Learning some tricks of the trade, great blogging tips (and mistakes to avoid)

There are so many posts on how to blog better and what mistakes to avoid.? Yes, most of them say the same things over and over again (which is good, actually?it means I think we've got the basics down pretty well).? Anyway, WebProNews has a nice list of what I consider to be important tips, tricks, and things to avoid … below with my commentary too

Looks Count. Yes, call me vain, but looks count. You have to be writing some pretty spectacular blog entries for me to keep reading a blog that is supremely ugly, uses a design that breaks in certain browsers, uses a trendy but hard-to-read font face, or uses the "out-of-the-box" blog design with zero customization (if it still says "Just another WordPress blog," you are on shaky ground).

I'm on the fence with this one.? Okay I agree with the "Just another WordPress blog"? bit, but I think your template doesn't have to be killer to get traffic.? Okay, my personal blog kinda sucks in this regard, but still it's okay and people still read my stuff.? And yes, I long for a snazzier Blogware template.

Don't Hit Me Over the Head with Ads.

Ah, yes ads on blogs.? This storm seems to have blown over on whether it's okay or not, but now some people have gone a little nuts.? Too many ads distract your readers.? I have been to a couple blogs lately where the ads did get in the way of the content.? I thought I had reached the end of the post because of the way the ad was in there … good thing I kept scrolling!

Use RSS Ads Smartly.

Yeah another hot topic.? Personally I'm not convinced that they even work so I don't bother at all.? I'd think twice before adding them into the mix.

Write Regularly.

This is a huge one.? Three to five posts a week is a minimum.? If you want to really build readers (and links) you have to blog more.? That's just the way it is, sorry.

Ignoring email. Places like FeedBurner make it super easy for people to get posts by email. Many use email, so don't forget that group and think a feed is enough.

Another biggie.? A lot, and I mean most, Internet users/blog readers don't give a rat's backside about RSS readers (assuming they even know what one is).? It's so simple, just put an e-mail subscribe link in … I did this recently and within a week I have 10 e-mail subscribers.

Lack of About page. Too many blogs fail to tell me who is behind them.

Eh, this is important, but not really a killer.? I don't think my About page is all that noticeable, but my real and for true e-mail address is right there on my blog … so yes you can use it and I will get the mail.

Failure to control your domain. Don't, DON'T!, put your blog up on someone else's domain.

This is tremendously important.? In fact I was talking to Wayne Hurlbert about this today.? Having a blog with wordpress.com, blogspot.com, typepad.com is great if you're just goofing around, but if you're going to be serious, spend $10 and buy a domain and use it.? Really, you'll be happy in the long run.? And hey if you're going to buy a domain, why not just get a basic hosting package and use WordPress.? Lots of hosts have this as an easy install option for you.

Use descriptive titles and descriptions. Even if you send out a full feed, plenty of people will either summarize your posts with only titles or tiles and descriptions. Make sure what you provide is compelling, to encourage clickthrough

Lord this is so, so important.? Unless you're the likes of Scoble or Doc Searles, you can't get away with a non-descriptive, cheeky title.? Heck even though I know Robert if it's a busy day and his title doesn't grab me, I'm not going to click, simple as that.? Make sure your title (note this one as an example) gives people a really good idea of what the post is about.? While you're at it, make sure the first sentence if not the first paragraph gives readers a good idea about the post.? I see about 3-4 lines of a post, plus the title in my reader, if you can't grab me in that space, I'm not going to click.? Frankly, I don't think I'm alone either.

There you have it.? Some good tips and things to avoid, plus my own thoughts thrown in for good measure.? Fine, for those of you reading this and are yawning because you know it all … great … pass it on to a newbie blogger.? They'll appreciate it, I'm sure.



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