Be The Blogger People Read (3/10)

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Welcome to my new “How To Blog” series! In this series, I’ll try to put my knowledge to good use and shed some light on the basic of blogging. You will learn how to set up a self-hosted blog, what are the must-have plugins, how to attract readers, how to monetize your blog etc. I’ll publish a new “How To Blog” post every Saturday.

Do you have a blog? Yes? Good. Cause I’m a pretty curious woman (some would say it’s an euphemism…) and I love to browse blogs. Chances are that if you ever left a comment at my blog, ever sent me an email or just showed up here, I visited you. I have plenty of feed in my RSS Reader and I’m pretty quick to click on the magic “subscribe” button. But I’m human too — not all blogs attract me.

Basically, there are three things that are likely to catch my eye when browsing the web for blogs:

  • Something original
  • Something easy to read
  • Someone friendly

Yes, I’m that picky.

But let’s be realistic: there are thousands of blogs out there and not everyone can stand out. First lesson is, you have to be a little bit original.

  • An interesting layout like Encore Seraphine, a funny view on the world like Mattress Police or Johnada is all you need. Just give me something. I’m tired of seeing the same Blogger/ WordPress default template, barely customized. I’ll usually pass on these blogs. Granted, not everyone is into Photoshop and coding. But you will need a personal touch, whether it’s a customized header or a funny “about me”. And with hundreds of websites to help you tweak your blog, you don’t really have an excuse anymore.
  • For some, keeping a minimalistic blog is a statement. Which works very well as long as they have something to say. Look at Kung Fu Chewy: this bad boy didn’t customized his blog much (although he has the minimum: a President Bush “days left in office” countdown — don’t laugh, I have a Mozilla extension on my browser for the same purpose!), but he writes well and always has funny stories. Basically, he has something to say and in this case, his layout doesn’t matter that much.

Lesson number two is equally simple: you have a written medium, please make it accessible.

  • The font, for example. It seems somewhat fashionable to have a very dark background and white font. It does look good. Until you tried to read and focus on the post for more than in a minute, which is about the time it takes to become cross-eyed and see white spots everywhere. Granted, I don’t have the best eyesight but I shouldn’t be able to read your blog without going blind. Period.
  • Think I’m tough? Okay. I made that very same mistake when I first started to blog. I used a white font on a dark blue background (the one I now use as the blog’s wallpaper). A few people complained and I decided to add a post background (light blue) with a dark font. Did wonders. Now I’m not saying this white font/ dark background never works, it does on some blog. I’m not talking to you personally. But generally speaking, try to think of your readers: who likes to focus like crazy when reading a post? Can you make you readers’ live easier? If the answer is yes, just do it. Likewise, mixing up font colors or font sizes in a post might look supercool, but it might also makes it really hard to read. In a word: be nice to your readers!
  • Oh, since we’re at it, one last thing: mind your &?%$ widgets! If you make my Firefox crash, I probably won’t be back. Some blog take forever to load, thanks to a bunch of useless things in the sidebar. Seriously, how many widgets can you fit in one sidebar ??? Don’t add up videos, pictures, stream etc. Think of those who have a slower computer. Likewise, I don’t mind music on a blog. But I do mind be greeted by ACDC and not being able to stop it. Example of blogs which are artistic yet super friendly to read include Times Journal, Video Store Blues or The Rain In Spain.

And finally, the third lesson: be a friendly blogger. Sounds obvious, but some people behave in the blogosphere the same way they behave when there is only one slice the chocolate cake left — they fight, they are impolite, they only think of themselves.

  • Indeed, blogging is a two way thing. You need readers in the first place, so be nice to them. What’s being nice? Acknowledging them when they comment, for example. You can either reply to their comments, visit their blog, drop a quick line… it only takes a minute. Once in a while, you can also “reward” blog you like by linking to them: in this post, I decided to illustrate my points with some good blogs from my RSS feed. I’m sure the owners won’t mind! You can also organize contest, have a weekly “link love” post, a review once in a while… This is about acknowledging you’re not the only one in the blogosphere, that you enjoy other people’s work as well. One example of a friendly blogger who is good at networking is RennyBA’s Terella… check him out, you’ll see. This guy sent me a troll all the way from Norway a few months ago when I won his contest!
  • The key is to share and exchange. If you only goal is to make tons of money or be famous, you’ll fail, because you can’t really do that alone. You need readers, you need subscribers, you need people to click on your ads. Remember, the internet is a small world after all, so behave!

Meanwile, I’ll see you guys next week for another “How To Blog” post!

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

16 Comments

  1. What a great idea to start a How to Blog series! A great contribution to Blogsphere about sharing your knowledge and experiences and you really have some good points here!
    What I agree to you the most is to find your own style – not to intrusive, but personal – as well as your theme (and stick to it!)

    To be friendly is another good point. I feel honoured when bloggers take their time to read and even more: to comment my posts and as much as I find time: I replay on their comment directly. I also feel all those comments enriches the subject in the post and I learn a lot from them. Its a Givers Gain you know!

    I’m glad you appreciated my Norwegian Troll and I know he is in good hand with you 🙂
    Btw: Happy Mother’s Day!

    RennyBAs last great read…David Gurteen’s Knowledge Café in Oslo

  2. Hiyaaaaa Zhu… 😀 Wonderful stuff here and I think you are very original & I Luv it!!

    Yes, about the font thing I find it hard to read when it is too small (coz my eye sight is failing me) also about the colour scheme.

    Thank you my dear friend ;D

  3. Hi Zhu,

    I knew nothing about blogging when I started out last October, and learned all I know along the way. I used to have those useless widgets and stuff but I also knew they slowed the site down, so I took these out.

    Reading other sites and spending time understanding terms and abbreviations as well as information about page rank, traffic rank, Technorati Authority improved my understanding of what ticks and what doesn’t. There were also lots of wrong turns and errors. If you had started this “tutorial” in October 2007 it would have been easier – but it doesn’t minimize its importance nor diminishes it’s value as a great idea.:-)

    However, despite my inexperience in blogging at the outset, one thing I always had was courtesy and reciprocity. I would respond immediately to a comment, and even visit the site to comment on their post. If I like the site, I return now and then until it becomes regular. That’s the part that’s me and how I respond to people in general when I meet them anywhere, for whatever. My comment policy is thus my nature as a person, and I think it has contributed to making “real” friends in blogosphere. And you are correct to point this out explicitly so that newcomers out there will not act like there’s a “last piece or slice of chocolate cake left”.

    Congratulations are in order. Great job! :-)–Durano, done!

    durano lawayans last great read…Clinton’s Crumbling Candidacy

  4. I love the concept of meeting who you read and blog with. I’ve met many of people this way, even back in 2005 when I started blogging and back as far as 2003 when I finally started full involvement in websites.

    I’m not sure why the RSS feed doesn’t work. If I muster up enough time, I’ll probably switch to wordpress and one of my open domains… Time is all we need, such is for blogging..

    expatravelers last great read…North Vancouver – Photo Hunt

  5. *rubs eyes*

    You mentioned me! What an honour for me Zhu! *jumps in joy* LOL!

    I agree with u. Readers mean a lot to bloggers like us. They motivate us to blog for more. They give us encouragement when we are feeling down and so. I hate it when some bloggers started become arrogant when they get to taste a lil bit of fame.

    And Happy Mother’s Day on your side of the world! 😉

    kyhs last great read…Mama, I ♥ U…

  6. I like your advices and completely agree with them 😀 Although some times I’m lazy to comment in blogs, and I don’t always do it in yours, I’m always reading yours 😀 I love it!

    Aiglees last great read…A day in my life

  7. Thank you for the kind words Zhu! I appreciate being called an “interesting layout.” That’s a first.
    I hope it isn’t the kiss of death (every good thing somebody says has to be offset by something bad, it’s Newton’s Third Law) but if somebody is going to kill me, I’d want it to be you.

    Seraphines last great read…The Family Closet: Mother’s Day

  8. Thanks for shareing 🙂 for me….Even though I don’t blog too much myself,truly it can be said that blogging is what makes my world go round.I love reading blogs.life in a way,is taking a whole dimension. but for many the Internet has become a serious problem.They are the net addicts (day in day out ,we are stuck to our PC’s) he!he!he!.
    Wish you well

  9. @RennyBA – The troll is doing great 😉 Thank you for the positive feedback. I think I agree with you… well, we basically agree on a lot of things when it comes to blogging!

    @CM-Chap – It’s actually fun to write about something I had to learn myself. Prob. my teacher’s side 😉

    @shionge – Thank you! The font is a small thing but I passed on so many blogs because of that…

    @durano lawayan – I was the same a couple of years ago, I didn’t know anything about blogging. I was surprised to learn there were so many rules and so many tricks at first… but I guess most of it is common sense.

    @expatraveler – I’ll figure out how to get your feed, it might be me! I love connecting with people as well… but I have yet to meet bloggers from Ottawa!

    @kyh – You deserved it — I love your art work! Your headers are wonderful.

    @Aiglee – Oh, I’m lazy too… no one has to comment all the time on each post!

    @Seraphine – No, no kiss of death, I swear! 😀

    @zingtrial – I don’t think I can call myself a web addict, since I don’t work with a computer! Maybe a blog addict though…

  10. Hey Zhu,

    Loved this tip post too!
    I just have one thing to say: yes, I focus for more than one minute on every blog I read (I think if people spent time preparing a post – no matter its length – the least I can do is to actually read it through and through).

    I have had two complaints about white fonts on my blog; but there is only one detail: my font isn’t white, it is grey.
    Of course initially (on my test blog) I chose white but not even I could read it for more than a second, so I changed it lol *nodding*.

    Great tips as always, girl! Thumbs up!

    Cheers

    Max Coutinhos last great read…Plot and Betrayal

  11. Excellent post. And thanks for using me as an example. And not the bad kind of example either, which is nice for a change.

    diesels last great read…Caption Contest: Prince Caspian

  12. Pingback: The Art Of Promoting Your Blog | Correr Es Mi Destino

  13. I have just been catching up on your blogging tutorials… They are fascinating and you have explained things so well. I am guilty of having a few too many things in my sidebars and am concious that my blog takes an age to open. I’m definitely going to have to do some housekeeping soon. I might even use that as an excuse to move from blogger. Anywayz, thank you for the great advice :happy:

    Grahams last great read…One Amazing Year Of Blogging

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