It's been nearly two years since I started blogging. While I can't remember exactly why I started, I am certain that I now have "the bug" for blogging. For me, blogging is more than a hobby- it clicks with me on a deep level and here are some things that I've learned:
- Check your stats, but not too often. Ask my wife and she'll tell you that I probably check my stats more often than I should. Is it the competitor in me or the ability to track progress? I currently use both Sitemeter and Feedburner as each gives me different sorts of info.
- Post comments on other blogs, but not every day. I usually make the rounds about once per week. I take 30 minutes and scan over blogs that I think can either use some comments or ones that I want to 'ping' in order to keep in touch with the writer. You don't want to be "that guy" who calls in to the radio station every day- folks will start to think that you are a stalker and that's not a good thing.
- Don't tie in all of your self worth with your # of RSS subscribers. It's a fact: there are people around the planet each day who will sign up for your blog...and a few who will unsubscribe. The latter are not heathen- just pleasant reminders of the need to keep working, be humble, and provide a good product.
- Use old material, but only when you're dry for new material. I admit it- I use "old" material about once a month. It's not that bad, I tell myself and I think I'm right. When you're just plain dry, go back through the archives and roll out something with a new twist. Don't beat yourself up if your creativity coughs every so often.
- Keep posts short enough to scan over. Most blog readers I know are professional scanners. They have blogs themselves and don't have the time to read through lengthy, academic pieces with forty-two footnotes. We live in a USA Today world so give readers something substantive enough without making it a novel.
- Provide links without only providing links. I find linking to be helpful but I tend to be turned off by folks who provide little or no original content. Again, a balancing act here. Links provide you with a way of tracking "exit points" from your blog and that's a helpful piece of info.
- Post often. I recently switched to Typepad from Blogger and couldn't be happier. I noticed that I've posted 90 times since that transition! My non-blogging friends (A.K.A. NBF) can't fathom doing something 90 times in the span of a few months but the secret of my discipline is simple: use the morning hours to get things done. I don't post at night or after lunch, only in the morning when I'm at my best.
- Join a network or two. I joined the Getting Things Done network and I helped to start the Catholic Exchange time management network, both of which I've found helpful for getting the message out.
- Narrow your focus and narrow it again. It was only recently that I realized my ultimate focus and I feel more clear as a result. Figure out your niche and then mine it for all it's worth. Does anyone feel like Seth Godin has used up all of the marketing niche? Hardly and he's smart enough to keep going back to the well. Figure out your well and visit often.
- See yourself as a professional even if you're not. To join the big leagues, you have to play ball like the big boys. I watch and learn from bloggers who are much more successful than I am. I try to network with anyone I can in order to improve my product and message. At the end of the day, if you see yourself as a pro, you're one step closer to becoming one.
The result of all of this has been affirming to say the least. I have nearly 350 subscribers in two months and continue to grow each day. While still a small fish in a big sea, The Daily Saint has a loyal following- thanks readers for making blogging a fantastic experience!