When I first started blogging and tweeting, I thought the game was pretty simple. You write stuff, and then if people like it, you get retweeted. Of course the reality, as you learn over time, is that the whole process is an awful lot more complicated than that. There are a million (and one) details that you need to know, and unfortunately, these are the things that people often don’t tell you. People like to write blog posts about the big important (and fun) stuff like writing great headlines and also creating content that might be interesting.
Well, today is your lucky day, because I feel like blogging about some of those silly little details that just might be holding your blog back!
1. Ya gotta leave Blogger. I know it stinks – I really liked Blogger when I first started. But if you are after social shares or comments, Blogger is not the place for you. People often have to log in to a Google account (which they might not have) in order to comment, and social sharing buttons aren’t as sleek as they are on WordPress. This might change as Blogger evolves into Google Blogs, but for now, this is the sad truth.
2. If you are hoping to build recognition for your blog and your Twitter presence simultaneously, you need to let me know who you are! Often times, a blogger will name their site one thing, then they’ll use their real name on Facebook or LinkedIn, and then their Twitter handle will be something else again. If I don’t know that those names are all the same person, I won’t be able to associate your great blog content with you as you exist on other platforms.
3. When you link to a post on Twitter, make sure you link to your site, not to your StumbleUpon list. If I see your Stumble list, I might see sites other than yours that I want to take a look at. If you take me to your site directly, I’ll get a better feel for what you’re all about and I won’t have to do a lot of stumbling around (pun intended) to find your online home.
4. Using a first name with a last name somewhere on your blog site is a good idea. I’ve come across this facet of blogging a lot as I’ve been tagging posts for the Blog Library. So many people just say things like, “Hi, I’m Susan.” I know that talking that way can seem more personable and less formal, but it also means that if I want to search for you on Twitter or somewhere else, I can’t do it (it’s also a good idea to include some part of your real name in your Twitter bio)
5. If you have a WordPress blog, set your retweet button so that when someone clicks it, your Twitter handle is included. The less work someone has to do to get your name out there, the better off you’ll be.
6. Keep those headlines short! Long headlines are nice because they offer a great preview of your argument. However, if someone has to edit down your title in order to tweet out your post, that post is probably not going to get shared. The shorter your headline the better. Leave PLENTY of room for someone to use their own Twitter handle, your Twitter handle, and their brief opinion about your post.
7. Make sure there is a way for someone to tweet out or share just one post instead of your whole homepage. I think this is especially a problem with a lot of Tumblr accounts. You can’t get a URL for an individual post unless you click to the comments section, and then you’re leading people to comments instead of to the post.
8. Avoid the fake-out. I saw a post a couple of days ago that said, “Why I hate so and so.” The post ended up being a very kind post about that person. As your reader, (and this is just me by the way) I hate stuff like that and am not likely to entrap other people in a similar fashion. If you want to build your traffic, do it by creating content that tons of people will like. Don’t compromise your credibility to get there though.
9. Use an image and sub-heads to keep people interested. Why was the DaVinci Code such a popular book? It was full of suspense, for one thing, but also, every chapter was about 7 pages, and the font was somewhere around a 14-point type. That makes it easy for someone to say, “Eh, just one more chapter. I’ve got time!” The same logic applies in the world of blogging. If someone sees a 5,000 word treatise that scrolls on and on, they’ll break a sweat. But if you have a lot of clear breaks, it’s easier to rationalize spending the time to read that post (humans are tricky creatures though, aren’t we?).
10. Finally and most importantly, use good grammar and check for spelling errors. Then, do a second and third check for grammar and spelling. I know that a lot of people send out edits and corrections in unkind ways, and that really does stink. However, I can also tell you that if your post has a ton of misplaced commas, incorrect word usage, and lots of spelling errors, I’m not going to promote your post. I need to make sure that I hold your posts to the same standards that I hold my own to if I’m going to stand beside what you’ve written, right?
These are ten little details that I learned over the last few months that I feel have helped me a bit. I hope they help you. Also, what else would you add?
Image by Thiago Felipe Festa. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/thiagofest