blogging best practices

Differences Between Blogging in 2008 and Blogging in 2014

blogging in 2014As Well as a Few Critiques

I admit I wasn't blogging in 2008. I considered the idea as a junior in college, and a friend even recommended that I call the blog, "Frog Blog." I didn't start blogging (for myself and for other sites) until 2010 and I've been blogging just about every day ever since.. Even with nearly four years of blogging experience, I learned a few great tips from "Blogging Heroes." But, there are a few changes between then and now, changes that weren't applicable even between 2008 and 2010. Here are X of the major differences between 2008 and 2014, as analyzed from "Blogging Heroes."

Monetization Through Advertising is On Its Way Out

Many of the blogs featured in the book made money through advertising, using programs such as Google Adsense. In 2008, advertising using Google Adsense was the primary and profitable way to make money with your blog. In 2014, it's simply not the case anymore. Adsense and other advertising networks pay by the click, and quite frankly, people don't click on advertising anymore. Readers find display advertising intrusive and distracting, and often don't find any benefit in the advertising. Today, to generate the number of clicks that you need to make your Adsense revenue worthwhile, you either have to publish tons and tons of posts each day (essentially becoming a slave to your blog) or write about things that salacious and juicy (or slap on such a headline for click bait). Neither tactic makes a blogger great or profitable in blogging.

Adsense and other advertising networks can still bring in some money, yes, but many bloggers today are monetizing their blogs by using a variety of methods. These methods include affiliate marketing programs like Amazon Associates, selling products directly on the site, creating a membership program, hosting paid online and in-person events, offering consulting services, and many more. Bloggers today often use more than one method since using only one method (like advertising} makes it incredibly difficult for a blogger to make enough money to live solely through blogging.

Networking Through the Blog Comments is Also Out

The spammers ruined this one. In 2008, the comment section was still a great place to start conversations, to add to conversations, and to share a link back to your blog. However, spammers have ruined the comment section by using it as a way to stuff keywords and to place links to sites that are irrelevant to the website. In 2014, major blogs and publications like Popular Science and Six Pixels of Separation are shutting down their comment sections because of the spam and the trolls. Also consider that when sites like Huffington Post and Salon post something controversial, it's nearly impossible to get your comment noticed because everyone has a comment to make. Besides, a comment section that's devolved into ad hominem and vitriolic nonsense isn't the place you want to be to network your blog.

Those blogging today shouldn't emphasize comments as a sign of popularity or as a way to build backlinks either. Only one percent of blog readers take the time to comment on posts, while many sites mark comment links as "no follow", so they don't add any SEO benefit.

Instead, bloggers today are networking through social media and in-person events. Conferences like New Media Expo and The Blog Workshop are two of the biggest national events, but smaller events such as local meetups or professional networking events can also be great ways to promote the blog. Only a few well established blogs such as Problogger and Inbound Hub manage to keep their comment sections accessible without getting overwhelmed by the spammers and trolls.

Is Technorati As Powerful as It Once Was?

I used to write for Technorati, and still can if I really want to. I started writing for Technorati in 2010, and back then writing for the site was a great thing to do. There were plenty of good writers contributing good content, and the section editors would work with you personally to ensure that you made edits to the articles when requested and to give you article ideas. Technorati's listings were used several times throughout the book as a way to demonstrate how popular or well-known a blog is, such as the Top 100 Favorited Blogs and the Top 100 Linked To Blogs (do either of those lists still exist, and if so, who is one them?)

Technorati may have been great several years ago, but is it still great now? I wonder if bloggers today care about their Technorati rankings or authority numbers. It could be that bloggers don't care anymore, as those listings have been saturated by the same 150 or 200 blogs that just switch spots among themselves. It's unlikely any of the blogs currently listed on the Top 100 are going to fall of the wagon so horribly that they won't be able to recover, making room for someone new to make the list.

Plenty of Emphasis on Tech Blogs

I understand that the 30 bloggers interviewed in the book weren't the author's first 30 choices, or were necessarily the bloggers that reflected the 30 most popular bloggers of the time. But, I would have liked to see a little more variety in the blogs that were featured. Over one-third of the blogs featured had something to do with business or tech. There weren't any political, fashion, green, celebrity, entertainment, sports, or current events blogs featured. Only one parenting blog (ParentDish) made the list and only one DIY blog (DIY Life) made the list. It would have been great to see one more blog from both of those categories since they are crowded categories like tech and business.

Granted, I don't know if there were many people blogging in those categories in 2008. Since blogging was still very new in 2008, it could easily have been that many bloggers were technology and business experts since they are the most likely people to be an early adopter of a new technology platform like blogging. It's possible that great bloggers in those other categories got a later start because they needed to get acclimated with the technology first before they would have felt comfortable in using it to communicate their hobby or passion.

LOVED Seeing the Pics of the Blogs in 2007

While reading the book, it was actually pretty awesome to go through each chapter and see a screenshot of the blog in 2007. It's baby Lifehacker and baby Gizmodo! How cute! It was also pretty swell to see what qualified as slick web design and cutting edge fonts back in 2007 too. If some of these designs and layouts existed as they were in 2014, then many of them would be too busy and not very user-friendly.

Does Anyone Else Follow 200+ Blogs?

Many of the bloggers featured in the book kept up with other blogs through RSS feed. Although Google Reader doesn't exist anymore, keeping up with other great blogs is an excellent thing to do as a blogger. But, to keep up with more than 200 blogs? How is that possible, whether or not you use an RSS feed? If you don't use an RSS feed, then what do you use to keep up without everything, since all those updates would clog your email or take too much time to do manually? I would be surprised if anyone follows this many blogs. I think most bloggers only follow fewer than 100 blogs, or only keep up with their subject areas through tools like Google Alerts.

Well, that's all I have to say about Blogging Heroes: Interview with 30 of the World's Top Bloggers. Overall, the book is an excellent read for any blogger, whether you do it professionally or as a hobby. I wouldn't classify it as a must-read since some of the information is outdated and that a few of the blogs featured don't even exist anymore. But, blogging has changed quite a bit since 2008 as well as the top players in the field. It would be neat to try to to find today's top 30 bloggers (or even the 30 bloggers in each category). It would be pretty cool to hear their stories.

3 Timeless Tips from 30 Blogging Heroes

timeless blogging tipsTypically, I'm not interested in how-to books regarding blogging, social media, search engine optimization, and all the different Google tools. Those books become obsolete so quickly since those platforms and how to use them change so much. For example, there's a book about Google Buzz on the shelf at my local library, a Google service that only lasted about a year. I always chuckle when I see because I wonder who would borrow it. But, I did find a book about blogging on my local library shelf called, Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World's Top Bloggers. It was published in 2008, and the premise of interviewing the top 30 bloggers in 2008 and publishing the conversations sounded intriguing and evergreen. It seemed like Blogging Heroes would be one of those few how-to books that wouldn't be too outdated, and would still have a few awesome blogging tips to offer that would still apply in 2014.

I was right.

These Are Some Great Blogs

Of the 30 blogs/bloggers featured, 18 are still going in their current form. By "current form", I mean the same domain name and pretty much the same topic. Another seven still exist, but either have a new domain name, or the content is now found with another site (DIY Life is now part of Style Me Pretty, while Luxist is now part of The main reason why that number is high, in my opinion, is that the book featured Weblogs Inc. and several Weblogs properties. AOL acquired Weblogs Inc. in 2005, so some of their properties were added to the Huffington Post or to other AOL sites.

Only five of the 30 blogs featured have stopped entirely, where either the domain name listed doesn't lead to anything, or the blog hasn't posted anything new in several years. I mention this before sharing the tips because the sources of these tips come from the other 25 that are still going in some way, illustrating the timelessness of blogging as an art form and how to do it right.

Great Content Beats SEO

Robert Scoble of Scobleizer made this point best, and I was so glad to hear it because even in 2007/2008, when SEO was still new, the top bloggers of the time still understood the importance of great content. Others echoed the sentiment by emphasizing how quality content is what ultimately builds and keeps an audience, but I loved that the awareness existed back then that gaming the system was a short-term strategy at best.

Of course, many bloggers in the book acknowledged SEO's importance in getting found online, and paid attention to it to some extent. But, none of them obsessed over it to the point that is was more important than the content being written or offering value to the reader. No one even considered SEO more important than actively promoting the blog and its content on your own, either through networking or working with other great bloggers to highlight what they're doing.

Remember: Google doesn't buy from you! Google doesn't read your blog, subscribe to your blog, or comment on your posts. Therefore, worry more about offering something awesome and beneficial to customers, versus trying to please Google for higher search engine rankings.

Write about What You Are Interested In or Passionate About

"Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman

"Finding your passion" is harder than it sounds, and Marie Forleo does a great explanation of how to find your passion and where you shouldn't look for it. But, a great point made by Scott McNulty from the Unofficial Apple Weblog, and many others in the book, is that successful blogs have a topic or several topics that they want to share with others and simply do that. Successful bloggers write about what they found interesting, or when they have something to add to the conversation. Many people may write about something because it's trending, or because they think people like X or Y so they ought to cover X or Y. But, McNulty and Howard Thurman point out that a blog really comes alive when the blogger is passionate about the subject and has his/her heart in it.

"I Don't Decide to Blog and then Look for Something. I Find Something, and Then I Blog It."

Rebecca Lieb of ClickZ gave life-changing (it changed my perspective on blogging for the rest of my life, that's for sure) advice on how to find blog post topics and how to remain relevant as a blog. I loved this quote because it takes the weight off about creating an editorial calendar and sticking to it. I've created a calendar and filled it in with blog post ideas many times, only to look at it a week later and not feel any excitement for these topics that I spent so much time to think about. I like Lieb's advice because it harnesses the initial creativity and spark of when you see something, and immediately come up with thoughts, ideas and responses to that something. From there, you can write a blog post. The energy is there when you write the blog post, versus scheduling to write about something in three weeks when you saw it and thought about it today.

Overall, Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World's Top Bloggers is an excellent book with plenty of relevance to blogging in today's world. I would highly recommend the book as it is a chance to learn from some of the original pioneers in the industry and practice. I do have a few criticisms and differences to point out, of which I will cover in a future post.

Why Blogging is Crucial to Your Personal Online Reputation

blogging online reputationThere's this notion that blogging is something that only crazy people do, people who want to post pictures of their cat or who have too much time on their hands. Businesses, or very important people, may do it, but its not something that normal people do. This notion needs to change.Everyone, at this point, has an online presence and reputation. Even if you avoid social media all together, there are always articles, documents, and your friend's content that can show up online under your name. Don't forget the possibility of someone having the same name, and a less-than-clean record, that could show up instead of you. You need something that can present what you want to present online and on search engines, and blogging is a great way to do that. Here's why blogging is crucial to your personal online reputation:

Show that You're an Expert

It's that whole conundrum with finding a job: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. Showing experience and expertise is tough without a job, but not impossible, and a blog is a great way to demonstrate both those things. For example, Ted Juch has a great blog on using Google Docs, and that's all that blog is about. Spreadsheets, documents, how to create them, and what you can do with them. Yes, it's geeky and niche, but no one else is doing it while many people have used Google Docs to do something at some point in time. Also, commitment to this topic means that Juch will be the go-to guy on anything Google Docs. It's too bad the blog hasn't been updated in a while, because a blog like that one is a great one to position yourself as an expert.

Work on Your Writing Skills

Nearly all companies, and all positions within those companies, seek people with great writing skills. It's a skill that's no longer reserved for English majors, copywriters, and marketing positions, but a skill that's hard to demonstrate unless you bring a portfolio to the interview (which isn't a bad idea). However, put the blog on the resume with the link, and the hiring manager can have a chance to see the blog and read a few posts. The blog will say a lot about your level of commitment and project management as well as your writing skills. Not only does practice make perfect, but there are tons of great resources out there (like this writer's blog) that specifically talk about how to be a better writer.

It's One Thing You Can Control

If you're applying for jobs, then you have to realize that hiring managers are looking at social media profiles and search results for additional information. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 43% of hiring managers who research applicants on social media sites say they have found something that has cost a candidate a job. You can't always control what shows up under your name, but a blog is one thing you can control. Blogs also connect with social media sites, so if your Facebook feed regularly features your newly published posts, then that's what hiring managers are going to see (versus those partying pics and status updates about hangovers).

Don't forget that the more you write, and the better your writing, the higher it will rank on search engines. The more posts you create equals more pages to find online and more positive ways for others to find you online. Also, your name is one of the easiest things for you to rank for you, so if you don't like what you see today when you type your name into the Google search bar, then that can change if you decide to blog and to blog often.

Why Every Online Publication Needs an Editorial Calendar

editorial calendar An editorial calendar is essentially the plan for the next month, or even several months, of what's going to be published on your site. The length will depend on how often your publish, but even those who don't publish every day or every week can still find value in an editorial calendar. Here's why every blog or online publication needs an editorial calendar, whether your publish four times a day or four times a month.

It Forces You to Come Up with Article Ideas in Advance

Consistency is huge when running an online publication. Miss a day or two and your audience will notice that something is going on. The more often you publish, the more consistency matters and the harder it is to deal with writer's block or getting something out in a time crunch. This is where the editorial calendar comes in. If you need an idea, then simply refer to the calendar. If you release a new post every Wednesday, then all you need to do is look at the calendar on Monday or Tuesday and get writing. No longer will time be wasted scrambling for an idea because that time would have been spent beforehand coming up with all sorts of ideas to fill your calendar.

Note: This doesn't mean that you can't do something in response to breaking news, or a post on something you thought about that day. The editorial calendar and impromptu writing are not mutually exclusive. This tool is there so you don't have to waste time staring at a blank screen coming up with an idea. You have a whole list of ideas to choose from.

It Can Help Attract Advertisers

If you are making money from your blog or online publication, or want to start making money, then think of the editorial calendar as a way to attract advertisers that match the content you will product as well as your audience. For example, if you are a tech blog, and you are going to spend a week in October entirely on apps, then you can use your editorial calendar to show potential advertisers some of the topics that you are going to cover. If you are going to have an article or two about health apps, then potential advertisers might want to advertise on that day or week. They may also want to contribute sponsored content that adds an additional perspective, as a such a topic will interest very specific brands. The revenue is not only valuable to you, but the advertisers benefit from targeting that's based on who will read that article, and not just who will read your overall site.

It Can Be More than Article Ideas

The most basic editorial calendar just has topics or blog post titles listed when they are supposed to be published. That's great, but the editorial calendar can also include much more information than that. Below are some good ideas to include on your template (or use this one from HubSpot, which is really good).:

  • Category/Type (ex. Recipe, How-To)
  • Tags/Keywords
  • Photo/Illustration
  • Author
  • Status
  • Publication Location (if you have multiple blogs or often guest post)
  • Note
  • Deadline
  • Reception (keep track of how many tweets, likes, or pins the post got)

If you don't want to create your own or use the one from HubSpot, then Wordpress has two really good editorial calendar plugins: Editorial Calendar and Edit Flow. Anyway, the point here is that it can be for more than post ideas. Use it to come up with your tags and keywords prior to writing the article. Use it to track the success of your articles after the fact. It's also a good tool if you have several writers on staff, so that you can manage what all of them are doing and what progress they are making with a little more ease.

Overall, the editorial calendar is an incredibly handy tool. Even the solo blogger who is writing for fun can benefit by saving time and reducing the stress of what should be a hobby and stress-relieving activity. There aren't many reasons why you shouldn't use an editorial calendar.

Related Links:

How to Write a Press Release for Your Blog

Why Every Online Publication Should Have a Style Guide

How to Treat Your Blog as a Business


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3 Things That Annoy Me as a Former Content Marketer

annoying things about content marketing One of the things that's especially difficult about changing the direction of your business is getting out of those old habits. Since I"m moving into online publishing, where inbound marketing and content marketing have their place but not their former prominence, I am having some trouble figuring out what to do with my business blogging and inbound marketing knowledge. I understand that it could prove useful when creating our own stuff and marketing said stuff, but I don't quite need to keep up with the ins and outs the same way I now need to for online publishing and media (which, from initial research, is proving a little harder than I thought).

Through all this, I came across some of the many things that annoy me about content marketing. Primarily, it's when people do it wrong and the right way is seemingly obvious (or should be known by the person/entity committing the transaction). Now that I'm moving away from the business, I can vent without worrying of the perception that I am just harping on competition. Here are three things that bother me about business blogs and content marketing:

  1. Marketing agencies with horrible business blogs (especially if they offer blogging services) - There aren't many marketing agencies these days that are strictly direct, traditional, or offline marketing. Nearly all offer primarily or entirely online marketing services. A major part of online marketing is business blogging, and this cannot be ignored or washed over as if blogging is going to go away tomorrow (because it's not). Therefore, it bothers me when a marketing agency doesn't even have a blog, or doesn't even follow blogging best practices (like publishing something once every two months, or not including photos with their posts). It's even worse if the agency offers blog writing or business blogging services of some kind. I think it's very representative of an agency and its services when it can't even do its own blog and its own online marketing right.
  2. Great business blogs with no easy or obvious way to subscribe - I came across an excellent online media and publishing blog today through my research. I wanted to subscribe to the blog, but I couldn't find a place to follow it or to put in my email. I couldn't even subscribe via RSS feed. I suppose the only way to follow the blog is to bookmark it. But, isn't part of the point of having a great business blog is building a subscriber base? You can't even tell if someone's bookmarked your site. I have no interest in this company's custom content or SEO services. I just want to read your blog, share your content, perhaps write a response to an article or two. I guess I'm going to have to take that elsewhere.
  3. Horrible Formatting - Just an FYI, something like the example below looks horrible:

horrible formatting

First of all, what kind of a caption is that? I can't even tell if that's supposed to be a caption, or an introduction, or an interesting side note. It's kind of long for a caption, and doesn't say much about the picture. If you have an educated guess, please tell me in the comments. Second of all, why is this "caption" to the side like that? It gets in the way of the actual lead sentence, and forces the picture to be small. Besides, there's all that blank space. Why isn't is underneath, so it's not confusing to the reader of where you should start reading? Third, giving your next paragraph, or introductory paragraph, or whatever that is, such minimal real estate is awkward and constraining. Fourth, pictures should be aligned on the right, not the left. People read from right to left, so starting with the picture is jarring and ruins the flow of reading the content.

As a side note, I understand that this isn't always necessarily the fault of the writer or the content marketer. One of my clients just updated his blog, and now the formatting is atrocious. You can't get the pictures to format correctly. I have no idea what he did and I have yet to figure out a way, if any, to remedy it on my end. However, don't leave something like that up for everyone to see, especially if you can fix it. It reflects badly on you while hurting the user experience.

Okay, I'm Finished

Time to put myself and my talents to better use.

Why Bloggers Can't Say Whatever They Want, Whenever They Want

blogging best practices To clarify, you can say whatever you want as long it is a) truthful and b) you have evidence that supports that truth. No, you can't start a blog or write posts on how certain people are pedophiles because you don't like them without any hard evidence of the accusation. No, you can't accuse a business of a crime because they provided you poor service and you want to get back at them. Both of those will end up in trouble, probably for something like slander or reputation damages. However, you can write about why you don't like a particular person, or document the incident of poor service. Since both of those are more opinion-based, you don't  necessarily need evidence to prove it. Here are a few more of the many reasons why bloggers can't say whatever they want, whenever they want, on their blogs.

Freedom of Speech Isn't Absolute

The First Amendment does prohibits the making of any law "abridging the freedom of speech" or "infringing on the freedom of the press." However, the Supreme Court has recognized several instances where governments may enact reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions on speech, such as the protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons, or the use of untruths to harm others. These restrictions include bloggers, who must exercise this oversight themselves, whether they considered themselves individuals or members of the press. The press exercises this oversight as well, ensuring that what they print is accurate and doesn't lead to a case of slander or reputation damages.

As Lorelle VanFossen so brilliantly puts it in the Blog Herald, "Sure, you can say whatever you want, but there are consequences you must live with if others don’t like what you say, or the law disagrees with your right to say it."

You Can Be Held Responsible if You Republish Libelous Content

Libel and slander are slightly different things. Libel is strictly the publishing of a false statement that harms the victims reputation, while slander is the publishing of a false statement with the intent to harm and with knowledge of it being false. However, even if you were to republish a libelous statement (and were not the original writer), you could still be held responsible for libel, even if you thought the statement was true or you didn't intend harm with the statement. There are two good ways to avoid libel claims: tell the truth, and/or clearly distinguish fact from opinion. In blogging, the individual blogger is responsible to the law in the same way as traditional press, even though factors like the speed of publishing, the lack of editors, and the prominence of cutting and pasting make blogging much riskier in media law than other types of outlets.

Invasion of Privacy is Also Important

Say that as a blogger you know something to be true, that someone is committing a crime, and that you do have evidence to prove it. However, if that evidence was obtained through an unlawful invasion of privacy, then you could still be held liable for defamatory comments. Examples of unlawful invasion of privacy include breaking into a home, office, or e-mail to retrieve information or the use of impersonation to retrieve information.

A non-public individual has a right to privacy from: 1) intrusion on one's solitude or into one's private affairs; 2) public disclosure of embarrassing private information; 3) publicity which puts him/her in a false light to the public; 4) appropriation of one's name or picture for personal or commercial advantage. It should be noted that this only applies to non-public people i.e. those who have not voluntarily put themselves in the public eye. Those who have voluntarily put themselves in the public eye are considered newsworthy, even their personal and intimate lives. A politician would count as a public figure, while a CEO of a small company wouldn't be a public figure.

The Rules and Goals of the Blogging Case Study, Part 2

blogging case studyI know I've already outlined the rules and goals of the blogging case study, but I've come up with a few more since writing that post that I'd like to add to the list. Don't want to leave anything out, or risk being called out for something that others might consider a blogging best practice, or something that wasn't mentioned. Here are a few more rules to the study:

A Great Blog Post Headline

Every blog post needs to have a great headline, one that is clear and concise and not vague. The point of a headline is to draw people into reading the article, since it is often times the one and only thing people will read. Of course, we will still abide by the rule of not focusing on SEO. A great blog post headline doesn't need to have a keyword in it or be search engine friendly. It's also kind of hard to do this when you don't have any specific keywords that you are trying to rank for in the first place.

Writing Posts in Advance

This is okay, and something that I will probably do this weekend and will probably do every weekend from here on out. Why not? I do it for the business blogs that I manage. Besides, there will always be a few days where I might have four great ideas for blog posts, so why not write about all four and then publish them on days like yesterday when I need something badly and I am out of ideas.

Content Amplification

Something that I haven't mentioned at all is content amplification i.e sharing my content on social media. I do have social sharing buttons on each of my posts, but besides that, I don't have much in the way of a content amplification strategy. I hoped to see what can be accomplished organically this year, but its hard to discount content amplification as organic growth. This is something I need to think about, since I don't think this blog yet merits its own Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I should look into making it easier for people to subscribe or at least doing a bit of shameless promotion.

Absolutely No Ads

One this I will not do is sign up for any sort of advertising program, such as selling ad space, or incorporating Amazon affiliate links or anything like that. The point of this case study isn't to try and to monetize the blog. It's to prove what consistent, daily, awesome blogging can accomplish. Perhaps after the one year, depending on the results of the case study, I will consider turning the blog into a business or find a good way to monetize it. But not anytime during 2013.

Topics that are Off Limits

I don't know if I addressed this in the first post, since I did explain somewhat some topics that could be found on the blog. But in case I didn't, here's a quick list of topics that I won't ever address in this case study:

  • Sex
  • Alcohol and Drug Use
  • Violence and Weapons Use
  • Libel i.e. I am not going to accuse people of child molestation or do spotty investigation work if I do get wrapped up in tracking down wrongdoing (you never know!)
  • Profanity, as it is not my style and not a blogging best practice in my opinion
  • The only exception to the above is if it's a discussion of public policy regarding the drug war or the second amendment or the pornography industry and other current events. No, I will not discuss how to make drinks or to use a gun or to perform a certain position.

Essentially, this is a PG blog. You may have noticed that gambling didn't make the list. This is because I play poker online regularly, which is technically gambling, and I may discuss that from time to time. Speaking of which, I have a tournament in an hour, and I still need to eat lunch.

What are Blogging Best Practices?

blogging best practicesAccording to the rules of this blogging case study, every single post must follow blogging best practices. What does that mean? Why are these considered best practices, versus other outdated or incorrect ideas? well, here are those blogging best practices, and the answers to the above questions.

600-800 Word Posts

Yes, every single post (including the first two) will be between 600-800 words. This is one of the blogging best practices that have always been up for debate, as some would say that 400-600 word posts a better target. Others would say that there's nothing wrong with 200-300 word posts. I prefer the 600-800 word mark, as that allows for more room to develop arguments and to write something of value. I believe that is harder to do in 400 word, and definitely tough to do in 250 or 300.

At Least One Photo (complete with ALT Tags)

This is one of the easiest blogging best practices to follow, but it's something a lot of hobby blogs and corporate blogs fail to do. Every blog post will have at least one photo, probably a stock photo since I have an account with Dreamstime and they have good photos. Each photo will also have an ALT tag, so it can be read by the search engines. There's nothing wrong with stock photos, although choosing the wrong one for your post can be a bit disastrous.

Hint: When you include a photo in a blog post, it should either be centered or on the right. The reason is that folks read from left to right, so including your photo on the left ruins the flow of reading the text.


One thing that I will not do is write paragraph after paragraph after paragraph without any way to break up all that text. Not only is such writing daunting to the reader, but it can be a strain to read after a short period of time. This is why each and every post will have some sort of formatting, such as subheadings, bullet points, or numbered lists. Breaking down the information this way also makes it easier for a casual reader to scan the content for relevant information.

Categories and Tags

Each blog post will be categorized and tagged, which is important for several reasons. First, it adds organization to blog, which gives the appearance that it's cared for. No one wants to read a blog that's in shambles. Second, categories and tags make it easier for readers to find relevant posts, or to find posts on a certain topic. Third, every time you create a new category or tag, you add another page to the blog, which is great for SEO purposes. I wrote a great article a while back on what should be tagged in a blog post. I will use it for reference when I wrote posts.

SEO a Second-Class Priority

This doesn't mean that we won't think about search engine optimization ever, or that keywords are irrelevant. I'm simply saying that I'm not going to be creating content and writing blog posts for the sake of SEO, or around a keyword or phrase so I can rank for it. Sure, I'll try to optimize my post as best I can if I find a great keyword that fits with the topic that I can use naturally (as in the case of this post and "blogging best practices") and employ techniques that help with SEO. But, I'm also not worrying about keyword density or other techniques just so I can please the Google. I'm not doing this blogging case study to please the Google, so I'm not going to write content that does that.

Build and Engage with the Community

Once I have one and start getting comments and what not, I will certainly do this. However, I do not yet have an audience. If anyone is out there, by chance, please comment. Thanks!