I have to admit, I experienced a complicated barrage of emotion upon learning that WordPress is promoting a challenge this year called Post-A-Day. The idea is just what the name says – you write and post something to your blog every day in 2011.
Of course, regular readers here at The Curse of Future Tom are all-too-aware that I’ve been posting 800 words a day every day since April 9, 2010, so that meant that either I was going to have to embrace this new community of bloggers who Post Every Day, or I was going to have to get out my Ghostly Pirate suit, and try to scare them all off, Scooby Doo-style.
I decided to embrace them, because it will give me the opportunity to be cocky and arrogant. I can be like the old, grizzled blogger who’s always scratching his nails down chalkboards during Blogging Meetings, and drinking whiskey and offering cryptic warnings about spam and trolls.
Also, after my year is up in April, I can relax my own 800 word requirement, and take ‘er easy. Still meet this 2011 Post-A-Day challenge, but let myself get away with shorter posts, like I’ve been swinging two bats this whole time.
Let me just hop on my bloggocycle and ride around in circles for a little while, make myself feel big and tough about it. Vrooooom, vroooom, VROOOOOOOOOOOMMM!
Anyway, now that I’m finished kissing my own butt about blogging all the time, I thought that I could offer some advice to those who are just now accepting the challenge. Certainly I have some things that I wish I could tell Last April Tom, which would have helped us both out.
So far, my daily posts have resulted in the book over there to the right of your screen, and I’ve learned a ton about blogging since my sudden, weird decision nine months ago to allow it to completely take over my life, so perhaps it will be useful to someone. Certainly it will be useful to me, in that it will give me a topic for today.
1. Short paragraphs. The blogosphere has a short attention span. You drop a huge cinderblock of a paragraph in front of most people and they’ll make a tired honking sound and click something else. Paragraphs don’t have to be what your English teacher taught you they were. If mine get any longer than three or four sentences, I break them up into shorter ones.
2. Figure out what time WordPress ends your day. My day, for instance, ends at 7pm. So as far as WordPress is concerned, I actually don’t post every day. Sometimes I skip a day and then post twice the next day, but that’s only because I didn’t get my post up until after 7pm.
If you have a job or children or pretty much any kind of life at all, you will probably have trouble from time to time, getting your post up by 7pm. So either get your mind around the idea that WordPress doesn’t always know what it’s talking about, with regards to what day it is, or get yourself ahead on posts by a few days, so you don’t have to stress about it.
Because that’s something unexpected – it’s very stressful when you don’t know what to write and you need to get it posted in an hour. It’s very stressful when you know you’ve written garbage and you had to post it anyway. Also, people can detect it when you’re starting to suck, just as easily as you can.
On the other hand, understand, if you’re going to post every single day, you’re going to stink the place up once or twice a week. Give yourself a break.
3. Beat Writer’s Block with the news. Half the time, that’s all I do to figure out what to write, is crack open the news. Then I link to whatever story I find interesting or stupid or silly, shoot my mouth off about it for 800 words, and I’m done. Also, anything in the news has people googling it, so you can get traffic this way.
4. Get the tags and categories figured out right now. The tags are part of how Google decides if someone’s looking for your post, so put a lot of tags covering all possible concepts one might google. My categories are a mess – if you want to see how not to do categories, go on down and look at mine. Crazy Man-Style is not for everyone.
5. Personal Grudges. Sometimes I’m so fired up at someone on a personal level that I spend an entire post hollering at them, either by name or anonymously. This is almost never something other people enjoy, and I usually take it back down a while later, when I start feeling stupid about it. I personally think this kind of thing turns readers off, but on the other hand, I know bloggers who pretty much do this every day, and folks love ’em.
6. No Wrong Way To Do It. Which leads me to this point, there’s no wrong way to blog. Certainly there are more and less effective ways to blog, but the bottom line is, figure out why you’re doing it and then try to be consistent about that goal.
Some people promote their blogs so efficiently that it gives me the creeps – I don’t want to go over and look because it’s like they’re constantly selling me something. However most of the really successful bloggers, the ones who do it for a living, will tell you that’s the way you have to do it.
Personally, I’m pretty happy with my steadily growing following, and I like to focus more on content than marketing. That’s always been my problem, writing for the last twenty years, but the good news is, if you’re blogging the content markets itself to some extent.
If it’s good content, word gets out. Certainly the content is doing more marketing than it was on my hard drive all these years.
7. Facebook and Twitter. Initially, I did everything on Facebook. If you want a great blogger’s Twitter tutorial, there’s Jen Wylie’s fantastic post How To Make The Most Out Of Twitter
There are a lot of different social networking sites now, and the more you make use of them and try to understand them, the more traffic you’ll get. You can hire consultants to get all this going for you, but I’m not really much on sinking money into my blog at this point. I think I paid the twenty bucks to get the Google ads off of there, and that was it.
My thinking is, it takes years to really get to where this can be a job, and so I’m trying to enjoy it and not turn it into a multi-level marketing scheme.
8. Pay Attention To What’s Working. WordPress makes it really easy to keep track of which posts are generating traffic and where it’s coming from. My first huge post was about LOST, for instance, and it was that post which made me realize, wait a minute, there’s not exactly a bunch of highly-trained Super Writers out there writing about television.
Literally anybody can do it. Just watch the show and start typing. And then whichever show you write about has a Facebook page, a Twitter community, and people Googling it constantly. Writing about your favorite shows is very easy, and other viewers can easily relate to what you have to say that day.
9. It Seems Like Everyone’s Watching But They’re Not. Especially at first. It’s REALLY weird at first, because no one is watching you at all. But even when you get a steady following going, it’s not like being on stage. If you post something that embarasses you, take it down or change it.
Remember that the only way everyone can think you suck is if everyone hears about you in the first place. And statistically, if you get your blog in front of everyone, then a certain percentage are going to like and relate to it.
You could really, seriously, on all levels suck out loud and there would still be people out there who thought you were a hoot. Those are the ones you’re talking to. The rest of them don’t matter, they aren’t even thinking about you because they didn’t like your blog (or mine) and moved on.
Write to the people who like what you write. Digitally ignore the people who don’t.
Way past my 800 word requirement. Happy posting, fellow bloggers. Please drop by and let me know if posting every day starts driving you crazy – I might be able to talk you down.