We are naturally scared of the unknown, which is why it can be a very daunting prospect when taking your first steps into a new industry. Many people like the idea of starting their own website or blog online but the vast majority never will for fear of failure.
Admittedly there is a lot to learn about blogging when you start out, but that should not put you off, instead it should inspire and drive you to create the best site that you can. After all, every blogger at some point was in the exact same position when they started.
I thought that I would put together a useful list of some blogging rules for you to follow when first starting out to ease some of those nerves! That way, you have some clear pointers to follow whilst you continue to learn about the other aspects of blogging.
1. Quality Over Quantity
One question that I often get asked by new bloggers is “How often should I post?”
Whilst there is no definitive answer, as a lot can depend on what you are writing about or even who you ask, many would agree that quality is always better than quantity. Instead of simply trying to publish as many blog posts on your site as you can, spend more of your time creating high quality content that people actually want to read.
Many new bloggers fall into the trap of thinking they need to publish every day (or even multiple times a day) because they see big sites doing that. What many forget is that these types of sites tend to have lots of writers writing for them on a regular basis.
When you first start out you will likely be doing everything yourself, so alongside producing content you will need to help maintain your website, as well as things like social media marketing, product creation, branding, etc.
It is perfectly fine to publish a couple of posts a week (maybe even just 1 a week) as long as you make sure that you are producing quality posts. At the end of the day people just want quality information on the subject that you are writing about. If you can give that to them then they have no reason to go looking for it on another site and, better yet, are much more likely to revisit your site in the future.
2. Size Does Matter
Another common question that I get asked a lot, which kind of links in with the previous question, is “How long should my blog posts be?”
Once again, there are differing opinions on this depending on who you ask, but most bloggers would agree that longer posts are significantly better than shorter posts.
Without trying to repeat myself, quality is a keyword that you will hear a lot when it comes to blogging. People want quality posts full of quality information, so it makes sense that longer posts will be more beneficial for your site.
There certainly isn’t a magic number that you need to hit for in terms of word count for each of your articles. Posts should only be as long as they need to be, just try to always remember to put more emphasis on the quality aspect as that is what ultimately counts.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Link To Other Bloggers
A big misconception new bloggers have is that they think it is wrong to link to other bloggers or blog posts within their articles. Whilst it may initially sound counterintuitive – I mean why would you want to potentially send traffic away from your site? – it actually makes sense when you begin to understand how the internet works.
Search engines (like Google and Bing) view sites much more favourably when they can see that they link out to other, high quality, relevant sites in their niche. It shows that they aren’t trying to hog all the traffic for themselves and, more importantly, it helps them determine what your site/article is about.
Linking out to other bloggers isn’t only to appease the search engines, you are much more likely to get links from other sites when you share the love yourself.
4. Reply To Comments
Whatever subject you choose to blog about, THE most important thing that you should focus on is trying to build a community around your site. No matter how good you are as a writer it is people who dictate whether your site will be successful or not.
Now there are many ways in which you can help build a community around your website, but one of the easiest is through the comments section.
Every good blog allows readers to leave a comment after a post, yet what most don’t realise is that the comment section isn’t just for readers to use, it is for you the writer to use as well. The comment section of a site is simply a way for people to communicate with you, which is why it is vitally important that you reply to people.
Whether people ask questions, ask for advice or help, or just want to say that they liked/disliked an article, it is important that you reply to that yourself. Not only is it just polite, but it shows that your site is an active one where people can get help/guidance from you.
5. Leave Comments On Other Sites
Just as it is important to comment on your own site to help build a community, commenting on other people’s sites can also benefit you. If people can see, or even recognize you, commenting on other sites then that can help to reinforce the idea that you are someone that knows what they are talking about in your chosen subject.
If you can answer people’s questions or offer them helpful advice, then they will be much more likely to come and visit your site next time they need help with something.
6. Share Other Peoples Work
Social media is a great tool to help market and make people more aware about your own site, but that shouldn’t mean that that is all you use it for. In the same way that it is beneficial to add links to other peoples posts within your own articles, it is also beneficial to share (Tweet, Like, +1, Pin, etc.) other people’s content with your own followers.
People online tend to people/profiles that just self-promote. If you can share with your followers links to other high quality, relevant posts, then they will appreciate that and see you as an authority figure within your niche. Not only that but other bloggers will be much more willing to share your posts with their audience if you do the same.
7. Ignore Your Stats (For Now At Least)
Every new blogger seems to fall in love with checking their website’s stats. It is very easy to do and I will be the first to admit that I did the very same thing when I first started. Statistics (such as number of visitors, site duration, bounce rate, etc.) are definitely important in the long run, yet when you first start a site they are practically meaningless.
It probably takes the average site a good couple of months to get going online before you can read anything into what your stats mean. If anything, if you are the type of person that feels the need to check your stats regularly when you first start out, then it could put you off.
I barely got any traffic the first couple of weeks online, yet I was putting in a lot of work to building up my site. Had I taken that to heart I may have given up thinking that I was wasting my time. Thankfully I didn’t and eventually the site started to grow and grow.
You have to realise that blogging is quite different to many other professions. The work you put in today may not pay off tomorrow, but it will pay off a week, a month, a year, a decade on and continue to do so.
Those 5 hours you toiled over writing that great post of yours not only attracts traffic the week you publish it, but people a year from now will still be able to find, read and enjoy that article, along with the countless others that you have published on your site since then.
Stats are very important, but when you start out it is more beneficial to just ignore them until you have got up and running.
I’m sure if you ask other established bloggers they would each be able to come up with a totally different set of rules for you to follow. These are simply some that I have found very useful when I started out online. Hopefully though, they should help you to focus on what is important when starting out in the blogging world yourself.