A year ago I wrote an article titled ‘why write another blog‘ (the emphasis being on another if you take a look at the numbers of blogs out there) when I started Drivelry.com.
Now that I know most things there are to know about blogging I thought it was important to give something back to the community.
So here are the hard-won lessons I learned about blogging that got me to where I am today, thousands of dollars of Adsense revenue every week and regular speaking opportunities (contact me for details on my new Nichesplog™ system, “‘the only program you’ll ever need to make thousands of dollars on the internet with just 5 minutes effort a day.“)
Rule 1: You must post several times a week
The success of your blog will be driven entirely by search crawlers, who read it 97.8% more frequently than human readers (NB always provide high quality estimates to at least one decimal place). Search crawlers have limited comprehension (less than that of your average 2 year old) so quantity beats quality every time.
Better to post drivel than nothing at all. Drivel is particularly good because incoming readers are more likely to click on one of the advertisements embedded in your page, rather than read your post, so drivel makes you money!
Rule 2: Write posts with titles involving the phrase ‘the 10 best…’
For example, “The 10 best ways to lose your virginity”, or “10 shortcuts to becoming an internet millionaire”, or “10 most popular blog topics to make money online“.
These kind of posts are scarce so you will be strongly differentiating yourself by doing this.
With these kind of socially affirming titles you also appeal to the kind of people that read self-help books. These kind of people are charismatic and are bound to virally spread your message to all their friends by spruiking your posts on social bookmarking sites like Stumbleupon or Digg.
Don’t worry if you can’t actually come up with 10 points. If you skip a point or two ( for example going straight from Rule 3 to Rule 5) most readers are unlikely to notice anyway.
This rule is sometimes referred to in the blogging community as the ‘Number – Adjective – Subject’ rule for obvious reasons.
Rule 3: Focus your blog on a clearly defined niche
For example, ‘Railway Travel’ is a good topic for a blog.
However ‘Railway Sleepers‘ means you’re really honing in on a clearly defined niche. With a ‘niche dominator’ like that (unafilliated with the excellent blogging software of the same name that I have loosely based Nichesplog on) you are bound to attract most of the keyword searches that companies selling either concrete or wood railway sleepers really want to target. Pick a market that is growing – clearly train travel is growing as environmental issues make public transport more important.
Sure, it may be a little bit difficult coming up with something that interests you about railway sleepers every week but focusing on a niche will:
a) help keep your posts short
b) you can only be accused of ignorance by other bloggers about one subject, and,
c) always remember RULE 1 (search crawlers don’t care what you write anyway).
Keep at it! Get in a routine by writing at least a sentence each day and just copy and paste them together every couple of days to form a post.
If you can’t think of anything to write get angry (apparently this helps).
Rule 4: Make your blog look like something that isn’t a blog
Out there on the internet many readers do not read blogs because, unlike proper journalism, blogs are factually unreliable, prone to bias and they may be hiding computer viruses that can raid your online bank account. Readers are aware that there is no quality control.
When you think about it even the very word ‘blog’ sounds kind of unnatural.
For this reason it is best to hide from the reader that they are looking at a blog.
For example always refer to posts as ‘articles’ and if you have control over your hosting template it is best to change things like ‘Blogroll‘ to ‘Sites I recommend‘ and ‘Categories‘ should be replaced with ‘Topics‘.
Basically avoid anything that is a giveaway to readers that they are looking at a low quality blog post, as opposed to a high quality website.
Rule 6: Blog readers have miniscule attention spans – keep it short
Screen readers only ever read the first two sentences in a paragraph. Use lots of subheadings. And short sentences.
The average blog reader spends 32.4 seconds reading a post. Did you notice that there was no ‘Rule 5′? I rest my case.
All posts should be able to be expressed in 3 paragraphs – anything longer than that is just self-indulgent.
Most readers will never waste good printer paper by actually printing from a blog.
Rule 7: Blog rules rule over traditional publishing
Because blogs are going to sweep the old publishing empires before them there is no need to worry about grammer – or syntax; or spelling.
Traditional dead-tree based publishers also have this concept of an ‘editor’ who was not intimately involved in writing the piece, who may be able to see where you are making logical leaps that leave the reader behind, where your sense of humour deserted you, or where you just entirely omitted words. There is no need for one of these editors (or volunteers to perform the role) as editors are part of a cost base that is driving traditional publishers to the wall. Blogs are ‘personal’ (see Rule 9) and readers are well aware there’s no quality control (see Rule 4).
Typography is just a form of Onanism for publishers. Very small fonts that don’t cater to the over-60s crowd do help you to fit more in ‘above the fold’ (an odd term that we bloggers use to describe the screen text that can be seen without scrolling down) and the over-60s are unlikely to engage with the medium anyway for all the reasons cited above.
Think about search engine optimization all the time. Before you write each post work out what keywords you wish to target and then repeat them a lot. Links to other websites fritter away your ‘Googlejuice’ (a term we bloggers use). It’s best to be self-contained (see Rule 9). Use lots of textual emphasis like italics and underlines as this is apparently also good for your Googlejuice.
Rule 8: Create lots of buzz about your blog
Engaging with anyone else’s content can really fritter away your time.
Instead, focus on making comments on other people’s blogs that will help get your articles noticed and really get the attention of other bloggers e.g.:
“You’re wrong. See my post at http://railwaysleepers.blogspot.com/etc.”
Use channels like Twitter and Facebook to broadcast your new posts as much as possible. When you’re emailing each post to your address book remember Rule 4 and refer to your post as an ‘observation’, ‘explanation’, ‘article’, etc – in short anything but a ‘blog post’.
Create 50 Hotmail accounts and then use them to recommend your best articles at social bookmarking sites.
Mail prominent bloggers interesting questions that could concievably form their next blog post like “could defining your fears be more important than defining your goals?” Or ask them about blogging – navel-gazing is a habit no self respecting blogger can resist.
PS Talking to people on Twitter can really waste your time.
Rule 9: Personal is everything
Unlike your email, or dinner parties with your friends, blogs are for letting it all hang out. Pictures of your children or pets help to add that personal touch which creates a deeper relationship between you and the reader. Pictures of your babies are a must.
It’s ok to comment about your company, your partner, and your personal habits. This helps you establish your credibility as an individual and not just a corporate stooge.
With the sheer amount of text being added to the web every day it is highly unlikely that any of these comments are actually locatable by people close to you at your workplace, school, or other institutions you’re involved with, and people will obviously acknowledge in 10 years time that your opinion may change. Most people also lack anything approaching real search skills.
Rule 10: If you paid for something for your blog you paid too much
If you have to pay for something you’re getting ripped off. You’re already investing a lot of time, why invest money as well?
Registering and finding a domain name takes ages and then you’ve got to wait in the ‘sandpit’ until Google decides you’re not just some web spammer.
Use default designs and create your blog at one of the free blog hosting sites at Blogspot or Blogger or Wordpress.com. After all it’s the text that matters (see Rule 1).
If it starts to go really well you can easily move your blog somewhere else.
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