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Getting Your New Blog Off on the Right Foot: Thinking Content

2015 is here. What content should you tackle first on your new blog? Here are some ideas.

Image by D. Sharon Pruitt (CC BY 2.0)

In this post from The Daily Post archives, we focus on the content you should devote attention to from the get-go to make sure you blog is ready for the new year.

It’s the first day of the year. Time to roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath, dive head-first, grab life by the horns, and use up all known clichés about fresh new starts.

With that out of the way, it’s also time to blog. Yesterday, Michelle started you off with some tips on making your blog personalized, inviting, and easy to navigate. Today, it’s time to think about the content itself — let’s walk through the basic building blocks you’ll need to make sure your readers have something to chew on when they come for a visit.

Bear in mind that this checklist is the equivalent of a quick cheat sheet for new and returning bloggers alike. If you’re looking for a detailed, step-by-step introduction to blogging, consider joining our Blogging 101 course, which starts on Monday, January 5.

Intro post

Hitting the “Publish” button will never be scarier than the first time you do it. Which is all the more reason to get it over with and click away: that’s what an intro post is all about. (Writing an intro post is also the first assignment on our Blogging 101 come join us and other bloggers to see what’s next!)

Some bloggers feel like diving right into a specific post they’ve been thinking about for a while. For the rest, a good place to begin is simply to tell the story behind your decision to start a blog. You can also share whatever information about yourself you feel like, and explain how the person you are (a student, a retired chef, an expecting parent, an expat in Siberia…) affects the blogging you intend to do.

About page

Unlike posts, pages are static: they don’t get pushed down your blog as you add new content (posts are always shown in reverse chronological order). This makes writing an About page a great idea. It’s a place where visitors who just stumbled upon your homepage — or a specific post — can get a better idea of who you are, and, equally important, what your blog’s about.

You can use the About page to tell your story, show a photo of the cats you constantly blog about, or simply give a one-sentence motto for your blog: your house, your rules. Visitors can then decide whether they want to keep reading, follow your blog, or even interact with you about your shared interests.

Tags

A good habit to acquire as early as possible is to add tags to each and every post you write. Tags serve multiple purposes, but the most important one is making your content visible and findable to users looking for blogs on the WordPress.com Reader. As you write your post, think about the best words to describe its topic — a handful of terms, both broad and specific, is best — and add them as tags.

Tags are not only for your readers — as you develop your content, you’ll start seeing patterns emerge and discover the topics that engage you (and your readers) the most. For bloggers who start out without a clear niche, that can be a very productive process — even if you end up staying a general-interest blogger.

Media

Readers love posts that go beyond mere text — these are often easier to digest, and allow you to branch out by incorporating great content from around the web. You’ll have plenty of time to learn about the many types of media you can embed in your posts, from YouTube clips to SoundCloud playlists. It’s a good idea, though, already to master the simple task of adding images to your posts.

Images enhance and complement the written word, and give a visual break to your readers’ eyes. If you’re ever short of images of your own, a Creative Commons image search is sure to help you find some that you can use (make sure you give others’ images proper attribution, of course). There are many other online resources offering free images for your use.

Links

As you probably know already — if not, you’ll quickly find out — blogging is a community endeavor. To make the most of this incredibly rich network of smart, engaged people is to join in a discussion with others. This means referring and responding to others, which, in blog-land, often entails linking to other bloggers’ posts (as well as to content from the web more generally).

Adding a link to another post opens up your blog to a larger community, makes your writing more grounded and richer, and, if the other blogger is also on WordPress.com, sends a signal (called a pingback) to the original author that the post has been mentioned elsewhere. This sign of appreciation can often launch an interesting exchange (and, sometimes, long-lasting friendships). As your own pool of posts grows, you can also link to older posts you’ve written, as this adds depth and a sense of history to the discussion in which you’re engaged.

Feeling ready to jump in and write your next post? Go right ahead! Or, if you’d like to ease into blogging life more gradually, come join our Blogging 101 course. Either way, be sure to visit The Daily Post regularly: with daily prompts, weekly challenges, and a constant stream of tips, ideas, and information, you’ll be a pro in no time.

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      1. I’d recommend 1-3 categories per post and the rest should be tags. Categories assist with site navigation (although they also function as tags) and tags are there for the WordPress Reader (although there’s a great “tag cloud” widget for your blog).

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Think of it this way, Janet: a category is a topic under which different posts can be found. For instance, my first post on my blog is filed under European History.

        Tags briefly explain what is in the blog post under that topic. So if you have a post under the category Blogging Tips, you could have tags like SEO, promotion, writing, etc.

        Liked by 6 people

  1. Ah, kicking of the new year with a bunch of good intentions. It feels a bit like packing for travelling. Which things shall we take? Planning where to go. Off we go to our first blogging destination. I look forward to travel through blog-land with the blogging 101 next week 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I agree. One has to get the signal to noise ratio right. Less is more and all that. A massively parallel collection of babbling brains does not necessarily improve computational power 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I still get nervous when I push that Publish button. I know within whether I am writing a knock-out post or just a good one. I try to look outside the box and look into what others like to read, but mainly I try to remain true to myself as this way I know people are understanding what I am feeling at the moment I wrote the post. Happy New Year Day!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. The nervousness never goes away, no matter how long you’ve been blogging. But, you nailed the point of blogging: being true to yourself. Readers can tell when you’re being sincere. It’s like second nature. I think that as long as you hold fast to yourself and what you love, the process will not be as scary.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks for confirming my thoughts. I can always tell by the like and comment section reflecting back on my writing! I try to vary as I stated for others interests, but I do my best work when I stick with me and my thoughts!

        Like

    2. I get nervous every time I click publish, and this is my job! Getting too nervous leads to paralysis, but being a bit nervous is, I think, just a sign that you care deeply about presenting your best work.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. Excellent lessons for new or refresher. My only question is how effective it is to include video clips. They are very easy to include (thanks, WordPress genies) but my stats indicate that my readers rarely click a video link for either a song, movie clip or YouTube video. I agree they visually break up your written content, but I don’t think my readers find the video content itself of interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it depends on the blog — if they contribute to or flesh out your content in some way, they can be really useful. For others, they might not be that popular or helpful, and you can break up your content just as easily with still images. In my experience, they’ve worked best on more instructional blogs (craft blogs, food blogs, etc), and on travel blogs. But, your mileage may vary!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you! That makes perfect sense that videos would be utilized on lesson and teaching blogs! I have just begun using some video tutorials myself, but I typically use books for learning rather than blogs, so I hadn’t considered that aspect. Now I’ve learned something on the first day of 2015 😋

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      2. Also Sammy D., it is sometimes a question of slow internet, – I often can’t be bothered waiting for a video to download. Our connection (in Tanzania) is often unreliable.

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  5. Great tips. I just started my blog and I thought it was the scariest thing in the world. But I really enjoy writing and I’m not afraid anymore to show my feelings and share my thoughts. These simple guidelines will really help.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. Finally decided to write a new blog for 2015. I hate that its a little depressing. But i tried to end on a positive note, because I want to begin 2015 on a very POSITIVE note. Go read & let me know what you guys think!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Going to try and use some of these tips 🙂 especially like the ones about tags and catergories as it was a bit confusing starting the 101 course on monday although i have already published a few posts, but looks like it will help make everything clearer… i hope!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Thank you everybody for nice tips and also for questions that make it going.
    I have a question thought, for amount of free space here for blog. I tend to put photos with my text so I think I will run out of space in no time ( is it 4gigs?) so if somebody could advice what to do in this case ( I have started to link my photos on Photobucket or Flickr)?

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      1. Thanks for reply but I am thinking in total amount of space for blog not just for one photo. Is there eny solution? How do you guys manage it?

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    1. Any thought to including a contact form or other means to reach you on the about page? And I might be particular (and possibly biased), but I dig about pages that are structured – i.e. Me, My Blog, What I Write About.

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      1. Thanks for the feedback. Yes. I just added an email sign up, but have realized I do need to add a contact form for contact other than just wanting to follow me.
        My webpage which is linked in the About me page does have a contact form on it as well. Thanks

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  9. Based on your comments, I am glad I decided to register for Blogging 101. It is going to save me a lot of time and headache. I have already submitted my first two posts on WordPress. The response was quicker than what I experienced on Blogger. I expect this to make tings even better. Excited.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi There!
    I am a brand new blogger , writing about Software testing , agile and techy stuff at testwithnishi.wordpress.com
    I would like to know how and which categories to add to my posts , and how to use Tags. Please help!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good advice, even for us bloggers that have been going a while. I was particularly interested in your comments on tags, whilst I see that tagging has potential benefits, for me at least the downsides are worse than the upsides.

    The downsides being that when the blog is open to search engines in conjunction with using tags the number of what I call ghost followers that attach themselves to your blog increases massively. The amount of “rubbish” that began to follow me when I was using tags was incredible.

    People promising to increase my followers/exposure, health websites, dating websites, people trying to sell me stuff, the list is endless. And then on top of that are the people that add you never to be seen or heard of again. and you cannot get rid of them, they sit there clogging up your followers page.

    I know it seems to fly in the face of blogging, but I don’t want all these self help and business blogs following me, they are not there to read my blog in their downtimes, they are there to spam blogs hoping to get followers for their own blogs.

    I wish wordpress would supply methods of removing followers that we deem unwanted. There is no way to currently prevent this.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Another new blogger here. I have made an about page but can’t seem to figure out how to add a menu strong on top of the page (or any other option) so that I can make it easy for people to get to the About page.
    Also, how do you add “subscribe” and “follow” buttons/tools to the page?
    Thanks for the help!
    My blog is this one: https://frukozmax.wordpress.com/
    Any other tips people may have are much appreciated!

    Like