Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blogging Rocks . . . If You Let It

Everyone has pointers on blogging, especially professional bloggers. Professional bloggers? Yes, there are people out there making a living with their writing, ads and products . . . on their blogs. I subscribe to several of them, since as freelancers, they live a parallel life to my own as a freelance writer. Amazingly, I find many common lessons spewing from the mouths of these experts. I've tried to compile a few of them. Not only do they apply to your blogging, but they apply to your writing as well.

1. Your blog first.

Most of us easily find ourselves caught up in reading the latest on our favorite blogs. We watch for the latest post from celebrity blogs, like agent Nathan Bransford and business guru Seth Godin. Then we realize we haven't posted to our own blog for two weeks. No time, you say. However, it's amazing how those blogs you read manage to post five or more times a week. It's all in your priorities, and as any agent, editor or publisher will tell you, as a professional/freelance writer, you better have one. And it better work.

2. Your reputation second.

Put your best face forward. You have opinions, but will airing all of them make a positive impact on your freelance career? Can you stand behind your blog post? Does it represent you well? Do others enjoy your blog, your presence? Edgy is one thing, but nasty is another. On the other end of the spectrum, are you boring as cream of wheat? Your blog is you. How do you want to preserve that reputation for eternity online?

3. Consistency is everything.

Forget your blog for two weeks, and readers drop like flies, moving on to find other bloggers who respect them more. To acquire regular readers, you must be a regular blogger. Notice how some bloggers have guest posts, or favorite past posts repeated. When they have other obligations keeping them away from their blogging station, they create posts ahead of time or ask others to write in their place. This effort is to maintain a consistency,  because they cherish the readers who come back daily for information. When I visit a blog for the first time, I glance at the earlier posts. When I see four posts in July and three in June, I recognize a blogger who is doing it because she has to, not because she feels a need to embrace her readership and further her career.

4. Promote without gimmick.

Yes, we all have something to sell. But the successful blogger gives to the reader more than he asks from the reader. Don't be a used car salesman. Make readers walk away feeling the visit was worth their time. Make them feel worthy in your eyes. But if your site is all about the sale, you'll lose the majority of any potential repeat visits. "Give and ye shall receive." And that includes being honest.

5. Be original.

Plagiarism is a killer. Do not copy other blogs or insert verbatim articles from other sites or newsletters. I've had my material lifted. Some give me credit, some don't. I remember them, and will never endorse them. Go back to the reputation point above. When you copy material, your credibility becomes trash. Any reader catching you at plagiarism is a reader gone for good, and no telling who else she'll tell as she walks out the door.

Give me one reason for not blogging, and I'll counter with ten reasons why you should. It's a way of Internet life, especially if you intend to make a living on the Internet. As with writing, however, there are no shortcuts. Just do it . . .and do it right. My goodness, it's free and one of the easiest promotional tools in the world. And you know it.


Jessie Mac said...

I think I may be as boring as cream of wheat! Oh dear.

Thanks for the post, Hope.

Blogging is like writing as you say. Just as you doubt your ability to write, you also doubt your ability to blog and blog well. Well, I do.

Jessie Mac said...

PS I like the image of the people clapping. How did you do that? Reminds me of Harry Potter when images move on newspapers.

BECKY said...

Hi Hope! I totally agree with everything on this! I've been blogging for about a year and a half, and I know it has made me a better writer. I post something almost daily and it has really made a difference. I love all my new friends I've "met" because of it, as well.

Anthony J. Langford said...

That's a really good post Hope.
You make some interesting points.

Honestly, I don't know where some people find the time to post daily.

With kids and a job and working on a novel, I just do not have the time to post daily, but perhaps once a week is not enough. My blog consists of stories and poems and that sort of content takes time. Perhaps I need to write some more opinion pieces.
I do have to say that there is nothing worse than people who post incessantly with little to say.

Perhaps I need to follow different blogs.

Thanks again for the food for thought.

Hope Clark said...

The picture is a stock photo from a free photo site. You can find great stuff at those sites.