Wednesday, February 15, 2006

First Year of Blogging, Whew, I Made It 

Wow. When I hastily tossed up that first totally lame post one year ago today, I never thought I'd still be blogging a year later, let alone that anyone would be reading it.

But here I am, now a Certified Full-Year Blogger -- is there a certificate for that, or do I have to pay some sort of re-licensing fee first? As a new member of the Experienced Blogger Club, I think it's important -- or at least self-servingly helpful for my image -- to give something back to the community.

So I thought I would share with any less-experienced bloggers toddling in my footsteps a few tips explaining how one builds a blog to Olympian Heights. I haven't quite reached those heights myself yet, but I have found a comfortable niche here in Olympia Valley, and I can see the peaks in the distance so I'm pretty sure I can explain how to get there.

Obviously long-time bloggers are familiar with most if not all of these techniques and can even add some more of their own.

Increase Your Blog's Readership by Reading Other Blogs

If there is a blog out there that you frequent on a regular basis -- let's say this one, for example -- don't just read it, pander to it. How?

Never read blogs from your browser's favorites menu, only from your blog's blogroll. Any regular read should be in your blogroll for several reasons:
Don't Underline Anything But Links

You will annoy the readers you have, who will think they can click on it, and they will grow frustrated and abandon you in favor of a younger blog with better formatting.

Think Big

I remember seeing a clip of Madonna answering a question from Dick Clark on American Bandstand, way back in 1984 before anyone knew who the soon-to-be-famous harlot was. He asked her if she had a dream, and she replied with characteristic understatement, "to rule the world." As we all know she hasn't quite gone on to rule the world but she has cornered the Google market on the search term virgin kaballah singer. So let this be a lesson -- if you want to rule the world, corner the market on your search terms. If you want the world to think of -- nay, yearn for -- your blog whenever they look for acute vomitosis, well, you'll have to fight me for it, or think of your own term instead. Good luck with that.

Sex Sells, So Start Pimping

Don't forget time-honored forms of promotion, like sex, which has been used to promote stuff since before there was stuff. You might think you're a high-minded, serious political or philosophical blogger -- like me -- and that salacious vocabulary has no place in your posts. Perish the thought! Nothing could be further from the truth. And it's so simple too.

For instance, "In today's news, Dick Cheney was not involved in a sex scandal, nor did he buy lingerie for his wife; although, he did shoot a man in the face." (Don't be offended, my Republican friends, I'm still right-of-center; it's just comedy, plus it'll bait Cheney-Googlers into checking out this post and help brainwash them!)

You see, you can convey serious news, while adding that little bit of spicy context that Google's billions of teen users crave. So casually slip these words into as many posts as possible, like I just did here. And did I mention how important it is to fight to restore our denuded forests? I'm sure celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears would agree.

Take Advantage of Technorati Tags, Trackbacks, and Carnivals

Readers only find your blog by following links. It's slow hard work developing links with other bloggers, so it pays to take advantage of easy opportunities to create quick, visible, traffic-generating links.

Well-chosen Technorati tags automatically cause a link to your post to appear on Technorati's topical listings. Adding "buy danish" or "cartoon protests" to a breaking story can help guide readers to your work, even if you're not a top-of-the-list blogger. And if Osama's niece poses in sexy lingerie -- see how easy it was to work that in? -- then by all means, add a "Wafah Dufour" tag to help you corner the market on randy Saudi surfers.

Trackbacks and Carnivals are other ways to get links to your posts out there where your potential readers are waiting to click them. When you have a post you are proud of, try using the Wizbang Trackback Generator to send a trackback ping to one or more of the Open Trackback Alliance blogs. Your trackback ping will leave a link to your post on the Alliance member's blog -- with the customary link to their site inside your post as the quite reasonable exchange for the service. And don't be shy about submitting posts to various carnivals, which leads me to the next point...

Listen to Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad knows what he's talking about. If you have a chance to host his pride-and-joy, the Haveil Havalim Carnival, jump on it. It offers your blog a chance for some very nice exposure, and a fun little blip in your readership stats. And if he suggests you email Instapundit to announce the new Haveil Havalim is up, do yourself a favor and listen to the man. If he suggests you submit something to a carnival, trust me, you'll like the results:

Don't Whine About A-Listers Stealing All Your Traffic

I would have suggested whining and complaining that you deserve more readers, and how unfair it is that the A-list bloggers hog all the traffic and they must have a plot against you -- but that technique only works for international diplomacy, not blogging.

Just Write And Enjoy It

The main point is just to keep writing, and have fun. If you're not having fun, an extra hundred readers, or the right to call yourself a Rabid Rodent won't make it all worthwhile.

Thanks for reading. I'll keep writing.

This is actually kind of fun.

UPDATE: Great commenters have reminded me of a few other important tips for building a blog: Ezzie nails the big one: write something good, and Regina Clare Jane points out that leaving constructive and interesting comments on other blogs can gain you some visibility as well. Great ideas guys, thanks. Also check the comments if you want specific details on how to add Technorati tags to your posts.

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If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: