Tag Archives: blogging

Why it makes sense to publish your own blog even in the times of social networking

Recently, as you may all know by now, Google decided to shut down its RSS feeds management service Google Reader. For more information you can read Want to save as many RSS subscribers as possible? Before that it also closed down Google Wave which was a rage when it was launched (I remember people were running over each other in order to get an invite). And not just Google, you can find many instances where services closed down because either they didn’t have a revenue model or the couldn’t figure out how to make money out of them.

There are many who claim that since the arrival of social networking and various social media channels blogging is becoming obsolete. Though it is true that fewer and fewer people are blogging, now that they can broadcast their thoughts using Twitter and Facebook, blogging is far from becoming obsolete. But then this post is not about whether blogging is dying or not, it is about why you shouldn’t put all your marketing eggs in the basket of third-party websites and channels.

If you seriously produce content for these services you run the risk of losing all of it, or having to move it to another service in case the present service closes down. Yes, it can also happen with Facebook and Twitter although there is less chance because these services have matured enough and evolved into full-fledged businesses just like Google.com (not one of its services, but the main company).

There has been this trend among many people to write intensive articles and opinion posts and then publish them on services like Google Plus, Tumblr, Quora and other such places. There is nothing wrong in participating in conversations and discussions and writing detailed pieces for that, but if you are putting your entire articles and blog posts on these websites, you are benefiting them more than yourself.

Benefits of publishing content on your own blog

Your blog is a platform. Just imagine, if all the effort you have been making producing content for other websites had been made for your own blog you would have had a vibrant platform by now from where you could have not only spread your ideas extremely fast but could have also promoted your business in front of a loyal audience. Content, especially unique, well-written content, is an invaluable asset and it doesn’t make sense to build this asset on another platform.

Targeted content also improves your search engine rankings organically. It makes your website immune to the various algorithmic updates Google keeps on rolling out one after another, decimating business after business. Valuable content on your own blog encourages other people to link directly to your blog or website rather than to your Facebook or Google Plus posts.

Unlike on Google Plus and Facebook, content on your blog has a longer shelf life. Timelines on social networking websites move extremely fast and no matter how valuable information you have shared, if your target audience at that time is not online and on one of these social networking websites, they will miss your message.

The message on your blog on the other hand is always there. You can share the link again and again from your social networking profiles. It appears in your RSS feeds. You can share it with your e-mail subscribers. It is always there.

Do you think it is easier to share content on social networking websites rather than on your own blog? Not at all. Even a very simple blogging tool these days comes with highly evolved publishing features. Aside from text, you can easily post audio and video clips, create image slides and embed all sorts of stuff.

It’s also a misconception that a blog post needs to be more than 400 words. Well, ideally it does you good to have longer blog posts, even if you can manage just 100 words, something is better than nothing. Besides, you can always come back and add more thoughts later on.


What’s better, longer or shorter blog posts?

There was a brief exchange somewhere between two prominent bloggers whether it’s better to publish longer blog posts (1000-2000 words) or shorter (300-500 words). What do I advise to my clients?

Once again, what I normally do, I say it depends on the topic, or the need of the hour. I favor both long and short blog posts.

In fact length doesn’t really matter, as long as you know what you are writing, and how much detail is apt for your audience. What’s important is regularity and relevance.

Case for longer blog posts

Longer blog posts are good if you are publishing an analytical piece that has lots of information, lots of sections and subsections. It can be a detailed report on something. It can be some account of an event that happened at your workplace, or at a conference. It can be a detailed research. Such posts can be highly useful and they have a greater chance of going viral. Since they pack lots of highly useful information they also enjoy better search engine rankings.

Case for shorter blog posts

Shorter blog posts are easier to write and publish. You don’t have to make lots of effort. You can publish shorter blog posts with greater frequency. Besides, quickly publishing a couple of paragraphs is better than having no content simply because you don’t have enough time to create longer, more comprehensive blog posts.

Eventually, what matters is having lots of relevant content on a regular basis. Keep in mind that the fundamental purpose of creating content on your website or blog is keeping your visitors informed as much as possible.


My favorite content writing tool

Early in the day I was reading somebody’s blog post in which she had listed 50 of her favorite blogging and content writing tools. Right now I cannot access the post because I’m writing this from my galaxy tab and not my computer.

But if you ask me what are my favorite blogging and content writing tools these days, I’ll simply say Google Docs, and nothing else. And even the too I keep my editor window maximized (F11) and toolbar disabled so that I have just the editing screen with my text.

In order to improve my focus and eliminate distractions I’m rapidly moving towards minimalism and this also means using less and less tools. After all what do I have to do? I have to write. Whether I’m writing for one of my clients or for myself, all I need is an ability to type without much fuss.

So when I’m away from my computer I use my 7-inch Android tablet and google drive and when I’m in front of my computer I use Google Docs. Other than these, at least for writing, I don’t use anything else.

Of course for publishing I use WordPress but that’s not a tool but a platform. In fact, even for my main content writing website I use WordPress as backend.

Oh, and I forgot to mention GetPocket that was previously known as “Read it Later” or something. I use it not only to read useful blog posts and articles on my tab but also to compile content writing ideas.


How to bring conversation back to blogging

Today in the afternoon I came across this blog post in which the author asks, “Have conversations left blogging?”

It’s a pertinent question. Blogs are as much about engagement as they are about content. A big reason why blogging flourished was the readers’ ability to participate in the thought process. In some instances a blog post containing just a few paragraphs would attract 100s of comments. In fact there used to be so many comments that plug-ins and widgets were created to paginate the commenting section.

What happened then?

I don’t think much has happened. I don’t agree that it is the end of conversation and engagement in blogging and I don’t believe, as many do, that “blogging craze” is ebbing. Of course with the onset of social media people’s focus has shifted to other, I would say quicker, forms of expression, but people who were seriously blogging a couple of years ago, are still seriously blogging and they still have a serious audience.

Nonetheless, engagement has gone down and that’s because people’s desire to express themselves and to be a part of a community is being taken care of by Facebook and Twitter and other such social networking websites.

But it doesn’t mean that audience cannot be engaged on blogs. Create engaging content. Create content that makes people want to interact with you there and then. Stop publishing the same old topics that you were talking about last year. Even if the topics are same, as I talked in this blog post titled “How to help your business stand out with unique content”, you can always give them a new twist to make people interested in them.

Aside from that you can also focus on plug-ins and add-ons that bring features like Facebook and Twitter right into your blogging. For instance, some blogs like TechCrunch allow their visitors to leave comments using their Facebook accounts rather than having to create separate accounts.

Similarly we can have some applications that can incorporate Twitter interface right into blogging platforms so people can use their Twitter accounts to interact on blogs.

Why there is more conversation on Facebook and Twitter and less on blogs?

First, it’s the audience. If you have 2000 followers on Twitter you know that whenever you post something it is going to be seen by most of your followers. I know this is a misconception but this is the psychology behind the thinking. On a blog on the other hand, people wonder how many are going to see the comment. On the contrary your comments experience more exposure on blogs rather than on Twitter and Facebook.

There is another thing: a big motivation behind leaving comments on various blogs used to be backlinks. When you left comments on other blogs you created backlinks to your own blog and this was known to help your search engine rankings. Then search engines like Google stopped attributing benefits to this exercise and this impacted commenting adversely.

So now even if quantity has decreased the quality of commenting has certainly gone up because people leave comments to add value to the ongoing discussion rather than simply to get a backlink.


You have published a new blog post. Great. But what now?

I can totally relate to the overwhelming sense of achievement when you manage to write a complete blog post and then publish it after fully optimizing it and using the right images. But you know what, this does not ensure good visibility and exposure, whether it is search engines or social media/networking websites.

Once you have a new blog post you need to let the world know about it. Search engine optimizing is one way, of course. If you have a fully optimized blog post the search engines are bound to rank it well once they have indexed it. Is it that simple? With tough competition from legitimate as well as a illegitimate content, you stand little chance getting targeted traffic no matter how great your blog post is.

So what do you do to spread the word around? Many things actually? Some of them are:

  • Fill up all the Seo details like the title tag, description and keywords. By installing the All in One Seo Pack can give you lots of extra power, for instance having a different page title and a different blog headline.
  • Do a keyword analysis. With all the Google Penguin update confusions your confidence might be a bit shaken vis-a-vis using keywords, but they are still important. So make sure you have used the right keywords in your blog post and edit it if need be.
  • Post your new link on Twitter and Facebook (you have Twitter and Facebook accounts, right?)
  • Sort out your syndication. Make sure your XML and RSS feeds are updated.
  • Send an e-mail notification. You should definitely build a mailing list (this is not to be done after publishing the latest blog post – it is an ongoing activity) so that whenever you publish a new blog post you can send an e-mail notification to all your subscribers.

This blog post actually lists 12 things you can do (it’s an older blog post but I just came across it) after publishing your new blog post. You can use the things mentioned in this blog post as a checklist, although you should definitely have your own checklist too.