Sunday, June 24, 2012

Post #900: Ten Blogging Tips That I Learned Through Blogging

In the space of two and a half years and 900 posts, I've gone from posting one paragraph, poorly punctuated reviews to (not to toot my own horn) being nominated as one of the best movie blogs around at the moment. How did it all happen? I got older. I got smarter. I could write more. Through the years, and all of these posts, I've learned some valuable lessons which I want to share with any budding bloggers. They're what helped me, and maybe, they'll help you too:

1) Keep at the blogging if it makes you happy.


Reading back through my posts, I had been blogging for an entire month and a week before I got my first comment. In retrospect, it doesn't sound like that was a very long wait, but that's a whole month and a week I kept at posting at every opportunity I could. In fact, it was a whole year and a half before I got regular readers. I'm not entirely sure how I did it, but even though my reviews were pretty sucky, I still enjoyed writing about movies when I was given the opportunity to do so, and having people actually reading them was the cherry on top. The best thing about the fact that I kept going was that I got a good idea of how far my writing - and my love for movies - has come in the past few years. It is always great to have a record of something like that, but only if you enjoy making it.

2) Give back to the community that is giving so much to you.


I admit to not being the best at this, but commenting on other sites is key. At first, it starts off as a way of making yourself known in the community. Then once you get the readers, make sure theystay. That means giving them some of your time, as they've already spent the time to give you theirs. Another way of saying "I appreciate what you're doing" is by linking their posts or putting them in your blogroll. Try and be nice and spark up a conversation - unless these guys are 'Anonymous' or purposefully trying to cheese you off. And always reply to your comments. These guys spent the time to read your post, so they'd appreciate a reply to know that you're not completely ignoring them. Even if the response isn't straight away, make sure it's there.

3) Write about what interests you.


I'm sure you've been told this one many times before. Why write about something when you couldn't care less about it? Because that's when you get careless, crappy posts. It is a blog, not a job, so therefore you can do what you want.

4) Don't post what everyone else posts.


What I mean by this is don't overload your readers with trailers or stills to upcoming movies that every man and his dog has posted about. I only find this justified if you're a real website, as opposed to a blog. However, it is okay when you have a bit to say about the trailer. I personally love the trailer posts that Ruth does over at FlixChatter (check out this one for Anna Karenina) because she has more to say than " It stars this person, this person, this person. It is directed by this person. What do you think?" Sure, "What do you think?" might be an apt way of promoting discussion, but make sure you contribute the conversation too.

5) Post a variety of stuff.


If you like writing reviews, then write them. If you like classic films and your blog is based around them, stick to classic films. While I know quite a few fantastic blogs that base themselves purely on reviewing (and that's how I started off), I'm not an overall fan of posting reviews day in and day out. So I say, instead of picking your poison, pick lots of different poisons. Look at new films, old films, trailers (but remember, promote and contribute to discussion), upcoming films, stars of films...the list of opportunities is endless. Also, if you're like me, a blogger not dedicated to one area of film, don't hesitate to try something new. That's why I'm doing the French New Wave series, particularly because I have a fanbase which loves foreign films. Next time, I'm doing something for another fanbase. Variety also works wonders when you write for specific groups of people.

6) Don't be afraid to be personal.


Even though I always feel guilty for posting them, I find that the posts where I delve into myself and how I am  get the best response. Likewise, whenever I see bloggers writing about themselves, I'm usually quite happy. That's because we're part of this blogging community where most of us are friends, but we're joined through a love of film. Sometimes we think that film is all we have in common though. While it is nice to agree on the films we've seen and compare each other's tastes, I always like reading about why people like movies, or why we blog, or those special moments that have shaped them as a person. Remember, it is a blog, not a job, so do whatever you want with it. And reviews that look at the personal connection instead of just lighting techniques and the like are always far more interesting. Also, find something that you want to be known for.

7) Be yourself and be original.

Unless you can be Batman. Because that's cool too.
6 & 7 go hand in hand. We're taught this lesson as kids: being yourself is the key to everything. If you be yourself while you blog, you'll be able to do something that someone else can't. When those big blockbusters come out and everyone is reviewing them, look at a different way to approach the review. Create a list idea that no-one has ever listed before. Come up with a new argument that people don't argue over that much. Or it could be as simple as fiddling around with photos like Sati does (and bless her for that - they always look so cool). The best way to get people on board with you is by doing things that they don't see everywhere else.

8) Make sure your blog is easy to navigate.


As much as I'd like to say that all people don't judge books by their cover, they do. That doesn't mean you need to make a huge widgety site with all the latest gadgets - just make everything easy to look at and easy to work. My simple tips:
1) Don't overload your blog with colour. Lime green and bright fuschia never did anyone any good.
2) Always have a review index. In alphabetical order. They're handy tools to have.
3) And a search bar.
4) Make sure you have a couple of different 'follow' options on your site. Like the Blogger follow and the Email follow. Don't just cater for one group.
5) Have all of your different social media profiles linked somewhere. Gives you more of a presence.
6) And one minor niggle that I always have: if you have sidebar images, make sure they fit to your sidebar, and they're all the same size.

9) Keep up the consistency.


This is a hard one to attain, but one that I've become obsessive over. I've realised that no, you don't need to post every single day. But don't be the guy who posts five times one day, then takes two weeks off, posts once, takes another week, and then posts 10 times. I stick to one post per every day I can post on because that's just the way things work around here. Also, if you can, set an area of time that you want to post in. Basically, I post every night between 7pm-11pm, because I like everything to run like clockwork. It may not work for you, but it works for me.

10) Be inspired.


This is a simple one: be inspired by the movies you see, the bloggers around you, the world around you. And then aim to inspire people yourself. Keep this circle of inspiration going.

I don't in any way claim to be a perfect blogger but these are the tricks of the trade that I've picked up in my last 900 posts. Hopefully someone finds some use in them.
What's some of your favourite blogging advice?

75 comments:

  1. WOO HOO!
    Shit man. I have like just over 300 posts, and that too because I haven't yet deleted my super crappy posts from my first year of blogging, when I didn't know what film blogs were.

    Good tips. I should incorporate a search bar in my blog. Just have to figure out how...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, I was reading back through my old stuff and I literally just think, "what the hell?" It is embarassing.

      As for the search bar, go to 'layout', then go to 'add a gadget' and find the 'search box' gadget and add it to your sidebar. Just don't stick it at the top of the sidebar because that could be used for much more interesting things.

      Delete
  2. Taking tips from a pro :D I may just follow a few of these - hopefully my blog gets better as a result!!!

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  3. Aah, just the shot in the arm I needed. These past few months the number of posts I've been writing have been dwindling. I haven't even been blogging for a year yet! I'll link back to this post when I reach my 900th. At the my current rate that'll be in the year 2019 or 2020. At that time I reckon you've already directed your 3rd movie, so I'm booking you for an interview for my 900th post.

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    Replies
    1. Don't worry, it has taken me a lot longer to reach this number than it has for some people! And okay, I am all yours for that 900th post :)

      Delete
  4. The advice I follow is do what you love and love what you do, and inspiration is everywhere. And by this point in my blogging career, I don't even care if no one reads/comments on my posts. I like what I do.

    Also, congrats on hitting 900 posts. The 1000th post should be fun when the time comes.

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    Replies
    1. As long as you like what you do, then that's all that matters.

      Ah, I wonder what I'm going to do with the 1000th post!

      Delete
  5. #8's specific tips are most agreeable to me. I greatly enjoy the FOLLOW options, the SEARCH and the high-contrast of Text vs Background - to me, making text easy to read should be the first concern of the designer.

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    1. Definitely. I'm kinda OCD over those sorts of things.

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  6. Congrats on your 900th post! I love your tips and they are really useful. I really want to make my blog design better, but I have no idea how to do it- technically and stylistically. I should make sure I have a search bar and some other things you mentioned there! Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! If you need a hand, I'm always here to help. It takes a while to get your head around but when you do there's no end to what you can do!

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  7. Congrats on the 900th post. And those are some useful tips. A lot of which I do abide.

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    1. Thank you. And thanks for abiding by the tips!

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  8. Great tips! I think #3 is especially important. Blogging allows all sorts of flexibility, so we should feel free to write about whatever we enjoy and not what is expected.

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    1. Definitely. Enjoying what your writing about it key.

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  9. 900 posts is amazing! I definitely agree with "giving back to the community" so to speak. Especially for those of us who's movie blogs aren't part of our "real" life. That's why I like Twitter so much, I think that helped me find a lot of other movie bloggers.

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    Replies
    1. Twitter is a fantastic tool for bloggers. I love the conversations that swirl around on there!

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  10. These tips are great! Thanks :)
    Only just stumbled across the site, but it's pretty amazing. Good work with the 900 posts, 1000 will be a crazy number.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. 1000 will be a crazy number, that's for sure!

      Delete
  11. This is a fantastic post and it's not an overstatement!
    Everybody must read it. All the points that you raised are important but what resonates with me the most is #5 -- I used to post only reviews and I know it was boring but something made me do it because I wanted to have LOTS of reviews. But it's indeed BORING. That's why I diluted reviews with quoty posts, acrostics and those weekly minireviews. I'm also thinking about bringing Lists as a weekly feature because personally I love lists the most.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!

      Yes, writing reviews is actually really boring sometimes, esepcially if some movies don't really beg to be reviewed - it is better to take them from a different angle. Lists are great!

      Delete
  12. Congrats! Very nice article with useful tips, thank you for the mention!

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    Replies
    1. You're most welcome. Your blog is awesome when it comes to visuals!

      Delete
  13. 900 is huge, nice job Stevee! This is great advice, particularly number 6, I never know if I should or not be personal - but I find that you're right, about everything you've said actually. You must host a party at the 1000th post!

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    Replies
    1. Personality is what drives a blog, and what I cling to the most. And I will definitely host a party at 1000!

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  14. Stevee, it's posts like these that give just the right encouragement when I'm wondering why I spend all the time on the blog. I agree with pretty much all your thoughts and have especially been trying to focus on #2 and #3 lately. Those are the big ones for me. Cheers!

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    Replies
    1. We all wonder why we spend lots of times on our blogs, but it should be because we enjoy it! And I think that those ones are really important. I wouldn't be anything without them!

      Delete
  15. This is a great post! I've been blogging for awhile but am just recently starting to get a little bit more serious about it (I was That Person from #9 for awhile) and have found that not only does it help my blog readership, but also my personal inspiration - turns out I work much better with some self-imposed rules!

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    1. Thank you! Don't worry, I was that person from #9 as well. But things did change. Self-imposed rules are really good when it comes to blogging!

      Delete
  16. Thanks for all the advice. It's nice to hear something encouraging about movie blogging. Love your site and your posts.

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    1. Yes, I think we need a little bit of encouragement every now and again. Thank you!

      Delete
  17. Wicked post. Some very good tips there, even though most of them are common sense once you've been blogging for awhile, I think these are super helpful for new bloggers.

    Congrats on hitting 900 posts, at this rate you'll be at 1000 before the end of the year. Exciting stuff.

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    1. Yep, I was aiming to help new bloggers - this is the kind of advice that I wish that I'd had in the early days.

      I will! It is a little scary to think about that!

      Delete
  18. Wonderful tips. I think I'm doing fairly well with most of them, but there's always room for improvement. Awesome work as usual Stevee.

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    Replies
    1. You are doing beyond well with all of them, believe me!

      Delete
  19. Thank you so much for these tips! A lot of them I've already considered, but some of them, like being consistent with when I post and alotting a specific area on the site for links to other social media, are really good ideas I hadn't thought of. Thanks again for posting!

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  20. I agree about most of what you say here. One thing I alsy try to tell people who are new to blogging is to stop obsessing over statistics. Some people are starting to care too much about the visitor numbers and how to please the audience and too little about what made them write in the first place. If you stare at the visitor counters and subscription statistics too much or if you're counting comments, you're bound to be disappointed and frustrated. Building up an audience takes years and years. And unless you're trying to make a living on your blogging, running ads on your site, I see no reason why you should chase numbers. What matters is the quality. I would rather have five loyal readers who come back and talk with over a long period than 5 000 anonymous clickers.

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    1. Yup, I wish people would stop obsessing over statistics, too. I admit to having a peek every now and again, but they don't mean a lot to me. I would rather have loyal readers, too!

      Delete
  21. I really have to work at #4. I know people want to see the trailers, but they can see them other places. I need to be able to provide people with things they can't find anywhere else. You do a fine job here providing that type of material and I look forward to taking some of these steps into my daily posting schedule.

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  22. Great post Stevee. Would it be ok if we put a link to it in the Lamb Forums in the section on "How To Build An Awesome Blog"? I think it would be really helpful for New Lambs to look at in the future, as well as the rest of us who may need a little inspiration from time to time.

    The only thing I think I disagree with is the Lime Green And Bright Fuschia. That's like half my wardrobe right there! ;)

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    Replies
    1. That is fine! Go ahead.

      Haha, same, actually! Jokes, I don't know if I own anything of those colours.

      Delete
  23. Thanks for the great post Stevee. My blog started as a personal endeavor, but I'm seeing the value in outreach and trying to do more (commenting, participation in the LAMB). Thanks for helping me Be Inspired. Hey, that's one of your tips!

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    1. I'm glad that you were inspired by this!

      Delete
  24. I LOVE these blogging tips as there's always something new to learn. Hey thanks so much for the link love, I don't post trailers as often anymore but yes I'd love it when people share their opinion about them if they share a particular bit of news about a movie, whether it's a poster or trailer.

    I totally agree about being personal. That's why I use my real name because there's a real person behind the blog, and I also try to call frequent commenters by their names as much as possible. You are right that I enjoy getting to know other bloggers better, I feel like I'm part of a blogging community who share our passion for movies.

    Thanks again for this post, you are an inspiration to me, Stevee. Keep up the amazing work!

    ReplyDelete
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