How to Write a Popular Blog
A new blogger asked me for tips. Here’s my advice:
(1) Make your blog readable. Stay away from a colored background, flashy effects or anything else which makes it hard to read what you write. Such effects are very Web 1.0, and readers will flee.
(2) Do your legwork. Bigger websites will link to your blog more if you do your research. Don’t just share your thoughts … as brilliant as they might be. Link to experts or mainstream sources to back up what you say.
As Carl Herman puts it: “Let your facts lead.”
You can round-up collections of facts. Or read an article or watch a talk by a well-known economist, scientist or politician. Write about one or two interesting quotes from the article or video.
This type of research may not seem very glamorous. But it is a real contribution to the alternative media. Indeed, a bloggers who document one particular subject area – e.g. their local city council meetings, changes to the condition of their local forest, or the doings of one particular corporation or politician – are making a big difference.
(3) Write about things about which you are passionate. If it makes you furious, inspires you or strikes you as funny, it’s worth writing about. If you find it only mildly interesting, it probably won’t be that interesting for your readers, either.
(4) Polish your title. Even if you write the world’s greatest post, few will read it without a good title. Writing a good title is essential.
Some blog experts say you should spend as much time on the title as the rest of the post. I don’t know about that. But I usually revise the title a couple of times before I find something I like.
There are countless sites offering tips on how to write catchy titles. Look at the titles at popular sites like Drudge Report (whether you agree with their politics or not, they write great titles), Huffington Post or Mashable. Play with different styles and see what works.
Search engine optimization (SEO) experts suggest you put all of your keywords (words summarizing the post’s topic which you repeat the most within the body of the post) in the title. For those who pay attention to SEO, there is always a tension between creating a catchy title and using keywords. The easiest solution may be to stress one in the title, and then to use a header stressing the other.
(5) Develop your own voice. While everyone copies and there is “nothing new under the sun”, work on developing your own, unique voice. Try to find a writing style which feels most authentic for you and – more importantly – try to find what you can most uniquely contribute to the world.
It may be a tough exposé style, a funny parody style, a romantic, poetic style, or something else. Everyone has a unique perspective, a unique way of seeing. What is yours?