February 26, 2006

The Art of the Blog

Guy Kawasaki is a new blogger. Since I have vastly more experience on this matter than he (about 2 years...), I will deign to offer him - and anyone else who's listening - some advice on the art of the blog:

  • Get a blogroll. You are not a member of the blogosphere if you don't have a blogroll. This is not just an act of vanity (though it might be that too), it is the blogosphere's hierarchical search mechanism. The best way to find blogs you like is to look at the blogrolls of blogs you like. Just as the best way to find friends is to meet the friends of your friends. And the best way to find new hires is by word of mouth (in fact, studies have shown that they are much more likely to be successful than those found by any other means). And don't limit your blogroll to your genre - your readers may find your blog because of the subjects you write about, but they come back because they develop a personal relationship with you. They want to meet your friends, not your coworkers.
  • Keep it informal. Reading a blog post should be like listening in on, or participating in, a conversation. True, may people use the blog format to post other things, but to my mind these are BINOs (blogs in name only). A real blog is part of the giant conversation that we call the blogosphere.
  • Google is your friend. If you're writing about an unusual topic (pretty much anything but politics), a large percentage of you traffic should be from search engines. Be Google-friendly. Think about what an interested person would search for, and make sure those words, or phrases, are in your post, preferably in the title. My impression is that Google recognizes blog post titles and page names, giving them preference in search results. So if you have pages for individual posts, make sure that the post title is also the page title.
  • Lose the empty margins. A common blog format is the skinny line of text down the middle of the page. It's awful. Screen real estate is valuable, don't waste it. Once you get rid of the wasted space on the sides, there are many things you can do with it, depending on your priorities and taste. You can make your font bigger, or show more text on the page, or unclutter the body of the blog. Just do something useful with your screen!
  • Make meaning. I put this last because it should go without saying - presumably, if you are blogging, you are writing about something that's meaningful to you. But I will say it anyway: this is the essence of blogging - if it's not meaningful to you, don't bother. If it is, it's likely meaningful to others as well. So don't worry if anyone else cares, just give us the chance to find out.
Posted by David Boxenhorn at February 26, 2006 01:28 PM | TrackBacks
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