As you know, yesterday, we conducted a workshop in Ann Arbor for a bunch of writers. It was very well received and we had great feedback from the crowd with a ton of questions. For those of you who were unable to attend, here were a a few FAQs on blogging that I answered in the workshop, which I feel could be helpful to everyone beginning with it!
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FAQs on Blogging- directly from our Ann Arbor workshop
A lot of good discussion and banter was a part of our ongoing discussion on blogging through the evening. Compared to a crowd that is less interested in writing, this was a crowd that was made up of writers, so the questions were a little different. I’m picking up the ones that I heard the most and answering them here today!
1. What platform do you recommend for Blogging? Does a FREE version of WordPress or Blogger work?
For a hobby blogger or someone just starting, I do recommend free versions. But when you have a dedicated blog for making money or promoting your brand, I definitely recommend using your own URLs, hosting etc. A new CMS (content management system) like WordPress.org takes a while to get used to and it does feel like you need tech support all the time. But it’s a good solid system, and will serve you once you see what works for you and customize it. As always, never be afraid to ask for help (from experts) to get started!
Here’s what I had experienced when I moved from a FREE to a self-hosted blog (from an old personal post here):
For the longest time since 2005, I was on Blogger. Sometimes I suffered, most times I just ignored. I felt lazy to improve and take control of what I was writing and how it was being seen. Now, I’m just concerned that digitally native kids will look at my Blogger page and claim that it sucks. The absolute last thing was people not being able to comment on my Blog using iOS. I tried several ways of solving it and eventually just decided to do nothing and leave. Additionally, just the smallest thing on Blogger involved editing the HTML because none of the plugins easily available for the WordPress environment were Blogger friendly. It was too time consuming. My heart was still crying over the lost Posterous posts (when you’re not hosting, you live by their rules, right?)
So far, I like the transition to a self-hosted blog. It feels the same as moving into an apartment all by myself. I need to take care of electricity, water, waste and cleaning all the time, on my own.
I had an unusual error on my FREE blogger account, where I could no longer have people on iOS devices comment. And while solving for that, I realized just how many things I needed for a solid blog and moved over to WordPress on a self-hosted set up soon afterwards.
HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: A Beginner’s Guide to Business Blogging
Also, a little sneak peak into the workshop, as it happened:
2. How many pictures should the blog have if we use 1000s of words on content?
The ideal blog post length as shared by many resources (if you Google) is 1600 words. But everyone in the group came up with their own estimations of how much they liked to read. Some said one scroll on the computer to 2 scrolls on the mobile phone. It was indeed important that they didn’t lose interest.
So, I recommended that designing the post well (with scannable content and images) would help break the information into digestible chunks for all readers. And in terms of the number of images you would ideally need, it would totally depend on your image production systems. If you’re a prolific creator, maybe you have a few images with every post. But if you’re low on design resources, 1-2 images should do just fine. Once you’re consistent with the blog, you’ll realize creating so many images is a time consuming and expensive task. But it’s good to remember to always have a FEATURED image section, so that when you share the image on social media, the most relevant image from your post shows up! Pictures do a lot better on social media, as we already know!
3. How will the crowd come to my blog?
The 80:20 principle applies. Great blogs spend 80% time promoting their blogs and only 20% creating them. So while a ton of us like the process of creation, the traffic won’t come by itself. I’d recommend thinking about who you want to reach and approach those communities (on social or otherwise). A blog without a community will not run.
While there are 1000s of free resources available on the Internet which you can learn from, it helps to do a 1-2 hour session with an expert so that you can prioritize and develop your own lean process of what you want to focus on.
4. What if I write a blog on many topics? Does it become more like a website then? Does it work?
A website can be about a bar or fashion clothes or taxation productions, and it can run a blog. Blogs can also be covering multiple topics and sections that feel like a newspaper or magazine – like Huffington Post. Your own personal blogs can also be about different topics- as they inspire you.
But to run a blog that’s doing business or has some orientation towards it, it’s important to stick to a niche that you’re most interested in and build a community around it. You could also do different topics on your blog, but remember you may need plenty of content, and bloggers who will help you build each of those sections and departments. If your vision includes scaling your content with multiple contributors, then go for it!
RELATED CONTENT: How can a blog make money?
Thank you WriteON group for inviting me to host this workshop, and thank you to all the super engaged audience members who made me think and shared so many experiences!
What are some of the persistent blogging issues that you’re struggling with? Send me a message here or write to me on Twitter. Let’s discuss!
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