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This is Part 2 of The Guys' Guide to Blogging. In Part 1 I talked a little bit about me and what/how I know what I know. I discussed the purpose of the entry and getting over some misconceptions about blogging. Then we touched upon the various blogging platforms, getting a URL, hosting services (Yahoo! has a promo where you get a free domain name when you purchase a Yahoo! web hosting plan) and how to get that "cool" looking blog.
In this post, I am going to discuss: design, content, analytics, and promoting your blog. If anyone is reading this and would like to add or comment...please, please do so! I'd love to get more input and grow my own knowledge base.
Design. Depending on what your purpose is, if this is a professional blog or a personal one, you may want to hire a designer to design a logo and some branding for you. There are many freelance designers available for short term projects that can create some brand identity for you. Designers can charge by the hour or by the project. A logo can cost you anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand.
You may also want to hire a professional to either write the code and build you a custom site. For most of us, custom sites are not necessary, a template will do. If you use Wordpress, you should consider WooThemes - Premium WordPress Templates. But, if you're not "techy", the themes can be tricky to install and customize. Hiring a professional to assist you with installation and customization is also wise. If you need either of these things, shoot me an email or "Tweet" me @leyla_a. I have many friends who are designers, developers, etc. whom I've worked with in the past.
Simple design advice you may want to heed, readers may navigate away from pages with black backgrounds more quickly than they would a lighter color or white background. My blog used to be black with white lettering and I received multiple notes and emails saying "my eyes hurt reading your blog". People told me that the longer they read, their eyes would lose focus and play tricks on them. I changed my template to something, clean and white. I try to keep my page simple so I can keep the attention on my content vs. intricate design.
Here are some bullet points from Marketing Sherpa:
- Make eyeflow easier, reduce friction
- Eyeflow goes from center of page to the right
- Do not center your text
- Keep your background white (or light) and your text black and at least 10 point, 12 point is better
Photos. Include graphics and photos in your posts! Although search engines love content, readers do not. I sometimes hear "If I wanted to read a book, I'd read a book" because I write too much. Keep your sentences and your paragraphs SHORT. People have a much shorter attention span ONLINE. The average reader will not spend more than 3 minutes on your page.
Analytics. There are various web analytic tools you can utilize. The most popular being Google. Yahoo! also has analytics, their standard merchant solutions plan.
To keep it really brief, analytics will tell you how many people navigate to your site each day. You can see where they came from: direct traffic, referring sites, search engines (paid vs. non-paid). You can see how long your visitors stay, which pages they view, in which order they view the pages, etc. You can even see where the visitors came from, which country OR even which city. There are many other details, and in time, you will be able to utilize this information to your benefit. I use my analytics to see how/where my traffic is coming from. When I see something working, IE., a certain bookmarking site or a specific site that I've been getting a lot of hits from, I spend more time with that entity. If I try a new promotion, I track the progress and success (or failure) with analytics.
Promoting your blog. This could be a whole blog entry in and of itself, so we'll just touch on the basics. Bullet points for easy reading with links to help you out.
- Bookmarking sites such as Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg & Delicious. These sites are used in varying capacities, people surf these sites to find articles or websites that they find interesting. Read more about Bookmarking Sites in a previous post I wrote.
- Link Building. This means that you have links to your site on other reputable websites. You can do this in various ways. You can post your links as "comments" on other sites or blogs. You can exchange links with other bloggers. You can pay for your link to be on other sites. You can even post your links on relevant message boards.
- Social Media. Find a few social media sites that makes sense for your subject matter and spend some time there. Make genuine "friendships" or online relationships. Twitter is a great way to meet with other bloggers or other individuals with whom you share an interest. Here is a little bit more information on how to utilize Twitter. And here is some information on Hootsuite and Tweetdeck - two tools to help you use Twitter more efficiently.
Some other helpful pointers....
- Perhaps you should consider starting with a "practice" blog and then move to a professional one when you've mastered some items. This is my "practice" blog.
- Learn a bit of HTML
- Don't spread yourself thin, pick one or two things and master them
- Take lots of pictures
- Read other people's blogs and pay attention to what they do and how they do it
- Write compelling content, brevity is key (something I still need to learn)
- Take lots of pictures, use an upgraded photo service like Flickr, where people can find you and your stream
And here are some great links
Mashable Woork ProBlogger