4 min read
So, you have decided to start a blog, have you? Are you looking forward to writing your first article, building a following and getting your first comments? Deciding to start a blog, whether as a hobby or for professional reasons, can be an exciting prospect. I first started a video game review and opinion blog a few years ago and it was fun to think of new topics, share articles and count the “likes” that I reaped. OK, I could usually count them on one hand, but that really isn’t the point here.
The point is that there are some very common mistakes that people make when starting a new blog. Some of these mistakes are minor details, but others can really cause you some issues further down the line. Never fear though as markITwrite is here once again to deliver you from the dangers of blogging naivety. Hopefully by pointing out some of the pits that fresh-faced bloggers often fall into, you can avoid a similar fate.
What’s In A Name?
I’m sure that your mind is going crazy trying to come up with a suitable name for your fledgling blog. However, once you have chosen a name then you may be stuck with it. Therefore it is best not to choose anything too specific, such as “Gary’s Game Blog” for example. The time may come when you want to expand or change the subject matter of your writing and a name that’s too specific will hinder this.
If you get to the point where your blog name is causing you serious problems, by confusing or alienating your readership maybe, then it is possible to rename and rebrand yourself. However, consider that this will involve changing all of your social network IDs and getting a new URL. Some networks (Facebook for example) may not even let you change your name, so you will have to start a brand new page and inform all of your followers to move over to that one. And I guarantee that you will lose some in the process.
Also, don’t forget to check what other bloggers in the same field are calling themselves. You do not want to end up sounding like a clone or a rip-off of an already well established writer.
Divide and Conquer
Keep your paragraphs short. That’s it really. Most bloggers (myself included) start out writing long paragraphs like they would if composing an academic paper, or authoring a book. However, writing for the internet is very different from other writing. Look at Facebook and Buzzfeed, these guys are your competition and they make short digestible pieces.
Just don’t start using those awful clickbait headlines like “He wrote a blog entry and what happened next changed my life forever. #17 broke my heart,” as you’ll just look like an awful hack. Buzzfeed may be your competition, but you are going to want to aim a little higher on the quality scale.
Remember, people reading things online are often looking for something quick to read, they don’t have the attention span for lengthy blocks of text. Break up your writing by making paragraphs no longer than six or seven lines each and use emboldened subtitles, pictures and/or bullet point lists to make it an easy read.
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words.
You are going to want to use pictures in your blogs. Humans like imagery and much of social media is becoming more and more focused on it (think Instagram, Snapchat etc.) Pictures are therefore absolutely vital to the success of your blog. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to use them.
Don’t use photos that are small or of poor quality and don’t wrap your text around them. Instead you want the pictures to break up the text and fill the width of your page. If you are taking your own pictures for your blog then you may want to consider getting a book or taking a photography course to improve your skills. Be liberal with good quality pictures and your blog will look all the more attractive for it.
Be careful what pictures you use. Most people don’t realise at first that you cannot just go onto Google Images, pull down any picture you like and slap it on your article. Doing so could land you with a cease and desist order, or even more serious legal proceedings. At best, it could damage your reputation as accusations of plagiarism are not easy to shake.
It is also not good enough to credit the source of the image. In fact it is no different than if you had not bothered to credit it at all. The key word is “permission”, and you do not have it.
All is not lost though, there are plenty of places where you can get images that are copyright free. Creative Commons on Flickr is very good and offers up hundreds of images with a simple to understand pictorial key to explain the conditions under which you can use them.
The same goes for text as well. Do not copy and paste other people’s words unless you are going to put it as a quote and link to the source.
If you really want your blog to take off you are going to want to write frequently, especially in the early days. If you only write once every month then you are not going to attract readers and your blog will fail to gain any traction. If new readers check your page and find nothing new, they will give up checking.
You want to be shooting for three of four entries a week in the beginning. Once you have built up a following then you can slow it down a little, but you don’t really want to be putting out less than two a week at any point. Also, make sure that your schedule is consistent. Upload every Tuesday and Thursday for example and stick to it. It will benefit you if your readers know when to expect new content.
There you have five pitfalls to avoid when starting out. Let us know in the comments below if you are starting a new blog and what it is about. Or maybe you are an experienced blogger? If so, do you have any other tips for the newbies out there? Again, please let us know in the comments below.
Oh, and the most important tip for writing your budding blog?