January 15, 2018

Hints on Blogging

I started blogging nearly a decade ago, sharing my keen interest in historical vocal pedagogy by creating a take-me-seriously "dark" site. While I loved it, I changed my approach half-way through after conducing research which showed that only 10 percent of readers like "dark" blogs. The result? Readership of VOICETALK increased a great deal—readership itself now zooming toward a million, which is pretty good for a blog with arcane subject matter! With this in mind, here are a few things I can recommend to anyone who wants to get their feet wet. 

  • Do what you love. If you don't love your subject, you won't stick with it, and will ultimately disappoint yourself and your reader.
  • Do your thing. Don't try to copy someone else. Be you. Write like you. Post like you. This will determine a great part of your success. This means finding your voice
  • Go light. Dark blogs can be really cool (I loved mine), but you will find that readership increases with dark print on a light background. The other meaning is: try not to take yourself so seriously. Drop as much baggage as you can along the way. It will just weigh you down. 
  • Keep it simple. This means staying away from fancy color combinations which may look cool, but ultimately tire the eye. A little research in this area can go a long way. 
  • Proofread. It sounds like a simple thing, but it isn't. (I still find typos and mistakes in my old posts.) One way to proofread is the read your piece out loud which catches pretty much everything. And don't assume that spell and grammar check is doing to catch everything. It won't. You reputation is advanced by doing things right the first time. 
  • Don't worry about photos. I used to think that I had to have a photo for every post. Analytics don't support support this approach. What matters most is... 
  • Great content. My own source material is scoured from journals, articles, newspapers etc., with utility in mind. I want the reader to have a "take away", and often rely on the intelligence of the reader to find the gold in any given piece. This segues into...
  • Treat the reader with respect. My own approach has been to cultivate a firm, supportive, and instructive voice, one that (for the most part) steers clear of casting doubt on other colleague's accomplishments & teachings. With this in mind, I require that commenters be registered and not anonymous. 
  • Readability. I conducted research on how people can get the most of out of content online and formatted VOICETALK accordingly. This means a line of text containing no more than 70-75 characters including spaces (the ideal line length is 55). I also use a "drop cap" to attract the eye to the first line. 
  • Keep the header/banner a narrow width. I used to have a full size photo as a header, and while I loved it, the reader had to scroll down to start reading. A narrower header gets your reader into the reading experience faster. All this leads to the recognition that... 
  • Details matter. Your blog should be appealing to the eye (font size is important), while at the same time offering more than eye candy (unless, of course, that's your gambit). In the end, your readers will find you if you make the experience one of welcome, great content, and readability.
  • Find a platform that works for you. In my case, I am staying with Blogger if only because I would likely lose readers and ranking if I transferred to another platform. Stick with it, and you may find that some very interesting that will happen along the way. 

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