Blogging 101 – Key Tips for Web Writing

These Blogging 101 key tips for web writing are from Vancouver technologist and writer Darren Barefoot, who just posted his 5,000th article on his blog. He spoke at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in British Columbia about the fundamentals of blogging – and here’s what I learned!

First, a quip about writing:

“You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you’ve got to say something” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Three keys to good blogging are transparency, authenticity, and conversation (through comments). You need to get and stay real, bloggers….and that doesn’t necessarily mean spilling your guts every day. You can be real about your thoughts on politics or celebrities or apples – as long as you’re honest. For more ideas about blog posts, click on the book cover and read Blogging for Beginners, pictured above. To learn Barefoot’s key tips for blogging, read on…

Blogging 101: The Keys to Writing on the Wide World Web

Why start your own blog? One reason to blog is to engage and generate a community of true fans. The more people you have dedicated to your work, the more successful you’ll be. Another reason to blog is get access to community and individuals who you couldn’t otherwise access – because blogging can give you legitimacy. A third reason to blog is to engage in a community of like-minded folk.

Include personal details. “You need to be personal on your blog,” says Barefoot. “People like to hear a blogger think. That’s better than crafting perfect essays. People seem to respond to informal writing on blogs – they respond best when bloggers seem to be people they know.” Include anecdotes on your life that relate to your topic – keep your voice in your blog.

WordPress or Blogger? “Both are fine, but I’d be inclined to go with WordPress,” says Barefoot. “That’s where the popular kids are.” (I’ve tried both, and I prefer WordPress….I guess I’m a popular kid!).

Tags versus categories in WordPress. Tags are meta-data or keywords – and are a way to organize your blog posts. Tags can have different applications in different venues, depending on the type of blog you have.

Increasing your readership. “Linking is a good way to increase your blog readership,” says Barefoot. “Link generously through your blogroll.” Linking to other blogs is like a handshake – it’s an invitation to friendship. When someone links to you, consider linking back to them. Commenting on other people’s blogs. Tell people in the real world. Put your blog name on your business card.

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An idea for posts. “Many of my blog posts start: ‘I just read this fascinating thing on CNN, and this is what I think about it,'” says Barefoot. This is new to me, fellow scribes…I guess I don’t read enough newspapers! Time to go to the virtual newsstand…

Earning money on your blog. “It’s hard to make money from advertising, because you need a big audience,” says Barefoot. “The simplest way is Google Adsense.” Another way to make money is to advertise a business on your website for $25 or $50 a month. You can also earn money “in kind”, which means you’ll get books, tickets, and other paraphanelia if your blog is specific enough.

What is RSS? RSS or Real Simple Syndication is a central location that keeps track of when (and whether) websites are updated – it summarizes the most recent contents of the website. Bloglines and GoogleReader are two popular RSS readers, which notify you whenever the blogs are updated.

Free stat counters. “Google Analytics is the stat service you want to use,” says Barefoot. A stat counter will help you keep track of how many visitors you have each day.

Comments. “For every 100 people who visit a website, 10 will comment occasionally,” Barefoot says. Don’t expect to get hundreds of comments, because 90% of readers just read….but if someone comments, it’s nice to acknowledge it with a comment on their blog, or a comment on their comment.

The most important things I learned from Barefoot’s Blogging 101 workshop:

  • Include anecdotes and personal details to make your writing more real.
  • When people link to you, respond and link back! Don’t just ignore them.

If you’ve attended the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I’d love to hear what you thought! Your comments are welcome below…

And, my website and blogs are hosted through HostGator – their technical support is amazing. They’re knowledgable, friendly, polite, and offer 24 hour support.

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