The Huffington Post Guide to Blogging: A Book Review
“When you blog, you have to invest money or time,” experts often explain.
You don’t have to invest money, and you certainly don’t have to invest time. You have me!
One of the reasons blogging is so time-consuming is we must research before we publish in order to provide credibility for our readers.
I have done that research for you. I read The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging.
Boasting a readership of 113 million visitors each month, the editors of the Huffington Post know what it takes to run a successful blog.
This post will report on the blogging and social media tips the book offers for bloggers.
I am as time-challenged as anyone, but when my friend and fellow blogger Yen recommended the book, I knew I had to give it a read.
Arianna Huffington, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, announced this month she is leaving the online publication. It seems a fitting time to review the Huffington Post Guide to Blogging.
This article reviews Part I of the book, “The Nuts and Bolts of Blogging”.
The award-winning Huffington Post is one of the most famous blogs on the planet. It started solely as a political blog, and now its content is more diverse.
The book is broken into five parts:
- Welcome to the World of Blogs
- Getting Started
- Getting Noticed
- Finding Your Voice
- Community: Creating and Building It
Welcome to the World of Blogs
In this section, the authors discuss the nature of blogging. If people feel satisfaction writing a letter to an editor, imagine the thrill of knowing anyone on the planet with access to the Internet can hear you.
The difference between blogging and mainstream journalism, they explain, is blogging creates a community.
From a sociological perspective, the book piqued in interest when it discussed our changing society.
We are no longer judged by the company we keep. Once upon a time, people would spend time with others who shared their gender, race, education, and socio-economic status.
The authors say those days are slowly going behind us. Today, people may bowl alone but share the joy of a strike with their online community.
Basic blog terminology is defined in this section as the authors explain what a blog is—a web log.
The writers praise blogging as “interactive, democratic, and just more fun than what has come before”.
They try to explain the addictive nature of blogging to the nonblogger. Descriptions like “liberating,” “informal,” and “immediate” are used.
The authors offer the top ten reasons for blogging. Most seem downright silly which gives the impression that there is no right reason for blogging and no wrong reason for blogging.
However, #1 on the list is to establish credibility as an expert. The writers also praise blogging as an outlet for creative expression.
The writers discuss the importance of having a niche and how to find one. If you have heard “Blog your passion,” before, you will hear it again when you read this book.
Do I sound critical? No. Expressions become over-used when they are true.
The authors explain an additional value of finding a niche—if you ever want to make money from blogging, you could sell niche products.
In addition to describing a blog, the authors describe a typical blogger. “Passionate about the topic” is on the list.
Their advice continues. Pick a topic you find interesting, your readers find interesting, and you will be able to build a community of readers around that niche.
Arianna Huffington is quoted often in the book. She explains one of her frequently asked questions is should she write under her own name or a pen name? She advises writing under your own name.
The merits of the various blogging platforms are then weighed.
It’s back to the basics as the writers discuss the anatomy of a basic blog post. The structure can be found in How to Write a Killer Blog Post.
Whether or not to allow comments on a blog has become a debated issue. The authors advise it.
In this section, the authors further their advice to new bloggers. They highly recommend linking to popular bloggers.
It’s a way to get a popular blogger to link to you which could garner you mega traffic inside of just one day.
This is where the heart of Huffington’s advice comes in. Getting noticed in the blogging world equals getting traffic.
More vocabulary is defined such as “hits” and “page views”.
Tips for increasing blog traffic
Write about timely topics. Sites like Buzzsumo and Google Keywords can help you know what topics are trendy.
Write facts, not just opinions. Offer statistics to back up your opinions. Startling statistics become conversation starters in the comment sections.
Put a new spin on an old topic. Write the opposite of what people will expect.
Alert people interested in your content you’ve created a new post. You can tell them on Twitter or Facebook. You can Email them or tell them in the comments section of their posts. You can also tell them in the comment section of your posts.
Optimize for search engines. Philosophies of keyword use are discussed.
The authors advise using your keywords in your headlines and sentences. However, they discourage overuse of the word. They advise moderation.
Have a blogroll and tell the bloggers you’ve included them. They may link to you.
Guest blog. This will expose your writing to new readers. The admin blogger will share the post on social media and you will get exposure to new audiences that way too.
Link to other bloggers. Linking to relevant content increases your SEO, according to the authors. You make other bloggers aware of you this way too.
Add your blog URL to blogging directories.
Ask for links from blogs with relevant content. I didn’t know this was trendy in 2009 when the book came out, but it sure is trendy now.
Making Money with Your Blog
The authors caution that you won’t get rich or even be able to make enough to support yourself by advertising on your blog. However, if you did want to try, bloggers commonly use these:
- Google Adsense (Google.com/adsense)
- Amazon Association (Amazon.com/associates)
- Yahoo! Publisher Network
Ghostwriting is a great way to make additional income.
Compile your blog posts into a book. In addition, you could actually write a book about the content you blog about.
Start a new career that showcases your skills as a writer.
Related Post: This Is the Way You Can Make Big Money Blogging Now
Finding Your Voice
The authors post rules for “great blogging”:
- Blog often. How often? Every time your visitors come to your site, they should see new content. This sounded like a heavy mandate was coming, but they specified that you should publish two to three times a week. The authors believe practice makes perfect. Blogging often is a great way for you to hone your craft. The authors advise using an editorial calendar to help plan out your post ideas. Buffer and WordPress both have editorial calendars.
- Blog posts don’t have to be perfect. That’s why strikeout exists. The authors actually advise against perfection. They fear if you take the extra time to make your post perfect, you won’t publish often enough and your readers won’t get enough new content from you.
- Write like you speak. Big words are not needed. Successful bloggers sound authentic.
- Focus on specific details. Posts don’t have to be long like an essay.
- Own your topic. Be knowledgeable. Know who the influencers are in your blogging niche. Invite them to guest post for you.
- Know your audience. Write what they want to read. Check your summary stats to see your best performing posts, those with the highest page views.
- Write short. The authors warn 800 words is too lengthy unless you break the post up with links, a picture, or a quote.
- Become part of the conversation with like-minded bloggers. Comment on their posts. What do you admire about them? Can you emulate without plagiarizing?
Community: Creating and Building It
The authors discuss the pros and cons of comments in this section. Comments show you your readers care. However, they warn, bloggers need to be prepared to be showered with a storm of criticism.
How to Build a Community
- Have guidelines. There shouldn’t be surprises on your blog. Readers should know what your blog is about, so have a tagline. Also, if you have standards under which you’d delete comments, readers should know that too.
- Ask readers for input. End posts with a call to action asking for their input and why they have that opinion.
- Respond to your commenters. If you feel the comments belong off the blog, Email the commenter or have them Email you.
- Reward good comments. Perhaps you want to invite the commenter to guest post for your readers. I often do that. I also use readers’ comments as part of my posts and link to the commenter which helps their SEO score and perhaps gets them new visitors to their blog.
- Continue the conversation. In my post 3 Guaranteed Ways to Get You More Online Attention, I recommended asking commenters a question in order to continue the conversation. According to the Huffington Post authors, using a comment as a springboard for a post shows you care about what your readers think.
- Make yourself available off the blog. Publish your Email address, so if readers want to contact you, they can.
- Admit when you are wrong. Use the strikeout feature if needed.
- Don’t allow Spam.
The authors conclude Part I with a commentary on how blogging helps bloggers extend their influence to people outside of their immediate off-line circle.
In addition to our ability to influence others, our ability to be influenced by more people is enhanced in the blogosphere. In contrast to the perception of isolation that anyone who spends time on a computer has, bloggers are building and spending time in larger communities than in their off-line lives.
The second half of the book reveals the impact the Huffington Post blog has had on society especially in the political arena.
As far as I go, my opinion of the book was mixed. The editors of the Huffington Post recommend stopping your post at 800 – 1,000 words. They feel if your post is longer, your readers will lose interest.
If readers don’t make it to the end, your bounce rate could suffer. Your comments will definitely decrease since your readers will never get to the end of your article.
I follow the advice of bloggers like Neil Patel who recommend longer posts. Neil’s research shows long posts have an increased chance of being shared by your readers and being found more easily at search engines.
If after reading this summary of the Huffington Post authors’ book, you still don’t feel you have a solid grasp of blogging, don’t worry.
The writers explain blogging takes a minute to learn but a lifetime to master.
Readers, please share, so people who haven’t read the Huffington Post Guide to Blogging know how to follow the editors’ blogging advice effectively.
What did you think of the book’s tips? Do you agree or disagree? With which part? I look forward to your views in the comments section.