This weekend, The Coaster Critic’s Blog turns 5. I never would have thought that my little place on the Web for “One Enthusiast’s Opinions and Experiences” would have grown so much. Five years probably equates to 55 years in the blogging World as many websites and blogs die off after only a short time. Rather than just puff my chest out and list the site’s accomplishments and milestones, I figured it would be good to give out some advice to new bloggers.
So many blogs begin dripping with passion and energy until the the bloggers burn out or give up. Here five tips for new bloggers from my five years of blogging.
Blogging Tip 1 – Post Often
It’s important to keep your blog well-fed by posting regularly. This seems like common sense, but it’s worth sharing. One of the reasons blogs do so well in search is because search engine bots visit them often because they know they’re often going to find new content that they’ll need to index. Fairly static websites don’t have this advantage. Remember to post often for search engines and, of course, for your readers. It’s even better if you can get in a routine so readers know when to expect new content. Themed days like Top 3 Thursdays (if done every Thursday) or the Wordless Wednesday phenomenon can help with post regularity.
Blogging Tip 2 – Get Linked
Without annoying people or breaking a site’s posting policies make sure you have links to your blog out on the Web. Posting comments on other blogs and including a link in your message board signature are two great ways to do this, just make sure that you’re actually adding value to that site’s discussions and not just commenting for the link.
Blogging Tip 3 – Encourage a Discussion & Respond to Comments
I’m not great about responding to comments these days, but early on I was. It’s a very important part of showing that blogs are a dialogue (at least they should be). Where traditional websites and other platforms/publications are one-way streets. So, when you write posts ask for the reader’s thoughts. I started doing my “What’s Your Take?” for just that reason. I know that I wasn’t the first theme park blogger, but I felt like blogs were still kind of new in the theme park corner of the Web. I wasn’t sure that the few readers who found my site knew that their feedback was invited, especially early on when I had fewer comments.
Blogging Tip 4 – Find a Niche or Differentiator
Whether you focus on drinking and food at theme parks like Party Through the Parks or take a humorous look at the amusement industry like Absolutely Reliable, your blog’s more likely to succeed if readers will find something different or specific on your blog. Some theme park blogs focus on certain parks or areas like BGWFans (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), The Coaster Guy (Six Flags Magic Mountain) & Amusing the Zillion (Coney Island).
Blogging Tip 5 – Remember That It Takes Time
The most important tip is that you should enjoy blogging. If you’re in it for money or fame, then you won’t last long. I’ve always enjoyed writing so I was happy in my first few years when I was getting very little traffic and almost no interaction. It was fun to just get my thoughts out and have a place to chronicle my trips and review and list my favorite coasters.
Ideas for the Future
This year I’ve rolled out Theme Park (You)Reports. Now readers can contribute to the blog by submitting links to news stories along with a short description. It’s been fun so far seeing (You)Reports occasionally pop up in my inbox. I even received a report only an hour after announcing the new feature. Thanks Ducky! I’m also working on a theme park photo book that will include each of the photos from Photo of the Week along with the blog posts and the best comments from each post.
I’d like to get back to writing more coaster reviews and I’ll have plenty of new rides to review after my Texas trip next week. But as usual, I’ve got a few ideas of new features and even side projects. The hard part is picking what I’d like to do the most and actually have the time to do. Let me know if you have any ideas for the blog. Whatever I chose to do next, for the first time, I’ll be showing each step of the development process. So, if you’re interested in seeing how new sites come together you’ll be able to see each step. The whole secretive thing with countdowns and cryptic clues is so 2008.
What’s Your Take?
Any ideas for Year 6 of the blog? Leave a comment below.