Saturday, January 9, 2010

10 Tips for Beginning Bloggers

My brother has recently started blogging and asked me for some tips. I thought I would share them here. I started blogging in 2006 and it has been some of the best professional development for me that I have ever done. Blogging forces me to think, reflect and write about my experiences. Blogging helps me retain my learning and connects me to others who help and support me in my endeavors. If you don't yet have a blog, I recommend giving it a try. You don't have to blog every day or every week. Just establish a place Online to share your thoughts. If you give it a chance, I think you will find it a rewarding experience.

Here are few tips to get you started.

1. Writing: You don't have to write long posts, just a few paragraphs work best. People don't want to read much more than that. You don't have to be perfect, just get your thoughts out there and press publish. Don't obsess too much about your word choice and grammar. It is your ideas that matter. Include an image and break up your thoughts. Lists work really well, so do bullets.

2. Platforms: Choose a blogging platform that works for you. If you are more technically inclined, you will probably want to use Wordpress and host your own blog. You can also use something like Wordpress.com which will host a wordpress blog for you. If you are less technical, Blogger works really well. Plus, since blogger is owned by Google it does help get you higher up in Google search results. Many teachers also use Edublogs which is run by Sue Waters who is a great support to educational bloggers.

3. Authority: Claim your blog on Technorati. I'm not sure how much your Technorati authority matters anymore, but many people search for blogs to read on Technorati. You want yours to be there to find.

4. Statistics: Keep track of your readership. I use StatCounter to track visits to my blog. There are many other options including Google Analytics which will tell you who has visited, where they came from and where they live. It is really fun to track your stats when you first start blogging. It is nice to know that there are some people out there actually reading what you have to say.

5. Blogrolls: Include a blogroll. When you link to other bloggers they appreciate it and will check back to see what you have written and are likely to include a link back to you on their blogs. It also helps your readers find other bloggers to read on the same subject.

6. Searching: Subscribe to a Google blog search of your name, the name of your blog and the URL of your blog. You want to know when other people refer to you and/or your blog so you can see what they have to say about you, respond with a blog post or at least leave a comment thanking them for the reference. Add your blog to Google blog search if it isn't there already.

7. Twitter: Get a Twitter account and Tweet when you have a new blog post. Twitter is the source for most of my blog traffic. But make sure that isn't all you do on Twitter. You also should tweet other people's blog posts and other links of interest. Check out this post if you are new to Twitter.

8. Subscriptions: Provide a way for your readers to subscribe to your blog via email. I use Feedburner for this. There are many readers who want to get updated when you post a new blog, but who don't use a feed reader. Giving them an email option expands your regular readership.

9. Contact: Include a way for your readers to contact you. I use Retaggr for this. Not only does Retaggr provide a contact form, it also provides links to other places you can find me on the web and includes some information about who I am.

10. SEO: Tag or label your posts. Including a tag helps your readers find posts on the topics they are interested in. It also helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which pushes your blog to the top of search engine results.

Bonus: Include numbers in your post titles. O.K. I have no idea why this works, but my most popular posts all have numbers in the title. Hopefully it will work with this one ;-) Go figure...

Do you have a blog? Do you have a suggestion for new bloggers or for me? I would love to hear them. Please post a comment and share with us. Are you a new blogger? Share a link to your blog so we can check it out!

image source: Blogging Research Wordle from
Kristina B's photostream on Flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/barnett/2836828090/

19 comments:

Joel said...

Great stuff! I've been thinking about this for a few days now too since I have been encouraged to join in the very beginning stages of a group weight-loss blog this year.

Besides what you already wrote, some suggestions I have that have really proven beneficial for me:

1) Write as if you have 1,000 readers
2) Don't let your focus get too broad or too narrow
3) Shun dreams of blog monetization (at least for now)
4) Link to other blogs as much as possible
5) Include one picture with every post
6) Don't obsess over stats...ever
7) Establish a brand early
8) Get a universal avatar (Gravatar, Twitter, social media, etc.)
9) Respond to most of your comments
10) Visit other blogs and add useful comments

Josh said...

Thanks, Lizzie! I've had a bunch of fun getting my blog up and running, and much due to you. Also, the one time another blog has referenced me so far: there were numbers in the post title. Go figure!

Syd (EduNut) said...

I'm new to blogging, so this is helpful. Thanks!

Mike Gorman said...

I have only been blogging for about four months. This will help. One thing that I have to do which would probaqbly be a good rule is
1. categorize the posts

Aaron said...

Thanks Liz,
I have been trying to figure out if I am going to begin a blog of my own. My main thought on the subject is this, do I have anything unique to say?
I, unlike you, am not a leader in any field, I don't have access to people and information that would give my thoughts any power. In the end, if I blog, I am writing to maybe a handful of friends who may or may not want to hear what I have to say about the universe we live in.
Your posts are always so full of information. I thank you for that, and your unique, insightful, informed, and powerful thoughts about technology and education. Coming from a leader in the field, I value them imensely.

halpey1 said...

I also am rather new to blogging (started in October of last year) - these are some great tips, which I'm looking into right now - so THANK YOU!

http://halpey1.blogspot.com/

kristyln said...

This is my first experience blogging. I am taking a course to obtain my Master's in Integrating Technology in the Classroom and we are required to establish a blog and respond to blogs.

I read this blog earlier and used some of the information to faciitate the establishment of my own blog.

I would like if you would take a moment and look at my blog and respond to it. It is http://kristyln.edublogs.org
Thank you!

Linda Yollis said...

Dear Liz,

I agree with everything you recommend, especially your tips about writing. It doesn't have to be perfect and people don't want to read much more than a few paragraphs.

I also agree with breaking up the text into chunks. Whether the post is written in paragraphs or using numbers, break it up.

Like Joel said, include one picture with every post. For me, images are a draw. If the post is only text, I am less likely to read it. I follow many blogs in my Google Reader. If the post includes an interesting images, I usually click on it.

Thanks for some great ideas!

~Linda

Tammy Hurley said...

Thanks so much, I am new to blogging, and this was great information.

Joseph Thibault said...

I would add, "blog for yourself" . I find blogging (for any of my endeavors) most gratifying when I blog in self-interest. Blog what you know, what you want to know, what you think you can contribute, what you've experienced (and your readers, however few/many) will like you for it (after all, that's why they read you!)

Ann Carnevale said...

Great suggestions! I'd forgotten all about Technorati.

Cynthia Medina said...

To add to Liz's list:

1. Search engines love Top xx blog posts (Top 10 iPhone apps for education)
2. XX vs XX or Difference between XX and XX are very well received post.
3. I've noticed I get more readers when I publish on Tuesday or Wednesday.
4. Try to link to other blog post within yours. This will create a trackback link and gives you more exposure.

As always, thanks Liz for the great information.

@Joel, thanks for your tips as well.

Susan said...

Thank You! I am so thrilled to have found this informative page on blogging! I am a new blogger as it is a course requirement. It is a work in progress where my comfort level has gradually been improving. Like every change or new venture in life it takes some getting used to. I hope with time I become more blog savy!

Mark Barnes said...

I like a lot of your tips; I would, however, disagree with you on the grammar part. Poorly-written posts smack of unprofessionalism. I think most people shy away from people who can't put two sentences together properly.

sarah said...

Until recently I have pooh-poohed the idea of blogging as anything more than just a geeky thing to do. I wasn't critical of people who did it, I just didn't see myself as one of them. I appreciated your comments/suggestions about blogging and am beginning to see the light-there are so many things to be gained by sharing your thoughts and observations and receiving feedback. From what you have said (and others too!) there is a lot to be gained from putting yourself out there and becoming part of the conversation. I have bookmarked your post! Thank you for providing suggestions/guidance to those of us just deciding to become bloggers!

Cathy Nelson said...

If you tend to get wordy in your writing, break it into paragraphs with subheadings. It will give your reader permission to stop and rest or reflect without worry of losing their place.

Use an image or two to make your point--metaphorical ones are always great!

Hook with your title and/or opening line. Sometimes I write a post in "play" format, and everyone has their part; sometimes I write letters to people or even inanimate objects. My favorite past post was when "lammy" the laminator got sick and had to go to ICU at the electronic hospital. A bit of tongue in cheek humor is a nice break from your typical style of writing.

Be sure to laugh at yourself.

When a post is a response to something you are emotionally or passionately attached too, write it and then give it a day before publishing. Sometimes 24 hours will give you really fresh eyes to filter it through, and you may find you don't feel quite a strong as you did the day before.

Comment on other blogs, filling out your blog url each time. Often visitors are those whose blog yu commented on first.

Use tags and categories. It will help others locate your posts, but even better, it will help you find old posts once your blog is all grown up.

Best of luck. I hope these help anyone out there.

Alcira said...

I would like to start my own blog, so thanks for the tips!!

Jackie said...

Thank you for the wonderful information. I've been thinking about blogging for some time but was not sure how to begin.

Bryan said...

Im currently taking a class on Technology for teachers, and these quick tips are great advice.