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20 Ideas for a Great Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 15th of February 2006 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Carson McComas from FrogBody has an good post titled 20 Ideals for a Great Podcast which I enjoyed reading this morning (found via Life Hacker). But as I did I found myself wondering if the tips might actually help bloggers too. So here’s my comments on each of the points to see if we can apply them as bloggers (be warned – I don’t know how this will turn out…. could get a little freaky!)….

  1. Podcasts should be short – obviously post length is a matter of personal taste but I like the advice that one reader gave in comments recently (who was it?) – ‘write as much as you need to comprehensively cover your topic – then stop writing’. I’ve nothing against a long post (I’ve done a few of them lately myself) but writing succinctly is a gift that your readers will appreciate.
  2. Don’t take yourself seriously – I’ve been pondering this one a lot lately. As bloggers it’s easy to get sucked into the mindset that the world revolves around us. The fact is that it doesn’t and the sooner we realize it the better.
  3. Be whimsical – Carson’s point here – have fun. I think this is great advice for bloggers. Like point two is getting at – we can get way to serious with blogging. The bloggers that I’m drawn back to reading are ones who obviously enjoy what they do and at times inject humor and fun into the process.
  4. Be Chunky – Here he talks about short, sharp and diverse segments – the same could be said for posts (or sections within posts). One of the keys to a good blog is that it has an overall theme/topic that is tight enough to capture an audience – but that has enough variety in it to keep drawing people back over time.
  5. Don’t Ramble, Be organized – Thinking ahead with your blogging can set a great blogger apart from a good one. Sitting down to write ‘something’ can work – but knowing ahead of time what your posts will be for the next week can help you to build momentum in your posts. Of course many bloggers do well with a more random chaotic approach – but to sustain a blog at a high level of quality takes a certain amount of forethought and planning.
  6. Cram, cram, cram as much good stuff as you can into the time – Give your readers as much goodness in your posts as possible and they’ll be back for more.
  7. Be regular, but only if you’ve got quality – Great advice for bloggers. We talked a few days ago about not posting just for the sake of it if you have nothing to say – but this needs to be balanced with regularity in your posting.
  8. Get decent audio! – Obviously there is no ‘audio’ quality with blogging – but perhaps if get a little loose with our metaphors we could extend this to blog design? While there are some successful blogs out there with pretty plain generic design, these days one way to get attention and create a favorable impression is a ‘wow’ design. It’s amazing what it can do for a blog’s popularity. I know the day I went from a plain, templated design here on ProBlogger was the day I started getting taken seriously as a blogger (and my traffic levels improved significantly).
  9. Get a buddy – I don’t know of many blogs where the two bloggers working side by side works really well. Perhaps this is one which doesn’t apply as much – although I’m a big believer on working with others in different ways.
  10. Make that buddy a member of the opposite sex – ditto to #10. Although perhaps I should bring ‘V’ into ProBlogger occasionally to get her perspective :-)
  11. Have show notes on your blog – I think this comes down to #5 again. Planning on a macro level can really pay off. I also think micro ‘in post’ planning can be worthwhile also. I quite often write the main points I want to make as single sentences before I write a post and then go back to fill in the gaps. This helps to stop rambling and aimlessness in posts. It doesn’t work for everyone (it’s just my writing style I guess) but helps keep me on track.
  12. If you’re doing interviews, don’t be Charlie Rose – Carson talks here about letting your guests talk when interviewing them. Once again you could apply this if you do interviews I guess – but I think it can also related to your comments section. Some bloggers write in a voice where they dominate a blog so much that commenters either need to disagree with them to add anything to a conversation. My style of blogging is much more about creating conversations and allow commenters to finish my posts. I’m much more into an open ended style of blogging (again a personal taste).
  13. Don’t interview Jason Fried – main point here was to find fresh people to interview. Same is true for blogging, not just in who you might interview but what you write about. It’s a challenge, but finding a fresh angle on an old topic is a brilliant way to build a blog.
  14. Try to be natural – I guess this is about finding your own voice and tone to write in. Some people’s writing style will be more a little more relaxed than others and I don’t have a problem with more formally written blogs – as long as the bloggers is being true to their own personality. I think the main thing is to develop some consistency in the way they write.
  15. Don’t be scared to throw a show away – Great advice for bloggers. Remember that everything you write will either add to or take away from your blog’s brand and identity. It all reflects upon you in some way. As a result if you’ve written a bad post either delete it before publishing or save it as a draft to work on and improve later. Yesterday I deleted 6 below average posts that I’d had sitting in my draft section for a while because I wasn’t happy with their quality. While many measure the success of blogs by what it publishers – perhaps the flip side is that it can also be measured by what it doesn’t publish.
  16. Do some editing – Perhaps more relevant for podcasts but also true for blogs. I still remember the day when I submitted a post that I’d written on one of my blogs to a magazine for publishing. The editor asked me if she could work it up a little before publishing and I was amazed to find that they went with an article a bit over half the size of what I’d first written. At first I was disappointed with this – until I read the vastly superior article that it ended up being.
  17. Use music – Please don’t use music on your blog!!! I’m not a big fan of musical websites – in fact I’m on the verge of curling up in a ball and rocking back and forth just thinking about them. However you can use other elements on your blogs to add new dimensions to it. I’m particularly thinking of pictures! Also some bloggers are now adding mini audio files to their blogs that readers can click on to get introductions or explanations of different elements (if you do this don’t have them play automatically – let your readers choose whether they want to listen to them).
  18. Verbally identify your podcast at the start of your podcast – Carson here is talking about giving information to readers to put things into context (ie date, topic, guest name etc). This is worth considering on a blog also. Most readers to blogs arrive via an individual post’s page (ie not the home page) and it’s worth considering what the experience of arriving on such a page might be like for a first time reader. Help them out by using headers, taglines and introductory statements to make it obvious what your site is about and you might find they stay longer and even explore the rest of your blog.
  19. Put an iTunes (at least) and Odeo chicklet with appropriate linkage on your blog – There are some obvious similarities here for bloggers. Give readers a quick and easy way to subscribe via RSS, email etc.
  20. If you have something important/valuable to say, get something out there. It may not be perfect, but if you’ve got great content, some omissions from the above list are tolerable – a great piece of advice to finish off on. It’s easy to be a little overwhelmed when you first start blogging – you want to get everything ‘just right’ – and end up never launching because it never is. There comes a time where you just have to launch and work on things as you go.
About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Hey Darren, nice work. A bit stretched, but it was fun to read. :-)

  • hehe – true true. I think I broke tip #1 with it :-)

  • Nice list Darren.

    I also thought this post by the scobleizer today was very helpful:

    Tips for joining the A list

  • These are same great tips! I didn’t know some of these things, but do now! :D

  • I’ve been writing a business blog for 7 months now and just recently adopted the practice of limiting my posts to 400 words. It’s a struggle, but it’s making me a better writer; more importantly I’m getting better at getting my point across.
    I’m just starting to do “best practices” podcasts for my employees. My 3 rules: keep it short (15 min max); stay on message; use humor when appropriate.

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