"I love beginnings; beginnings are full of possibility."
- Elie Wiesel at World Forum on Facing Violence, 2008
- Blogs are like gardens; they require tending if you want them to flourish.
- Generate short posts.
- Post at consistent time intervals so that readers/visitors know what to expect. Here is a rough guide: daily or at least one post every 4-6 days (build following), 2 weeks (create community), once a month (stay connected) or once in awhile (personal).
- Be on the channel of your desired audience. Share your blog post on Twitter/FB/G+ with an interest/location hashtags to reach new people. Requiring people to get out of their regular routine to engage decreases likelihood of engagement.
- Engage others and build a community to coproduce a blog is ideal to keep content fresh, dynamic, diverse, frequent.
- If you want people to see your blog, you need to help them find you. Include links to others blogs/people on your blog, share your posts on other channels (G+, FB, LinkedIn, etc) and make it easy for other people to share your posts.
- Invite guest bloggers.
- Link a post to G+ for comments can be an effective way to enable comments on your post while concurrently extending its reach. (HT @ZenMoments)
- Blog writing is different. See post: Rapid Fire for details.
- Keep the interface clean and simple. Turn off the noise, let the reader focus.
- There are color schemes that make reading easier, use them.
- Don't plan too much up front. Let it emerge. See how the traction goes with readers/public.
- Discussion of sensitive topics may be challenging given the text nature of the blogosphere, where nuance can be lost.
Blog Technical Assessments:
- Blogger was easy when there were no alternatives.
- Squarespace features/tools were fantastic, but it is expensive per site. Provided sophisticated entry for novice. Not sure that tools/widgets are keeping up with the times and their customer service/support was dodgy considering how expensive it was/is.
- Posterous is a simple, clean interface.
- Tumblr makes blogging/posting fun, though navigating setting up themes/adding comment capability via disqus takes extra time/expertise.
- WordPress, tried three times to use this platform and find it a fail for my own sites. However, I have participated on multiple projects that use WordPress effectively, and as a writer on those efforts, I have found it easy to use. Getting over the set up, design/plugin process and maintenance is key barrier to entry.
- Weebly, use it to host both sites and blog and find it useful. I fear the day that I ever try to leave, since it is all drag/drop widgets, I am not sure how portable it is, but for now, it'll work.
- Ning could have been great, but required people to be on it and if it's not already part of their work flow, it's not likely to gain traction and traffic.
- Google Sites is OK for projects, not flexible for website portal and not 'sticky' for community engagement.