Do you remember a few years ago when blogs were ‘cool’? Back then every wannabe metropolitan city dweller between the ages of 13 and 40 had one, but it meant something very different to what it means today. Back then running a blog meant keeping an online diary of your personal life and everything that happened to you, usually in an amusing tone and often as an exercise in vanity.
Something changed over the last couple of years though that saw this breed of blog all but die out. Perhaps Twitter is partly responsible – for creating a new medium for self expression of the masses that was much easier and more accessible than writing a full blog. Alternatively it might be partly due to the success of WordPress which gave bloggers the tools to turn their sites into actual websites – and that created the new form of blog which is generally just a kind of ‘lite’ website that posts on subjects like SEO.
But there’s nothing wrong with the old style of blog – while it’s no longer quite so ‘hip’ that does mean that there’s less competition out there for the next online Adrian Mole, and a great personal blog can be addictive reading if you have the right tone and walk the line well between being entertaining and writing stylishly. This is a great outlet for wannabe comics or for anyone who has an exciting life, and it can build a big following as a result. Still though there are a few things to watch out for which I’m going to address here before you start spilling your heart out to the world…
This is a very big one. The problem is that when you write about your life that means inevitably writing about other people and while it’s fine to say what you like about yourself, you should respect the privacy of others. During the time that I ran my own personal blog I once insulted a lecturer at my University who then threatened to kick me off the course (or even sue me for libel!), and on another occasion I wrote about a friend of mine who didn’t want their name used online because they’d been recently harassed by an ex.
The safest thing to do when you write about real people online is to use pseudonyms, and to run anything you write past that person first. Be polite, and imagine that you’re reading it aloud to them as you write it.
Back in the day, blogging was a very social thing to do and it was important to build up a network of other bloggers to exchange notes and links with. One way this was done was through a ‘blog roll’ which was a great way to exchange visitors. Be wary though as Google recently de-indexed ‘blog networks’ which resulted in a lot of collateral damage affecting blog rolls that weren’t doing anything wrong. Communicate with other bloggers yes, and maybe consider doing some guest posts and each other’s blogs, but don’t build up too large a network as you might bring yourself to the attention of Google in the bad way…
Alienating Your Audience
The thing about personal blogs is that they often contain a lot of personal opinions. You’re writing this for yourself and there’s no editor to tell you off which means it’s easy to sometimes get a bit carried away. While it’s great to use the internet as a platform for self-expression, there’s no need to alienate readers unnecessarily if you want to keep the maximum number of visitors possible. If you have strong views on abortion, politics, religion; then consider keeping them to yourself (or at least addressing them tactfully), unless that’s specifically the topic of your blog.
Lack of Updates
Personal blogs often have lots of regular posts which keep the readers coming back, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. I’m referring to updating old pages. The problem here is that the chronological and time-sensitive nature of most personal blogs mean that few owners will consider updating older pages. This isn’t great for SEO and it means there’s only a few pages that are ever going to generate you revenue. As such then, try to write at least some of your posts to last (rather than a diary entry for instance you could write ‘ten reasons I love cafes’) and then go back to edit these from time to time so Google knows they’re still relevant.
So there you have it, a few tips to help you on your own blogging journey. This is by no means comprehensive however, and many of the issues you won’t discover until you start writing yourself. Just make sure that you keep your feelers out and that you recognize at least the potential for certain pitfalls along the way…
Tom Koh is an avid blogger and an expert in internet marketing. Through his blogs, he provides tips for getting website hits that will help your business prospects.