I’ve been blogging in one community or another since 2005. Here are 8 things I’ve learned along the way, as well as a few (don’t hate me) pet peeves.
1. There are thousands of bloggers out there (maybe millions); you’ll never get around to them all. I choose to focus on a handful of blogs that I, personally, enjoy reading. My favorites may change from time-to-time, which is OK. Life is about seasons, after all.
2. Write in your own voice. To me, that’s what makes blogging interesting. The best way to find your own voice is to write as if you were chatting with your best friend.
3. Use photos. Pictures make blogs more interesting. Period.
4. Be friendly. Leave meaningful or funny comments. Interact with other bloggers. If you don’t visit other people’s blogs, why should they visit yours?
5. To serenade or not to serenade, that is the question. I’ve never used music on my blog and prefer blogs that have no music. The reason is twofold. I’m retired and often blog hop late at night, and it’s not pleasant to be blasted with a stanza from Chicago’s Greatest Hits at two o’clock in the morning. Quite frankly, it nearly gives me heart failure and causes me to click out of the blog immediately. That's not to say there isn't some wonderful music out there, but music is such a personal thing and your taste in music isn’t necessarily anyone else’s. I’ve actually stopped visiting a few blogs because the music that greeted me was music that I simply couldn’t tolerate.
6. Many bloggers use what’s called “word verification,” which means anyone commenting on their posts must fill out a field that contains strange letters like, "faSlkPj" before a comment can be posted. Can I just say UGH! It’s believed that such safeguards cut down on any spam comments, but I’ve tried it both ways and never had a single spam comment in the last six years—with or without using “word verification.”
Using (or not using) “word verification” is a personal decision, of course, but if I have to enter strange letters in a field, in order to leave a comment, I may just let my two-cents go without saying.
If you aren’t willing to let go of the “word verification” feature, then may I suggest that you set your “Comment Placement Form” to be “embedded in post,” instead of a pop-up window. This makes it a little more tolerable, as the reader can see, prior to posting a comment, that he or she must complete “word verification” before the comment will be posted.
7. Too many bells and whistles and flashing ads are not my idea of blogging, but of attempting to make money while blogging. Nothing wrong with that, if that’s why you blog, but understand that it’s a real turn-off to many readers. I’ve stopped visiting a significant number of blogs, due to the fact that it was hard for me to actually find their post, because of so many ads and banners littering their wall.
8. Have fun! If your blog has ceased being fun and is, instead, a burden, consider giving it up for awhile. The world won’t come to an end. I promise.