Posted 04.13.2010

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

It takes a while to develop your readership.
If you talk to any blogger (mainly the ones claiming 6 figure incomes) they’ll tell you that they were an overnight success in 6 years or 3 years or 279 days

It’s easy to believe that because content is readily available, people will come flocking as soon as you’re up and running. Build it and they will come, right? — Well, eventually.

It takes a while to build credibility
There’s a ton of blogs that have been started and then been abandoned. A lot of times, readers are just waiting to make sure that you’re there to stick it out. They want to make sure that you’re going to consistently deliver quality content.

Keep writing. Keep doing. It’ll come. They’ll come. Slow and steady wins the race.

 



Posted 04.12.2010

Determining a Platform

A while back, I wrote a post: CMS Comparison: Choosing the Right Tools to Power Your Blog. Great blog title, right? (In all fairness, it has received more traffic than some of my other posts.) I was talking to a friend the other week, in a moment of weakness, he admitted that he didn’t know what I meant by a site’s back end. (kind of funny, when you think about it literally!)

I realized in that moment, that I needed to take a step back. So, instead of taking a geeky approach, as before, I’ll look at it from the blogger’s side.

A CMS stands for Content Management System. Basically, it’s a fancy way of updating your blog. In the olden days (10 years ago), anytime you wanted to update a site, you had to know code or know someone that knew code. You’d have to publish each page individually. If there was a global element that needed to be updated and you had 100 pages to your site, then you had to update 100 files. Pretty cumbersome?

Since then, we’ve gotten smarter (or lazier). Now, we’ll store all our information in a database and let the code pull in what it needs as it’s requested. The Content Management System does exactly what the name suggests, it manages your content. The end user doesn’t see it (that’s why it’s called the back end). It allows you to log in, fill out a form, and upon submission, that page is auto-magically created for the world to see.


As a blogger, you have several different options for your blog. A lot of it will come down to personal preference.


My personal opinion?

I’m glad you asked. —It depends.

What you’re trying to accomplish.

Does your site focus around a blog or are there other things you want to feature as well? For example, my site has a contact us, about us, and portfolio pages in addition to my blog. Look into an option that supports pages.

How much money you want to invest

If you’re looking for free, WordPress.com, Tumblr, or Blogger are you best options.

How much control you want

I’ve realized I’m a control freak when it comes to code. If you’re anal, like I am, Expression Engine will definitely give you the most control. WordPress is a close second.

Love a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Editor

Try SquareSpace. They offer a 14 day free trial. Everything is drag and drop.


I’ve shared my opinion, what’s yours? What’s your platform of choice?

 



Posted 04.10.2010

Writing for the Web is Different

A Shorter format

In real life, people write magazines, newspapers, books: pages of content. It could take me a few trips to the Y to get through a magazine or a couple of weeks to get through a book. You nod in agreement, but you’d laugh at me if I said the same thing about a website. Web sites are written in a much shorter form.

When I’m reading online, if I come to a longer post that will take me more than a couple of minutes to read, I’ll usually bookmark it or post it to Read it Later. Let’s be honest, though, rarely to do I return.

This challenged me when I sat down to write this series. I quickly realized that I could break my posts up. This meant:

  1. Writing a post wasn’t as overwhelming. I didn’t feel challenged to write a novel everyday.
  2. More people would (likely) read my post (versus bookmarking it and returning later)
  3. I could post more frequently.

Seems obvious, now.


We skim webpages, we don’t read them.

So what does this mean for us as writers?

Write titles that catch people’s attention.
Newspaper journalists know this. You decide in 4-7 words whether an article is worth reading. The same is true for the web.

Put the important information at the beginning…show all your cards up front.
When I was in elementary school, I was taught to tell people what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.

Journalists do the same thing. They write with a pyramid in mind: tell all the important information up front and as you work through an article, you discover more information. This means if you stop reading an article midway through, you still get the gist.

Use lists and headings liberally
When skimming, your eyes will hang on bold words, lists, and headings. Take advantage of that.


The web isn’t read sequentially

What does that mean? When I’m reading a book, I’ll start at the beginning (I hate it when people read the last page first! That ruins everything!). I’ll read one page after the other. Even with a magazine, I might not start on the first page, but I will start at the beginning of an article and read it straight through. However, the web is different. As I’m skimming, a link might catch my eye. I’ll click on it, jumping around. I may or may not come back.


Most of these rules don’t translate to print. That’s why using the same copy that you use on your company brochure isn’t nearly as effective online as it might be in print. The two mediums are completely different — use that to your advantage. Don’t let that become a hindrance.