Thursday, August 20, 2015

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How to Maintain and Expand Your Blog

We have covered in our last article (Blog - Taking the First Step to Expressing Yourself) on how to start with a blog. The article covered basics on how to set up a blog and begin writing. Once you start a blog it is critical to regularly maintain it and to continue creating content if you would like visitors to come back. Now maintaining a blog is not a cakewalk as it needs consistent dedication to develop content adhering to required level of quality standards. Along with generating content, you need to start spreading word about your blog to receive early feedback on how a reader feels about it. Now, for a new blog, I would recommend not to spend too much time in promoting or monetizing the blog but to build up the content and get a decent number of articles online. I would say that there should be at least 10-15 articles before you start spreading the word amongst your close friends to review and provide feedback. It should only be after you have 20-30 quality articles which you believe may interest your audience that you should think about actual blog promotion. Once you are there, there would soon be another post on how to promote your blog. But that is a thing for later. Here we would cover six primary areas that one should strive for to maintain a blog.



Content Generation

While one may start blogging in jiffy just because it may seem glamorous but that aspect would soon die down with time. One would realize that for blogging, like most hobbies, one must have real passion to write and express if one wishes to build an audience. I have seen many friends who launched a blog with great enthusiasm but could not sustain the momentum for more than a couple of months. Post that they would go back to it once in a while and put up articles. This is not how you capture interest of visitors. To be a successful blogger, one needs to be regular in writing articles. Now, I understand that this would not be your full time focus and hence one cannot expect an article every day, but there should be a broader aim to post an article within a convenient period. I would recommend that at the least one should try to put up 5-6 articles a month with at the least 1 article each week.

Quality Management

When one speaks about the quality, the first thing to be considered is the standard of articles. One must choose topics in which one can contribute adequate information and which would also be of interest for general readers. Though topics with broad coverage are recommended but one must be careful to not generalize the content to the extent that it becomes irrelevant. Once topic is finalized, one must put up adequate effort to collect relevant information and supporting information related to the topic. The information should be put up in a simple enough language for convenience of those who may not know intricacies of the topic. Also, one must try and proof-read the content to ensure it is devoid of grammatical errors. However, quality aspect is not limited to this. It also involves general blog management too. All the links should be up and running and references should be cross checked. Images should be clear and relevant. Overall one must strive to ensure that general structure and content is simple yet elegant along with being factually and linguistically correct.

You could refer to my earlier article on writing content for some different context - Written Ability Tests - Tips and Tricks to Ace.

Responsive & Engaging

It is not only important to generate the content but also to engage with your audience so that your build a reader pool. It is only through engagement with audience that you get useful feedback for your content and blog. Also, one can gain a lot of knowledge through in-depth discussions with others who have similar interests. So, you should always be on lookout for such opportunities where you can participate in a discussion related to topics of the blog. These may come out of a comment left by your reader on the blog post or a mail sent to your inbox. Do attempt to respond to each mail/comment within a day so that the reader feels connected. If you go back to respond to a mail after a week, even the sender would have forgotten the context. Also, if possible use social media to participate in discussions related to your interest topics. This would help you build readership and elicit readers to visit your blog again to look for your views over similar topics.

Organization of Content

If you have great content on your blog but it is not easily accessible to the visitors then the effort of writing could go in vain. This is the reason that organization of content is as important as content itself. To start with, relevant tags should be attached with the articles which make it easy to classify them. This classification would make it easier for you to link to a particular type of posts or create sections within blog. Also, as part of the organization of content, it is critical to focus on a couple of genre. This would help you attract specific audience and visitors would also find it easier to find things of their interest. Another thing to be taken care of is a smooth easily identifiable navigation across various pages and articles, especially if you want people to go to your old posts with same frequency as new ones. Most blog templates would show latest few posts on the front page. Hence if you contribute generic content rather than news items, there may be value in old posts as well. So you may want to use pages to collate links to articles of a certain topic.

Tracking Audience Interest

If one blogs just for fun of it, there obviously are no tangential activities required. But most bloggers, like me, love each new visitor to their blog. Thus one may try and put up content which is more aligned to interest of visitors. To assess this interest, it is important that one uses one of many site visitor analysis tools to identify where the visitors are going and where are they spending maximum time. Where are they coming from and how do they spend time on your blog. This would give crucial data for you to use as input in selection of article topics. For example, I write on a number of things but I realized that most of the visitors were attracted to glamor of my series on “Perks of Prime Minister of India”. Now, this prompted me to expand the series to a couple more articles. I also realized that generic topics capture more audience in terms of number then travelogues. Now, I still write travelogue with same frequency but that is an informed choice that these articles would be more targeted to those whom I know. So it is important to have the data points – what you do with it is obviously your choice.

Patience and Perseverance

These are virtues which are of key in anything that you start afresh. Once you start writing, you would wish to see thousands rushing to your blog to read what you have to speak about. But that is something not going to happen. It is only through gradual build-up of the blog and paced reach-out that people would start visiting your blog. You cannot build a sustainable readership over-night. It is only through patient contribution to your blog that you would be able to take your blog to heights that you aim. All you need to do is persevere through the phase of low page-views and limited engagement and one day you would have people lining in to engage with you. Yeah the later may be an overstatement but well you get the point right!!


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