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Monthly Trends + Resolutions for a Better Blog

Happy 2011! How are the ole resolutions holding up so far? Have you stopped biting your nails, started a daily exercise regimen, and organized your closets yet? Me neither. Still, ’tis the season for new starts, and while you’re thinking about improving your health, your home, or your life balance, don’t forget about your blog. Make a resolution today to take your blog to the next level in 2011.

It’s the beginning of the month as well as the year, so, as always, Regator has provided blogosphere trends for the month, and I’ll use posts about these popular stories to inspire you to make a vow to improve your blog in the New Year. (The most-blogged about stories for December 2010, in order, were: Christmas, Wikileaks, Tax Cuts, DADT/Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Tron, New Year’s Eve, Net Neutrality, Elizabeth Edwards, Oprah, and Michael Vick.) Let’s make some resolutions!

1. I resolve to be funnier.
Inspiration: Cracked’s The 12 Most Unintentionally Disturbing Christmas Ads. Obviously, humor isn’t always appropriate, but it certainly has its place and can breathe life into a dry subject if it’s used correctly. If you can handle a bit of rough language, comedy blog Cracked.com provides plenty of inspiration, putting an amusing spin on everything from Christmas to science to pop culture.

2. I resolve to take extra time to write gripping intros to my posts.
Inspiration: The Chronicle Review’s Why WikiLeaks Is Bad for Scholars. The first few lines of your post will determine whether readers will stick around or click around. Don’t save your genius for the third paragraph. Use your first paragraph to make a promise, create intrigue, hit readers with a killer quote, or—as in this example from The Chronicle Review—build suspense with a story.

3. I resolve to help my readers solve more problems.
Inspiration: The Consumerist’s Calculate How Much Of A Raise You’ll Get On January 1 [Tax Cuts]. You’ve read it over and over here at ProBlogger, but it can’t be said enough: Be useful to your readers and they will come back for more. As you sit down to write each post, ask yourself what the reader will get out of it and why he or she should take the time to read it. Even if it’s not a straight-up, service-oriented post, like this example from The Consumerist, all of your posts should provide some benefit: entertainment, knowledge, advice, etc.

4. I resolve to take more time to craft my headlines.
Inspiration: Queerty’s Why Fox News’ Story On Gay Soldiers Living Under DADT Never Got Filed. Your headlines should not be an afterthought and, if they are, this is the resolution for you. They’re all people see when your link is tweeted and the first thing potential readers see in RSS readers and aggregators. A great post with a mediocre headline will lose countless potential readers. This example from Queerty is keyword-heavy, potentially controversial, and seems to promise an intriguing bit of information.

5. I resolve to be more creative and to break out of the echo chamber.
Inspiration: Pushing Pixels’ The colors of “Tron: Legacy”. While many were blogging about Tron’s opening weekend numbers or its (awesome) Daft Punk soundtrack, Kirill Grouchnikov took a different approach and blogged a fascinating breakdown of the color usage in Tron’s computer world. It’s a perfect fit for that blog’s readers and a unique twist on a frequently covered story. If bloggers in your niche are writing about one particular story, find a way to put your own unique twist on it.

6. I resolve to use more photos and/or video.
Inspiration: The Big Picture’s A New Year rolls in. Photos and video add interest and depth and if you aren’t using many, this may be the resolution for you. Just be sure you’re using them legally. This example from The Big Picture shows just how striking the right photo can be.

7. I resolve to be more opinionated.
Inspiration: Tech Talk’s Opinion: Who’ll Really Benefit from Net Neutrality Regulation? Strong opinions have the potential to put some people off and generate controversy, but they also have the potential to establish you as a blogger with interesting things to say and to solidify your blog as a place where healthy debate can happen. This example from Tech Talk is clearly labeled as opinion, presents facts to back up the opinions in the post, and takes a respectful tone.

8. I resolve to develop my blogging voice.
Inspiration: The Atlantic’s Elizabeth Edwards and the Case Against the Political Wife. If you look back at 2010’s posts and find they don’t sound much like you or that they simply lack a bit of personality, resolve to work on your blog’s tone in 2011. This example by Elizabeth Wurtzel is conversational but smart and, quite simply, sounds like Wurtzel. Let that be your goal: sound like you.

9. I resolve to interact with commenters.
Inspiration: TV by the NumbersNo Matter How Tiny the Ratings for OWN, the Media Will Obsess Over Oprah. It’s easy to get so busy working on your next post that you don’t take time to correspond with readers about your previous post. It happens to us all at times (guilty). There’s certainly no need to respond to every comment left on your blog, but interacting with readers where appropriate can go a long way in building a community and, by extension, fans and advocates for your blog. In this example, blogger Robert Seidman responds to questions and even refers back to one commenter’s previous comment, showing that he pays attention to what’s being said on his posts. It’s a good habit to get into.

10. I resolve to edit my posts after I finish them.
Inspiration: The Phillyist’s White House: Vick’s Crimes Deserve Condemnation. This example is short and sweet. It gets the points across with no more words than are necessary. There’s nothing wrong with longer posts, but chances are, you can take around 15 percent off the word count of most posts without losing anything important. Try it for a month and you’ll find your writing is sharper and more concise.

So what do you say? Will you make a resolution to improve your blog this year? My blogging resolution is pretty simple: I resolve to blog more often. As one of the founders of Regator, it’s all too easy for me to get so distracted by the day-to-day running of an internet startup that my first love, writing, gets pushed aside. 2011 will be the year that changes. How about you? Please share your resolution in the comments!

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator, as well as an award-winning print journalist. Find her on Twitter @kimber_regator, get free widgets for your blog, or nominate your blog for review.

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Comments

  1. Stuart says:

    Great list! I liked the first one, being funnier, because that’s what I’m trying to do with my website.

    Slowly but surely, we’ll all improve on what we have, getting better and better :-)

    • Thats right Stuart, we have to start some where :-)

    • dotCOMreport says:

      It takes courage Stuart cos not everyone will appreciate your humor; but don’t let that deter you.

      • Salman Saeed says:

        I second what dotcom said :)
        and yes we all will improve slowly slowly!

        • Kamal Hasa says:

          Slow and steady because no one wants to make their readers uneasy with a push-approach..

          • We tried including humor in our posts and that did not change anything in terms of popularity or traffic. However, one of the posts was a favorite of many people and we got some compliments even in email. We might give it a try again. Thank you for touching this again.

            Regards,
            Team – Free Calls Hub

  2. Excellent Post
    I hope i do upload more photos and/or video and edit my posts after I finish them.

    Cheers

  3. I resolve to drive more traffic to my blog and to test out a few different writing styles. Great list. Thanks.

  4. #3 Is by far the most important to me.
    I resolve to help my readers solve more problems.

    This must be our top priority!

    good to-do list though
    cheers!

  5. Ayngelina says:

    #4 really resonates with me.
    I’ve resolved to write at least 5 different headlines before I post. My headlines are terrible and I really need to stop complaining about it and do something about it.

  6. This is a great list.

    So often I find myself focusing on quantity and forgetting those extra steps — crafting a headline, gripping introductions, etc. — and overall I think the message is to slow down and focus on learning from others and implementing what you learn!

  7. Jia Jun says:

    Good luck and all the best Kimberly. :D
    Same with Stuart, to be more funny. XD

  8. Vivek Barun says:

    I too have been guilty of not editing my posts before hitting the “Publish” button. Btw, in the first line, is the
    ‘ole’ suppossed to spell ‘old’ ?
    My english is not so good so dunno whether its a mistake or an intentional use of grammar..
    Good list though.
    Thanks,
    Vivek

  9. Mats says:

    I think you are pretty good at most of them already, great list! I will try to follow up on them myself. Happy new year!

  10. Salman Saeed says:

    I’m loving this IDEA> Thank you very much :)

  11. Rahul Pandey says:

    I would like to ADD one more point to it. “I will track my Analytics”. It is important to know who are your visitors, what are they reading and what they are not, it gives you insights as to what to write from within you niche.

  12. Hi Kimberly!
    Those are all good points – I especially like #10 – “editing after you finish.” I’ve learned to become a brutal editor, there’s so much of what we write that really doesn’t add to the meaning – so why is it there? If I can’t answer that question, it usually gets cut.
    Anyway, as far as my goals for this year goes, I really just want to continuing building my blog – I want to rank in the top 10,000 – 15,000 (Alexa) by the end of this year and I always want to increase my clientele and income. That means I’ve got a lot of work ahead me.
    All the best to you in 2011!

  13. Dean Saliba says:

    I recently published a post on my blog where I revealed a staggering ELEVEN goals for this year related to making money online. I say staggering because a lot of people seem to think I am putting too much pressure on myself. :)

  14. Rahul Banker says:

    I resolve to read problogger regularly from now on :D Inspiration : Problogger articles ;)

  15. zoop says:

    thats a pretty hefty set of resultions – good luck and remember to take it one day at a time!

  16. Heather K says:

    I suspect it’s supposed to be “ole,” not a mistake so much as a written representation of a verbal shortcut. Mind, you that shortcut (common in the rural US) is normally rendered “ol’” in print. (Note the apostrophe).

  17. CJ Nguyen says:

    I focus mainly on the headlines to pull in more readers. After reading this posts I will also focus more on the first paragraph. Good post.

  18. Carlos says:

    Great post Kimberly. I too have a couple of resolution I hope to uphold. Thanks.

  19. Vanessa says:

    Very good list. I n my blogs I have also learned that to make sure people stay on your page and read your blog, you must make the first sentences very interesting. I have also tried to come up with more creative titles, I believe that they also catch a readers attention when they glance right at it. Finally to keep blogs looking good pictures definitely help and it is always very important to give credit to where you obtained that picture.

    The most important thing when writing a blog is editing. I look over my blog several times, I read it out loud to make sure it sounds correct, I check for grammar and spelling. I want to make sure I publish something good because you never know who will read them. In my opinion long blogs provide a lot of good info, but it’s hard to attract an audience. I personally keep them from being to long, if I can write something of good content why not do it in fewer words?

    Thank you so much for your tips these are some great resolutions!

  20. Simon says:

    Great post! My resolutions are to blog more often yet also set aside more “me” time as business interests have taken up a far too disproportionate amount of my time over the last 2-3 years.

    Some of my blogs are a little on the impersonal side – my plan is to put more of “me” into these blogs and to connect more with my readers and visitors.

  21. Dan Smith says:

    I’m really trying to focus on being more opinionated. So far, and this goes back to the last month or so of 2010, I’ve been doing a little better, although not perfect by far. This is a great catalyst for my blog. Thanks!

  22. Very, very important. I like these posts :) I think that the most valuable here is to solve problems of your readers, as you mention. Then they will feel that your blog or web-site gives them something more – added value!

  23. Constantine says:

    I can do with number 6 and 10. One way to make my blogs remarkable in 2011is to add some photos. I promise to pay more attention to editing before hitting publish.

  24. I enjoyed the way you have used real life examples of famous blogging stories in this post and i have to say i particularly agreed with the points you made about ‘getting out of the echo tunnel’. Nice phrase and a problem that has to be solved before you become an authority blog.

  25. I agree with point no 9.Very suggestive.

  26. Nick says:

    3. I resolve to help my readers solve more problems.

    I am excited to see this one played out. Great resolutions!

  27. Stefano says:

    One of my resolutions for 2011 was to actually start my own blog … and I did. Thanks to problogger and its contributors/readers/commenters for all the useful insights! Great blogging to all (and don’t forget … to live, also!)

  28. I resolve to be a useful, yet intelligent, idiot.

    Wrap your head around that one folks. :)

  29. Jay Dolan says:

    As someone who strives to write funny things daily, it can be very, very hard. Written humor is harder for people to get, especially in a world of viral videos.

    That being said, if you do it well consistently, it can be very, very rewarding.

  30. You’re inspired me, Kimberly. My resolve this year was to be more ME, as a person and as a blogger, but I can still do that and take to heart all of your brilliant observations of what works in the blogosphere!

  31. Wow. I really don’t think being more opinionated is what my blog needs!

    Great post and resources, though. :)

  32. Santosh says:

    I liked that third point – helping readers solve more problems. That’s what I am trying to do with my blog right now. Hopefully, it will work.

  33. I haven’t kept any of my blogging resolutions. But it’s early days yet. Always time for a fresh start.

  34. Tim Haan says:

    This is hilarious! But as a new blogger I actually appreciate all of the great content. I put this in my favorites so I can refer to it often. I am learning so much!

    Tim Haan

  35. Katie says:

    I love this list! These are definitely things I think every blogger should work on. Thanks for the post!

  36. Marci says:

    My goal is to keep writing and see where it takes me. Sometimes, a simpler goal is better. What do you want to learn or grow? I can’t do it all, but I can focus intently one a few things.