In three years of bogging I’ve broken most of the suggestions you’ll see other bloggers advise. I don’t have a consistent posting schedule. I don’t do any marketing or link trading. Most of my posts don’t use screenshots or pictures.
This site started because I had a few rants about DRM to get off my chest, and because after years of reading other blogs and commenting I decided I wanted my own soapbox on the Internet. Sometimes I think the blog continues in spite of me rather than because of me.
So rather than advice, I thought I’d highlight how I’ve managed to make it three years as a hobbyist blogger.
Figure out what your goals are. Are you hoping to make money? Become famous (fame being a relative thing)? Join the blogging community? This wasn’t something I thought about initially, though lucked into a good niche. I’ve made some good friends through the blog and gotten some loyal readers/commenters that don’t mind my erratic posting schedule.
Speaking of consistency and schedules, if you’re trying to build a reader base you need to post as often as possible, but don’t post just because you feel like you have to. If you’re like me you already have a full time job and don’t need another. Hobbies are fun because you don’t have to do them.
There are lots of options for where to bogging. I use a self-hosted WordPress blog because I enjoy the technical aspects and I like having complete control of what version of the software I’m running as well as what plugins are installed.
I didn’t start out that way though, and it’s not the quickest way to get started. My advice is to pick one (or try both) of the major platforms (WordPress and Blogger) and get started. You should start as soon as you can and not get sidetracked in registering a domain name or picking a theme. Those are excellent ways to procrastinate (which is something I’m eminently qualified to give advice about) but jumping straight into the writing is the best thing you can do. You can always move your content to a different platform or new name a later.
Marketing vs. Networking
To me: marketing is business oriented and networking is community oriented.
If you’re looking to make a business out of your blog, I wish you good luck, but I have no suggestions for you. I’ve never had the slightest interest in that.
If you’re trying to connect with other bloggers and attract readers then my suggestion is to be yourself and be personal. Different styles attract different crowds, so it does you no good to build a readership by being aggressively opinionated if that’s not really you. It’s a great way to build readership but they’ll be gone quickly the moment your style changes.
Besides taking advantage of NBI, commenting on other blogs is the best way to get noticed by other bloggers and readers. If you just spam a bunch of blogs with links to your site then expect your comments to get moderated away quickly. What you need to do is find blogs you enjoy, which necessarily mean agree with, and read them regularly and leave good comments. A quick, “I agree,” is not going to entice anyone to click your name and read you. Networking this way isn’t easy but it does work.
Social networks are another good way to connect and promote yourself, but again you can’t just make an account and start blasting out links. I’ve been on Twitter nearly as long as I’ve been blogging. I originally joined to chat and occasionally I’ll link an article. Being genuine and willing to have conversations with others will let you get much more out of the service than just posting nothing but links.
Try not to focus too much on stats (no matter how tempting or easy that can be). Don’t limit what you write about to what you think people want to read. Don’t post just because it’s been a week since your last one.
Blogs are great ways to meet like minded people. They are also great for recording thoughts and experiences that you can refer back to. Writing is an excellent way to think through an issue or opinion, especially if it sparks a discussion with your readers.