Did you hear? Blogging is all the rage these days! (sarcasm) Seriously, as a major part of the “new media”, blogs provide an outlet for anyone who has an idea, point-of-view or quirky obsession to hold forth for all to hear, er, read. Thinking of starting a blog? Great, but remember, no one will read you if you don’t cultivate a solid online reputation. It’s as simple as that. No rep, no traffic.
Well respected, high-traffic blogs can make money for their creators as well as giving them a place to vent their spleens. But whether a prospective blogger is in it for the social value or to make a buck, there are some rules building a good online reputation. As the blog’s reputation builds, it can take on a life of its own, but the rules still apply, to wit:
1. Well Written
Duh. You’re writing for the general public, not just your friends. If you can’t spell, punctuate, and write coherent prose, nobody will read you. Basic research is required for posts where you are quoting someone, or reporting news. Again, duh. You can post unsubstantiated rumors but that will not garner a good reputation for your blog.
Choose a format that sets the tone for your blog, one that gives a flavor for the content found on it. Much like the ambiance of your favorite restaurant, it doesn’t change the taste of the food, but adds to your enjoyment of it. Above all, make sure it is easy to read and loads quickly.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Maybe this goes without saying, but consideration must be given to the arcane science of Search Engine Optimization. It is imperative to get your blog listed with the major search engines and optimized for higher rankings. This is an ongoing task. There’s a world of resources available to you on the Net to help with this.
4. Regulate Comments
Comments expand and contribute to the discussion, if they are well regulated. The glory and curse of the Net is that anyone can and will comment. If your comments section contains offensive, inappropriate content or spam, it is YOUR job to clean it up. Just remember, it may be their words, but it’s your reputation.
5. Cultivate Commenters
Good commenters are your friends. That does not mean they have to agree with everything your write, but if they write well, have an opinion, and provide appropriate counter-points, they boost your blog’s overall readability. Commenters may have their own blogs for links, and can fill in for you when your brain is tired.
If you merely parrot what is written elsewhere, why should anyone visit your blog? Have a point of view and express it in an original manner. If you quote someone, give credit (see Rule number 7). And remember Rule number 1.
Blogging well is time consuming. Unless you are blogging for your own amusement, you must keep the content fresh and updated. If you post once a month, even if it’s good stuff, people will eventually move on. Your online reputation depends on having fresh content on a regular basis.
8. Blog Etiquette
Reference other blogs of like interest and request links from them. Always credit content from others via trackbacks and linkbacks. Most blogging software handles these tasks easily. Observe proper decorum in the commenting area.
9. Get Linked
Cultivate relationships with the owners of well know, well read blogs and they may give you a link. Try commenting regularly on their blog and dazzle them with your brilliance. Don’t forget to link ‘em back.
10. No Over-bearing Ads
Folks don’t read your blog for the ads. If your blog is there to earn you some money as well as share your vast knowledge with the world, fine, just don’t rub people’s faces in it. A lot of this can be accomplished by using a good theme (see Rule 2).
Put these 10 rules in action and you’re well on your way to building a excellent online reputation!