As Casual Kitchen's readership has grown over the past several months, I've been getting a lot more questions emailed to me directly from readers. I'd like to address some of the most thought-provoking questions publicly, so I'm creating a new (and occasional) column, Ask Casual Kitchen, for that purpose.
If you have a question you'd like to ask, contact me!
Q: I'm starting up a blog to accompany my business. What are the four or five top suggestions that you'd give to a beginning blogger?
A: Here are five things I tell new bloggers, based on my three years' experience blogging here at CK and elsewhere:
1) Pace yourself
Don't let yourself get carried away with enthusiasm in your early days as a blogger. Establish a posting rate that you can maintain for the long term--especially after your initial blogging excitement wears off. A good starting rate is 1-2 posts a week. Stick to that for a while and see how it goes.
2) Keep a backlog of extra posts "in the can"
Have four or five posts ready to go at all times (or even already queued up and future-posted) so you never have to write something under the gun or at the last minute. Those last-minute posts are almost always substandard, and they'll be a burden to your readers.
Also, if you write an article that happens to be time-sensitive, you can always put it in the front of your queue.
3) Make it daily
Make a daily habit (and I mean every day) of writing or working on blog content. Set an easy goal that will at the least get you to sit down and write. A good goal that works for me is to write for a minimum of 30 minutes. And more importantly, keep non-judgmental track of the days you write and the days you don't. After all, what gets measured gets controlled.
This single tip will probably be the most important determinant as to whether you sustain your blogging efforts long term.
4) Make sure your work provides value.
Most blogs are forgettable or irrelevant because they are narcissistic and self-absorbed, or they cover already well-trod intellectual ground.
What can you write that isn't already being written? What can you teach your readers that they haven't already seen in a million places already? What angle can you take on an issue or subject that is new and different and will help your readers think differently? If you ask these questions when you sit down to blog, you'll increase the chances that your blog will become something new, different, and useful to your readers. And they will read you.
5) Reach out
Interact with other bloggers. Don't be insular in your blogging. Link to other blogs. Leave insightful comments on other bloggers' articles (but please, please don't leave comments that say "great post!" and nothing else--don't be a waste of pixels). Write articles in reaction to other bloggers's posts. Gather other bloggers together to do roundtable discussions, either virtually or in person. These steps will help you gain a following and your readership will grow.
PS: Readers, if you're interested in other thoughts on the writing and blogging process, have a look at my Quick Writing Tips Blog.
On Writing for Casual Kitchen
On Writing for Casual Kitchen, Part 2: Keeping Track
Blog Improvement 101 Links
A Sincere Thank You to Casual Kitchen Readers
How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by purchasing items from Amazon.com via links on this site, or by linking to me or subscribing to my RSS feed. Finally, you can consider submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, digg or stumbleupon. Thank you for your support!