I have my email address at the bottom of each article I write here on Bit Rebels, and I’ve always encouraged readers to drop me a line if they ever have a question or suggestion for me that might not be appropriate to leave on an article.
As a result, I get a lot of readers who send me blogging questions. Those questions are many times tricky to answer because blogging is so subjective, and for me, very personal. You could probably put two avid bloggers in the same room and ask them the same ten questions, and you’d get twenty very different answers.
Even though I’m certainly no expert on the topic (far from it), I thought I would sift through my emails and pull out the ten questions that new bloggers ask me the most and answer them all in this one article. You may have some very different opinions about some of these things, and like I’ve always said, it’s our differences that make it all so much fun. Please leave a comment below with any advice you may also have for new bloggers out there. Wow, I would have loved to find a post like this when I first started my blogging journey. I learned most of this stuff the hard way, but I wouldn’t change my experiences for anything. It’s been and continues to be a great ride!
1. How can I get people other than my friends & family to my blog?
Getting more traffic to your blog is very similar to being a storeowner and wanting more customers. When approaching this question, you really have to take your blogger hat off and put your marketing hat on. A lot of people say, “build it and they will come;” however, from what I’ve seen on Bit Rebels, that is a short term strategy at best. Sure, if you write a super killer post, you’ll most likely get a lot of traffic. But… as they say, today’s hero is tomorrow’s zero.
Increasing visitors to your site is a building process that takes time. It involves creative thinking everyday and trying new ideas often. Some of those ideas work, some don’t, and that’s all part of the fun. You might find 10 Websites To Get Your Articles Discovered and 5 Useful Tips To Get More Traffic To Your Blog helpful.
2. Should I delete negative comments or leave them published?
In my opinion, the way a blogger handles negative comments really shows his or her blogging maturity. I never blogged before I came here to Bit Rebels in the summer of 2009, a month after this blog launched. In the beginning, when I got a negative comment, I would delete it, cry about it, complain to Richard about it, etc… Looking back, I was acting like a big blogging baby.
Now, I get plenty of negative comments, but I barely even notice them. Unless it has an F-bomb or the person is obviously an Internet troll, I don’t ever delete them. I really believe everyone’s opinion is valid and deserves to be seen. It wasn’t always like that though. I had to grow into that attitude. One way I see a lot of people handle this is to moderate comments. You might want to consider that if you are uncomfortable leaving it open for anything. If this something you are struggling with, read 10 Reasons Negative Comments Could Make Your Blog A Success. It offers a very interesting perspective you may not have thought about before.
3. Which is more important, getting people to “like” my blog’s fan page on Facebook, asking people to subscribe to my RSS feed, or building followers on Twitter?
In the world of blogging, there really is no such thing as one of these being better than another because you want it all. Asking this question almost implies that you plan to choose one and not the others. Every single reader adds value and is important, regardless of where they come from. Based on the number of clicks, we find that Facebook is by far the most valuable, but again, every single one is important. This article called Twitter vs. Facebook: A Social Media Revenue Comparison might be interesting to you when researching this for yourself.
4. How can I keep a steady stream of ideas flowing to blog about?
This right here is one of the holy grails of blogging. Each person has his or her own way to do this. The people that are able to master this one detail are, in my opinion, halfway there. I will share with you my own personal system, although it’s embarrassingly basic. I started with Twitter as my base. Each time I saw an article tweeted from an interesting website, I would check it out more thoroughly to see if there was continuous, frequently added interesting or inspiring content. If I thought it would be able to give me ideas for my own posts, I put the URL in a simple document on my desktop.
I do not use a reader because I like to get more information from a site than the reader provides. I always make sure to check the source sites on relevant articles also. I follow the trail of source sites, and only record the ones I think would truly provide me with value. Fast forward to two years later, I’m still adding to that same list today. I have it organized in an easy to read format for me, and I refer to it every single day. If I have to blog without that list, I feel lost. It’s like my little goldmine. Whenever I travel, I even print a hard copy to take just in case I can’t access it digitally.
You may think my system is ridiculously simple, and you are right, it is. That is why it works so well for me. You’ve got to come up with your own system for generating ideas and inspiration. Once you find something that works, you’ll know it. This article 100 Sources of Blogging Inspiration might be helpful, and give you a place to start.
5. How much time will blogging take out of my schedule?
Blogging is like anything else, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. There aren’t blogging police in cyberspace that are going to arrest you if you don’t update your blog a certain number of times each week. It’s all up to you. You are only accountable to yourself. Here at Bit Rebels, we publish six articles each day. I write a minimum of three posts per day. Since I have my handy dandy list, which I described above, I can write three posts in about three hours, depending on the length. I try to do this between 3am and 6am each day. Again, it’s a system that works for me. You’ve got to find what works for you.
I’m not going to lie; blogging consistently for any length of time takes a lot of commitment, dedication and hard work. It’s a labor of love. If your goal is to streamline the process and make it more efficient, this article called 10 Ways To Become A More Efficient And Productive Blogger might help you.
6. How can I make money from my blog?
I’ll admit, when brand new bloggers ask this question, it annoys me. My own personal belief on this is that as a blogger we should be either blogging for personal development, to provide and contribute value to the Internet community, or obviously, both. I can promise you, if you’ve just started a blog, and you are in it just to make money, you’ve probably chosen one of the most challenging ways to make a buck. There are of course several ways to make money, but you’ve got to build a reputation and some traffic first. It’s similar to people who set up a Twitter account and then expect to have their posts retweeted by tons of people every day. It doesn’t work like that.
You give, then you get. Give first. Get second. You can always participate in an affiliate marketing program (we have a couple of those), but to me, the best way for you to make money on your blog is to again… get creative. The smartest marketer will always win that hands down. It’s your blog; you can literally do anything. Open your mind! This video clip form Gary Vaynerchuk changed my life and I’ve used these techniques many times. If you are serious about making money from your blog, you’ve got to watch this. It should be mandatory really. It’s absolutely fabulous and inspiring.
7. What blogging platform should I use?
I would only ever recommend that bloggers use WordPress. It is the premier blogging platform, and it freaking rocks! There is just so much you can do with it. I really don’t see how any other blogging platform can really compare. Check it out. To make things easier for you, here is The Ultimate WordPress Cheat Sheet. #enuffsaid
8. Do I have to learn HTML to be a big time blogger?
The answer to that is absolutely not. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You are the boss. If you are using WordPress, which I suggested above, almost all of the HTML code is provided for you. You just click on “bold,” “underline,” etc… to get that effect. You don’t have to learn the tags.
However, learning just a few very basic tags can be very helpful. There are times when you might need to fall back on an HTML code to get the formatting the way you want it. HTML does not have to be hard if you have a master list printed out and handy. There is no need to memorize anything or make it complicated. You can find such a list at The Ultimate HTML 5 Cheat Sheet.
9. How can I get more people to leave comments on my blog?
If you aren’t getting a lot of comments on your blog, look at your traffic. You can’t really beat yourself up about that if you don’t have a lot of visitors. There is only a small percentage of people who visit your blog that will leave a comment anyway. Remember that. It’s a numbers game.
However, there are some other things that affect comments. What is your process for leaving comments that you’ve set up for your readers? Are you making them register on your blog to leave a comment? Are you using a format that is hard to understand? We don’t moderate our comments on Bit Rebels. The moment someone leaves it, it shows up on the post. That is something that is definitely encouraging to our readers because the whole process is in real time. Also, look at your content. Is it engaging and interesting? There are some types of posts that get more comments than others. You can read about that on The 8 Types of Posts That Get Maximum Comments.
10. How can I develop relationships with my readers?
The main way to develop that relationship is through answering the comments people leave you on your posts. This seems so obvious, yet so many people don’t do it. Then, they wonder why their readers aren’t loyal, and why they don’t keep coming back. I am definitely not perfect, and I don’t answer all of the comments people leave on my articles, but I can honestly say I do my best in that area. I answer as many as I possibly can, and I love every minute of it. Once you start getting to know your readers, they become your friends. Some of our readers are like family to me. I spend about thirty minutes each day answering comments. It’s time very well spent.
Another way to develop those relationships is by connecting with your readers on Facebook and Twitter. I am a Twitter addict, and I talk to our readers all day long on there it seems. It’s a wonderful tool for making new friends and building relationships. This is an article that is relevant to the topic, and it was an extra fun one to write: The A-Z List: How Twitter Can Make You A Better Blogger.