Joshua Porter from Bokardo (a blog about social web design) has written a refreshing post with his 9 Lessons for Would-be Bloggers. It is refreshing to me as it’s not filled with the just the ‘normal’ tips that everyone comes up with but is written from the heart. His 9 points are (the headings are his (and he writes more on each one) – the comments are mine):
- It’s only an initial fear - seasoned bloggers often forget the ‘weirdness’ and fear of starting up a new blog. It takes a while to get used to the idea of people reading what you have to say and knowing more about you than you know about yourself. I still get weirded out by total strangers bowling up to me and telling me what I’ve been up to (my wife gets freaked out even more!).
- You have something valuable to say – I love this one and it’s something I’m regularly saying to bloggers. I strongly believe in the worth of people and think that in their own way each of us has something worthwhile and precious to share.
- When in doubt, post – while I wouldn’t advise just posting every half thought through idea that comes into your head – I do subscribe to the theory that blogs are not just for finished or refined thoughts. One of the wonderful things about blogs is that when you track them over time you get to see the journey that a blogger has gone on. Good blogs will track the evolution of thought of a blogger (if there’s no real change or development I’d be worried). All I’d add to this point is that ‘when in doubt, post – and be transparent’. Don’t try to come off as the ‘expert’ if you have doubts or are still working through something – write such posts in a way that invites people to journey with you and be patient with you as you think out loud.
- Use the comments for refining your point - great stuff on this one too from Josh. The real action and learning on the blogs that I respect most (and hope to be developing) happens in the comments sections where the knowledge of the wider community comes into play and shapes a post. Take the attitude that together we know more than individually and you’ll create a space where true learning takes place.
- Everything is beta – the idea of Josh’s ‘thoughts being in beta’ is inspirational to me and really connects with a lot of what I’ve already written above. Blogging is a journey – evolve, be shaped by it and be open to change. One of the things I love about blogging in comparison to many other mediums is that it’s so adaptable and flexible – worth with this rather than against it and keep your blog moving and adapting to the opportunities that arise.
- Have a schtick – what’s schtick? It’s the thing that defines what your blog is about. You might call it a tagline, a mission statement or your topical boundaries – but it’s the thing that keeps you on target and keeps you accountable to the direction you’re headed. Here at ProBlogger my schtick is ‘helping bloggers earn money’ – it’s broad enough to encompass a lot, but focussed enough to keep pulling me on track when I stray.
- Correct English be-damned - I can imagine the emails Josh will get on this one but hear what he’s saying. Good grammar and spelling shouldn’t be thrown out the window – but there are other important factors at play in the creation of a great blog. People are interested in ‘ideas’ more than how you write.
- Show your greatest hits – creating prominent greatest hits sections of your blog that give people a place to start is a great tactic and something I’ve written about many times. It gives your blog the ability to prove itself as a credible source of information and become sticky to new readers very quickly.
- People are listening – the lurkers of your blog far out number those that comment so don’t be disheartened if some days it feels like you’re talking to a brick wall. You are being listened to and every post is an opportunity to make an impression, build loyalty and create a spark that could grow into a flame.
Great post Josh – thanks for your inspiration!