Creatives are often intimidated by the idea of starting a blog (one more time-consuming, energy-draining, nail-biting activity to add to the heap). It’s easy to discourage yourself by imagining that blogging is like writing one of those harrowing school papers about colonialism, with a bibliography four pages long. But in actuality, blogging isn’t hard. (See all the white space on this page? Mrs. Finneren never would have let me get away with it.)
Blogging is a casual art form. You don’t need perfect prose or grandiose themes to succeed. All you need to do is be yourself; your friends and fans will appreciate it. Blogging is also the best tool for growing an audience online, and it’s actually quite simple to start your own.
Guess What? You’re Already a Blogger
A blog post can be anything: a picture, a sentence, a poem, a video, or a song. In fact, you’re already a blogger. Blogging is what you do when you update your Facebook status or send a tweet. Yup. Last time you posted a picture of a kitten-in-a-basket on Facebook, you were actually blogging. Blogging is simply sharing interesting things with your audience and encouraging interaction. So you’re probably wondering, “If Facebook is blogging, why can’t I just stick with Facebook?”
Updating your Facebook or Twitter feed is a very limited kind of blogging. Social networks are closed systems with a narrow set of rules. Creating your own blog exposes you to a much larger world. A blog has untold potential. Here are some tips on how to make the most of yours.
5 Important Tips for Running a Successful Blog
1. Promote Every Post
I’ve already mentioned that a blog can be anything. Just take 15 minutes a week to share something on your blog. Experiment. But don’t just let your content sit there. The act of blogging is two-fold. Create something and then tell people about it. This is where Facebook and Twitter and other social networks come in. Get on your favorite social networks and advertise your new blog post. Say something provocative, “You won’t believe what happened at our last performance. Read all about it here.” Then link to the blog article you just posted. And Voila! Instant traffic to your website. The more you share, the more likely others will share your content with their friends (and so the snowball gathers snow).
Sometimes it can be a very slow process and it takes practice to discover what your fans respond best to, but it’s a learning experience, and it DOES WORK.
2. Post Regularly
Set a goal. Once a week, once a day, or even once a month. The important thing is to be consistent. This way your audience will know what to expect and they wont feel neglected. Try to always post your blog on the same day and around the same time.
3. Vary Your Content
The more topics you write about, the better the chance that people will discover your articles in search engines. Every article you write becomes another portal through which potential fans can discover you. Google and other search engines love blogs because it gives them more content to categorize, and it demonstrates which sites are active and growing. The more active and relevant your blog is, the greater your chances of ranking higher in search results.
4. Read Other Blogs
What better way to learn how to blog then by reading and interacting with other bloggers? Use Google Reader to collect all your favorite blogs in one place. Use Google Blog Search to find new blogs. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these bloggers. Ask them questions and participate in the comments sections on their posts. When relevant, mention your blog and add a link back to an article you’ve written.–but only if it makes sense to do so. Some bloggers do not take kindly to shameless self-promotion in their comments section.
5. Respond to Your Readers
Make sure you encourage your readers to leave comments on your blog. You can do this by asking a simple question at the end of every post. Also, take the time to respond to every comment. Even if all you say is, “thanks.” When people feel listened to, they keep talking. And that’s what you want. You want people talking about you and your work. Don’t delete critical comments either. Negative comments almost always spur conversation. Sometimes the biggest favor someone can do is leave a negative comment on your blog. It will encourage other commenters to defend your honor. :)
Do you have any suggestions or questions about growing your audience with blogging? Leave your thoughts in comments below.