communities such as the SITS Girls.
Any questions? I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have, or send you to a source who can answer them. Just leave a comment or drop me an email to Andi AT MisadventuresWithAndi DOT com.
Those are great suggestions, no matter how long you’ve been blogging. I’m now entering year 3 with some variety of blogging, my first one is no longer active, but I have others I write now. And, I think there is always more to learn. Thank you for all the wonderful links!
@Walker, and I keep on following you every where!
Oh, and Congrats on your longevity.
@Walker, yours too! We met doing 31DBBB!
Fabulous advice love! 3 years wow!!!
@AndiP, not quite yet, approaching it….
Thanks for the tips, Andi! I still consider myself new to blogging (I celebrated my 1st yr blogiversary this Dec) so I need all the tips i can get!
@Danee, you are doing well, love your blog!
Great post, Andi! I think having a “why” is really important. I’ve been blogging for almost 6 years (crazy, huh? I didn’t actually have “readers” until 2008 though) and last fall it just hit me that I didn’t know the “why” anymore and that was causing blogging to lose quite a lot of its luster. It wasn’t that I never thought about it, it just changed over time. I took 6 months off and realized I just love the relationships too much to stay away forever 🙂 So I’m back!
PS – loved the post with Amy Thomas, her blog is fabulous and makes me miss Paris on the regular.
@Amanda, yay! So nice to have you back, I missed you in my reader!
Good advice. Thanks. I just bought the Problogger book. 31 days, here I come!
@Sam, I hope you like it!
Andi, This is great. Thank you for being so generous and sharing. I love the part about “owning your blog” – I recently saw an exchange you had w/Karin (Alien Parisienne) in the comments section about it and it stuck with me. When I first started my blog is was for friends and family, slowly I gained some other readers. Over the past five years I’ve felt like I’m running out of things to stay. My stories of complaining about Parisians or the struggles of learning French are no longer really true and stale. I learned from reading your words that my blog is mine and it can change as I evolve. Can’t wait to click on all the links above to learn more. Thanks again!
@Amy, I am glad that I could share that very key tenet with you and that you could benefit from it!
Thanks for the great advice. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, but have got a bit stuck – I want to switch from blogger to wordpress, set up my own domain and re-design. Big plans. I hope it goes ok… (I’m usually a technology disaster)
@Katherina, if you need help on the conversion I can give you the name of someone and a discount code for you to use. Don’t do it yourself!
Excellent advice Andi….looking forward to re-reading your earlier posts too….xv
@Vicki, so glad you found it useful!
I’m a new reader…I’m only half way through this post and had to stop and tell you how much I appreciate all of the great information! Thank you!
@Kimberly, I am so glad you found it helpful!
Ms Andi – isn’t it fun to get back to the basics? To pass along the knowledge?
I relate your wonderful advice to teaching golf to a beginner.
I have been playing now for a few years, but I always enjoy teaching a novice the basics of the game. It always improves my game because it takes me back to the basics. I always re-energizes my game.
Thanks for the information!
@Kipp, so true, we have to keep going back to the basics in order to innovate and improve!
I have a question for you about design: what do you think is better: having the blog page as the home page (on the main url) or have a home page with a slider featuring different posts? I redesigned my blog and I’m on the fence about having the home page instead of jumping into the meat of the blog? (Did any of that make sense?)
@Mo, this is my personal opinion which I can’t help because of my background, but as a purist, forcing someone to do an extra click is usually not good. For websites, the sooner you can get a visitor into the meat of the content without too many clicks the better. For website, more clicks equals more abandon, you lose people at each click. But…having said that a blog reader is usually a more engaged reader so they are less likely to abandon as they are engaged in your content. I hope that helps. I will tell you if that main page with sliders is very clean I think it works really well and I have thought about it from time to time, but it has to be very clean so it is not a crowded mess.