It’s been two weeks since the end of the annual WordCount Blogathon, where writers and bloggers took the challenge to post every month during May.
It’s taken me this long to catch my breath and put things into perspective.
Here are 31 lessons from blogging 31 days in a row:
1. Blogging every day is hard, otherwise more people would do it.
2. If it’s not a paid gig or a blog you run as a money-making venture, you really don’t need to blog every day – but a periodic challenge like a blogathon is a good way to focus on where your blog is today and how you want to make it better.
3. When it comes to ideas for posts, have a plan.
4. That plan could be as simple as a calendar for plotting out a month’s worth of posts at a time.
5. Any plan should have room for inspiration – you never know when you’ll read or see something and a fully formed post will pop into your head.
6. When inspiration strikes, write it down, preferably in drafts mode in your blog editor.
7. Pre-writing posts makes all the difference.
8. If you post on weekends, pre-write Saturday and Sunday posts during the week – just because you’re posting every day doesn’t mean you have to write every day.
9. Theme days, where you write the same type of post on a certain day of the week, are an easy way to come up with material. On WordCount, I reserve Fridays for Recommended Reading posts, lists of interesting articles I’ve come upon that week.
10. Running more than one type of theme day per week is OK too. During the Blogathon, in addition to Friday’s Recommended Reading posts, I did Around the Blogathon posts on Saturdays to showcase interesting things other blogathoners had written that week, and Best of WordCount posts on Sundays, lists of older posts on a common subject.
11. If you’ve ever worked in the news business, you’ve had experience with daily deadlines and that gives you a leg up on the whole daily posting game – but it’s still hard.
12. Blogging every day is a great way to show a publication you’re applying to for a paid blogging gig you can handle deadlines.
13. All blog posts are not created equal.
14. It’s enough to do one or two long posts per week on an original concept or something you put a lot of reporting, thought or time into.
15. On the other days, shorter, less substantial posts are good enough.
17. Not every post has to be serious, but it’s harder than it looks to be funny (at least for me).
18. If you want comments ask for them – add a question to the end of a post asking readers to share their thoughts or experiences.
19. Run polls, people love to vote on things.
20. Hold special events. One of the highlights of this year’s blogathon was the day everybody wrote haiku.
21. Be part of a community. If you blog on a particular subject, find other bloggers who write about the same thing and introduce yourself.
22. If you want people to comment on your blog, comment on theirs.
23. Include links in your posts.
24. Make sure some of those links are to your older posts.
25. Use Twitter and Facebook to promote your blog posts.
26. But don’t use Twitter and Facebook only to promote your blog, too spam-y.
27. Keep blog post titles straightforward – get too cutesy and search engines won’t be able to figure out what your post is about.
28. But don’t worry about SEO too much – good quality writing trumps SEO-enabled copy any day of the week.
29. If you’re starting a blog, think long and hard about your blog’s name. Pick something memorable – not too long, not too short, and not something that’s already taken, so your blog doesn’t get mixed up with someone else’s. A tag line is good – it’s another clue to what the blog’s about.
30. It OK to write about your personal life – if you have something universal to share or your execution is dramatic, off beat or otherwise attention getting. Give people a reason to visit.
31. Check your blog stats to see the types of posts readers gravitate to so you can do more of them.
In case you missed it the first time, here are more reflections from writers and bloggers on what they learned from this year’s WordCount Blogathon.