Window on my world — 23 February 2013

Today marks an anniversary; it is four years since CabbieBlog started.

Just let me open my presents and blow out my candles and I’ll be with you in a moment.

After sampling other platforms – including Blogger – in the previous six months I started using WordPress open source software under the CabbieBlog banner on
23rd February 2009.

Now after 434 posts and over 400,000 hits I thought it was about time to say a big thank you to everybody who has checked me out and especially my thanks go out to anyone who has posted comments.

During that time I have learned a few things about blogging which I hope to share with you, whether you are a seasoned blogger, in which case please post your opinion of my summation, or if you are just thinking of starting down the rocky road of blogging then hopefully I can point you in the right direction.

Blogging is proper writing It is not easy writing, well not for me it isn’t, each post has to be researched if necessary and has to be thought out and should be reasonably grammatically accurate.

Blogging is rewarding It reaches out to regular readers and unlike regular writing or journalism you get responses instantly, the comments on your blog mean a lot, reply to them all.

Blogging is not a guilt trip. You shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to write regular posts if you are uncomfortable with that kind of discipline. One of the best London bloggers posts only two or three times per month.

Don’t mess around with your website You are just wasting valuable time rather than writing. However change it when there is a good reason. CabbieBlog was changed last year after over three years with roughly the same design.

Don’t get into blogging to make money It’s hard to make money just from writing a blog. But sometimes quite unexpected things turn up. I have done work for the BBC and I am paid for running a commercial blog, unless you are prepared to work full time on it treat it as a hobby.

Don’t write posts just to make money Focus on integrity. Be happy about what you publish, not what you think will attract readers. Forget the articles you read telling you how to ‘write killer posts’, they don’t exist.

Offer something worthwhile Will your readers take something from your writing? If they do they are more likely to return or put you on their RSS feed.

It’s not all about you Share your personality. It should be a bit of you with some context of the blog’s author. Making it personal is more engaging, but your readers don’t want to read the minutia of your life.

Find a routine I write regularly because I need some kind of discipline to my work, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t, one good post is worth ten poor ones.

Keep your posts short I’m sorry to say that dear reader but most of you on the web have short attention spans, it’s just the way it is – 500-2,000 words are sufficient. If you want to go into greater detail make a separate page with a link so readers can check it out if they wish.

Don’t worry about the stats I know that this post started with how many hits CabbieBlog had received, but worrying about stats again leads to writing ‘killer headlines’ and will reduce the quality of your writing. I check my stats every day and all the search links. Don’t do as I do, do as I say.

Branch out Write guest posts for others and invite them to write on your site. I have started a series entitled ‘London Grill’ inviting contributors to answer the same 10 questions about – well London.

Collaborate with others Send out emails inviting them to write something for your site.

Don’t give up easily Many blogs are lying there redundant. It could be that the authors are dispirited by lack of readers, but it takes time – persevere and try different things. Write for yourself.

Be nice to people Reply to all comments, write with constructive criticism, there has been enough talk lately of trolls on the internet.

Don’t get jealous Everyone seems to be bigger and better. Blogging is an ego trip – get real. A few regular engaged readers are better than thousands of casual hits.

Be controversial Give an opinion, people like to read views based on facts and good research.

Remember real life Don’t get obsessive, much of what you write about will be from real life, there is still life beyond the internet.

Other opportunities You might not make much money but in addition to work already mentioned I have collaborated on two books, one for the 2012 Olympics and another for a French travel guide to London. Your blog is your window on the world and leads to other projects.

Use your blog It says a lot about you, remember prospective employers might just check it out, use your blog wisely.

Most important Enjoy your blog, it is a creative endeavour, take pride in what you produce and how it is designed.

Photo by Los Flowers at Flickr – Knowledge is Power graffiti in Powis Mews

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If you enjoyed reading this post, please consider supporting CabbieBlog and read exclusive chapters from my book Pootling around London

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Gibson

(6) Readers Comments

  1. Happy birthday! I’ve only recently come across your blog and look forward to reading more.

    • Thanks. Next week you can read about the man from Albany Street who consumed slug soup. Say Be Lucky to ‘Percy’ from me.

  2. Wise words from a blogger who clearly knows his stuff…Happy birthday!

    • Thanks for your kind words. When I wrote about one of the best London blogs posting only two or three times a month I was thinking of Accidental Londoner. I quote from a recent post:
      A sign running around the top of the pub invites patrons to ‘Eat. Meet. Drink. Chat.’ Each time I pass the pub I mentally re-write this: ‘Drink. Argue. Leer. Fight.’
      – simply brilliant

  3. Happy Birthday! I really enjoy your blogs. Thank you.

    • Thanks for my birthday greeting. I’m hoping for many more anniversaries in the future.

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