Tag Archives: readers

Oestrus’ Top 4 Tips For The Newbie Blogger Initiative

17 May

I signed up to be a Sponsor as part of the Newbie Blogger Initiative earlier this month and I admit that I got sort of sidetracked between World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Magic the Gathering, and some pretty fun times in my personal life.  With that said, I did want to write some sort of post, in which I give some advice to either up and coming bloggers or bloggers who might be returning to the scene after a hiatus.  While I have covered this topic once before with Ophelie on an episode of the Double O Podcast, it still feels good to get all of this out in writing, for my own peace of mind and for those who didn’t get a chance to listen to the episode in question that we talked about most of these things on.

So without further ado, here are my top 4 tips or pieces of advice for bloggers of all stripes.

Find your niche

One of the first things I always tell people who are considering starting a new blog is to make sure that they carve out a niche for themselves or that there is something about them that sets their blog apart from the rest of the pack.  For example, let’s say you want to start a new blog and you’re a resto druid.  Well, she’s a resto druid.  So is he.  And so is she.  You have to bring something more to the table than just that, otherwise you are most likely going to get skimmed over in favor of others who have been doing this much longer than you have.  If you look a little closer at the three people I just mentioned, you can find very subtle differences in their writing style, their personalities, or other topics that they choose to write about which sets them apart.  While they are all resto druids, one of them likes to roleplay and writes stories in character, the other sometimes covers personal topics and tends to skew more towards the hardcore side of raiding, while the other is usually at the forefront regarding changes to druids and spends a lot of time interacting directly with the druid community in various ways.

Finding a niche or something that makes you unique will not only help define you in a sea of other bloggers, but it will also give you something else to write about when you can’t think of anything else regarding your primary topic or subject of expertise.  There will be times when there is nothing to report or when things are just sort of trucking along.  You want to make sure that you don’t spend too much time away from your blog, if this is the case, and having a secondary topic to write about can help you stay active and keep people interested in your blog during those slow periods.

Saturate the market

Do you ever notice that when an actor or actress is about to break out in Hollywood that you see them everywhere you go?  They are doing handfuls of movies a year.  They are on the covers of magazines all over newsstands.  They are doing interviews on any TV or radio show that will have them.  Then once they become a bit more famous or established they start to scale it back a bit.  They do one movie a year, maybe even one movie every two years.  I tend to look at blogging the same way.

When you’re just starting out in the business of blogging, like show business, nobody knows who you are.  You are but one blogger in a sea of other bloggers, all clamoring for Retweets and comments and space on other people’s blogrolls.  You have to make people see you, make them see what you are all about and exactly what you are up to.  Once you have established yourself as a presence in the community, you can start to scale it back a bit.  Post once a week.  Maybe once every two weeks.  People with established audiences can afford to take a break from time to time because they have such loyalty from their readers that they know people will wait for them to post something again.  When you are a new blogger, you don’t have that luxury.  You have to keep people’s attention on you and posting frequently is one way to do that.

Dare to be different

One of the things that attract me most to a fledgling blogger is when they take a stance on something that is different than what others feel about something.  It can be very tempting for you to want to fit in or to crave acceptance from others by falling in line with what they want you to feel or what they think you should write about.  At the end of the day, you are the one that has to be comfortable with what you choose to do with yourself and your blog.  Write about what you want to write about.  Make your blog look the way that you want it to look.  Put whomever you want to on your blogroll.  Moderate your comments as you see fit.  I think the blogosphere would be an incredibly boring place if everyone felt the same way and nobody dared to feel otherwise.  It’s important to give people some variety, in case they don’t agree with the status quo.  Who knows?  That opinion or that perspective that you feel puts you in the minority could suddenly turn into the new majority.  You never know unless you speak up or speak out.

Ignore the numbers

The hardest mental road block for any blogger, new or old to overcome is most often the one involving the numbers.  It is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the number of page views that you accumulate, the number of subscribers that you have, the number of Followers that you have on Twitter, etc.  Ignore all of it.

The number one reason that I see up and coming bloggers give up on their blogs and on themselves is because they buy into the numbers.  If you are getting into blogging simply because you want lots of Followers and readers then you are blogging for the wrong reason.  Let’s get that out of the way right here and now.  There are bloggers with 65 Followers whose posts I live and breathe for and then there are those with a thousand Followers that I find to be the tritest personalities in the entire world.  These numbers have no bearing on the work that you do, the quality of your writing, your worth as a human being – none of it.  They are the last thing you should be looking at, in terms of viewing yourself or your blog as a success or something that is worth doing.

Another reason why it doesn’t pay to worry about your numbers is because there is no sure fire way to keep track of them all.  If you use WordPress, the site counter is going to tell you that the number of page views or referrals that you have received is different than what something like Google Analytics would tell you.  Different feed readers will give you conflicting information, in terms of how many subscribers that you have and Twitter has been known to randomly Unfollow people, through no fault of your own.  You would spend more time trying to get all the numbers to line up than you would trying to focus on churning out new and exciting content and it’s just not worth it.  Do not fall into that trap.

To this day, I still don’t know how many subscribers that I have and I choose not to know.  I don’t obsess over how many Followers that I have on Twitter.  I don’t sweat my page views like I used to.  And to be honest, I think I’m better off for not knowing or not caring.  I write what I want to write and it is great if people choose to tag along and come along for the ride with me.  But I think taking away the emphasis on other people and their validation helps me focus on why I blog and what really matters to me.  It is a very liberating feeling.

Shameless

27 Feb

Somewhere down the line I developed a reputation as being someone who will say and do nearly anything.  While this is true, there is one thing that I won’t do.

I don’t kiss and tell.

No, I don’t mean when you immediately run to your girlfriends and dish about that fantastic date that you just came back from, or when you write on your Facebook wall about just how much fun the conception of your first child was.  I mean the practice of bragging about or being fairly candid about the number of page views that your blog attracts or the number of Followers that you have acquired on Twitter.

Recently, a couple of posts sprang up in the blogosphere, which admittedly were very gracious and not immediately harmless.  I just want to stress that I have no personal issue with the people who decided to write these posts and so I’m not going to name names or anything.  What I do take issue with is the principle behind it, which whether they meant it or not, does reinforce the idea that on some level your page views matter.

I have met a number of people who have a very strong interest in starting a blog, but won’t, because they are afraid that nobody will be interested in what they have to say, or that nobody will read what they write.  I have also seen a number of bloggers who made a solid attempt at blogging, but gave up when they didn’t get the traffic that they were hoping for, or when they felt like nobody was listening.

Now you could argue that these people were blogging for all of the wrong reasons and so they were doomed to fail anyway.  I have gone on record a number of times to say that if you are looking for a reason to blog and you are doing it for the page views that you are doing it wrong.  That is not the reason to start a blog.  It is not worth getting wrapped up over and it really can turn into an endless spiral of shame and self-loathing if you let it.  But one could also say that you can’t blame people for being concerned about their numbers when they see posts celebrating these near impossible landmarks and the amount of admiration and praise that is showered upon people who do reach these heights.  You can’t blame someone for wanting to be a part of that and for wanting to feel that way, too.

I compare advertising your page views or how many Followers you have to boasting about the number of people that you slept with.  You may have slept with 25 people, but that doesn’t make you better in bed than the person who only slept with 2 people.  We should be judging ourselves and each other on the quality of our work rather than the number of people that it attracts.  I know quite a few up and coming bloggers that I have seen mentioned on Blog Azeroth that have written some truly riveting posts within weeks of starting their blog, which I can’t always say for people who may be more well established and who have been going at this for a while.  That blogger may have only gotten 100 page views or so, but I would much rather read what they have to say than that powerhouse blogger who gets thousands of views a day.

It really is not about that.  I have been blogging for a long time and I can honestly say that I was never happier than when I was blogging away on Livejournal, when nobody knew who I was, and when I was talking about how excited I was that the first season of “The Golden Girls” was coming out on DVD.  I wasn’t writing for anyone but me and it showed.  I didn’t obsess over who was going to take something the wrong way, or whether or not my facts were straight.  I wrote because I loved to do it and because it helped me clear my head and get a lot of things out of in the open that I didn’t think I could say to anyone else directly.

Somewhere down the line it gets muddled and you do feel obligated to keep going.  It’s hard not to feel that way when you realize that people are looking forward to your next post or when they do get emotionally invested in the things that you write about.  Blogging starts to feel less carefree, less effortless once you develop some semblance of a following.  I can take a look at the posts that I wrote when I had no Followers and nobody subscribed to my blog and see a huge difference in the tone or the quality of the posts from where I am now.  It really does change everything.

On a similar note, we say that we like Looking For Raid because it gets people interested in raiding, but then we criticize other players when they don’t perform to the standards that we are used to in our everyday raiding guilds.  We wonder how people could be so incompetent or how they could have gotten this far without asking for help.  I see elements of this in the blogosphere, too.  We make comments on Twitter that we have nothing new to read and that there are no blogs out there that pertain to a certain topic, but then we hesitate to click on a Retweet from a friend that just may have an article from a new and interesting voice that has yet to be heard.  Or we don’t think to write back to someone who sends us a Tweet or leaves us a comment to tell us that we did a good job on our most recent post, simply because we have never heard of them, or because they may have less of a following than we do.

Whether you mean it or not, that new blogger is going to read a post like the one mentioned above and it may deter from them even getting started, or it may convince them that they aren’t cut out to maintain a blog because they can never pull in numbers like that.  I think we should be doing everything we can to remove any sort of “Why bother?” element from people interested in getting involved in the community and be more inclusive, overall.  We all remember what it was like when we were first starting out and I think it’s important that we never forget that, no matter how successful we might become.  There really is enough room for everyone at the table, regardless of the amount of page views that you generate.  Let’s do a better job of communicating that, shall we?