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.
This is the tenth and last post of the “How To Blog” series and I’d like to close it with some advice on blogging etiquette. Indeed, behaving well in the blogosphere is important because:
- Reputation stays forever on the web
- We are all from different cultures and must learn to respect each other
- Blogging = communicating… isn’t it?
On writing posts:
- Blogs are a written medium, so do everyone a favor and punctuate, capitalize and spell check your posts. I’m not talking about the odd spelling mistake (will I ever be able to spell “neighborhood” properly?) but posts like: “lol u lik it 2, this Utube video iz my favoite”.
- Writing is caps is forbidden. Unless YOU ARE SHOUTING! Seriously, caps are hard to read, especially when write your entire post in caps.
- Paragraphs are an invention of God™. They separate your mains ideas and are nice to the eye. Plus, hitting the tab key only takes a second.
- Don’t ever copy someone else post/ blog/ entire website (yes, some idiots do that). You will get caught and will look very stupid. Trust me.
On using images:
- Please, resize your images for those who don’t have a fast internet connection. One large picture per post is fine, but if you took 1,000 pictures during your holidays, please resist the urge to post everything in a single post. You can either make a picture page, like on this blog (see Pics), send people to your Flickr, Photobucket or whatever account, or use thumbnails. Anything that won’t make my computer crash basically.
- Not everybody is a photographer or an artist. That’s fine. What’s not fine is stealing images. Copyright my friend, copyright… Don’t just use Google image to find something suitable for the article you’re about to post: chances are, the image will be copyrighted and you will get into trouble. No, no, trust me, you will. See this thread at Digital Point for example, where bloggers and webmasters are being sued by Getty Image Company for what appears to be relatively small copyright infringement… On the same forum, you can read the excellent: “copyright, what you need to know”. So if you’re desperate for pictures, you can either: 1) take them yourself 2) ask an amateur photographer on Flickr for example (I was contacted several and never said no — too flattered for that!) 3) buy stock photos. You will save yourself a lot of hassle in the long run.
On blog design:
- Chances are you didn’t make your theme from scratch but rather downloaded a free theme/ template. Did you notice the small line at the bottom of it? These are the credits, usually a link to the designer who created the theme/ template, and sometimes a link to the blogging platform. For example, on my blog, you can read: “Copyright © 2008 Correr Es Mi Destino. Powered by WordPress. Options theme by Justin Tadlock”. Justin designed this amazing theme that I tweaked and customized. I got the theme for free. I get support for free on his forums. He is constantly improving his themes. Why on earth shouldn’t he get credit for it? Yet, a lot of people remove the credit line altogether or worse, attribute the theme as their own. This is just pathetic…
- Make sure readers can access your blog easily: check your blog loading speed (you can use Website Speed Test for example), don’t pile up thousands of widgets and images in your sidebar, make your font big enough and avoid flashy gadgets. Among others recommendations.
- Make sure your ads or your sponsored posts don’t drive readers away. Pop up windows are a big no-nos as most people can’t stand them. Text or image ads are usually fine but think about their placement: you want them to be seen but you also want people to read your posts. Just don’t overdo it… I personally hate sponsored posts but they are fairly accepted by readers as long as you have good content and don’t do that too often.
On promoting your blog:
- Wait until your blog is finished and you have a few posts to start promoting your blog. Asking for a review of an empty blog with just the “hello world” post and a bunch of ads can drive potential readers away for a long time.
- Promoting a blog doesn’t mean plugging your link anytime you can. A lot of blogs now use the Commentluv plugin which links to your last post when you comment on a blog. You don’t need to type your blog link several times in the comment when you leave one.
- Pay attention to people and they will pay attention to you. Blogging is a two way thing: read blogs that you are interested in, leave genuine comments, help whenever you can and people will visit your blog. Don’t be that obnoxious “check out my blog” person.
On interacting with people:
- Be nice. Not everybody share your point of view, your cultural/ religion background, your ideas. People can and will disagree. That’s life, and the keyword is r-e-s-p-e-c-t.
- And when you “tag” people for a meme, don’t just type their names or blog URLs: link to them. Likewise, if you complete the meme, you should link to the blogger who tagged you.
- Do things without expecting anything in return (links etc.). It works well in the long run.
- Post comments that are related to the entry. Don’t break the discussion with one of these “by the way, did you check out my last post” kind of comment. Most bloggers have a contact form if you need to ask them something off topic.
We all break the rules once in a while and I made my fair share of mistakes, but I hope these points will help you understand and enjoy the blogosphere to its best! Let me know if you would like to add points, I can update this post periodically.
Next week, I will start an “How To… In Canada” ten-posts series, where you will learn how to immigrate to Canada, how to find a job, how to open a bank account and more. See you then!