This is a guest post from my friend, Joey Strawn. Joey and I met through Twitter and have since become friends. We even presented together at Nashville’s BarCamp this year. Joey’s a smart and funny guy – be sure to check out his blog connect with him on Twitter. You’ll be glad you did.
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This guest post will be co-posted by the one and only Bob Vila in order to expand on the ideas presented about building a quality blog. [Disclaimer: Bob Vila is in no way associated with this guest blog and would not agree to co-author this post.]
Building a strong, quality blog is a lot like building a house. Both take a lot of effort, need to be footed correctly and when finished can house ideas, memories, communities and even be sold for more than they cost to build. I’m not advocating starting a blog simply for the possible monetary benefits, I’m just being realistic; it happens sometimes.
Let’s get started. I’m joined by the one and only Bob Vila who will lend his take on these issues as we go along.
Hi Joey, it’s a pleasure to be here. You’re super smart and have a great haircut.
Thanks Bob, let’s start from the beginning. Any good blog, like a good house, needs a good plan, so let’s start there.
From day zero your blog needs a solid strategy. What will you be talking about? Who is your audience? What’s the point? What’s your eventual goal?
If you don’t know where you are going or what it will look like when you get there, don’t be surprised if the end result is ugly and uninhabited.
That’s a good point, Joey. You’d never start building a house without a good blueprint handy. Without it you wouldn’t know how the wiring affects the plumbing or which wall could support the weight of a second story.
Right, without a clear understanding of how all your pieces (editorial calendars, affiliate marketing, newsletters, etc) fit together, you can end up with a real mess and lose your passion a few months in.
Location, location and location have been said to be the most important 3 aspects to real estate. Guess what, they apply to blogging as well. Should you be on Tumblr, use WordPress, or dust off that Myspace page? Each area has it’s benefits, just make sure the one you choose falls in line with your strategy.
Darn tootin’ Joey. You wouldn’t build a beach house in the Andes and wouldn’t want to build a stilted cabin in the earthquake belt. Location is important if for no other reason than what will surround you.
Since there are many locations you can choose, here’s a quick list and descriptions of some of the main ones you might want to look at.
- WordPress – One of the most common blogging platforms around. WordPress allows you to use their free hosting or use your knowledge of HTML to build a nice, custom page from one of thousands of themes. I use WordPress and love it, but I know it’s tedious for some.
- Blogger – Google’s blogging platform. Blogger is nice because it will seamlessly integrate with many of the Google resources you may already use. Not as customizable, but a good place to casually blog about your passions.
- Tumblr – Tumblr has recently gained a lot of traction because of it’s ease of use. Tumblr allows you a place to share photos, blogs, microblogs and beyond easily on a customizable page. While it might not be viewed as “professional” as some other platforms, it might be just the neighborhood you’re looking for.
- Posterous – Posterous is slick and easy to use. The people I know who use it really like being able to post simply by sending an email. From my experience, I can usually spot a Posterous page pretty easily, but they are customizable and have a pretty dedicated following.
You can’t build a house without the proper materials and you can’t build a blog without the same. Widgets and plug-ins are important, but I’m talking about content and context here. The life-force of any house would be strong, quality wood, metal and stone just as the life-force of any blog is strong, quality ideas, writing ability, and context.
You said it! At the onset of any building project, I always make sure the right materials are in place. The last thing you want is to be 90% of the way done only to realize the first things you put up are already crumbling away.
After strategy, I’d suggest spending the most time working on this area. Once your writing ability increases and you are pumping out quality content, the other pieces usually fall into place pretty easily.
We’ve mentioned a lot of important things today on This Old Blog, but if you only remember one point, remember this: blogging is hard work. Like building a house, you usually get out of it what you put in. Make sure you put in a lot of quality.
What would you add? What materials do you consider vital?
About Joey Strawn
He is the President and Chief Awesome Officer of Empty Jar Marketing in Nashville, Tenn., and works with established companies and start-ups to help discover and utilize their Digital Personalities through online mediums.