When I wrote the article a few days ago celebrating the first year of How-To Geek, I had originally included a section called “Things I’ve Learned”, but it made the article far too long… so I’m posting that here just in case I didn’t bore you enough with the first article.
The most important rule to follow is that the readers should come first. Since the readers want good content, that logically means that good content is most important.
Quality not Quantity
With the amount of times this expression has been used, you would think I’d have figured this out before I started, but I had to learn through experience. It doesn’t matter if you post 20 times a day if you are boring everybody… in fact it will probably work against you.
I used to write articles whenever I felt in the mood, which was usually only twice a week at the most… sure, I’d write 6-10 articles at a time, but they all went out on the same day because I was impatient. Finding a daily time to write was a huge step.
Be Your Topic
You have to live it, breathe it, understand it. You can search through analytics for the best keywords to write about… but if you aren’t on the path to mastering your topic, you just simply won’t connect with the readers.
SEO is Great – If Your Content Sucks
If you write articles you’ve heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), the art of getting your pages to rank at the top of Google searches. If you are writing articles for a search engine instead of for your readers – you will fail. Just ignore anything you read about SEO.
Don’t Be An Idiot
Don’t get into flame wars, don’t post things and then delete them, don’t link to or suggest anything that you wouldn’t do yourself. Avoid writing about anything illegal… do you think your next employer isn’t going to check up on you?
Gadgets are Useless
It seems like virtually every blog is covered in widgets and gadgets that link all over the place, or show some meaningless rating from an even more meaningless rating site. These widgets are worthless unless you are trying to distract the readers from your terrible articles, in which case go for it.
Ignore Digg & Clones
The best decision I ever made was to remove Digg buttons from this site and stop trying to write articles that would have any chance of getting on the front page there…
…as that only leaves me with useful articles to write, now I can focus on what is important: good content for the readers. The site has simply exploded since I made that change, and I urge all authors to do the same.
I’ll admit that I still would enjoy the large volumes of traffic they can send, so I’m not without the sin of envy.
Please Step Away From the Adsense, Sir.
If your readers have to play the “Find the Content” game every time they visit your site, you need to slow down with the adsense. Unless your goals are only short-term, that is, because otherwise your visitors will eventually stop coming.
Try To Avoid Writing Lists Like This One
Aren’t we all tired of lists? I’m really tired of reading through feeds in Google Reader and seeing mostly “Top 10 Lists about Making Lists!” I think it’s much more important to get to the point and write about something worthwhile. That’s why this article will fade into the woodwork and you will never read it again.
That’s apparently all I’ve learned. Just remember that focusing on good content is the best rule.
Programmer by day, geek by night, The Geek, also known as Lowell Heddings, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on Google+ if you'd like.
- Published 10/5/07