Blogging Best Practices – Checklist for Building Successful Blog – Part 6

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Checklist for Building Successful Blog.

I hope everyone has learned a little or a lot with me through this whole course.  Even if you are already a professional blogger, my hope is that everyone could learn something.  I love blogging and the point of this course was to make it accessible to more people – because I believe that it is something everyone would enjoy.

If you’re excited about starting a blog, here is a checklist for things to do to get one started.

  • RSS Feed or Email Subscription
  • Easy Navigation
  • Search Function in Blog
  • Integration with Social Media
  • Easy to Read Design
  • Traffic Analytics Tool
  • Legal Disclosures (Copyright, Trademark)
  • Social Media Integration
  • Intriguing Title
  • Interesting Lead in Story
  • Section (Header Tags) and Subsections
  • Precise Summary and Call to Action
  • Bullet Lists
  • Blog Length between 500-700
  • Inclusion of Image
  • Links to Earlier Relevant Blog Posts
  • Grammar and Spellings
  • Category and Tags

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, or have more questions about a particular topic, try out my course on Pluralsight, where I go into topics in much more depth!

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

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Blogging Best Practices – Frequently Asked Questions – Part 5

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have been following this blog series about starting and maintaining a blog, you might be excited to go start blogging right now.  But if you have a few more questions, let me get them out of the way right now with some Frequently Asked Questions. Here are few of the questions which I discuss over here.

Should I start Blogging?

Of course!  It’s fun, easy (if you love what you do, it will be easy), it is rewarding, and you could even earn money.

What if I get bored?

One of the biggest problems with starting a blog is losing interest after a few weeks, never posting, and slowly your blog disappears into obscurity.  Here are some ways to always feel fresh at blogging: change up your schedule.  If you find yourself getting bored, try writing at different times of the day, or even sitting at a different desk.

Some people burn out because their set their expectations too high.  If you think you’ll be able to post multiple posts every day, and write extra posts so you’ll always have a queue, you’ll probably lose interesting in working so hard and stop altogether.  Set a goal for yourself: one post a day, or one post a week with one extra as buffer.  Make a to-do list and cross off things as you accomplish them – even small victories will feel like big motivators.

How much do I need to spend?

You don’t need to spend any money if you don’t want to!  There are so many free blog hosts that spending any money on a venture you’re not sure you’ll like is a waste.  However, if you feel very passionate about your subject, invest $10 in a domain name so that you’ll have the best head start on internet stardom possible.  If you don’t want to invest any, or if you’re saving your money – spend what you can afford, even if it’s $0.

What do I write?

So you’ve started a blog and now you want to know what to write.  I’m afraid you might have done things a little backward – it is best to choose a topic for your blog, and THEN start the blog.  If it’s too late for that – try not to overthink it.  Write about whatever you want, it’s YOUR blog.  Don’t stress too much about making that first post perfect – you should write about five or ten posts and post them all at once, so no one is going to go back to your first post and think “pffft, what a silly idea!”

He are few of the question which I discuss in depth in the Pluralsight course.

  • How long should it take to write a post?
  • What if I get bored?
  • How much do I need to spend?
  • What do I write?
  • The name I wanted is taken. Now what?
  • Someone is stealing my posts! Help!
  • How long should my posts be?
  • Should I be on a writing schedule?
  • Will I have more readers the more often I post?
  • How can I promote my blog?
  • How many visitors am I getting? Am I popular yet?
  • What is SEO? Should I be worried about it?
  • Can I switch blog hosts? What if I want to switch later?

There are so many more questions out there, I know.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

Blogging Best Practices – Blogging Rules, Ethics and Etiquette – Part 4

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Blogging Rules, Ethics and Etiquette.

To have a successful blog, your posts should be interesting, you probably would like to have a large audience, and you want to provide quality content to the subject.  However, to be truly successful, you also ought to follow a few ethical rules, as well – your blog might be popular, but if you are just plagiarizing from a less well-known source, your success is not honestly won, and not truly your own.

Legal Issues

One of the biggest issues that bloggers ought to keep in mind is copyright law.  It can be very easy when blogging to get excited about an article, idea, or photo, and immediately post a glowing review of it to your blog – only to get in trouble when the author or owner stumbles across it.  Shouldn’t they be happy with your free advertisement?  Shouldn’t they appreciate the business you are sending your way?  Unfortunately, discriminating between a blogger who is trying to help and one who is trying to pass off this cool new information as their own can be difficult to determine.  If you want to post something someone else created – text, photos, videos, music – CITE YOUR SOURCES!  Provide links, and ask permission – they may be able to provide a copy of that photo you love, but with their personal watermark.

Right now it might be feeling like posting anything on your blog can be a dangerous proposition.  How can anyone post a picture on their blog without getting sued?  This problem has a flip side – freelance photographers will also have trouble getting their work out there.  That is where Creative Commons stepped in.  It is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing licenses and legal protections to artists’ work – any element, which includes designs, photographs, logos, you name it.  There are six different kinds of licenses, and they protect and restrict in different ways.  There are now hundreds of websites that provide Creative Commons images for free or a small fee, and they do the legal footwork for the bloggers.  Everyone wins!

Privacy

User privacy is a huge issue.  With the abundance of spam and spammers out there on the internet, all users are rightfully careful about protecting their private information.  Gathering private information about your readers without their knowledge is strictly prohibited, and you could be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Spreading or, worse, selling information given to you willingly – such as a form filled out to become a commenter – without the commenter’s knowledge or permission, is also strictly illegal.  Even if you are gathering e-mail addresses from readers to send out a weekly newsletter, please be sure to provide an opt-in or opt-out box, so that there is no question of whether your readers were spammed by you or received a desired e-mail from you.

Ethics and Etiquette

This is my favorite subject and there are so many to discuss. There are many does and don’ts to do for blogging. Online behavior of any person represents a lot about them. There are other rules to keep in mind while blogging, especially my “grandma rule”. It will be not possible to write about everything which I discuss in the course over here so I suggest you head over to Pluralsight course and read them in detail.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

Blogging Best Practices – Writing an Interesting Blog – Part 3

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Writing an Interesting Blog.

Getting Started

Is writing an interesting blog so simple that I can just TELL you how to do it right now?  Almost!  I’m sure you started your blog because you had something you felt you had to write about.  But now you’ve created the site and are staring at a blank page that represents all the millions of different directions you can go with this new idea.  Just remember as you write – if you wanted to write about it, there are certainly a few people who want to read it.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Write what you would want to read.  You started this blog because you probably felt that there was something more you could personally add the subject, or that wasn’t being addressed.  There is surely a subject that gets you really hot under the collar (in a good way or a bad way).  This will always make an exciting blog post.  It’s something you wanted to read about and couldn’t find – so write about that!

Create a picture in your mind of who you think is reading your blog – or who you’re like to read your blog.  You can even come up with a cast of characters who you think would be interested.  Each one will be different and have different interests – and then you can write posts to these imaginary readers.  The larger the cast, the more ideas who will be able to generate.

Writing an Interesting Post

Some of the best orators start out with a story, and then link back to the original topic in a unique or interesting way.  This captures the audience’s attention at the very beginning, and then they are along for the whole ride.  Here is how to capture this same magic in your blog posts.

Ask a question at the very beginning.  Here is an example: how can you write the most amazing blog post of all time?  Well, this question certainly is leading the readers to think they are about to find out!  Don’t overuse this technique, it can seem hackneyed and old, but used in the right context it can be very effective.

Here are two tricks of many I discuss in my course.

Start with action – A lone blogger, in front of a flickering computer screen, with an unknown fate – to prevail in the face of writing a blog post, or to crumble under the pressure.  This is obviously a little bit too melodramatic for an average blog post, but you get the idea.

Paint a Picture – I don’t mean literally, of course.  But if you can paint a picture with words: the dark night sky was sprinkled with tiny stars, but I knew I could see dawn on the dusky horizon.  Very soon, my blog post would be due.  Long descriptions may not work for the average technical blog, but there are certainly ways to work them in.

If you are really stuck and are staring at a blank screen because you can’t think of a catchy intro, just start writing and worry about it later.  You can even write your last paragraph, and work backwards from there.  Eventually you will get into the swing of writing and the introduction will come naturally.

Make Your Blog Scannable

A scannable blog is a readable blog.  It does not mean that readers will stop by, scan for 15 seconds and leave – it means that readers will stop by, scan for 15 seconds, easily find a topic of interest, and stay – maybe becoming permanent readers!  You have to remember – people tend to read blogs in-between doing other things.  Blogs have to be quick and easy to read so that they can get back to work, minding their children, or cooking dinner.  Having an easily scannable blog will make your blog more likely to become a popular stopping place for readers.  So what makes a blog scannable? Well, that is the secret I talk about in my course.

In my course on Pluralsight, I also include information about writing a post from beginning to end, and overcoming the biggest of all bloggers fears: blogger’s block.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

Blogging Best Practices – Getting Started with Blogging – Part 2

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Getting Started with Blogging.

Choosing a Blog Host

If you’ve recently decided to start blogging, the very first thing you have to decide on is which hosting service to use.  There are many blog hosts: Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, to name just a few.  With so many options, how can you choose?

There are a few criteria to keep in mind when choosing a blog host. What is the purpose of this blog?  If it a personal website, you don’t need anything too technical or one that is uniquely designed for you.  However, if you are starting a blog for a business, you will want to make your blog look unique and stand out from the crowd – and you don’t want to run into trademark issues later.

Customizability and technical abilities are also something to think about.  If you want your blog to have the perfect shade of blue and a special font, you will want a blog host with those options – but if you don’t feel comfortable coding in HTML, make sure your blog host takes care of those technical details for you!  Your budget will play into these considerations.  Many blog hosts are completely free – but these are often the kind of “cookie cutter” blogs that all look identical.  If you want something tailored to you, you can expect a monthly fee.

Choosing a Domain Name

Choosing a domain name is no easy task.  Some people might say its the hardest part of starting a blog or website (and I do not recommend thinking up a name and then choosing what to blog about).  However, if the millions upon billions of websites already on the internet are any indication, you will be able to think of a domain name.  Here are some general rules to stick with:

Use keywords.  Search engines use keywords to find your site and bring it up during searches.  These keywords are generally found in the content of your site – but these search programs check your domain name, too!  Use a “.com” address at all costs.  If your only option with a certain name is to choose .net or .biz, scrap the name and start over.  These suffixes scream “I don’t know what I’m doing!”

Make it easy for your readers to find you again – make your domain name obvious.  It should be easy to spell, because 90% of individuals are terrible spellers, and avoid unnecessary additions at all costs.  These additions include “z” instead of “s”, hyphens (cool-website-look-here.com is terrible!), numbers instead of letters (especially the letter 0, which is easily confused with “o”), and slang or purposely misspelled words.

Design Elements

Lets talk about the real details of blog design.

As I mentioned, a dark background and light font almost never looks good.  Start off with basic colors at first, and then branch out.  A good rule of thumb is that your blog should have no more than three colors, and they should blend well together.  A white background, black text, and a bright color for headlines, titles, etc will look very nice and can easily be customized down the road.

Be just as careful when choosing a font.  When you’re designing your blog, the thought of using Times New Roman or Arial might seem so boring you just want to scream.  But those fonts are universal for a reason – they are easy to read.  If your font is so unique that it is distracting, your content is not what people will remember.  Unless you are writing a blog about funny fonts, stick with something simple.

Be sure to leave a decent amount of space between posts, or add a divider between posts so that readers won’t get confused.  This kind of ritual will actually make readers feel more comfortable – it is a steady, comforting presence.  Menus and links will help keep your blog organized and navigable.  They can reassure readers that your blog has a strong history of posts, and is not just another newcomer that will be here today but gone tomorrow.

Well, there are few more interesting tips as well, which I have discussed in depth in my Pluralsight Course.

Comments – Yea or Nay?

Most blog hosts allow commenting on individual posts or the blog as a whole.  Some will also provide the option to allow comments at all.  If you have ever stumbled into a nasty blog fight, it might give you pause to allow this kind of risk on your own blog, but there are so many benefits to allowing comments.  First of all, it allows you to build a community of like-minded individuals.  Commenters will interact with your material as well as each other.

Of course, the downside of comments is the spam.  It can be mean commenters, people trying to stir up trouble, or just your average spammer trying to get their links clicked.  Because spam is such a widespread problem, any blog host that allows comments will also have a way to deal with the spam.  It can mean screening all comments, or simply keeping on top of comments and deleting the spam.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

Blogging Best Practices – Concepts, Ideas and Motives – Part 1

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Getting Started with Blogging.

Thinking about starting a blog? Confused about the entire idea of blogging?  I have created a course on Pluralsight relating to this very issue.  Let’s start with the easy questions: what is the difference between a blog and a website?  Websites are static sites with a single purpose.  A blog is a type of website – one that is dynamic and always changing when you post and update.  Websites and blogs are similar because they are both addresses on the internet, and a way to connect to the public.

Website or Blogs

Websites and blogs have different purposes, uses, and audiences.  Websites are good for businesses or individuals with a product to sell.  They act as a store front – they welcome the public, and stay the same over time so that their products are easy to find.  Blogs are more dynamic.  You can update a blog every day, or multiple times a week, to keep in touch with your audience.  This is like having a conversation with interested parties, and form a network or community of like-minded individuals.

Deciding to blog can be a difficult decision – there are many pros and cons.  Blogs can be a challenge to set-up, and require maintenance.  But for me, the pros far outweigh the cons!  You get to talk about something you love, meet people with similar interests, and be in charge of your own “brand.”

Different Types of Blogs

There are a huge variety of blogs, and many different types of bloggers.  Blogs fall into a few main categories: technology, personal, photography, automobile, and corporate.  I consider technology blogs to be anyone, professional or amateur, who talks about technology – hardware, software, highly specialized, or very general.

Personal blogs are the kind that are about people’s personal interests.  This can be children, religion, crafting, or even just day-to-day updates.  Photography blogs can cover a wide variety (even personal and technology), but tend to be mainly high quality photographs taken by professional who want to share their work, or amateurs who are trying to get better and would like feedback.

Automobile blogs can cover any sort of vehicle or interest.  They are often highly technical about one specific type of car, truck, boat, or sport.  Corporate blogs are professional blogs, run by companies.  They often have multiple authors, and are updated multiple times a day – or at least when breaking news about the company or product becomes available.

As many different types of blogs as there are, there are an equal number of types of bloggers.   I like to divide them into four easy categories (often with a lot of cross-over).

Different Types of Blogger

Professional: these are bloggers who blog for a living.  Maybe they work for a company and run the corporate blog.  Maybe they created their own personal blog that became extremely popular and generates a lot of income.  No matter how they got there, they are extremely successful and have found the magic button for becoming great bloggers.

Amateurs: this obviously covers most blogs.  These people blog for the sake of blogging, because they love a topic or want to share their expertise.  Everybody starts an amateur, and can progress to any of these other types of bloggers.

Artists: these bloggers can be amateurs or professionals.  They might be photographers, or simply good at painting a picture with their words.

Multi-author blogs: any type of blog can be a multi-author blog.  Some blogs start out with more than one author, because they want multiple opinions, an individual can’t keep up with the amount of writing required, or because a group of friends has a similar interest and wants to start a blog.  More commonly, a blog explodes in popularity and needs a team of writers to keep up with the traffic.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

Blogging Best Practices – Pluralsight Online Course Based on My Experience

I have been blogging for more than 6.5 years and I have so far written over 2500 articles on this blog and every blog has been journey itself. Over six years I have not missed any single blog and no matter what happens I keep on blogging every day, month after month and year after year. This demonstrates how much I love to blog and engage with all of you. I honestly love all of you and respect a lot when you engage with me on this blog.

During this journey, one of the most common suggestion I received was that I should write about how to build a successful blog. I have been delaying to write this subject for a long time, the reason was simple – I still see that I have a long way to go before I call myself successful.

Short Life Span

However, every single day I see new blogs coming up and some of them are so good that I immediately subscribe to them. Today when I go back to the my subscription list, I see out of the big list there are very few blogs are active. Some of the blogs are deserted and some of them are just dead. There are few blogs so good that I really wish the author was still engaged on the blog and writing the interesting content everyday.

Due to any reason I see not all great blog continuing their journey. The most common reason I see is that blog author has lost motivation to write due to lack of interest or getting busy in their other daily activities. Here is my question to you – if we can clean our teeth everyday, why can’t we blog everyday?

Recent Motivation

In the month of February I attended Pluralsight Author Summit. On the very last day at the event, I went to Snow Basin for skiing. Well, I do not know skiing but it is indeed fun to hang around with friends. During the  event, Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard suggested that I should write a blog about how to build a successful blog as it many would be interested in reading about the secret behind building such a large audience and interesting stories. I absolutely see reason and logic behind what Aaron suggested and I decided to build a video course over this subject.

Building a Successful Blog

Here is the link to Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog. There are a total of six modules in this course. I have carefully build each module keeping beginners and experts both in mind. Each module attempts to answers questions for beginners as well as expert in this field. Blogging is such a wide area that it is hard to know everything for everybody. During my journey of over six years I believe there are so many lessons that I have just learned in my recent years. My goal is that I give everything I know to the community and later community can build their own successful blog on the lessons and learning I have shared to them.

Here are modules of the Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog

  • Introduction
  • Blogging Concepts, Ideas and Motives
  • Getting Started with Blogging
  • Writing an Interesting Blog
  • Blogging Rules, Ethics and Etiquette
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Checklist for Building successful Blog

In the next week, I will be discussing writing one blog post for each of the subject to touch base about them. I will give a quick insight about the content which I have covered in the course. I will be linking each of the above topics as blog posts are published on the blog.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)