Starter Checklist for New Bloggers
Many of my close friends are entering the blogging world. I am so happy for them. I started blogging in Feb 2005 and I have learned that we need to do a few basic things when we start a blog. I learned it the hard way but you don't have to. I have put together a starter checklist for new bloggers. I have used this list to help my friends and now I thought I will make this public.
Disclaimer: This list is by no means complete and all the items may not be relevant to everyone.
The Only Thing That Matters
Well, may not be the ONLY thing but want to stress the importance anyway ...
The only thing that matters finally is superior content. If you forget everything else in this list and focus on just providing great content, you can still win BIG in the blogging world!
Things To Do On Your Blog
1. Enable search on your blog.
Again, search should be a standard feature for any web site. Your blogging provider would normally provide the feature. You just have to find out how to enable it for your blog.
2. Link to your profile.
Write up your introduction "elevator pitch" and link it from your blog. People want to know who you are. Celebrity bloggers can ignore this comment :)
3. Provide a way to contact you.
Other than posting comments on your blog, provide a way (email, phone or both) for your readers to connect with you. I have made quite a few new friends from all over the world.
4. Create meaningful categories and chunk content.
Very soon you will have a lot of content on your blog and your readers will get confused where to go. One option is to create meaningful categories and file content appropriately. That will be a great service for your readers.
5. Put your photo on the home page.
Blog is a conversation that you are having with your readers and it becomes more personal with a photo.
Things To Do Off Your Blog
1. Register a domain name and redirect it to your blog.
It costs less than $10 per year but the return on investment is huge.
2. Include your blog link in your email signature.
Again, it takes only a minute but it will help spread the message quickly.
3. Build your personal brand.
Your brand can help your blog and your blog can help your brand. So start building your personal brand right away.
Registries and Directories
Pick and choose the services that are relevant for you.
Creative Commons makes it easy to assign a license for your online content. I use a license called "Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0"
This means (in english)
You are free
* to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work.
* to make derivative works.
Under the following conditions:
* by Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.
* Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
Most probably your blogging software will automatically provide an RSS feed capability. However, chances are that you may not be able to track how many readers are subscribing (and how they are subscribing) to your feed. By burning your feed via feedburner, you can get those statistics. Again, it only takes a few minutes to setup a free account on feedburner.
People use variety of RSS readers and you want to make it easy for them to subscribe to your feed from those RSS readers. Feedburner provides scripts to create those subscription chiclets. I suggest that you should take a look at the available options and add those chiclets to your blog site.
By registering yourself at Technorati and claiming it, you have an ability to put your photo with your profile. When people search for stuff on Technorati and your blog comes up in the search results and your thumb-size photo appears with the search result. Every single thing helps.
You will be amazed how many people want to read your blog via their email. It's easy to set that up. You can get a script to do that by registering at Feedblitz.
If you have an online photo album with a service like Flickr, put in a link to that as well.
The first thing that you can do is to use a service like Pingomatic to ping a few servers. Of course, best would be to write compelling content that would make others link to your site.
If you have an account with del.icio.us and are tracking some interesting websites, you can link to your bookmark page.
Simple way is to subscribe to your own feed in your RSS readers. Other way is to use FeedValidator to check if everything is OK.
Feedmap provides a simple way of associating your physical co-ordinates (city, zip) to your blog. As more people sign up for this service, your blog will appear in the "bloggers nearby" for your neighbors' blogs.
You claimed your blog at Technorati. Now, please go ahead and claim it in Feedster as well. If you do well, you might even get into the feedster elite club "Feedster Top 500" :) You can add an icon or your photo to personalize the search results.
Findory aggregates some of the finest blogs and they recommend content based on users' interest. So if a user is reading an article in another blog that has similar content, he or she may be presented with your blog to consider reading.
Blogwise is a directory that is created manually by a bunch of cool folks. You can submit your blog for inclusion and someone over there will add it to the directory if they find the content appropriate. You can check out the listing for Life Beyond Code and may be leave your comments on this blog there.
TTLB (The Truth Laid Bear) eco-system ranks blogs by links.
Blogarama is another manually moderated registry.
Show visitor count and the regions from where the visitors are coming.
MyBlogLog is really cool. It takes about two minutes to implement on your blog and provides real-time tracking (Pro Version) of user behavior (where did they come from and where did they go) on your blog.
Succeeding in blogging requires participating in conversations. How do you bring all your conversations in one place? Well, CoComment has an answer via their Firefox plugin.
HitTail reveals in real-time the least utilized, most promising keywords hidden in the Long Tail of your natural search results. We present these terms to you as suggestions that when acted on will boost the natural search results of your site. It's that simple.
WhoLinked will search through the web and send you back a list of sites that are linking to your site. You can say, "Thank you," to those sites by putting up this widget.
Snap Preview Anywhere enables anyone visiting your site to get a glimpse of what other sites you're linking to, without having to leave your site. By rolling over any link, the user gets a visual preview of the site without having to go there, thus eliminating wasted "trips" to linked sites.
Do you want to add polls, voting or rating for your blog? Check out cool widgets from Majikwidget. You can get them for a song.
BlogTopSites is a directory of blogs. Register your blog under the right category.
There are hundreds of them here. You can pick and choose...
Amir Glick and Yaniv Solnik have a cool widget to display your LinkedIn profile on your blog sidebar.
What they didn't tell you about blogging ...
1. It's easy to start but hard to maintain.
2. People expect consistently good content or quality readers walk away.
3. You can't be famous just by blogging.
4. You can't get rich blogging.
5. You can extend your brand via the blog but you can't build a brand by blogging.
6. Blogging is an addiction and sometimes it can be serious.
7. If you want to succeed, you HAVE to start making others succeed.
8. You don't climb up by pulling down other people.
9. It takes time to produce "Timeless Content." But "timeless content" produces results (traffic included) in the long run.
10. Traffic is important but "Quality" traffic is more important.
11. Never ask for links.
12. Who you are plays an important role in how your blog is perceived.
13. Using the right tools is VERY important to get the right feedback.
14. Taking a STAND is necessary.
15. You can slack but remember that you are only one click away from someone unsubscribing.
16. Don't apply the rule of reciprocation to blogs.
17. Don't impose your rules on other bloggers.
18. Don't write if you don't have anything to write.
19. Don't expect short-term benefits. There are none.
20. Your attitude DOES show up on your blog.
21. Getting attention may be easy; maintaining it is hard.
22. What you don't know might hurt you.
23. If you don't care passionately about your readers, they won't care for you,
24. What you do outside the blog is equally important.
25. You can never stop learning; now you got to learn FAST.
26. You rarely can take back what you said.
27. You have more help than you can ever need.
28. You can make more friends in the blogosphere fast.
29. You WILL have critics. So get used to it.
30. You have to give back!
31. Not only is blogging addictive, blogging stats are addictive too...
32. Barring exceptions, older posts are considered dead.
33. Variety helps; too much variety hurts.
34. Blogging is personal.
35. Traffic is not the only metric of success in blogging.
36. Name of your blog matters.
37. Create tipping points for your blog.
38. You can get carried away sometimes.
39. Set time aside for your blog fans.
40. You can join the discussion but you got have something original to say.
41. Your blog can change who you are.
42. Your blog can change who your readers are.
43. Blogging can make a serious impact on your personal brand.
44. Not everyone who should be blogging is blogging.
45. Not everyone who is blogging should be blogging.
46. There is no one secret recipe to make your blog successful.
47. Not all the blogging tips are applicable to everyone.
48. You can make your blog the ultimate leverage engine.
49. Blogging can seem like a thankless job.
50. Blogging will increase your capacity to do more good.
Selected blog posts on ... well, blogging
Sep 2006: How can I get more traffic to my blog?
Shouldn't the really question be, "Why should I get more traffic to my blog?"
Most things on the web are easy.. sorry easy to start!
This is very common among many things in life - its easy to start but hard to maintain. As a bonus its easy to kill - character, reputation, trust, integrity - the list can go on.
Add blogging to this list as well. It's easy to start, hard to maintain but reasonably easy to kill.
One thing is to start a blog. That's easy. But how can you maintain one?
There is a need to get more quality bloggers into the blogosphere.
Blogs, I think, provide the fastest way to understand the current reality globally.
Content is still the king!
Key message: Blog is not your brand!
Notes from a seminar led by Dave Taylor and Robert Scoble at the Business Blogging Summit.
Check your progress
Blog popularity and ranking is only ONE way to check your progress. Here are some resources to do just that.
Alexa ranking is skewed in the sense that it is only restricted to people that have downloaded the alexa toolbar. Even then, its a reasonably good indicator.
You can compare your blog's popularity with three other web sites.
Blogshares is a fantasy market where every blog is equivalent to a stock. Your blog may already be listed there. Check out the value there.
May sound too simplistic. The number of search results for your blog name is still one indicator of the popularity.
If the site ranking is less than six, you got some work to do :)
Every disciplined effort has multiple rewards (or BLOG awards and more).
SOB = Successful and Outstanding Blogger
SLOB = Startlingly Loquacious and Outstanding Bloggers!
Randy Charles Morin features an interview with an interesting blogger every now and then. Go pitch your blog if you think it will be of interest to a large audience!
Blog Carnivals are typically organized by bloggers when they want to collect great content from other bloggers about a particular topic and then post them in a sepate blog post.
Bloggies are like the Oscars of Blogging. If you think your blog is up there, go ahead and get nominated!
You can display the "Bloggy Award Winner" banner if your blog makes it (get 10 out of 10 by their reviewers). They have a five-part judging criteria:
1. Visual Aesthetics
2. User Friendliness
3. Reading Enjoyment
4. Useful Info
5. Overall Experience
7. BlogExplosion network
There are more than 50,000 blogs in the network. More than 14,000 blogs have been reviewed.
8. The Weblog Review
You can submit your site for free and wait or pay and get it reviewed quickly via "Pay Per Review" options.
Monetizing Your Blog
Partial list of advertising options on your blog.
Making serious money with your blog is not easy. But no harm in trying I guess :)
AdSense for content automatically crawls the content of your pages and delivers ads (you can choose both text or image ads) that are relevant to your audience and your site content-ads so well-matched, in fact, that your readers will actually find them useful.
Yahoo's answer to Google Adsense
Adbrite operates a network where publishers (blog owners included) can sell text ad spaces directly to advertisers
"Text Link Ads" specialize in placing static html links on high quality, high traffic web properties
Chitika says "We make money for you by displaying revenue-earning ads and merchant offers on your web site."
The company's flagship product, ContentLink%u2122, finds contextually relevant keywords on a publisher's web page in real-time and automatically matches them to relevant ads presented as In-Text sponsored keyword links.
Blogads.com is a network of influential bloggers who collaborate to promote and sell blog advertising.
Joining BlogAds is by invitation only.
BlogAds takes 30% of the advertising revenue.
Implement an "on demand" job board on your blog with a revenue share arrangement with SimplyHired.
EventBee offers a "Network Ticket Selling" and Event Listing service (again, on demand) with a revenue share arrangement.
Related resources elsewhere on the web (in no particular order).
From basics to monetization techniques, Pedro has a number of tips to share.
If you are serious about making money via blogging or just interested in becoming a better blogger, Darren has a lot to share.
A ton of good information here on a wide range of topics. A treasure chest.
Lots of tips about writing for online marketing success.
(Rajesh Setty is a die-hard optimist (no eats, shoots and leaves!) Rajesh Setty began entrepreneurial life the old fashioned way-by failing hard. Rajesh currently serves as the president of Foresight Plus, LLC, through which he partners with select business leaders to provide their businesses with sustainable and unfair competitive advantage.
Rajesh has written and published seven books. He wrote his first novel when he was nine years old and managed to get it published (by a reputed publisher) by the time he was 13. His latest book, Beyond Code (foreword by Tom Peters,) was published in late 2005. Rajesh maintains a blog called "Life Beyond Code". Rajesh speaks at conferences and companies in US and India on wide ranging topics that include Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Personal Branding and Living a Life Beyond Code.)