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4 Keys to The Science of Blogging

This Week (Sunday, March 9, 9pm EST) in Mack Collier’s #blogchat we’ll be talking about “The Art and Science of Blogging.” Blogging covers a huge spectrum of skills, everything from configuring your servers and domain name to web analytics, to coming up with the graphic design and color scheme for your blog (but thankfully, it’s easy to outsource or use tools for all of this). If you have time left after all that, you may even do some writing.

I use the word “Science” simply to emphasize experimentation and (hopefully) repeatable results. For our purposes we can use the experiments other people have done to make our blogs better.

Week 2 will cover the “Art” side of the discussion. That part is more fun than science but there’s a reason why you have to put science first, and that will a big part of the second week’s discussion. Although you can steal all the scientific results for your own gain, once you start stealing someone else’s art you become a cheap knockoff.

The Keys:

  1. Follow “The Rules”
  2. Build the System
  3. Measure Everything
  4. Always Be Testing/Closing/Selling

Follow “The Rules” As you begin your study of blogging you will look to “The Rules” to guide you and keep you from getting in your own way. For example, in the past you didn’t have to think much about how your blog would look on a phone but with the huge explosion of handheld devices, it’s not uncommon to hear of sites having more than half of their traffic coming from mobile. In other words – if you tune your blog so it also looks great on mobile platforms, you could double your current results. We don’t need to spend much time here, you’re smart enough to be hanging out in #blogchat so you get this.

Build the System There’s no substitute for climbing the learning curve. You’ll probably never learn as much about blogging in as short a time as when you get your blog together and do your first 10 posts. An important point to remember here is that your blog is unique. You want it to be remarkable.

Once your blog is up and running ask: “Are you treating your readers right?” To maximize your odds for success make sure your readers can easily do what they want to do, and they have a great experience when they visit your blog. It astounds me how many great blogs don’t have  links to their most popular posts. For many blogs the best meat is buried where only Google can find it. Yet out of the other side of my mouth, while this mission has been accomplished over at Marketing Over Coffee, this blog doesn’t have an easy to use archive or Top 10 page (cobbler’s kids and all that, yadda yadda.)

Bonus links: Additional Reading on User Interfaces (UI), and User Experience (UX)

Measure Everything –  We could talk for days about Google Analytics. Maybe we can at least get through the 3 key areas in our hour together:

  1. Acquisition – where do your site visitors come from? More importantly what could you do to find more of them?
  2. Behavior –  what do users do when they get to your site?
  3. Conversion- the critical point that separates the general audience from customers, for lack of a better term.

Google analytics gives you the data to fuel your experiments and gives you hooks into other advertising options and systems at the right price. Check out this post from Christopher S. Penn for more on the ABC’s.microscope

Additional Reading: The Godfather in this space is Avinash Kaushik, and he’s given us a clear map of the path to awesomeness. Learn the path, live the path, love the path. He offers 2 ladders, the first outlining what to do to make a killer web presence, and the other outlining what to measure.

Always Be Testing/Closing/Selling – There are two sides to this coin – one is that you should always be testing something, tweaking things to see what kind of trouble you can cause. On the other hand – you always have to be wary that it’s not cutting into your writing time. It may help to set a goal “I will test one variable a week” just to keep you from running amok (maybe one more post rather than a Blackberry template?)

Additional Reading:  If you are into coding check out the Google Analytics API for some crazy stuff you can do on the testing front.

Does this make sense? Have you got any theories you’ve proven or want to test? I’d love to hear from you this Sunday, March 9 on #blogchat my twitter name is @johnjwall see you then!