Tonight was a discussion of going beyond dipping your toes in the blogosphere, and moving from 101 hobby blogging, to Blog 201 and beyond.
Firstly, I asked if anyone was actively putting any of the advice they’ve had on #blogchat to good use on their blogs.
I think the question got lost in the rush of “This is how I blogchat” – ignore that part, and read Stan Smith’s rockstar-level #blogchat methodology.
To answer, however: we’ve had a lot of good advice. (sidebars, construction topicality, etc)
Mack asked how we decide the focus of our blogs – Margie Clayman, true to form, jumped in with a note about finding inspiration in tweets and other blog posts. I concur, however; when you’re working up to the 101 level (forget 201 for now), writing what you know can be a good start. Address your own concerns and interests, and those of like mind will jump in.
Of course, as @kateyoung28 mentioned, getting people to find you when you’re starting out can be hard unless you promote. My first step is always SEO – as I’ve written about before, that’s easier than most bloggers think.
Chase Adams mentioned getting inspiration from coffee shops and other public places – something we don’t do nearly often enough (paying attention when in public). Don’t ego map yourself; pull out the headphones once in a while.
As a sidenote, Chris Garrett mentioned editorial calendars to help keep yourself on track and not miss any opportunites to write. I agree. I’d also add that plugins such as Insights (for WordPress.org blogs) are essential to making sure you link your writing in an integrated fashion to your past thoughts.
@devacoach mentioned using her iPhone to take pictures as reminders – I agree! – I use Evernote when I’ve got my laptop or phone about.
@deswalsh mentioned using Google Analytics regularly to see which past posts are performing more persistently – a 201 trick if there ever was one – so he can write similar material in the future.
Halftime! There was a lot of tomfoolery about tools here, gratuitous mentions of Evernote and other organizational tools – see the transcript for more on this part.
I asked what else, other than higher quality content, clearly demarcates a 201-level blog from a 101-level blog. @be3d said “consistent content cadence” – a term you can bet I’ll be using in the future. Consistency definitely trumps frequency in blogs.
@Josepf mentioned developing series of posts – and that’s a great tip. Series may or may not get as many comments as single, heavy hitting pillar articles, but drawing out a concept into a few different articles is one of the marks of an accustomed writer, if not a professional one. Circling a topic for a few dozen posts is vastly different to writing a targeted series. No more of this ready fire aim business.
Now – back to that Ready, Fire, Aim thing.
It’s always been my thought that online business (and thus blogs) do better when they Beta extensively, and refine as they go, toward a moving, yet identified target. More on this later this week.
Power quote time:
@savvywordpress: always remember SEO get them there, good design gets their interest, great content keeps them there + makes conversion #blogchat
Awesome, yes? This encompasses a lot of what #blogchat has been saying for a while.Quality web-work has to cover all the bases.
And that’s when Mack started asking about subscribers. The first question? Who’s got a subscribe button on their blogs. I’d argue a subscribe button is minimum table stakes for blog design – anything less than at least a “Subscribe here” link, or an orange icon is doing it wrong.
A lot of people agreed that they’ve got subscribe buttons, and know what they’re for. This is a good thing.
@superdumb (who is most definitely NOT) dropped a note about starting conversations in comments on others’ blogs that you can take home to your own. 201-level tip, for sure.
And, mercy to the masses, Dan Perez and I actually agreed on something; there’s a massive gulf in skillsets between bloggers and writers (and, I added, authors). Not all writers can blog, and not every blogger should author a book or write a newspaper column. This is important, especially when considering the move from 101 blog (hobby, mandatory action, etc) to 201, full-on, professional blogging.
Above all else, making sure you’re not just covering the minimum bases, but filling out every field and making sure you have the commitment to find the right skills and get the right support is one of the key factors in moving into Blogging at the 201 Level. Anyone can write a blog. Not everyone needs, wants, or must become a highly skilled blogger.
What do you think? What else goes on the list of 201-level blogging tips that we missed?
A participants’ list will be up as soon as I can get one/generate one. If you’ve got one, please do share!
Photo by Scarleth White.