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Do you want to be a superstar blogger? Do you want your posts read at the highest levels by the rich and powerful? Do you want to drive fast sports cars and elicit squeals of recognition from legions of fans? Do you want to give the keynote speech at CPAC while "Welcome to the Jungle" thunders from the speakers and the assembled conservative world rises to its feet to greet you? Then this post is for you!
If you follow these four easy steps, you too can be a Superstar Blogger!** I have spent almost a decade in the blogosphere and I'm willing to share with you -- yes YOU! -- the secret knowledge, the inner mysteries, the THINGS THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW.***
1) Fact-check ruthlessly. Nothing will kill your credibility faster than being flat-out wrong because you didn't check your facts. (tweetable) If your blog post contains math, check it twice. If you have a fact that seems too good to be true, spend a little extra time and verify it. If that means you have to make a phone call or two, then make the phone call. Get the facts right and what happened with this story won't happen to you. Of course, there's a chance you can post a lot of barely-sourced and speculative junk and folks will forgive you. Plenty of bloggers have built reputations on posting quickly instead of being accurate, but you really don't want to be one of those bloggers. Eventually their stars fade. Quality endures and a good reputation, as a wise man once wrote, is rather to be chosen than great riches. If you can't verify a fact, leave it out.
2) Link often; share relentlessly. Even now in new media, links are valuable currency. Unlike money, though, you can create limitless amounts of link currency (unless you happen to run the Fed, in which case you can create limitless amounts of money, too, eh Ben Bernanke?). If you can link to another blogger, do it. In fact, it's not a bad idea to link to bloggers more than you link to MSM outlets. Why should they get all the traffic? Help your fellow bloggers out. Even if you only get a few readers a day, you'll send a little traffic out and those bloggers will notice. Most of them will return the favor. Links grease the Wheel of Online Karma. Keep it turning in the direction of happiness and goodwill.
3) Push yourself. Did you know you have writing muscles? You do. They exists inside your brain and, like any other muscle, they get stronger with exercise. You won't become a stronger, more versatile writer if you only tackle the subjects you know well with the kind of posts you write well. Creative exercise is good for the brain. If you're not a great long-form essay writer, make a point to write one or two a month. If you aren't strong on economics, learn something new about the subject, then write about it. The stronger a writer you become, the more useful you'll be to your readers and the more folks will want to read your blog.
4) Write killer headlines. Did the title of this post get your attention? I sure hope so. I wrote it to get you here. The average reader (of blogs or newspapers or magazines, they all work the same way in this regard) when confronted with several choices, will always click on the headline that interests them most. Have you seen those "4 Ways Broccoli Can Help You Lose Weight" or "19 Chinchillas that Look Like the 1932 New York Yankees" posts? Very often, they're written from the headline down, meaning the author picks an attention-getting headline (or gets a good idea of a headline) then writes the post. In fact, I used that method to write this post. I had a rough idea of what I wanted in the post but I picked the headline first, then worked the idea to fit into the headline. Sneaky, huh? You can do just what I did (though if you steal this headline, link back to me. Remember your blogging manners!).
*This post won't make you the Greatest Blogger in the World. It will help you be a better blogger, and give you plenty of ways to share your Awesome with the world. All in all, that's not bad.
**Not really. There aren't any shortcuts to becoming a high-quality blogger. The tips in this post will save you some time and they are useful, but they aren't magic. There is no magic to blogging. If there were, I'd be headlining panels at CPAC and driving an Aston-Martin.**** (tweetable)
***Actually, they don't mind if you know. Heck, they'll help teach you if you ask nicely. They're pretty cool like that.
****I'm not. I drive a Mitsubishi.