Friday, July 10, 2009...8:00 am

The five pillars of blog longevity, part 5

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Part 1;   Part 2;   Part 3;   Part 4;   Part 5

The last part of this series on keeping a blog going beyond the point at which most people give up is all about interaction.

5) Have a conversation

Blogging is a lonely business – which is why most people prefer hanging out on Facebook with their mates. But blogging at its best is a conversation.

If you want proof, check out Paul Bradshaw’s Online Journalism Blog – it says it explicitly on the masthead.

But it’s easier said than done, of course. To have a conversation requires people not only to actually read your blog, but also to take the trouble to respond to your posts in the comment threads.

Yesterday I suggested it was a good idea to spend time commenting on other blogs. This is only partly to get your blog address published around the web. It’s also to build relationships with other bloggers.

Develop a network of like-minded bloggers and you benefit in a number of ways:

  • Links – either in their blogroll or in individual posts. This helps with Google rankings as well as traffic
  • Comments – this keeps your blog lively, shows visitors you are more than a community of just one, and also helps feed you material for new posts
  • Feedback – this can help you spot problems with your blog, show where you’re doing something right, and also make you feel you’re not talking to yourself in a padded cell
  • Traffic – as discussed yesterday, more visitors is more motivation to post material

Developing relationships in the blogging world has other advantages:

  • Guest posts – writing for other blogs lets you reach a different audience and raises your profile, like these ones I wrote for FleetStreetBlues
  • Guest post input – allowing other relevant bloggers access to your blog is also worth doing: you pick up some of their audience and you encourage fresh input. You can also relax as someone else does the hard work for a day. (But don’t just take in anyone off the street – make sure there’s a good fit between your work and theirs)
  • Joint poststhis one I put together with Soilman helped bring in new readers and comments, and also helped me creatively with fresh ideas

Crucially, all of this is a big boost to you, the lonely blogger. It’s far better for your blog to be a way of interacting with the wider world than a silent noticeboard of your innermost thoughts – no matter how profound.

If you do want to keep going with a blog – and I strongly recommend journalism students and new graduates do, especially in the current economic climate – having feedback that your content actually matters to like-minded people is a tremendous boost.

Be realistic

Finally, have a sense of perspective. (This kind of makes it six pillars, I guess, but I think we’ve all had enough.)

High-profile political blogger Guido Fawkes says more than 100 daily visitors is pretty successful in blogging terms these days. And the New York Times quoted Technorati chief executive Richard Jalichandraas as saying: “There’s a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one.”

This means you shouldn’t beat yourself up about not having thousands of visitors. But follow the advice in the five pillars and you should be able to develop a thriving blog in weeks and months rather than years.

Part 1;   Part 2;   Part 3;   Part 4;   Part 5

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