Blogism, a spiritual journey (or 5 tips for a good blog)

Dear Reader:

Yes, this is it — the first entry in the newly founded Driven by Design blog! Shovel in hand, I’ve broken into the fresh soil of the first post. I’ve cut through the inaugural ribbon of the blogosphere. Shattered the champagne on the deck of the S. S. Web.

Stating things off has been no easy task, I assure you. I’ve had the will and desire to blog for several months, but found myself procrastinating like a priest in a high school locker room. Why has this taken me so long?

Blogging, it seems, is like a search for the self. Any good blog has to know what it’s all about – it has to know its topic and its intended audience. Just as most middle-aged Italian men would never go out for a night on the town without lathering their bodies in layers of cheap cologne, I couldn’t get myself to blog about just anything. We’ve got enough jibber jabber on the web today (It’s called MSNBC).

But how does one know thyself in the world of the blog? After all, it took Keanu Reeves an entire trilogy. How could I possibly narrow down the scope of human existance into a “topic”?

I know – I’ll make it all up.

In an ironic twist for this blog-to-be, I’ve decided to base this first official post on the topic of blogging itself and solve and age-old riddle:

How can I keep from adding to the crap heap that is the net? What makes a good blog? What guideless can we establish to make sure that we continue to strive towards aptivating our reader
and making them think?

The answer lies within these five pillars of Blogism, which appeared to me after enduring an ancient ritual involving two tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and a 12-episoide marathon of Murder She Wrote:

1) Regularity – Writing entries at regular, timed intervals (ie: 1 per day, 2 per week) is fundamental – it helps establish routine reads from visitors, and secondly it helps you, the blogger, exercise those writing muscles and get in the habit of creating well thought-out content. Which brings us to the second pillar…

2) Content – It’s much easier said than done that the best thing a blogger can do is write well, but, well…. there, I said it. And it sure was easy to say! How do you do it though? Always share your thoughts. Wheather it’s walthing someone through your newest creative endevaour, or mearly reacting to and article you read the other day – make sure you share your own view in someway to get people thinking and reacting.

3) Branding – It’s not just for sneakers and laundry detergent anymore. Anyone can have a brand image, and when it comes to blogs, it really counts. Here are the three basic components of a “blog brand”:

4) Visuals – It takes time and effort, but giving your blog a unique visual look and design is crutial for when you start getting repeat readers. Make it look simple, easy to read, and unique.

5) Format – A lot of people seem to disregard the fact that, while blogs (especially free ones) follow a Date and Topic driven format, there lot’s of room for variety. Just like in any TV news cast, think about having special segments to your blog – reoccurring, themed topics that stand out from the flock and get readers excited for future posts. The Colbert Report show on Comedy Central is the perfect TV analogy for this – they keep coming up with new, fresh segments to add variety (such as “The Word”, “Better Know a District”, “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger”). A “segmented” approach to blogs is a great and underutilized way to encourage repeat visits.

6) Spread the word – Let people know about your blog and ask them to read it.

There’s much more to these six pillars than what I’ve described above, but that’s a start.

I hope you enjoyed the very first entry of DrivenByDesign. I’ll be back on Wednesday with a new entry. Until then, I’d like to leave with you with this ancient Blogerism psalm (also part of my Murder She Wrote ritual experience): Thou cannot create good stuff until thoust designs the goodness to go into it”.

Peace, Blogism, and Cherry Garcia,
– Ross