Thursday, January 05, 2006

3 best ways to improve a blog

The three (3) best ways to improve a blog are not necessarily obvious to the casual blog reader, if there is such a thing.

WARNING: I don't really want everyone in the blogosphere to know all the nuggets of wisdom I have acquired through hard experience or by figuring something out, aided by better analysts and smoother writers than I. So I employ what can be called a "convoluted style", meaning it's prone to meandering, wayfaring, pilgrimage, and hiatus, those deliberate detours designed to deflect, demoralize, and deter prying eyes that are out of place here. Like scumbloggers, or marketing bloggers using my blog to get ideas on what to discuss on their own blog. I provide original content by not paying much attention to any other blogger, especially those in my general field of expertise. I try to stay current with their concerns and foibles, but I live in my head, not in theirs, nor they in mine. I like a lot of business bloggers, have much to learn from them, but don't have the time or inclination to acquire my wisdom that way.

3 Best Ways to
Improve a Blog

To evolve consciously and aggressively into the transformative New Super Blogger of the coming Blogosphere 4.0, please consider increasing the following characteristics of your blog:

(1) Practical Value

Think: "...and how could a reader of my blog benefit from my saying this? What is my point? Or am I just jabbering to see myself write something?" Include more how-to tips, bottom-line reality, marching orders, ways to apply what you've proclaimed. This requires a blogger to genuinely love his or her audience, lurkers, and comment posters.

If you have a personal blog, try increasing the practical value by adding more humor, more weird anecdotes, more good suggestions on whatever you know a lot about.

Provide more links in your blog sidebar. Yes, drive people from your blog to other blogs. Sound crazy, anti-intuitive, self-defeating? From an Old Media viewpoint, you may be right. But from the New Media viewpoint (Cluetrain, Gonzo Marketing), this is the golden road to success. Make your blog a sort of gateway to other high quality, high interest, relevant, and reputable sites.

If you have a blog devoted to music, include links to really cool music sites, free and legal music mp3s, record reviews online, that sort of thing.

Think: "What could I add to my blog that would make it more fun, valuable, or relevant to my readers?"

FOR EXAMPLE: A good system of Post Archiving, based on relevant categories labeled according to what terms your *users*, i.e., your blog readers, use when discussing them.

Never word anything according to your personal preference or your organizational inside terminology, unless you have a reason for pushing neologisms, like I often do.

Use phrases and words that your readers will understand immediately, not coy, or indirect, or clever, unless you have an art, avant garde literature, or design experimentation blog, or some other good reason for being mysterious and rule-breaking.

Remember to use words that foreigners will not have to struggle with. Many of your blog readers are probably located in nations where your language is not native. This is why I often express my thoughts redundantly, using commas to append synonyms, alternate wording.

User expectations must be anticipated and accommodated whenever possible.

(2) Compassion

A blog without any real care for its readers, such a blog is dead and empty. Engaging in kind and helpful conversations with comment posters is a sign of Blog Compassion. You don't "feel the love vibes", rather: you act in a mature, intelligent, and sympathetic manner at all times. Altruism is the key to all success. Give away all your knowledge on a topic, and watch how life refills your supply, the more you share with others, the more you keep receiving, so you have a constant supply of post topics.

By always thinking of how you can benefit your readers, you will never run out of things to blog about. You will always, guided by the Light of Love, be pondering how to help your online friends, your blogospheric family, which is just as much a true family as your blood or legal family.

If you need more compassion for your audience, just think of the rotten jobs, dysfunctional families, broken hearts, ruined dreams, failed careers, vanished hopes, and other suffering they experience all the time. Think of how much misery all sentient beings encounter and how frail we all are. How fragile our tremulous existence. How fleeting even our desires seem to be.

(3) Information/Content

Put more meat into your posts. I try to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other: from personal philosophic musings and private stern scholarly essays loaded with links and references to reputable sources.

Everyone, including you, is interested in something. When you get really interested, you research it. After you discover some fascinating insights, some workable theories, some bizarre facts, you may then wish to share your results with others. That's what your blog's for.

You don't blog for you. You blog for THEM. The audience. You created your blog so you could amuse, entertain, inform, advise, or scold others. Those others, your blog's readership, is what, or rather who, you blog for. Otherwise, you'd just pen your thoughts into a secret hidden paper notebook journal that you stash under the pendulum clock in the antechamber.

What do you know? What do you chatter about when you're with friends, mate, work associates? What books do you read? What are you doing to make your bad self smarter every passing day? Too exhausted from work to engage in any self-improvement? Try to find an easier job. Not enough time? Make time. Make it happen. Re-educate yourself continually.

Want more friends? More blog readers? More comments on your blog?

Learn more about your field of expertise or work. Even a janitor at a Wall Street brokerage firm can learn a little something about asset allocation. The more you know, the more people will listen to you, and read what you write in your blog.

Even if you have a personal blog that is written just to amuse or update friends and family, still it never hurts to increase your blog's value to its readers.

Photographs (not of children though--online predators and baby stealers abound), digital art, podcast and mp3 links, calendar, polls, and various add-ons can enhance a blog, or you may decide to keep your blog stark, spartan, uncluttered, fast to access and simple to read.

One thing I learned in my advertising career is that people are most interested in other people, so show humans doing something, or solving a problem, or celebrating, or in an unusual or funny situation--as much humanity as humanly possible.

That's one reason why I "decorate" my blog with images of various people. The people themselves are not necessarily that important, their identities may be lost within a tide of conceptual or ideological atavism, but really, I show them because I have not a shadow of a doubt of not showing my own photo of myself, the front side of my head, otherwise known as the face, that which faces and faces off and faces away.

Human faces, even in photos, add warmth. A photo of me would be ideal.

Depending on who your audience is, there could be many things you could add to your blog, that would appeal to your readers. Your blog could be the first in its category to use a certain feature or function.

That's why it's good to visit a wide variety of blogs on unrelated topics. You, an art blogger, might see, on a ham radio blog, something that could benefit your readers if you had it on your blog. Or you, a personal blogger, might see something on a CEO blog that could add prestige and increased functionality on your blog.

I assume most of my readers are interested in music, philosophy, art, social activism, critical analysis, web design, web usability, computer security, and writing skills. So I try to cover all these things in some way within my sidebar or my posts. You should make maximum use of your sidebar. Use it to display things you want everyone to always be aware of, or to always have fast access to. Study my sidebar, or one at some other high quality blog, and ask yourself why the blogger put each item into it.

Please remember this if you remember nothing else: you increase blog popularity by increasing its practical value. Keep improving your blog so people will have more and better reasons to visit your blog, blogroll or bookmark it, and blog about it.

[signed] Steven Edward Streight aka VTG


No comments: