Thursday, February 21, 2013

For the newbies - some tips on blogging

First and foremost, this is not about how to write a blog. I am of the opinion that one should write according to one's own style and language, should not imitate anyone else. Each writer has a unique style and his /her aim should be to continuously nurture it. 

The other day I happened to come across a comment on Facebook. A blogger had written that nobody reads him and so he has lost interest in writing. The first question that came to my mind was: 'why should I read you?’. I checked the blog of that person and found nothing much interesting (as far as I am concerned) in the few posts that I read. I would probably not return to that blog again because of the feeling that there is nothing in it for me. 

I had, in fact, written such a response to that person - but then deleted it; I did not want to hurt his feelings. And it got me thinking. The result is this post. Though I am not a veteran or an acclaimed blogger, here I am trying to highlight some tricks of the trade or tips that would help one survive in the blogosphere. Most of these, I have learned from my own experience, as well as from other bloggers and blogging groups. I do hope that at least a few people would be benefitted from this post... So let’s see what can help us stick to blogging:

As a newbie, one is filled with a lot of enthusiasm and writes posts after post - just like a factory churning product after product. The problem is that, one forgets about the audience (rather readers) in this excitement. It is purely from the writer's point of view that the posts are written. What will happen if a factory produces products that do not suit the end users? Nobody will be interested in buying them! Same is the case with blog posts. Most of us enter the blogosphere with our ‘personal diary experiences’ – if I may term them so. Though it might seem a great thing as far as the writer is concerned, the reader might not find anything for him. And believe me; if you are not an Amithabh Bachchan or some other celebrity, nobody is interested in reading your personal anecdotes. So, the bubble is burst sooner than one likes it… That is lesson no. 1 – blogging should not be a digital version of your personal diary. It must have something that appeals to the reader, something that would bring him back to your blog every time you write something. A lot of thought should go into the topic.

Now, when one goes to the market to buy a product, what determines his buying decision? If there are two products with same utility, how does one decide which one to buy? Studies have revealed that in most cases, it would be the packaging that determines the purchase decision. To take simple analogy, if there are two products of same kind (say soap) on the shelf in a supermarket, people tend to choose the product with more attractive packing. Most of us have this idea that if it is packaged in an attractive manner, it should be good. In reality, the other product might not be inferior (sometimes it might be of superior quality as well), but lost out due to unattractive packaging. (Ever wondered why the ads say – now in a new attractive packet/jar? Most people fall for that, thinking that the product is also better). Coming back to the topic, it is not enough to have a good product; it is equally important to present it in the most pleasing way. If one writes a good post, but presents it in the most haphazard manner, then one may not get too many readers. So, the lesson no. 2 says that – the blog’s layout and look should be attractive and appealing to the eyes of the reader. (It will do us a lot good to remember the adage – first impression is the best impression)
Now, you have a product, but it does not say anything about you – how does that sound? Let’s consider this again with the example of soap – there are two brands of soap: X and Y. Upon examining the package, one finds out that X is manufactured by company A, and that there is no description about the manufactures of Y. It is but natural that one opts for soap X rather than Y. This is due to the fact that because of the details given on the product about the company, X carries a lot more genuineness than Y. Lesson No. 3 is that it applies to one’s blog as well. The ‘About Me’ section is very important for a blogger because that is one tool with which the reader tries to assess the genuineness of a blogger. It is said that the About Me page is the second most visited page, especially in case of a newbie (the first, of course is the home page of the blog).  
So, you have a blog, it is attractive and contains relevant posts – is that enough? If you thought yes, you are wrong! It is not enough. Consider our soap again. Company A produced soap X – a good quality product in an attractive package. Will the soap sell? No, unless the company takes it to the market and advertise the product to bring it to the notice of the intended users, the soap will not sell. No matter how good it is!!! Same is the case with the blog. So, Lesson No 4 is that blogs also need marketing. In this era of social networking, we have one of the easiest ways to reach our intended customers (readers, in this case). Get active in the social networks and spread the word. There are innumerable groups and sites and networks for the bloggers to join and exchange their views. Be active in them, read other blogs and leave comments wherever possible – Join all those blogs that you find interesting – soon you would see that your followers are also increasing. It is a give and take world – if you don’t read and encourage others, don’t expect them to do it for you! Ignoring other bloggers will definitely not help you in the long run…

Finally, Lesson No 5 – your blog is not the responsibility of others. It is up to you to keep it alive. It is true that the feedback, comments and other reactions of the readers play a major role in motivating one to stick to blogging. But, ultimately, it is you who have to cultivate the self motivation to write. As a newbie, one might find some comments not to one’s liking. Remember that there are people out there who might not find your writings good enough or amusing. There might be some negative comments as well. Learn to take them all in the right spirit. Blogging, like life is not a bed of roses – be ready for the brickbats as well. And if one can’t take genuine criticisms, and learn to ignore unjustified negativism that one may come across, it is better to stick to the good old dairy!!!

For all others, here is wishing you a wonderful stay at blogosphere!!! 

PS: These are some of the few tips there are many more like using pictures, writing on trending topics, cultivating reading habit and so on.... more about on all those at a later time.

PPS: Most of the lessons shared here are inspired from various websites and blog posts that I have come across during my blog writing - hence a 'Big Thanks' for all those who have inspired me in one way or the other - directly and indirectly. 
Picture Courtesy: Google Images 

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