Blogging has evolved quite a lot in Zimbabwe in the past three or so years. People seem to have found comfort in sharing their personal diaries virtually both for closure and sharing opinions mostly with strangers. Evolving at a faster pace also are public blogs that are springing up from global citizens who are documenting the arts sector both locally and globally as news happens. However I have noticed with concern the amount of time we spend on these blogs and websites is far much less compared to other regional or International blogs and so here I aim to give five reasons why I think this is so (from observation and interaction). Here and there I will also try and advise on how I would go around these set backs. Here we go:
Actually this is the reason why I wrote this post after reading not one but three blogs with quite a number of typos in a single day which was funny at first but then quite sad considering the traffic they push. There are so many forces working against typos like spelling and grammar checks but we (bloggers) still find our way past this. I doubt if bloggers write their articles directly into the dashboard (by the way dashboard has spell check also), so imagine passing an article through Ms word and still upload it with typos. Also as an initiative you should have at least two people proof read articles both for typos and content relevance before they are uploaded so that not one person is accountable if anything goes wrong. Assuming you don’t have contributors to your blog, it’s still no excuse for typos, it’s your project so make sure you produce quality work at the end of the day. I know after this you will be reading the rest of my article looking for typos to point out and render this post irrelevant, think again because it’s been proofread thrice lol.
This is one of the most important things any blog should offer. There has to be a track record of consistency which will make sure that you keep your viewers engaged. We wouldn’t want a situation where you log in after some time and you find out that the blog hasn’t been updated since your last visit. How can bloggers make sure they are consistent with their content? WordPress is a blogger’s best friend because it has user friendly features that allow you to keep track of your progress. Its statistics will guide you on when and how to upload your posts by giving you which time of the day and week gives you most traffic so that you can focus on those particular days. Over and above that, it reports which social media platform is contributing the most viewers and from which browsing engine.
These days our (Zim) blogs aren’t that different from each other, even the posts we upload are identical from the image on the cover to the content. As a result if one person reads a post from the first blog, they won’t read the same thing all over again on another. We need to strive for a unique approach that will make the viewer want to open our tab and stay there. Even if we do interviews, let’s ask for pictures preferably that haven’t hit social media so that even if you google images and that one comes up they will land on your blog.
It goes without saying that a blog’s appearance adds that extra ‘oomf’ by inviting the visitor to scroll more once on the site. Pop up ads, crowded content, too many tabs, among other things make it hard to want to stay on the same site. Also when designing your website or blog always check how it performs on mobile phones and tabs because a vast number of us are always mobile, and truth is we are impatient. We need sites that are easy to browse with mobile devices without taking too much time loading. Another thing, we need to strategically place our advertisement banners and search panel.
5. Learning curve
Everything we do is an opportunity to learn. Let us research and see what other creatives in our space are doing in other regions, take their winning formula and tailor it to our region or craft. There has to be a visible change from where the blog was a year ago and where it is now. Most people (including myself) don’t bother using the contact us tab because we know the chances of us being responded are slim, so rather look for other means to inquire on what people would like to see on your blog and work on that.
I avoided naming blogs and bloggers in this article lest it’s called shade but I have inboxed quite a number of them with suggestions. I’m also a blogger so if you feel I miss aimed or left something out, again feel free to comment or holla at me.