You’re Doing it Wrong: Five Steps to a Better Blog
In the mid 90’s, blogging emerged primarily as a form of online journal keeping, full of personal anecdotes, fanworks, and photos. It was considered a niche hobby, another form of nerdism shunned by the mainstream. These days, everyone and their sister has a blog, from companies as ubiquitous as IBM, to restaurants like Denny’s, and even to the average internet user. Here at Deep Core Data, we recently asked ourselves: what makes a blog successful? So we took to the internet to find new ways to improve our blog, and want to pass on some of the lessons we learned to you.
1. Find Your Purpose
Before you begin blogging, you need to identify your audience, and the primary purpose of your blog. This should be a standard practice for any project, especially in the marketing industry, but it’s an easy step to overlook. After all, there’s an entire internet out there, so as long as you’re providing content, you’re going to have an audience. Right?
Not so, it turns out. Unless you can consistently cover every single topic of interest, it’s not going to be that easy. It’s much harder to build a dedicated audience when the purpose is scattered, and whether you’ve made blogging your business or if you’re blogging to build interest in a company, having a consistent source of clicks and pageviews is essential. The narrower your target audience, the easier it is to create higher quality content, which will draw in those views you need to be successful.
2. Make the Medium Matter
The next large question to ask yourself is: What format of content should I provide? Articles, videos, and graphics all count as content, and all of them have their own pros and cons. News or story-based articles tend to be the most popular form of content, and it’s easy to see why. They’re the cheapest to produce, requiring only one or two people and some manner of word processor. The downside is that they may require more time to create, especially if research is required to create a well-written and informative article. It can also be difficult to figure out which topics, even in a specific field, are going to be of the most interest. The internet moves at a faster rate than ever before, and what may be popular one day may be old news by the next. It can be a struggle to stay current.
Graphics can be a good way to spice up text article, but they must be relevant to the topic, and stock photos aren’t really interesting. Artwork designed specifically for the article is great, but they require time and skill to create, and sometimes a monetary investment if you cannot create them yourself. Graphs and charts are also an informative way to break up the text, though not all topics can be placed onto a chart.
Thanks to the rise of video hosting sites like Youtube and Vimeo, videos have become a very popular blogging platform these days. Videos give bloggers a face and display the human side of a business, enabling viewers to connect with the content better. It also gives bloggers a chance to show their content, rather than simply writing about it. When dealing with a physical product or a service, this can be so much more effective than simply writing about them, as the audience can see the quality or skill for themselves. Finally, they are much easier to promote on social media. People like watching videos, and are more likely to click on them.
This infographic from Website-Designs.com goes over some of the common pitfalls that new bloggers tend to run into, and how to avoid them.
But video blogs are not without their downsides. Not everyone feels comfortable in front of a camera, for example. If you’re covering a topic that doesn’t include props such a product or a demonstration of skill, this is especially problematic, as an uncomfortable or unenthusiastic presenter can make a video uninteresting to watch. There’s also a matter of equipment to consider; while a webcam is sufficient for a very basic video, it may not capture a high resolution image, and the mic may produce static and pick up background noises. Good video capturing equipment may be purchased, of course, but it does involve an initial investment. You may also require video editing software, especially if you don’t intend to film the video all in one take, or you would like to include multiple camera angles.
3. The Goldilock Effect: Not Too Long, Not Too Short, but Just Right
One of the most important aspects of writing a successful blog entry is determining an appropriate length. A long article can be well-researched and very informative, but runs the risk of also losing the reader’s attention if it’s not entertaining. People also may not have enough time to read a long, in-depth article, and will tune out halfway through. On the other hand, short articles don’t leave much room to really explore a subject. While some topics, such as a product review or a news update, may not require a lot of elaboration, not everything can be condensed to two or three paragraphs.
4. Timing is Key
Another big factor to consider is how often should you update your blog. The general consensus points towards at least once a week, but it really depends on how often you can produce content, and what kind of content you want to produce. A lot of smaller articles or videos may be easier to produce on a daily basis, but you may have to sacrifice depth and quality to create them. Photography blogs also lend themselves towards daily updates, as digital cameras mean near instantaneous uploads, and they aren’t necessarily heavy on writing. An in-depth article, however, may require a day or two of research, a day of writing, and a day of editing before it can be released. Video blogs can go either way; a one to two minute video can be shot very quickly and require only one take. A longer video, with a higher production value, may require multiple takes, and involve a day or two of editing.
However, no matter the update frequency you chose, the most important thing is consistency. Whether you chose to blog every three days, or just once a week, sticking to a regular schedule gives you the momentum to continue producing content, which will help build your audience. Additionally, it will help increase the volume of content on your blog, which will help improve your search engine ranking.
Finally, keep in mind that nothing exists in a vacuum. Encouraging your audience to leave feedback and engage in discussions is a great way to build a dedicated fanbase. People like to be acknowledged, and commenters can even add to your content by sharing some of their knowledge, or even inspire new topics for you to blog about. Creating an interactive environment for your audience can be as simple as providing a comment section where they can leave feedback, but having polls and suggesting discussion topics at the end of your article or video will help encourage them to use it. Don’t forget to reply to their comments as well, not just to thank them for their contribution, but to engage them in discussion.
Here at Deep Core Data, we use blogging as a way to promote our company and demonstrate our technical skill and knowledge. It isn’t the primary focus of our company, however, we want to put our best foot forward and produce content that is as high quality as the services we provide. With all of the things we’ve learned, we hope to improve our blogging skills in order to provide a better experience for our viewers, and to build a larger audience base.
Interested in learning more? Check out these great articles:
- What topics would you like to see covered by the DCD blog?
- Do you prefer written articles to video blogs? What do you think makes one better than the other?
- How often do you read blogs? What kind do you like best? Tech, music, entertainment, or something else?