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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Seven Effective Blogging Habits

I'm not sure I know the answer to what makes some blogs more successful than others. However, I do know what I get out of blogging personally. One part of it is about creativity; the other is about having somewhere to showcase my writing and to practice things that I'm working on. Anyway, I was inspired to write this post by Darren Rowse's Problogger project on the habits of highly effective bloggers. So here are the blogging habits that work for me.

Find Your Niche

I kind of fell into this one by accident. When I started blogging on WritingUp, I had no idea what I was going to blog about. Since I had some articles on freelance writing already written, I decided to see whether those could be turned into blog posts. Some people liked the posts, commented and I'd found my niche. It shouldn't have been a surprise that it's something that's so much a part of my life. That means I can almost always find something to say about writing or related subjects such as blogging and website development (for writers, of course).

Stay On-Topic

Once you've found your niche, it seems best to stick to it, most of the time at least. I know when I've written something that is seen as off-topic because there's a dip in the number of reads the post gets. Of course, writing a good title will help too. Choosing a title that relates to the theme of your blog or post will help readers realize what your topic is and how this post relates to it. I don't always get it right, but it's nice when I do.

Is Your Blog Read Or Dead?

If you want people to read your blog, you've got to give them something to read - and you've got to make it regular. For some people, this means posting at least once or several times a day. For me, it means posting a couple of times a week. We WAHMs don't have a lot of time to sit down and think of posts, let alone write them. But as long as there's activity on the blog, there'll be people reading it. Stay away too long and people are likely to abandon your blog for one that's got fresh content. Since people have lives that are offline (as well as online) getting a guest blogger is a good way to make sure your blog is updated if you have to be away. And with some blogging platforms like Wordpress, you can submit blog posts by email.

Extra! Extra!

Sitting around waiting for people to find your content can take a long time. Instead, take the content to them with headline animators from Feedburner, email alerts from Feedblitz, RSS feeds from whoever you choose. Submit your blog to directories and try to think of a description that will make people want to visit. This is my new one (Take two tbsp of freelance writing advice, add one tsp of SEO, one tsp of WAHM and a sprinkle of creative writing. Mix together to create Sharon Hurley Hall's WritingUp blog.) and I'll be uploading that to blog directories on my next round of submissions. Use pinging services like Pingoat to let people know you've updated your content. Also use the social bookmarking services to take your blog posts to a wider audience.

Read All About It

Read other people's blogs, not just here, but everywhere. This will let you know what people are thinking and talking about and may give you inspiration for blog posts of your own. This post is a perfect example, as are the multiple writing challenges that make us all want to read and write better.

Keep On Talking

When you read other blogs, be sure to comment if you've found the post interesting or useful. If you have something to add to the discussion, that's even more useful. The best blogging has a community feel and you have to keep talking to maintain that community. That also means that you should respond to all comments on your blog. If you get a lot of visitors, you don't have to respond individually, but it's nice for people to know their voices have been heard.

Link Like Crazy

Here on WritingUp bloggers can use their blogrolls and bookmarks to keep track of the bloggers they read. They can also link to interesting posts in their own posts and use the trackbacks feature to let those people know about the link. If you're lucky, those people will also link back to you and you'll get new readers for your blog. But that's only one part of the story. The best way to keep getting readers for your posts is to link to them in other posts. After all, you're the person who's most likely to know if one of your blog posts is related to another.

These are the strategies that are working well for me at the moment. What blogging habits work well for you?

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