I’m not quite sure how I missed this, but last month was the 10 year anniversary of my first ever blog post.
That’s like 70 in
dog internet years.
I started off publishing one of the industries first dedicated search engine blogs (Search Engine Lowdown) in 2003 and helped pioneer the concept of “live blogging” a search engine conference. In 2005, I launched Marketing Pilgrim so that I could focus on more than just search engines. And, now I’ve gone full circle back to niche blogging with Actively Listening, the Trackur blog.
Over 10 years of blogging, you learn a thing or two. So here are my top 10 lessons learned. See if you agree with any of these.
1. It’s all about the headline. While the format and content of your blog posts are also important, get the headline wrong and your blog post is doomed to obscurity. If you’ve ever written a book, or spoken to an author, you’ll know just how much time goes in to picking the perfect book title. Same thing.
2. Text only posts are boring. I never used to add photos or images to any of my blog posts, but then an employee said they really liked it when I did. Now, I never post anything without an accompanying image. This is even more important now that Facebook, Google+ et al are pulling in post images as thumbnails!
3. Top X lists still rule. Blogging formats may come and go, but anything with a “Top X” list format will always do well. Hence this post.
4. You can’t please everyone, neither should you try. When I first started blogging, I wanted to sit on the fence and play it safe with my writing. Unfortunately, vanilla makes for tasty ice cream, but lousy blog posts. I have said for many years that I know that half of my readers enjoy my writing because they agree with what I have to say, and the other half stop by to see “what that idiot Andy has posted this time.” Polarizing your audience is almost a necessity.
5. Those that disagree with you in the comments invariably haven’t read the entire post. What is it with people jumping in to argue, and putting their foot in their “mouse” by demonstrating they clearly didn’t read all that you wrote?
6. I use a lot of emoticons in my blogging. I really don’t know why. I think it’s because, if you ever meet me in real life, you’ll know that I am always cutting up and saying something tongue-in-cheek. Emoticons allow me to get that across in my writing. Professional or not, you’re stuck with them!
7. If you really want a blogger to link to or tweet your post, then you really should drop a mention or link to them in said post. It’s not a guarantee, but you’ll increase your chances if you share the love first.
8. Attack the company, not the individual. It’s rare that I’ll go on a tirade against an individual. Why? Because however much you wish to criticize someone, that’s a real human being that you’re targeting. Sure, you may get some page views, but is it worth it to ruin someone’s day? If you see any critical blog posts from me, it’s more likely to be levied against a company, not an individual.
9. Never cover a topic 100%! If you fill in all the blanks, cover a topic 100%, you leave no room for your audience to chime in. Whenever I write a post, I deliberate try not to cover everything, or specifically leave something out of my post. It gives my readers an opportunity to join the conversation.
10. If you want comments, ask a question. That comment box is a big void to fill and many people would rather ignore it than try and come up with an original thought. With that in mind, I often finish off a blog post with a leading question. Something that sparks that conversation.
Bonus Lesson: Develop your own blogging style. I tend to provide advice in concise, pithy posts. Danny Sullivan is known for his in-depth analysis. Lisa Barone is not afraid to tackle any topic. Lee Odden carefully crafts his posts to attract the ideal client. Michael Gray likes to be the squeaky wheel. And Brian Clark has a knack of making you want to click and read his posts. Lastly, my wife’s site took off when she dumped the flowery voice used by many travel magazines and let her fun personality shine through.
So, these are my top 10 lessons learned from 10 years of blogging.
What blogging lesson did I miss, that you feel is a biggie to add?