During this Halloween season of creepy costumes and scary stories, we’re all focused on trick-or-treating and dressing up, and paying a little less attention to our blog posts. Well, maybe it’s just the candy-corn sugar rush talking, but I think the spooks of the season may have a thing or two to teach us about the business of blogging if we stop and pay attention. So, beware — spooky blogging tips ahead. Read on if you dare!
from Trick-or-Treaters: Be sweet and give plenty of treats.
It’s okay to be negative sometimes, but you’ll usually get a lot more traffic by being positive in your posts. It also helps to have giveaways periodically, or to give free information away to your users, making your blog worth your readers’ time.
from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Have a consistent voice.
You may have different writers for your blog, and that’s okay — it can even be good. But it helps to be sure you’re all writing with the same goal or tone in mind. Are you informative and useful, like Lifehacker? Or snarky and political, like Gawker or Jezebel? Be sure your blog’s voice stays within a certain theme and doesn’t swing too far back and forth.
from the Haunted House: Clear out the cobwebs.
A big part of blogging that many of us forget is regular maintainance and management. Delete obsolete information, check bad links, and be sure that your user’s experience is a positive one by looking at your site from the perspective of a new visitor and updating information.
from the Jack-o’-Lantern: Let them see you smile.
Readers respond well to pictures, and tend to especially like pictures of your team. Don’t worry about having perfect images, but do include some fun staff pictures in a few of your posts.
from the Spider: Make a big web and see what sticks.
Don’t be too limited in what you’re blogging about, especially when you’re just starting out. Cast a big net and talk about your interests, your areas of expertise, and things you want to learn more about. Experiment with a broad subject area until you find what works best for you.
from the Zombie: Nothing is really dead.
Remember that what you put on the Internet can live on for a long time. This can be a really good thing when you have a post that brings people to your blog long after you post it — capitalize on that by taking time to connect people to your other blog content so you’re more likely to keep readers who stumble onto old posts.
from Dracula: Be sure your work can stand the light of day.
It’s great to put a post together in the heat of the moment, or when you’re feeling particularly passionate about a topic. But, when possible, wait a few hours, or even a day or two, to be sure your passionate post isn’t too dramatic or emotional. This is especially true with negative posts — let them breathe for a bit to be sure they’re communicating what you really want to say.
from Frankenstein’s Monster: Don’t put something into the world before it’s ready.
Big stories, long blogs and series can be great, both for your readers and for analytics. But before you promise a series, make sure you have at least two or three posts that you’re ready to launch. Many bloggers make the mistake of launching a series without actually having the posts to back it up, and this doesn’t serve you well, since you can seem flaky to your regular readership.
from the Skeleton: Get the bones right.
If your blog is new, take a few hours to plan out what visitors might like to see. Even if your blog has existed for awhile, think about whether or not to make some changes in your basic structure. Do you need an About page and an FAQ, or is one redundant? Do you get a lot of traffic to a certain page that could benefit from a call to action? Thinking about the basics of your page may not be as exciting as adding daily content, but it could be essential to attracting and keeping new users.
from the Haunted Horseman of Sleepy Hollow: Keep your head.
A lot of blogging mistakes come down to a lack of old-fashioned common sense. Remember that your online audience is made up of people, and that paying attention to social cues can help on the Internet just as it can in real life. Don’t be unnecessarily mean and snarky, but do be quick to help, share, and to say thank you when your readers help you out.