One year later: blogging tips for beginners

In his 2009 book How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer tells us: “Unless you experience the unpleasant symptoms of being wrong, your brain will never revise its models. Before your neurons can succeed, they must repeatedly fail. There are no shortcuts for this painstaking process.”

Along the same lines, a friend at a PR firm told me once that it took about a year for her job to click 100%, for her to fully get into the groove of working with and understanding her specific clients. There’s also the theory in the advertising world that it takes seven interactions before we start remembering something.

Then there’s that age-old philosophy that’s actually scientific fact Lehrer explores: you have to learn from your own mistakes, no matter how many “how to” articles you absorb.

All of this applies to blogging. This month marks the one-year anniversary of this blog, and to celebrate, here are some blogging tips for beginners. I know, I know: we all have to make our own mistakes, I just said that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t offer some tips in hopes that even just one will stick with a beginner blogger.

If you’re a beginner blogger, feel free to send me a link to your new blog. I’d love to check it out! And good luck.

What exactly is your blog about? Choose a topic and stick with it.
I blog about public relations, which includes a lot of other marketing niches under the PR umbrella. If you check out my early blog posts, though, you might not realize that. I talk about recycling and clipping coupons; all great topics, but they don’t belong in the public relations area of expertise. But I’ve learned and adjusted accordingly.

If there’s something you really want to write about, see if you can fit it into your blog topic area. For example, I wanted to do an Earth Day blog, so I wrote about volunteering at a local Earth Day celebration and discussed the importance of community relations. The more you blog, the better you’ll get at coming up with ideas. In fact, by the end of your first year, you should have an ongoing list of blog post ideas because it’ll come so naturally.

Blog consistently and frequently.
Don’t get lazy with your blog and only toss up content once a month. No matter the reason for creating a blog (establishing expertise, career growth, personal endeavor, whatever), it gives us our online identity. And lazy isn’t a characteristic you want associated with your identity when someone Googles you. Here’s where the mantra “under promise, over deliver” comes in handy: don’t publicly announce that you’re going to blog once a day. That’s potentially a promise many of us can’t deliver on. But force yourself to blog at least once a week. Even if you have only two readers, you don’t want to disappoint them.

Always include an image with your blog post. Always.
We all love looking at pretty pictures that correspond with the text we’re reading. Always jazz up a blog post with an image that fits nicely into the aesthetics of your blogging platform. My blog posts contain an image that goes along with the topic of the post. It’s always located in the same spot and is the same size, for consistency and even branding purposes.

What if you’re six months into your blog, and you haven’t published photos with your entries? You’re not screwed. Go back and put photos in there. Blogs aren’t like magazines, where all decisions are final. All blog posts are (hopefully) going to keep popping up in search engines, so there’s no time like right now to go back and make sure each look as sleek as possible. That said, don’t go and rewrite a blog entry, or delete one you’re ashamed of. But do learn from your mistakes.

Don’t let an initially small readership get you down.
This is an important lesson: unless you have thousands of individuals awaiting the launch of your blog, readership will increase slowly. Be patient. To begin, promote your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, Technorati, and other online tools. The secret to increasing readership goes back to our second tip: don’t get lazy with the frequency of your blogging. The more content you have posted, the likelier it is search engines will turn up your content when someone uses a term or word associated with your post.

And this idea leads to tagging: tag the hell out of your blog posts. Tags are keywords that help folks find your blog posts when they look for something in search engines. Tags also help you connected with those you’re blogging about, especially if she or he has online alerts on their name or works, which can lead to new readership.

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3 thoughts on “One year later: blogging tips for beginners

  1. John Henry Malik says:

    Very good advice. Prior to reading this entry, I thought learning exclusively from making our own mistakes rather than from advice or instruction was solely a Malik family trait. You mean it applies to others as well?
    For what it’s worth, I agree that it takes a year in any job to fully master it — one complete cycle. And then after three years, time to move on.

  2. […] be thoughtful and intentional with your posts, and most important, don’t leave it dormant. (Some tips from my first year as a blogger might be helpful for […]

  3. […] I’ve just finished my second week as communications coordinator at a public broadcasting affiliate. After almost five years in higher education marketing, I was hungry for a bigger challenge and experience in a new area of marketing, and it’s turned out to be a great decision. (And a busy one: I’m ashamed that in not blogging for more than two [er, three…?] weeks, I’ve broken one of my cardinal blogging rules.) […]

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