RWR Mindless Chitchat: John Hawkins' Advice for Bloggers  

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

John Hawkins over at Right Wing News has posted some advice for bloggers. Quite interesting, and perhaps some food for thought ...

1) It's tempting -- even for me -- to get frustrated when some of the bigger bloggers don't link. But, don't let it get to you. Anybody with a big blog is busy and it's likely not personal if they don't link you.

Eh ... I got linked by The Rott within a week of launching this blog. It's happened since, as The Emperor found my research on the Florida Constitution quite interesting during the Terri Schiavo case. I do manage to get linked to quite a bit, but if I don't get the links, I've never been bothered by it. After all, the purpose of this blog is to put MY thoughts and ideas out there. If people want to link to me, great. Otherwise, who cares? My next big goal: Landing myself a home on the blogroll at The Rott!
2) Keep in mind that even if you get a link from a big website, the overwhelming majority of those readers won't be back. So although there are exceptions, don't expect to make it big off of 1 or 2 posts.

I don't understand the reasoning behind starting a blog in the first place if you're onjly going to put up a post or two and call it a day. There's always something to blog about, isn't there?
3) If you're going to be putting up multiple posts and then not posting for a while, put the best post on top. The number of readers drops significantly the further they have to go down the page.

If I'm not going to be posting for a while, I put a post at the top that says I won't be posting for a while ... and when my readers can expect another post, so they don't waste time coming to read reruns. I guess it's just me, but if I know I'm not going to be around, I want my readers to know when I'll be back.
4) On the week-ends, expect your traffic to drop by roughly 40% whether you post or not.

Interesting. I'll take note of that ...
5) If you're going to send a promotional email out to other bloggers, make sure it's something worth promoting and try to keep it down to once or twice per week if possible. Send too many emails or promote posts of low quality and other bloggers will tune you out.

As a matter of personal policy, I do not send out promotional email. I hate getting spam, and live under the safe assumption that others hate it as much as I do. If anyone out there actually wants to be spammed, they can go to another blog. I'm sure you can get it somewhere.
6) Find ways to link to other blogs -- a lot. It's flattering to the blogger being linked and it may draw their attention to what you're writing. Of course, that means they may link you back.

I do this all the time. If there's something relevant in a post, and I'm writing about it, it makes sense to link to it so that the reader can go there and read for himself. This is also important because I do not make any attempt to think for my audience, not even the Libs, Donks, and trolls that come here. I expect everyone to think for himself. Links aid in that process.
7) If you're an attractive woman, you can gain a lot of extra traffic over time by posting pics. Maybe you think that's sexist, maybe not, but it has been proven to work time and time again.

Being that I'm not a woman, and have no inclination ever to be, this is basically a moot point for this blog.
8) Keep your chin up when the post you're sure is going to pull in tons of traffic completely bombs. No matter how much work you put in, no matter how fantastic your idea is, it's always possible it won't catch the interest of other bloggers. Don't let that frustrate you.

Eh ... same concept as #1 ... I've done this, and had this happen. I'm an emotional person in many ways, but when it comes to my blog, it's just something I enjoy doing. it's not my living at this point, so ... eh.
9) Most bloggers who are making halfway decent money off of advertising today slogged on for years without ever making any serious money. Keep in mind, that will probably be the case with your blog as well.

See above.
10) If you're going to talk about something that everybody else in the blogosphere seems to be talking about, at least try to say something original about it. If you sound just like everybody else, why should anyone come back?

If I don't have something original to say, I usually confine my comments to the comments section of the blog where I found the information.
11) This one might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people (myself included, way back in 1998), don't think about it. If you put a statistics tracker on your blog, make sure it's on every page. If there's no tracker on the page, your traffic may be undercounted significantly.

I use a statistics tracker, but only to get a general idea how many people have been to the site, and generally how long they stay. If I'm undercounted, fine. It's not like this is my living, ya know? In other words ... eh.
12) Take it from someone who now sometimes pulls 400+ comments on a single post, if you run a comments section on your blog, make sure your readers have to register, have some sort of script in place to deal with trackback and comment spam, and be prepared to spend time moderating your comments.

I don't have enough comments to require registration. Maybe someday, but not now. It didn't take long for the trolls to drag me into Haloscan-Land, but there are times when I don't really feel I need it. I don't mind moderating the comments, really. Haloscan lets me play with them anyway, so it's actually fun sometimes.
13) Don't post your actual email address on the net or you may end up being deluged with spam. Instead, put your email address up in a way that people can interpret, but spammer bots can't. For example,

This is exactly why I do not post my email address anywhere on this blog, or anywhere easily accessible from this blog. In the few places I have been leaving it, there doesn't seem to be much problem SO FAR.
14) Create your posts somewhere besides your content management system (like Blogger, Movable Type, etc). It may save you having to rewrite the entire post from scratch if you hit an errant button (like refresh or if you click on a link and your previous post isn't saved in cache).

While I have had few problems with this, I definitely see the benefit. Advice noted.
15) Make it clear somewhere on your blog that any emails that are sent to you may be published. You will probably need to point it out to someone one of these days after you publish his email.

Another reason I don't put my email address out there for all the world to see.
16) Set a minimum level of acceptable content on your page each day and make sure you meet it (barring unusual circumstances) each day. Once you start slacking off, it gets easier and easier to continue.

Actually, I have already done this, and I usually post a message explaining the circumstances if I detract from the plan. For those who don't know, I post here usually every other day, more often if possible, less often if necessary. I usually do a pretty good job of sticking to this, and it gives commentors time to get involved between posts. On that same note, it gives me ample time to moderate comments as well.
17) Even if you only have 7 people reading, work like you have 7000 readers. Because if you don't work hard when you have almost no readers, you're never going to get to 7000.

Makes sense. Any outlet with a high level goal should be putting forth a high level product. That way, the product doesn't need to be upgraded to attract more consumers (or readers, in this case).
18) Take a look at the really popular blogs and ask yourself why those blogs have been able to build up a readership. If you understand why they've been able to build up an audience, then hopefully it'll help you do the same.

The blogs I read are the blogs I emulate. Big ones like The Rott and John Hawkins' own blog are models that I try to include in my style. Hawkins' blog does get a little cluttery, though, so I try to avoid that. Content-wise, these guys are right on.
19) Don't spend too much time in your comments section. The time spent there writing things that only a small percentage of your audience will see would be better spent making posts for your blog.

Someday, I'll likely have enough people leaving comments to worry about this, but in the meantime, there's nothing I can see that's as much fun as ClueBatting a troll in the comments section, especially if the RWRmy get's kicking on the poor slob. For now, the comments section is a huge part of the fun of blogging.
20) If you're going to be successful, you have got to consistently put out a lot of links or a lot of material day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year (unless you're as good as Mickey Kaus). If you're not pumping out either 10-15 links per day or 1000 words plus then you're probably not doing enough to ever get really big.

I'm big enough for now. One thing Hawkins left out, though, is the importance of commenting on other blogs. It's how people know you're out there. Not everyone knows how to use a search engine.
21) Before you respond to criticism aimed at you by another blogger, think twice. Unless you think you can get some traffic out if it, you feel the criticism merits a reply, or unless you believe it would entertain your readers to talk about it, why waste your time? You're just rewarding them with traffic for criticizing you.

The only time I bit my tongue for a troll was some sicko over at And I did so for the very reason Hawkins cites. Bottom line: If I can't clobber a critic's argument, i don't belong here. If they can't present a coherent, thoughtful argument, they don't belong here. I've been very nice to the trolls lately, though, I must say. (patting self on back)
22) Remember that a lot of bloggers tend to be very sensitive to criticism and even if you're trying to be very gentle about it (which is certainly something I don't always do), don't be surprised by bruised egos if you criticize another blogger in any way, shape, or form. I'm not saying don't do it, I'm just saying that you should understand that there may be hard feelings.

Eh ... I don't get hard feelings over my own bruised ego. If someone gets hard feelings over what I have to say, well they can kiss my ass. Of course, since George Washington, et. al. and the Constitution are the basis for my philosophy, said person can kiss all their asses as well.
23) Avoid blogging angry. It may save you a lot of grief.

Bullshit. I do some of my best work when I'm angry ;).
24) Everybody on the net with an opinion gets hate mail. Don't sweat it.

This advice may as well have come from God. I don't get hate mail in my email box, but I do get quite a bit in my comment section. Sometimes it's fun, though. Let's face it, folks. ClueBatting a troll or a commie is one of the most rewarding experiences a blogger can have. Ask the RWRmy!
25) Given that there are plenty of people who've been fired or disciplined at work either for blogging on the job or for something they said on their blog, the fewer people at your job who know about your blog, the better.

Amen to that, especially if your philosophy is opposite most of those you work with. Conservative bloggers who work in education, such as myself, are the prime example.

On the whole, Hawkins did a nice job of this. I do love reading his page, despite my criticism of the clutter I find there. Nice job, John!