September 20th, 2010

A 12-step health check for blogs






Every now and then, I like to give my blog a health check. Visitor stats are the obvious way to see how a journal’s doing, but they don’t really tell the whole story. With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of questions to help me keep an eye out for potential problem areas.  I thought some folks might find them useful too, so I’ve listed them below, along with some clarifying notes:

1.  If my blog was a person, would I want to hang out with him/her?
What’s your blog’s personality? If a stranger read your last ten blog posts, what adjectives would he/she use to describe the person who wrote them?
Click here for an earlier post which takes a more in-depth look at this question.

2.  Am I ‘social networking’ or ‘social broadcasting’?
Some folks think anything they put online is social networking. I don’t agree. If you ask me, it’s only networking when you’re interacting and connecting with people, which requires two-way communication. Anything else is what I like to call ‘social broadcasting’ (talking at people).

3.  Do the titles/headers of my blog posts stand out from the crowd?
A blog post's title or header is the first (and very often, only) part of your journal entries that folks see. Do yours grab a reader’s attention?

4.  Do I comment on other people’s blogs and do those people respond?
Whether or not you comment on other folks journals (and the way you go about it) makes a big difference to your overall blog traffic.

5.  Do people comment on my blog entries?  Do I respond?
See above 

6.  Am I predictable in a good way?
Do you post on a regular basis? Does your blog have a general theme? Do people know what to expect when they visit your blog?

7.  Are my posts interesting? If I was a first-time visitor to my blog, would I want to come back? Why/why not?
Peruse your last ten entries. If you didn’t know who wrote them, would they be of interest? How does our blogging personality come across (see ‘If my blog was a person…’ above)?

8.  Do I post too often?
How many posts do you make a week? More posts don’t automatically mean more traffic, in fact, it can lose you readers.

9.  Looking at my blog posts over the last month, how many times did I link to someone else’s blog/website/article etc?
If a blog is all about the blogger and what he/she thinks, it gets old fast. A good way to tell if you’re making that mistake is to see how often you point your readers elsewhere.

10.  How do I treat my readers? Do I make them feel like a fan or a friend?
The tone and content of your posts and comments goes a long way to shaping a reader’s perception of you. Oddly enough, ignoring comments says a lot about a blogger too, and not in a good way. 

11.  Am I having fun?
If you’re not having fun, something needs to change. 


12.

I left #12 blank. 
How would you carry out a ‘health check’ on your blog?