Practical Advice on Becoming a Better Blogger
Pages: 1, 2
If you're like me, you probably send a lot of email. Here are two tricks that really help in promoting your blog:
If you're into a topic, such as virtualization, you're probably already reading blogs on the topic or writing emails to your team or colleagues about it. If what you are writing is "public"—in other words, not covering some secret or unreleased product—consider blogging it instead of emailing it:
One way that folk find blogs is to follow "tags." For example, here is a dynamic page on Technorati that lists recent blogs about OpenJPA: http://technorati.com/tag/openjpa. Click "Posts" for the good information.
Now you can subscribe to the feed for this tag too (see the "Subscribe" on the page). In other words, you can subscribe to a feed that tells you whenever anyone has blogged about OpenJPA (and tagged their blog post to tell Technorati that they have blogged about OpenJPA). Isn't that neat?
That page also provides some HTML that you can copy and paste into your own blog if you want to tag your blog as relevant to OpenJPA:
If you're using a blog client like Microsoft LiveWriter, there'll be a field where you can enter tags and it will do this tagging for you.
Consider adding your blog to aggregators that are worthwhile and relevant. For example, if you blog about Java exclusively, take a look at java.blogs. It aggregates and ranks Java blogs—and some folk just read blogs that are aggregated here instead of going into the wilds of the Web looking for scraps.
If you find other worthwhile aggregators, and I'll point to them here.
Don't be disheartened if you have no comments. There are always a lot more readers than folk who leave comments. As you build up an audience over time, the chance that someone will leave a comment will increase. It's worth pointing out that we have a blog on Dev2Dev that had more than 20,000 readers and only a single comment…
What increases your chances of receiving comments? Well, having someone read your blog in the first place! A lot of what this article covers are techniques for increasing the likelihood of that happening.
What else increases the chance of receiving comments? Blogging frequency…
Maintain a blogging frequency - Some people blog twice, don't receive comments, and then don't blog again. Don't do that! Try to maintain a constant stream of items. Remember our advice in Step 1 about blogging what you know, in the style in which you want to blog. That'll help you maintain a set pattern. Get into the habit of blogging—try to blog once a week, or twice a month.
Write what you read - Since you're already reading blogs, as a way of filling in the gaps consider blogging links to interesting blogs you have read. For example, perhaps you're maintaining a list on del.icio.us. That can be set up for "daily blog posting," which posts (automatically) the list of links that you've bookmarked. (Try adding value by adding notes to each link you bookmark if you do this.)
Whatever you do, don't lose heart. The Web is so big, there's bound to be a sizeable audience interested in what you're writing, but building an audience takes time.
A simple but effective way to make your blogs more interesting:
If you're visiting a conference, post a picture of that too.
It's unlikely that you will write perfect prose every time.
Check your links - If you're pointing to other posts or Web pages, check that they're linking to the expected pages.
Spell check and proofread - You make a more credible case when you express yourself accurately. Some bloggers write their blogs in text editors and then copy and paste their text into the Web form, or use blogging clients that that provide spell checking. Firefox and Safari have spell-checking facilities that you should use if you don't use a blogging client.
We all make mistakes, so don't fret. You're not writing an encyclopedia; you're just writing what you know. If you do spot a mistake in your blog post:
Thanks go to my colleagues Sarah Kim and Chris Adamson for their input.
Jon Mountjoy worked as the editor-in-chief of Dev2Dev and Arch2Arch until April 2008.