Ten Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For A Year – Part Two

Yay! I've always wanted to say this!

Yay! I’ve always wanted to say this!

Welcome back 🙂 In case you haven’t read part one, this blog had it’s first birthday yesterday. I’ve decided to commemorate the occasion by giving you a list of ten things I’ve learnt about blogging over the past year, which might come in handy if you’re thinking about starting a blog of your own.

Again, I know that I’m breaking the “don’t blog about blogging” rule here. But, don’t worry, normal articles about art and writing will resume tomorrow at the usual time (plus, there will obviously be an art post this evening too).

So, without any further ado, let’s get started on the rest of the list:

6) Lists: As you’ve probably noticed, a fair number of my articles are lists. They usually have titles like “Five tips for…” or “Four ways to…”, there’s a good reason why I do this and why you should do it too.

Don’t ask me why, but people are fascinated by lists. They’re fascinated by titles which suggest that they are going to get to read a list of interesting information or ideas. I first really noticed this trick when I discovered an absolutely hilarious and addictive [but probably slightly NSFW] website called Cracked.

Virtually all of their article titles are things like “Ten Secretly Badass People From History”, “Five Popular Soft Drinks With A Dark History” etc… and, for some reason, it makes them irresistibly interesting. Since then, I’ve noticed this format in all sorts of blogs and I’ve used it in my own.

I still don’t have a clue why it works, but it does. So, use it.

7) Filler: If you’re posting articles every day, then you’re probably going to run out of ideas occasionally. Don’t worry, this is normal. It happens to everyone. But what separates those who are serious about blogging from those who aren’t is what they do when this happens.

If you’ve made a decision to post something daily, then post something daily. Don’t just leave your blog blank for a day. If this sounds impossibly difficult, then don’t worry – there are a few tricks you can use to get an article written fairly quickly.

I’ve written about this topic in much more detail in another article, but one of the many tricks you can use when this happens is to write a filler article.

Whilst you shouldn’t use filler articles too often, they can be absolutely invaluable when you’re short on ideas. These can include reviews of things (since a review is a lot easier to write than an original article), these can include cleverly-disguised reworkings of articles you’ve already written, these can include a compilation of links to various things (like my monthly “Best of the blog” posts) and they can include blog posts where you pose a question to the audience.

Likewise, as this article itself demonstrates, you can fill up an extra day of your blogging schedule by splitting a longer article up into two separate articles.

There are a lot of ways to write good filler content and it’s worth knowing a couple of these before you start blogging (rather than learning them as you go along, like I did), because writer’s block affects us all at one time or another. So, be prepared.

8) Post length: It’s worth working out how long you want your posts to be before you start blogging.

Some sites I’ve read recommend that you keep your blog posts ridiculously short (eg: 400 words or less), so that people can read them quickly. Other sites recommend that you just make your posts as long or short as they end up being once you’ve finished them. There’s really no agreement here.

Personally, I tend to keep my posts between about 500 and 1500 words for a number of reasons. For starters, I tend to be a little bit verbose and I find writing short things a lot more difficult than giving myself a bit more space to express myself fully. Secondly, this is the kind of article length that I personally like to read. Thirdly, I feel like I’m “cheating” my readers if I write a short post (which is why I sometimes apologise at the end of any 500-600 word posts that I write).

I can’t tell you which post length will work for you, but it’s a good idea to work this out for yourself. Try preparing a few articles before you start your blog and take a look at how long they are. If you’re better suited to writing short posts, then write short posts. If you’re better suited to writing essays, then write essays. But don’t try to squash or stretch your articles to fit someone else’s guidelines.

9) Write the kind of blog you want to read: I can’t emphasise this enough. Your blog must interest you, it must be about topics that interest you and it should be presented in a way that interests you.

Yes, your blog should be primarily for your readers rather than for you – but if you aren’t interested in it, then how can you expect them to be?

For example, I love websites that post things daily. I’ll read them almost religiously. So, when it came to working out how often I’d post things on here – it was an absolute no-brainer.

Of course, over the past year, I’ve learnt that posting daily is a bit more difficult than it looks – but it’s given me a lot more respect for the daily sites that I read.

Writing the kind of blog that you want to read also helps you to feel proud of your blog. And, if you feel proud of your blog, then you’ll have a lot more intrinsic motivation to produce more stuff for it and to make it as good as possible.

But, at the same time, remember that your blog must also be something which other people will also be interested in too.

10) Don’t blog about blogging: Finally, if you aren’t writing a blog about writing blogs, then don’t blog about blogging. I’m certainly not the first person to say this and I certainly won’t be the last.

I can probably just about get away with blogging about blogging here only because it’s a special occasion and because blogging is at least vaguely similar to writing. Either that, or I’m just being extremely hypocritical here.

But, if your blog is about a topic which is totally unrelated to blogging, then don’t start blogging about blogging. Stick to the topic that you’re writing about and the topic that people expect to read about when they find your blog.

If you spend a long time blogging about, say, tortoises and then you suddenly start blogging about blogging instead – your readers will be confused at best or seriously annoyed at worst. So, don’t do it.

Yes, if you’ve been blogging for a while, then it’s very easy to write about it. But, don’t.

——–

Anyway, I hope this was useful 🙂 If you’re interested, you can find part one here.

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2 comments on “Ten Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For A Year – Part Two

  1. […] as I did on this blog’s first anniversary in 2014 (here and here) and on this blog’s second anniversary in 2015 (here), I thought that I’d list a few of the […]

  2. […] like I’ve done in 2014 (part one, part two), in 2015 and in 2016, I thought that I’d share some of the things that I’ve learnt from […]

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