Last week a friend let me know that she was thinking about starting a blog. She's not the first person to come to me for blogging advice. I suspect she won't be the last. I've written several versions of my advice-for-beginning-bloggers over the past couple of years, and today I'm sharing my suggestions with all of you.
First and foremost...
Write things that you care about. You'll find your groove over time. But the single most important element of blogging is to be passionate about your subject. Passion shines through.
That said, there are some great posts to give new bloggers a little guidance about what works and what doesn't including Megan's post: Why I read your blog, and The Gourmet Runner's series on good and bad blogger behavior, especially: Why I love or hate your blog and The worst kind of blog post.
Also, while it's completely off-topic for running bloggers, Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) post daily tips and tricks on building a blog audience, keeping content relevant, ensuring good blog design, taking good photos, etc... I learn at least one new thing every week from IFB.
There are a few tabs and widgets your blog should have.
- About. Give a brief background of your blog's purpose.
- Search box. People will eventually want to go back and search for that post they liked 6 months ago. Do not hide it from them! A "Search Box" widget or gadget should appear somewhere on your blog.
- A way to follow your blog. You can start with the basic "follow by email" option. You may eventually want to expand into Twitter and Facebook.
- PS - When I started, I used an existing Gmail account for my Blogger login. If I had to make one change, I would have opened a new account for blog-business-only.
- A way to contact you. You don't necessarily need to enable this right away, but eventually you'll want to list an email address where companies can contact you for reviews, etc...
Develop a comment policy and a product review policy. You probably won't need either one for the first couple of months, but you'll want 'em in place for those circumstances in which you have to delete a spam comment or you have to politely turn down the $25 that a company wants to pay you to post their pre-written content of a product you've never seen.
The Gourmet Runner provides some useful background on comment policy issues. Runblogger has an extensive and detailed review policy. My simple review policy is:
Companies and Race Organizers: My blog has a loyal following. I also write about fitness at Examiner.com and Wellsphere.com. If you are interested in having me help you get the word out about a race, post a review* of your product, or host a giveaway, feel free to contact me at the address above. *All opinions expressed will be my own, and I will not post a review for a product I have not tried.You also need to know the rules. For example, you are allowed to accept free products for review, but must disclose that they were given for free. The law also states that bloggers are not allowed to accept payment for reviews.
Another suggestion is to keep in mind that while most people are trustworthy, be a little wary about posting personal info that could be used to identify where you live, work, or what your schedule is. Monica provides a really excellent overview of blogger safety including suggestions on what to post and what to keep to yourself.
I'm happy to answer other blogging questions if you have any!
What suggestions would you give to a budding blogger?
What do you know now that wish you knew when you started?