This post originally appeared on my Papercraft blog but perhaps this would be the better home for it. Just sharing some tips on blogging...
... there is nothing quite as satisfying to a blogger as seeing really good visitor stats. I would blog if nobody read what I wrote because I just like to put things out there, information, opinions, views, history... whatever but it's a good feeling when people actually want to read what you write. You feel as if you are sharing and I guess that's the main point of doing it.
I have other blogs which are not craft related and they are pretty successful and have been around a number of years so have had time to really build a following and to develop a community around similar interests. I've been invited to attend some interesting events and get involved in some amazing projects. Blogging can lead you into lots of other things, I know people who have found new careers or had exciting opportunities, found huge support through a crisis or have made great friendships.
This past few days I've seen a huge spike in visitors to this blog (post edit: www.craftylittleblog.com) and my other one at www.craftylittlethingsuk.com/blog (this one) where I blog about crafting in general. I've identified a few reasons for this and am grateful for them and for that increase in readership and that they are lingering a while and reading multiple posts and coming back for more.
I would go so far as to say that I feel the papercraft blog is already showing good signs of being successful in that people are reading it and I'm putting up content regularly. But what are all of the keys to creating a successful blog? In my opinion and experience there are several factors at play but I by no means hold all of the keys. Creating content that people are interested in, is relevant to other people and readable are perhaps the main factors but I've put together more thoughts below to help find ways to attract and maintain a readership or at least to avoid putting readers off.
1. Consistency - from keeping your topic consistent to keeping your posting consistent from keeping your approach consistent to keeping your interaction consistent it all counts. People like familiarity and although something radically different or new may attract attention, once it's attracted people like more of what attracted them. Otherwise it can feel a little as if they've been dragged in under false pretences. Post frequently or regularly especially in the early days to build content and a library of content for visitors to read through, share or bookmark to come back to
2. Readability - people who choose to read blogs rather than watch videos or as a compliment to videos tend to enjoy reading or using reading as method of learning, they are willing to absorb information and form pictures and process thoughts for themselves rather than have images alone to do that for them. Most people who enjoy reading like what they are reading to be clear and accurate as well as well put together grammatically. We all make typos but there are the obvious glaring errors in grammar and layout which frankly put people off reading:
Capitals when there is no need
Serif fonts are harder to read than sans (without) serif fonts
Justified text is harder to follow than left aligned text
No clear structure - no flow, poor use of paragraphs, no headings, digression, too much waffle
Poor spelling - there are typos and then there is illiteracy
Wrong use of words (Mrs Mallaprop may have been hilarious but it's not good when reading)
Poor grammar - apostrophes are one of the biggest kill joys of all time and these three dots ... are called an elipse and have purpose in grammar, they're not commas and there are always three of them, use two you show you have no clue what you are doing with them
No highlighting of key words
Colours which are impossible to see especially against garish backgrounds
LOLS and smiley faces are a huge turn off
3. Pictures - use images to highlight and illustrate - they break up text, give a quick and simple point of reference and also show off your other skills if you took the photo, edited it or created something in it.
4. Length of text - this is a tough one as some of my other blogs have posts which are essays and have to be and that's appropriate in that academic context but even so I try to limit them to a maximum of 2500 words. Less formal informative posts I will limit further and personal experience posts which can span several year of life can be broken down into chapters and spread over several digestible posts. Fictional posts can take the form of short stories and can again be broken into chapters to be more digestible.
5. Layout - it's important to put ourselves into our blog and for our personality to show a little. Black on white, clinical, pristine posts have their place but they are not very attractive. Pages covered in garish pattern, flowers, animated elements and unnecessary elements are difficult to read and can be confusing. Too many badges and claims to fame can become very egocentric, it's not really relevant to someone who wants to learn how to make a mushroom stroganoff if you won a blogging award 7 years ago unless it was awarded by Michelin perhaps. Too much advertising, especially of the pop up kind can become quickly irritating.
6. Sign Up - forcing people to sign up to your blog before they can read a post will lose you readers for sure. There is nothing worse than wanting to find out how to change your duvet cover in one easy motion than having to give your life history first. We as consumers, tech users are a little tired of it. Also having to sign up to leave a comment prevents comments and not having a clear way to follow or share your blog is going to prevent people from following and sharing it
7. Hard Sell - people in general don't like being sold at. They like to feel they are in charge of their own thoughts and decisions so blogs with a sales focus which shout out "Buy! Buy! Buy!" are going to turn off a lot of people, even those who did want to buy. Be more subtle.
8. Humour - this is a tricky one as humour is a very personal thing and often difficult to convey to everyone on Earth in the same way and you have to remember that your readers potentially come from all over the planet. What may seem funny to one person may seem deeply offensive to another. Someone whose mates think is hilarious may grind on everyone else they come across. So try to keep it out unless you are really good at managing yourself.
9. Sharing - hugely important penultimate point. Share your posts on other social media, tell your friends and families and professional circles about your blog. Encourage onward sharing, use sharing platforms, interact with other bloggers from within and outside of your interest area.
10. Patience - have patience, your blog is not going to draw in a million viewers over night. Work on developing your content and layout, analyse your data, find out where your traffic is coming from, identify who your target audience is and check out who your actual audience is. Build a strategy for reaching your target and tapping into other readerships. There is a danger of wanting to have a blog with thousands of daily hits from day one but that doesn't happen over night for most people, it takes time and effort and gradually those numbers will increase.
Hope this is useful to someone.
Have a great weekend.