Successful Blogging: Writing Articles
The first step to successful blogging is knowing why you’re blogging at all. There’s no right and wrong reason to blog. Any reason is valid but you need to go into the process knowing what that reason is. If you don’t know why you’re blogging then it will be apparent to the readers and you want to make the right impression to build up your readership. There are so many blogs out there these days that many readers will give you one chance to make a good impression. If you fail then they will move on and forget about you; there are thousands of other blogs out there. Make the right impression and you may have yourself a reader for life.
Choose the Right Topic(s) for You
There doesn’t need to be any serious soul searching here. Maybe you have a great mind for strategy and tactics and would like to share that to help others. It could be that you’re an amazing artist and want to showcase your work. Once you know why you want to blog then you can move on to creating the articles to populate your blog, but not quite yet.
Think through your topic for a bit. Is the topic you’ve chosen going to sustain your blog for an indefinite amount of time? A lot of new bloggers get started and pour out articles quickly for a short period of time and then stagnate. They go from posting daily to weekly, eventually once a month and then they disappear. One reason is often they picked a hard topic to keep going. Generally speaking, broader topics are easier to maintain. If you want to write about wargaming news then you’ll find no shortage of material to post. By contrast, dedicating a blog to your favorite army may see you run dry on material eventually. I’m not saying you can’t do the former, many do and do well with it, but it’s a consideration on how you approach blogging.
Make Your Topic Obvious
There is a blog for every niche in wargaming out there and the thing all the successful ones share is they understand why they are doing it and make it known to their readers. Let me give a good example. Take Dave from Wargaming Tradecraft. When you first visit the site you immediately know that the blog has a hobby focus since his background has hobby supplies. A glance at his navigation bar shows links to various hobby categories like techniques, supplies and projects. Scroll through his latest articles and you see what you’d expect, hobby related material. There’s no surprises here.
The how of making your topic obvious will vary greatly site to site and blogging platform to platform. Generally, keep your navigation short and to the point. If you write about a bunch of different topics then showcase the bigger ones, the ones you write the most about or maybe get more responses to, in the navigation. If possible, put the smaller topics as sub-menus in the navigation bar so they can be seen but aren’t cluttering things up. If you’re able, create a header image for your blog that says clearly what you do. Alternatively, do like Dave does and show a cool background that gets the point across. Some blogging platforms will offer featured articles that showcase those topics prominently on your blog.
You get the idea.
Find What Works
Always be willing to experiment and realize that not every idea you have is going to be a success. I know I have gone through a lot of different topics and points of discussion trying to gauge what works and what doesn’t. If something isn’t working then don’t force it. Some of my best ideas, I thought, were huge failures but eventually you find things that do work.
How Often to Write
This area is very subjective and I find ultimately comes down to two factors. One, how often you can actually sit down to write? I know it’s an obvious one. I do want to say though that ideally you’re getting more than one article ready when you do find time. Most blogging platforms let you schedule articles, so if you find yourself with some extra free time then get another article or two ready and schedule it for later or leave it as a draft to fill in some void in your schedule you have.
The second factor I find is how popular your blog is. If your blog is pulling thousands of readers a day then you can safely put out multiple articles in a single day. People are obviously making your site a destination and most probably have you setup in an RSS reader so they can catch your newest articles as they go up.
By contrast, if you aren’t pulling thousands of readers a day (most of us), then give your articles more time to live. The reality is that very few readers will hit up your archive and will mostly only read whatever the newest article is, often because they clicked to it from social media, RSS feed, etc. If you don’t get a ton of traffic and you’re putting out 2-3 articles a day then many readers will only see that latest one and you’ll bury the previous articles from the day. This is something I’ve learned from experience and where my blog falls in the metric of readers. What I’ve learned to do is give each of the articles a few days before a new one goes up. By doing so you give more people the chance to catch that article before it’s bumped off their RSS reader, blogroll, whatever.
At the least, shoot for one article a month. If you can’t commit to that then it’s going to be very hard to grow a base of readers as they’ll forget about you. You also want search engines coming back to your blog often and that doesn’t happen if you aren’t creating new content.
Ultimately this is all personal opinion and you’ll find people who succeed doing the opposite of everything I’ve said. However, for the average blogger I feel it’s good advice and things I’ve all learned the hard way. There is no better teacher for what works on your own blog than experience so make sure you’re paying attention.