Blogging

Lessons Learned from My Previous Attempt at Blogging

Introduction

I have an old blog, www.stufftuanlikes.com. This was a hobby blog that I created a long time ago. It was a pretty random blog that had no rhyme or reason to it. I published posts there depending on what was going on in my life at that time. 

For this blog, I was not really trying to rank or write articles that were meant to impart any deep or reflective wisdom. The blog was mostly just for fun so traffic was not important. This was more when LiveJournal and Xanga were popular and people just wanted to share what was going on in their lives.

I want to use my old blog as an example of some things that I learned from it. So the focus of this article is to show you what I learned from that old blog and how I plan to make this new one better.

Make Paragraphs Short

The trend today is for people to consume information in bite-sized pieces. Bombarding people with tons of data at once is a thing of the past. People now prefer to read and take in as much as they want. So people are now reading articles that have shorter paragraphs with few sentences in them.

Give Your Readers Breaks and Rest

When you break up your article into shorter paragraphs, you are giving a chance for your readers to stop, think and reflect about what they have just read. This is important for your readers because it helps them stop and digest your information. From there, they can start to figure out how they can incorporate what they have read into their lives.

Shorter paragraphs give people more breaks to make sure that not only understand what they just read, but to see if they actually like it and want to continue reading. If your readers enjoyed what they just read, then will continue to read your article. If not, they will stop.

Ads and Commercial Give People Rest In-Between

Think about ads and commercials in videos. These ads actually let people stand up and take a break from watching their video. People can stand up and stretch, get something to drink, or move around a bit. These are the benefits from ads.

Apply the same concept to your articles. Give your readers a chance to take a break and let their eyes rest. This will provide your readers with a better reading experience when they do not feel like they are just reading a wall of text.

Long Paragraph Look Daunting

The problem with walls of text is that you do not give your readers any breathing room when going through your article. Longer articles are definitely in need of shorter paragraphs if you expect people to get through them.

Make Your Article Skimmable

With people already being very fickle when it comes to staying on your web page, you need a way to make it easier to find what people are looking for in your articles. This is why it is so important to keep your paragraphs shorter and skimmable. 

People like to just scan with their eyes to look for keywords that match what they want. Your keywords stand out more in shorter paragraphs. Keywords can get lost and hidden in long walls of text. This can cause people to give up on your article and leave.

Bounce Rate: Not as Important as It Used to Be

When people leave your page without going to another page first is called the bounce rate. The bounce rate used to be an important metric to determine how well someone liked your page. Now we know that some people get the information that they need from your page and just leave. This means that your page did its job, which is why a high bounce rate is not as critical as it used to be.

Keep Paragraphs Between Three to Five Sentences

The longest your paragraphs should be is five sentences at most. This is just a guideline, you do not have to adhere to this limit for all of your paragraphs. Just that after five sentences, your paragraphs start to get too long and become hard to read.

Three sentences would be a minimum for a paragraph. Again, this is just a suggestion. You can just end some sections with just one sentence like I do sometimes. It just really depends on what you are talking about and if it warrants longer or shorter paragraphs.

The good news about having shorter paragraphs is that you have more of them and therefore, you can give them headings. Giving your paragraphs headings makes it easier to skim through and help people find their keywords within your article.

Headings also serve as a way for search engines to know what your paragraphs are about and help with SEO. If your paragraphs are too long, then it becomes harder to section them off with headings. Less headings in an article means that people will have to go through large chunks of text that they might not want to.

This is why you should use shorter paragraphs to make it easier for your article to digest. This is something that I wish I had known when I started blogging a long time ago.

Spacing Makes Your Content Readable

You notice that with more paragraphs means that there is more spacing in your article. As a web developer, I know how crucial it is to have spacing around your content. Margin and padding are needed to make your content readable. 

This is what shorter paragraphs do. With fewer sentences in a paragraph, it means that there will be more spacing between your sentences. The goal is not really to cram content inside a confined space. The goal is to place less, but important content in that same space but make it readable. That is what spacing does.

Write Articles on Different Topics

I did write articles on different topics but some of them did repeat, mainly the fitness ones. The whole thing about SEO is that people are saying that each of your articles should target different keywords. I understand why we need to do that to prevent keyword cannibalization.

Not only is redundant content boring but then our articles start to compete with each other. My thing about keywords is that you might have multiple articles show up on Google because they target the same keywords. I know that some people want to leave their mark with a lot of keywords. It also does not hurt to rank more than once for keywords.

Writing About the Same Topics Over and Over Are Repetitive

The reason why this happened on www.stufftuanlikes.com is because I talked about my fitness routine and what I did one day and then another day. If you have a weekly routine and you are strict with schedules like I am, then you will talk about the same things over and over about your life.

So this is how I ended up writing about what I was doing at the gym and the fitness routine is more or less the same every time. It makes me think that I could have done articles where I talk more about what I feel or think about certain exercises like squatting or bench pressing. This probably would have been better than just pages where I tell you what goals I plan to hit on that day.

It Was a Hobby Website Where I Keep Track of My Fitness Goals and Marks

These kinds of websites where you do daily articles on what you do everyday will become repetitive. I just wanted to write and not do videos because videos are better for this kind of content. I just wanted to write because writing is a very quiet, reflective and pensive activity. Videos are the complete opposite, you have to talk a lot and constantly record your life. 

As you see on YouTube, a lot of people are doing “day in my life” videos. These videos show their daily routine for a week and you mostly see the same pattern because we all have schedules to follow. Again, I just felt like writing so that is why I want to blog instead of make videos.

Space Out Publishing Your Articles

When I was doing that other blog, I just threw articles out at random times. I actually checked the publish data on some of the stuff I put out there and they were published on the same date. That was weird, but then the posts were really short. They have to be around 300 words or something little like that. Definitely not the 2000+ word count you see on this blog.

Give Your Articles More Time for Better Quality and Thought

Back then, I was just writing for fun and did not really think about all of the things that I am now with. I just wanted to share whenever I felt like it and did not think about how much content each post should have. I also had a tendency to just publish when I ever thought that something was pretty much done and ready to go.

I never really dwelled too much and saw if I wanted to write some more on the topic before publishing. I was too eager to share right away because I focused on wanting to get my stuff out there even though I should have slowed down and become a little more thorough.

Do Not Rush To Publish Your Articles

Sometimes we become so obsessed with sharing that we just submit stuff when it is incomplete. This becomes a problem if you let it persist for too long. The reason why is because you will have tons of posts with very little meat and sustenance in them. When your posts are supposed to tell a story about your life, people are expecting more than just a few words.

When you just give a small snippet or you tell the ending without all of the details that got you there, you kind of leave your readers hanging. Is it better to have fewer longer posts than shorter ones. Too many small posts makes your users click more around your website looking for more to read. 

As a part of providing a good user experience, we try to limit the amount of unnecessary human interaction. If users can just get as much as they can without hunting and searching all over your website, the better. People who read a little here and a little there might not feel like clicking so much. Especially, if your stories are too short and do not give people much to read.

Summary

I shared a few lessons that I learned from www.stufftuanlikes.com that I hope that I will not repeat on this one.

Short paragraphs are easier to read and give your users breaks to consume and absorb your content in bite-sized pieces. Long walls of text are harder to get through and might make your users just leave your website. So go with shorter paragraphs and less longer ones.

I also wrote the same topics on fitness and I should have put more focus on a single exercise instead of just combining and generalizing them. Preventing keyword cannibalization is important so that your articles do not directly compete with each other.

The last lesson that I shared is that I published too many short posts so close to each other. Spend more time to write your articles. Prioritize quality over quantity because who seriously wants to go through a website with thousands of articles that are all tiny and short. We all want a lot of content to get found on Google. That content has to have some value and weight to it.

So these are the lessons that I have learned from my other blog and hopefully you learned something from this article too.

Tuan

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