Tuesday, October 22, 2013

indieBusiness: What makes a good blog?

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This is the second post in the new "indieBusiness Bites" series. The first one I posted here about the importance of a blog editorial calendar (which I want to discuss further on the blog - after chatting about it with Keri).  As I start developing my own creative business, I find that I have more and more to say on this "indieBusiness" topic - but I would hate to BORE YOUR PANTS OFF - so for now, I will keep it to posting bi-weekly- on Tuesdays. (Will see how it goes and gauge your response).
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(let me know if these posts bore your pants off)

Today's topic I want to talk about is: What makes a good blog?

Make no mistake - I am not a "pro-blogger" and I don't pretend to know everything about what makes a blog FANTASTIC, but I have been blogging for a few years now, I have read many (many) articles, books, blogposts about it and I've recently attended The Blogcademy in London which really solidified all the things I have already come to know about what makes (in my opinion) a good blog. Bearing in mind, that blogging (by nature: a web-log, ie: a log of your life) is an extremely personal thing and what one person likes another may not. So I'm just sharing what I know - and hopefully you will find it useful to apply to your own blogs.

What makes a good blog?

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1. A good connection to the internet.

I originally wrote this as a joke because for the last few days I have really been fighting with the internet. (In fact, yesterday I was unable to post anything and of course it was also the day that I had 10 000 emails to send). But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how true it was - not in the sense of having a warp-speed wifi connection - but rather - "being online". Blogging is about sharing and connecting with others online. You need to "be online" to be engaging and interacting with other bloggers, to be seeing what is current in the blog world, to build your social media networks, to establish yourself via different online streams: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Bloglovin. Think of these different social media avenues as you building your little online army - who you can send out into the internet world to capture draw people to your blog. The stronger your armies: ie: the more training you do, the more engaging with other soldiers, the more learning about different strategies and plans of attack you do - the easier it is for your little soldiers to bring people back hostages readers to your bloggin'-base camp.

How excellent am I at analogies, hey?!

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2. Pictures paint one THOUSAND words.

Take good pictures for your blog. It's common sense really. You don't need a fancy camera (although they really do help) - there are so many amazing camera apps that can really up your iPhone taking picture skillz. I recently blogged about Studio Design App- which is a whole picture editing/design-smashing app all in one. VSCOcam is another really good picture editing app. You already know about Instagram. (What, were you not paying attention above?).

HANDY HINT: DO NOT MAKE YOUR PICTURES SMALL. No one wants to squint when they get to your blog. No one wants to feel like they need glasses or magnifying glasses to read your blog. That makes people stressed out. And do you want someone to feel STRESSED OUT when they read your blog? No. Bottom line - make the pictures bigger. Also - make sure that whether they are horizontal or vertical they take up the same amount of space. There are free online pic editing sites that can do this for you. USE THEM.

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3. Quality, People.

Very similarly to good picture taking is "quality of posts" this can be applied to good picture taking, good content, good DIYs, good everything. A Beautiful Mess (one of my all time favourite blogs) is a perfect example of quality content. Many times they will reference to DIY projects that they have not posted because they are not "exactly right". They have favoured quality over "whacking it up because we need something to post". Their pictures are also perfect examples of good photography and photo editing.

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4. Find your Voice.

Blah blah fish paste - you have heard it all before. But lately, I have seen a lot of "lifestyle bloggers" fall into the trap of "lifestyle blogger voice" - which is exactly the same voice as the lifestyle blogger voice on the next page. Even that sentence was boring. Yes, we get it, you live a dreamy life. So do I - (when I have internet connection/my skin is not breaking out/I have enough sleep/I don't have to visit the dentist/have been getting enough exercise/am feeling on top of work stuff etc). Your life can be as dreamy as you wish to portray it. And that's fine, it's totally your choice if you wish to be a lifestyle-carbon-copy. At the end of the day, whatever you choose to portray - make sure you INJECT it with your own freaken' voice. Sydney at The Daybook blog lives a pretty sweet life if you ask me. (I have assessed that it is basically sunshine and roses all the time) but her blogger voice is so quirky, unique and interesting that you go back for more if only to read about "the girl with the perfect life" who gets toothpaste in her eyeball. Yeah, you wanna read that now don't you? So if you'll excuse me, I must get back to my perfect little cupcakes and bottle of champagne.

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5. Niche blogging.

Don't be afraid to blog exactly within your niche field. I'm sure you have heard your high school teachers drum into your head "write what you know". This can be in terms of interests, hobbies, experiences, work. YOUR life is completely unique. Granted, it may take you a bit longer to round up your ideal audience and it's unlikely that EVERYONE IN THE WORLD will love your blog - but by having a niche blog - you will really target the very specific audience to which your blog is intended and their affinity for your blog and content will be very strong. Pugly Pixel (another fave of mine!) is a perfect example of an amazing niche blog - Katrina blogs about blog design and shares lots of photoshop tutorials - which, if you don't have photoshop or a blog you may struggle to connect with it - but for those people who love her blog (me), they REALLY love it. Rock n Roll bride is also another excellent example of niche blogging.

6. Help others, fulfill a need.

Just about all of the blogs I have mentioned above fulfill some kind of need or provide readers with some kind of help - whether is be in the form of DIYs (a beautiful mess), tutorials (Pugly Pixel) or wardrobe styling (The Daybook). The list of blogs that "fulfill needs" are endless - even if you may not even realise that they are fulfilling a need of yours, they are: it could purely be satiating your voyeuristic nature, or providing artistic inspiration, or helping you with tips on creative business management or giving you a much needed LOL at the end of the day. Why did you click on this blog post? Because you saw the Blog title and thought that there may be some information which you might find to be useful. It is fulfilling your need to improve your own blog.

Have a little ponder over some of your favourite blogs and see how many of these things are true. Do you have any awesome examples of good blogs to share? Please leave a comment below or tweet me or pop it up on the Facebook Page. (Ps. There is a lot more I can say on this topic - so let me know if it is of interest to you :) and I also have loads more examples of good blogs to share!)

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In other news: by popular demand (woohoo!) we have re-opened The Photo Hunt ticket sales for another day - this is the last day you can get your ticket for Saturday, in Shoreditch - so snap them up here! I am busy working on the Hunt Task lists - it's going to be loads of fun!

In other, other news: I have a new main sponsor up this month - so go check them out! If you are interested in sponsoring indieBerries for the upcoming months - click here for details.


Anonymous said...

I love it! Right now I am doing my research on what makes a good blog, hopefully, I'll start a decent blog in the near future!

CityGirl said...

Awesome post Che :) I think its important to keep asking yourself "why am I blogging?" to keep yourself on track...You've definitely made me think about my blog with this post. I'm really enjoying this creative business series you've got going on here. x

Gaelyn Cokayne said...

So loved this and so needed it too, thanks so much Che! These posts have turned you into my blog guru!

Jabedi Mapping said...

Thanks for this. I now know that I need a few more squadrons in my army, a boot camp and possibly a photographer General. Great post

Che Kershaw said...

hahaha! I hope it's given you some inspiration to build your online army! :)

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