Woo Hoo! As of today, this blog celebrates it’s second birthday (if you don’t believe me, here’s my very first post from 2013). I’m still absolutely amazed that it’s been going this long and I wonder what amazing things will appear on here during the next year 🙂
Anyway, on this blog’s first birthday, I made a two-part post (which can be read here and here) about ten things that I’d learnt from running a blog for an entire year. But, looking back, I don’t think that I really quite managed to fit everything I wanted to say about blogging in it.
So, for today, I thought that I’d break my “don’t blog about blogging” rule yet again and tell you more about what I’ve learnt from running a blog for more than two years.
Most of the stuff in this article will be about how to increase your viewing figures – so, if you want more practical advice, then be sure to check out the two articles I wrote last year.
Anyway, let’s get started 🙂
1)You get out what you put in: This is more of a weird observation than a piece of practical advice, but one thing I’ve noticed with this site is that – regardless of what I have scheduled in advance for a particular day- the amount of traffic I get will often roughly reflect the enthusiasm I have for blogging on that particular day.
I’ve had days when my scheduled article was a filler piece that I wrote weeks earlier (when I was uninspired) and, even though I’ve just finished preparing an excellent article for a few weeks later, I’ve still got a decent amount of views on that day.
But, I’ve had other days when an absolutely great article has been automatically posted on here – but, because I’ve been in a dismal mood about blogging that day, I got a fairly low number of views.
This might just be me, but I’ve found that blog views can often reflect how you’re feeling about your blog on any given day.
Of course, another reason for this might have something to do with the fact that….
2) Blogs are non-linear: If you haven’t been feeling inspired and you end up posting a fairly mediocre blog article on a particular day, then it isn’t the end of the world. People won’t desert your blog in droves or anything like that. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to get more views on that day than you might expect.
Why? Because blogs are non-linear. Most people don’t read every entry in a blog and they don’t usually read them in chronological order either. Most of the time people will find one article from your blog by accident when looking for things using a search engine.
If they like what they read, then they might read more of your blog, but they either might not have time to do this or your blog might not be what they are looking for. Even so, you’ve still got one extra pageview.
What this all means is that, even if you haven’t been feeling inspired and you’ve only managed to post a rather mediocre article on your blog, then you can still get fairly decent viewing figures for that day – because most of your new readers will just skip straight to the best parts of your blog.
So, as long as at least part of your blog is well-written and interesting, then writing the occasional mediocre article isn’t as bad as you might think.
3) Block paragraphs: This is a fairly obvious thing, but reading text on a computer screen is a slightly different experience to reading it it in a book or a magazine.
Typically, you can only fit 200-300 words on a page of a paperback book. You may be able to fit more text onto a magazine page, but it is often split up into columns in order to make it more easily readable.
You probably won’t have this luxury with your blog. Every article you write on a blog will just be one long continuous scroll of text (possibly broken up by the occasional picture). People can’t bookmark their place in it if they need to stop reading for a while and do something else. Likewise, the idea of reading through a dense block of text might be off-putting to quite a few readers.
So, what can you do? Simple, just keep your paragraphs fairly short and leave a space between each one. Not only will this make your blog articles appear more spread-out and easily-readable, but it also means that it’s easier for your readers to find their place again if they get distracted halfway through reading one of your articles.
4) Reviews: Although writing reviews can be an excellent way to make a fairly quick filler post when you haven’t got any ideas for “proper” blog articles, they can also be a great way to temporarily boost your viewing figures for a couple of days. But, there’s something of a caveat here.
You need to review new mainstream things. Yes, it sucks, I know.
Although it’s a lot easier to review old things or fairly random and obscure things, you need to occasionally review “new” and “mainstream” things if you want a traffic boost. Of course, if you’re anything like me, you probably don’t have the budget to go out and buy new computer games on release day (or the hardware needed to run them) or you don’t have the budget to see every new movie that comes out in the cinema. But, don’t worry, there are still plenty of other new things you can review if you’re clever.
For example, if you live in the UK, you can review some of your favourite TV shows. Famous UK TV shows (eg: “Doctor Who”, “Sherlock”, “Downton Abbey” etc…) are especially good in this regard, for the simple reason that they have a large international fanbase and they’re often shown in the UK before they’re shown in the US.
What this means is that you’ll have a fairly large international audience who is eager to learn about their favourite programs before they’re shown on TV. And you’ll be in the perfect position to tell them about it. Don’t feel too bad about this if you live in the US though, you guys get about ten times more TV shows earlier than we do…
Likewise, there are plenty of other low-cost and/or free new things that have a large audience that you can review if you’re willing to think outside the box (eg: popular Youtube channels, “free-to-play” games [although these can be something of a con], bestselling novels, open-source software, household products etc…).
5) Efficiency: Often, one of the most important things when it comes to maintaining an audience for your blog is to stick to a regular posting schedule (eg: so that people can expect something new every day, every three days, every week, every fortnight etc…). But, actually creating content on a regular basis can sometimes be more difficult than it looks.
So, you need to be focused. There are only a certain number of hours in the day and you’ll probably also only have a certain amount of enthusiasm for blogging every day. So, you need to find a way to use both of these things as efficiently as possible.
What this often means is that “less is more”. Posting smaller amounts of content on a regular basis is both a lot more manageable for you and a lot more interesting for your audience. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, it’s actually better to post a few hundred words every day than it is to post a few thousand words every few weeks.
Likewise, try to keep the number of regular features on your blog down to a sensible level. Although, as I briefly did in late 2013/early 2014, it can be kind of cool to post four things on your blog every day – it’s unsustainable. So, keep the amount of content you post on your blog down to a level that you can realistically handle.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂