April 14, 2013

Improving Your New Atheist Blog

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Over the years, I have written quite a few posts designed to share tips with other atheist bloggers about what I have learned from blogging. Unfortunately, many of these tips become dated quickly. The atheist blogosphere changes, once effective methods stop working, new social media services appear, etc. With this in mind, I've been trying to decide whether it makes more sense to revise and update old posts or write new ones. This one will be a new one designed to pull together several useful tips for improving your new atheist blog.

My frame of reference for this post assumes that you either have a relatively new atheist blog or that you are finally getting around to asking yourself why you have so few readers, little interaction around your posts, etc. and want to see what you might be able to do to improve things.

With this in mind, here are some suggestions:
  1. Install Google Analytics or an alternative system for monitoring traffic to your blog. This should be the first thing you do, so go do it now.
  2. Now that you have a way to track your traffic, it is time to make it easier for readers to subscribe to your blog. You are going to want to set up FeedBurner. You can find additional information FeedBurner here.
  3. Time for a bit of self-reflection. Why are you blogging? What is it that you are hoping to contribute to the atheist blogosphere? Does your blog clearly reflect these goals? Will a first-time visitor understand what you are trying to do and be able to quickly and easily find answers to his or her questions? Who is your intended audience, and what sort of voice will your blog have?
  4. Search Google and Bing for your blog and make sure it is listed in both. If it does not appear, you will want to submit it. You can find information about submitting your blog to Google here, and here is information on submitting to Bing.
  5. Does your blog have a blogroll in which you include links to some of the atheist blogs you read on a regular basis? If not, now would be a good time to create one. Other bloggers like incoming links, and this can be a great way to get their attention.
  6. Plan to write at least one high-quality post containing original content per week and as many as one per day.
  7. Consider whether Twitter is an appropriate platform for promoting your posts and interacting with others in the secular community.
  8. Make sure you understand how the commenting system you are using works, the limitations associated with it, and whether it might make sense to replace it with a third party option like Disqus or Intense Debate.
  9. Submit one of your best posts to the atheism subreddit at Reddit and share a few on Facebook and/or Google+.
  10. Review #3 above regularly, asking yourself whether you are accomplishing what you want to accomplish. Pay attention to the visual aspects of your blog, the ease of finding information, and the degree to which you are providing readers with something of value to keep them coming back.
Blogging is hard work and requires persistence. It can easily take a year or more to build readership to the point where you will be satisfied. The atheist blogosphere has grown so much over the past few years that it much harder to stand out in the field than it used to be. It is more important than ever for new bloggers to offer something different or better than what others are doing.