This post is going a bit off topic, in that it deals with blogging more than biking.
After posting awhile ago about the blog and what it’s taught me about biking, it occurred to me that I’ve also been learning a lot about blogging.
Bike Noob has been more successful already than I’d ever thought it would be. I average about 100 page views a day — a small number, compared to some of the really big blogs like Bike Snob NYC, but substantial enough after being online for only five months or so.
So what’s important when blogging?
Comments are golden. I can count visits and page views, but when readers take the time to write a comment about something I’ve written, that starts the “conversation” that the Internet promised way back in the ’90s.
Commenting on others’ blogs is almost as golden. There are some devices the blogger can use to drive new readers to the blog, such as commenting on others’ blogs. That may prompt some of their blog readers to check out yours. I know I’ve picked up a number of regular readers that way.
Post at regular intervals. It doesn’t have to be every day, but shouldn’t be too long between posts, either. I’ve tried to develop an every other day routine. I’ve noticed that my page views fall off markedly when I go a day or two without adding new content.
Content matters. Well-written items that resonate with others’ personal experiences seem to attract the most views. It’s still a surprise to me, but my most viewed post is a little narrative titled, “Smoked by an old guy.” I felt I needed to post something that day, but I had nothing until I went out for my ride and the incident happened. I thought it was a cute, okay item. But the popular Kent’s Bike Blog from Seattle stumbled onto the story and linked to it. My traffic soared that day. “Smoked” has now had more than 900 views in just two months, and still gets several visits every day. (And now I’ve ensured that those views will continue to mount.)
Even the most mundane posts seem to get the greatest response. An entry on whether I should choose bandanas or sweatbands to keep my forehead dry drew 10 comments (a lot for me). Maybe it was the picture of my dog that did it.
In that case, here’s another look at Emily, my 13-inch Beagle.
By the way, I still wear bandanas, but my preferred SCD (sweat control device) is a HeadSweat — one of those things that makes you look like a pirate.
Sometimes, people discover you by accident. I use WordPress as my blogging platform, and WordPress generates links to what it thinks are related posts at the end of every entry. Sometimes those “related” posts bear no relation at all to the subject of the entry, but by clicking on the link, folks have found me.
Always check which sites referred visitors to your blog. It’s weird to find some blogs that link to you that don’t seem to have any connection to your subject. My favorite of these oddball links comes from “Being grown and sexy: Fashion, tech and politics from the prospective (sic) of an (sic) black male nerd.” What he finds of interest in a biking blog written by a white guy in late middle age stumps me, but I’m in his blogroll.
Nonsensical search terms can somehow connect readers with this blog. Every so often I check to see what search terms people wrote that brought them here. Some favorites: expensive beer bicycle jerseys, my foot goes numb with road shoes, one up two down, sidi soles number straps mean, and why do my jerseys stink when i sweat.
The most recent posts are not necessarily the most-read ones. Sometimes posts I did weeks ago show up as the most viewed on a given day. I have no idea why.
Some bloggers actually make a living from their blogs. I don’t expect to ever do that. (If you’re interested, Australian uber-blogger Darren Rowse’s Problogger site is loaded with tips to make the big bucks blogging.) I do expect to keep up my posts, and hope to keep interacting with commenters. Regardless of topic, the most important thing I’ve learned about blogging is to keep up the conversation.