In part 1 I told you the basics – how to get set up and write your first post. Now I’m going to tell you how to keep going through the difficult early phase where that reader counter stays at 0 and your struggling to figure out what, how and when to write.
Ignore your own tagline
In the early stages just write about what inspires you. You set up the blog for a reason, but don’t worry if you suddenly think, ‘oh I could do this instead’. My blog changed a lot within the first few posts. Things changed for me and I decided to do something else with the blog to fulfil a different creative desire. This is harder to do later, but before anyone finds your blog you are pretty much writing because you want to. This is your practice blogging.
Finding your voice
This is what you should spend your early blog posts doing. Craft things. Decide what you like and what you don’t like.
What do I mean by voice? Whatever your blog is doing (giving information, telling stories) you need to develop a style in which you do it. For example, some blogs are quite academic. Tobold, Larisa and World of Matticus are good examples of the academic voice. They bring in psychology and economics, they write quite formally. Thats not to say its dull or dry, just that it adheres to a strong structure, formal English and factual information. Some of my posts are also in this vein (i.e. this one). Others are very humourous i.e World of Snarkcraft, Mortigan the Lock, I Like Bubbles, Death Goddess. Others have a style all of their own i.e. Big Bear Butts infamous bear walls – great lengths of text that can be about all kinds of randomness.
You aren’t limited to one voice! But you need to think about consistency. For example, I try to write in a formalish style with a kind of dry humour. Sometimes theres more humour, sometimes less depending on what I am writing about. Every so often I want to rant. I’ve taken to marking my sarcastic rants up as political broadcasts by the Plebs for Epics party. The break is made distinctive, kept separate from the other posts, and tagged. I even posted the first of these as a guest on another blog. I just felt that the first of these posts I wrote was quite extreme and someone expecting my normal posts would be a bug confused!!!
Writing for yourself
This has to be an exercise you enjoy. Because especially at first, no one will be reading what you write. Start off by filling out the blog with a few posts on topics you want to write about. Once you go looking for readers, its better to have a few posts for them to read. If I came to a new blog and found it only had one post and was waiting for people to read that, I’d probably pass over it pretty fast because there wouldn’t be enough material for me to make a decision on whether I liked it or not.
Whatever blogging schedule you intend to write to, its best if you start up immediately with that so you can get into the swing of it and see how it works for you. If you intend to post every Wednesday, do so regardless of whether people are reading or not. That way you learn if Wednesdays are bad once the football season starts, or other issues that might affect your schedule. If like me, your posting is more random, just make sure you set aside some time each week to at least draft some posts.
As I said in the first part of this guide, I am assuming you want people to read your blog. Theres a few very simple things you can do to get started here.
Phase 1: Tags
Tags are very important. I seem to have found a lot of readers through searches and I think that was to do with tags. Heres my tip – you can never have enough tags. For example, every post I have is tagged World of Warcraft. That might seem obvious, but when people are plugging things into a search engine, they might use that as a limiting factor. So tag it. Which leads into how you should approach tags overall. Tags are search engine terms. They are not merely a way to organise your blog – they are a way for others to find it. So tag with ever term you think might be used as a search term by someone looking for the information your blog contains.
Phase 2: The Blog Lists
You can self-link your blog in several places, declaring who you are for all the WoW Blogosphere to see. A couple of key resources for WoW Bloggers are:
This is a great WoW blogging community site where you can chat to other bloggers and introduce yourself and get feedback on your blog.
Twisted Nether Wiki’s Big List of Blogs
This is just what it says on the tin – request a link here to get your blog out there. In the early days of Caer Morrighan, this was my major source of readers.
Phase 3: Commentary
The other major route to being discovered is to comment on other blogs. Reading other blogs will help you to be a better blogger. I set up my Google Reader on my iphone and have a massive list of blogs I read. If I want to comment, I email myself the post to remind me, and to give me a chance to think about my response. A response can be anything from ‘Thats hilarious’ to a rebuttal, to a story, to whatever! It should be what you think and feel when you read the post.
Respond in particular to posts that allow you to exemplify some of what your blog is about. Also, make sure you respond to blogs that are related to yours by subject area or tone. That sounds very cynical I know, but it will attract readers. It actually doesn’t work out to be cynical, because the blogs in related subject areas are the ones you will want information from anyway and the blogs with a similar tone are the ones you will likely enjoy reading!