Getting return visitors to your blog

Rick on his blog Shards of Consciousness has a post called “Three ways to get me back to your blog” where he highlights the importance of style of your blog. He says that light text on a dark background is a real put off for him. The text has to be very easy to read.

I agree.

If a blog or website has small white text on a black background I only stay a few seconds. If I don’t move on quickly, my eyes start to hurt badly. They’ve lost my attention.

Quite a discussion is happening on this topic on Rick’s site. Visit it here. (Sorry – the link no longer works.)

Updated November 2013.

Activity or Productivity?

Chris on his blog The Qwertyrash Blogs asks the question: Are you Productive or Active? (Sorry – this link no longer works.)

…years ago, I learned that there is a difference between productivity and activity. Productivity either makes you money, or directly has the potential to. Anything else is activity.

In BlogLand, productivity is writing posts and promoting your site. I’ll let you say putting ads on it, but that’s all. All else is activity.

Reading other blogs, while important, will not bring in any money. Making comments and links, also important, may bring in some traffic, but in themselves will not bring income. Productivity is mainly gained through posting and promotion, claims Chris.

While I agree with Chris I would counter his argument to say that, for me, reading other blogs is still quite an important part of my day. I am still very much in a learning curve. Each day I learn more about this thing called blogging. It’s my apprenticeship stage in the craft.

Similarly, just over a decade ago when I started writing seriously I went to seminars, workshops, subscribed to writing magazines and read every book on writing I could get my hands on. That was my apprenticeship in writing. Now I have a fair handle on the craft I am very selective in what I read or the seminars I attend. With my writing I am now in the stage of applying all that learning.

Still, Chris has a good point. Sometimes we are so active doing related tasks we forget the important basic aspect of blogging. Activity is not productivity.

Updated November 2013.

Aiming for the Stars: to Boldly Go Where no Blogger has Gone Before.

Aiming for the stars.

Now there’s a lofty goal. Aim high. If your aim is too low, you might just surprise yourself and hit the target, so aim high. I set high goals with my writing and my blogging, as well as many other aspects of my life.

Are Your Goals Measurable?

An important reminder about setting goals: they must be measurable. If I say “My goal is to be a better writer” that is not really a goal. How can it be measured? It is a worthy ambition indeed but not really a goal. If instead I said, “My goal is to write a post on my blog every day for a year,” I’m setting a measurable goal. At the end of the year I can test that goal and say, “Whoops. Only 23 posts – bit short on that goal!”

Take a Long Term View

Setting goals for today, this week and this month are important in many aspects of life. For the serious writer and blogger they are crucial. Without clearly defined short term goals I tend to mess around with this and that and don’t really achieve much. Staying focussed is all important. It gets things done.

Too often though, I get too focussed on the immediate, and don’t keep a big picture view in mind. I read somewhere many years ago that most people, when setting goals, vastly overestimate what they can achieve in a month, or a year, but vastly underestimate what they can achieve over five years. Writing and blogging are long term projects. You can’t write a best selling novel in a week (well most of us can’t). You can’t have successful blog in just a month. Take a long term view. Be in it for the long haul.

Group Writing Project

Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has us at it again. This week’s project is on developing goals for a blog. Two weeks ago many contributed to his challenge to write about The Habits of Highly Effective Blogging. I’ve had some interesting and worthwhile feedback from my contribution here on my birding site and also on some follow-up articles on this blog. I’ve been thinking seriously about my long term goals with my blogs (I currently have three – see the others here and here).

Where am I heading with these blogs?

What do I hope to achieve?

What stars am I aiming for?

My Stars – or the blogging goals I’d like to achieve by the end of 2008.

  1. Posts: To have written 1000 posts in each of my three blogs by the end of 2008.
  2. Income: To have a certain level of income (not for publication) per month by the end of 2008.
  3. Plan: To draw up a plan of what I want to blog about over the next three years.
  4. Comments: To respond to all genuine comments from my readers.
  5. Links: To make at least one link every week, more if possible.
  6. Read: To read at least three blogs of other bloggers every day.
  7. Community: To develop a community of loyal readers of my blogs by engaging them in conversations through comments, links and emails.
  8. Accountability: To be accountable to myself (through regular posts, links comments etc) and to my readers (through traffic and comments).
  9. Content: To write posts that will be of interest to my readers leading to increased traffic to and comments on my sites.
  10. Enjoyment: To maintain a sense of enjoyment through all of my writing.

Wait a minute, I hear you saying. You’ve broken your own rule about goals being measurable. Some of these goals will be hard to measure, so they will need to be refined, reworked and modified as I go along. I need some thinking time to work through the issues.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

I’ve just read an interesting article on blogging. The author on the blog called The Qwertyrash Blogs has written a piece on Blogger’s Block. This is just a blogosphere term for the old fashioned “writer’s block.” (Update November 2013: The Qwertyrash Blogs no longer exist.)

He suggests that there are two distinct types of writer’s block.

1. Writer’s Block where you are “bereft of ideas.” He includes some useful hints on helping to overcome this malady, including carrying a notebook to jot down ideas.

I don’t so much suffer from writer’s block, but rather “writer’s forgettery” – so I have a pad of recycled paper (used stuff printed on one side only) and I immediately jot down ideas as they occur to me. That way I always have a list of topics to write about in my three blogs (see the Links section for my other blogs). I also have a file on my computer listing all the topics I could write about in the future. This is a long list. I don’t think I’ll run out of writing ideas for a few decades yet.

That reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbs cartoon I have somewhere in my files. Calvin looks extremely frazzled and the caption says, “God put me on Earth to achieve a certain number of things. Right now I’m so far behind I am going to live forever!”

2. Writer’s Glug is the lesser known form of writer’s block. I love that term. So descriptive! He says that writer’s glug is “where you have the ideas but writing feels like walking through deep mud – quite laborious.”

Yeah – like none of us know what that is like!

The article goes on to give some very useful hints on overcoming this particular problem. My solution is often to get out and go for a walk. It clears out the cobwebs. I also take my binoculars and go birdwatching. This will invariably give me something to write about in my birding blog!

What works for you?

I’d like to read the ideas of my readers. How do you overcome writer’s block?

Updated November 2013.