Food For Thought Before You Jump Into Your Personal Blog
Why create a personal blog? At its core, a personal blog, regardless of focus, is about your desire to communicate with a broader audience to fulfill a personal goal. (Here are 7 reasons to have a personal blog.)
Personal blogs aren’t diaries.
While a personal blog is like keeping a diary, it differs in several major ways. Unlike the old-fashioned hand written diary, there’s no lock and key.
In fact, the experience is exactly the opposite. By blogging, instead of keeping your thoughts private, you’re inviting the public to read them. Understand – once your content is public, it’s owned by your community of readers (unless you limit access through the use of password protection.) On the Internet, your blog is a public record that lives forever (or at least until the software disappears or is sold.) Lastly, blogs provide for engagement through their comments (if you allow them.)
12 Personal Blogging Tips
Personal blogs, like professional and business blogs, require some thought before you jump in and start throwing words on the screen if you don’t want your blog to be a flash-in-the-pan. While many bloggers are itching to start creating content (Hey isn’t that why you want to blog?), there are factors to consider first to ensure you don’t get blindsided once your information’s publically available. Here are twelve such factors.
- Host your own blog. While there’s a cost to this approach, it can help you in the event that your blog grows into something bigger. Understand that no matter how stable a blog hosting platform is now, it can disappear. A self-hosted blog (on your own URL) enables you to broaden your audience and gives you greater control. You own the content you create and have greater freedom to publish what you want.
- Anticipate and budget for technical support. Regardless of what you think when you start, there’ll be something you want to do requiring more technical experience than you have. Therefore, create a small budget for this purpose.
- Brand your blog. Before you tell me you’re not a company or organization, understand that if you don’t brand your blog that will be your brand. Determine blog formatting, color use, typefaces, media, voice and other elements to ensure they’re consistent.
- Set blog category structure. What major topics will your blog cover? Think in terms of the keywords your audience will use to search for your content. Stay away from cute titles don’t mean anything to robots.
- Plan for your blog’s future. Where do you see the content on your blog leading? Think 1 year, 2 years, 3 years out, while this may seem like the distant future, time passes quickly. This influences what you’re writing. Even if it’s only for one short term event such as your wedding, training for a marathon or dealing with a disease.
- Watch your language. This isn’t restricted to four letter words but also encompasses your grammar and usage. It’s important because it reflects on your blog and brand.
- Take the mini-skirt approach to blog post length. Blog posts should be long enough to cover the topic but short enough to stay interesting. (Here’s the research on blog post length.)
- Don’t forget the blog eye candy. Think beyond text. Use photos, graphics, video, audio and presentations. These formats are often at the heart of personal blogs. Make sure you have permission to use photographs of people you know. This is particularly important when it comes to children.
- Publish consistently. Remember that a blog is a media entity. Before you remind me that it’s your personal thoughts, it’s important to think about your readers. To this end, mind your editorial calendar. Research has shown that it’s best to publish two to three times a week. If you don’t do this, at least be consistent in when you publish.
- Be selective in where you share your content. Don’t’ plaster your posts on every possible social media platform. Give thought to who’s on each platform and their interests. Consider where your topic makes sense.
- Determine how you want to handle comments. Do you want them closed, moderated or open? When you start getting comments is too late to get a policy out. (Need help? Here are blog comment guidelines.)
Remember blogs are a lot like children, once they come into being they have a life of their own you can’t necessarily plan. That said, you can ensure you make a good first impression and lay the foundation from which to grow and learn.
Have you had a personal blog? If so, what were your experiences and what would you recommend others do to start out?
Here are some related articles on blogging you may find of interest.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lecates/307250887/