With so many voices and opinions on the Internet, launching a blog is a great way to share real stories, join the global conversation and add to the online narrative of Muslim Americans. When it comes to “Muslim” blogs, you will find ones that focus on anything and everything, from storytelling like Love, Inshallah, to parent-child craft projects, like Little of Mine. Islamic financing, Muslim fashion, Muslim permaculture—you name it, someone is blogging about it. You can peruse though some of the most popular blogs by visiting the Annual Brass Crescent Award website to see latest nominees and winners.
Once you zero in you a blog topic that both interests you and is one that you don’t see in the blogosphere, get to work. Here are my eight points on Best Practices for Bloggers.
1. Set a Goal
Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish with my blog?” For instance, I started MuslimahMontage because I couldn’t easily locate Muslim women writers. My goal in starting the blog was to create a kind of electronic rolodex of Muslimah writers. Your goals are fluid and can “mature” as your blog ages, (my latest aim is for MuslimahMontage to serve as a source of mentoring for budding writers), but nailing down a clear goal now will allow you to create a brand. Now I know “brand” is often is as a passé buzzword, but it is an important business concept, nonetheless. According to Forbes Magazine, “Your “brand” is [everything] your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your name.” This includes both the factual—Tiffany jewelry comes in a robin’s-egg-blue box—to the emotional—Tiffany is romance and love. Branding is necessary to position your blog’s tone and voice around your idea, which will, in turn, create a more engaging experience for your followers.
2. Know Your Audience
Who will visit your blog? Know your target audience, so you can tailor the content and look of your blog to address your visitors’ specific needs. For example, if your blog is about do-it-yourself home décor, your following will largely consist of adult women who will not be satisfied with articles alone, but will want large, sharp images and short easy-to-follow videos/tours of your interior design projects.
3. Research and Organize
Once you set attainable goals and identify your audience, start researching. Browse similar blogs, assessing their content and look. Play with fonts, images and displays (this is when your graphic designer friends come in use). All the while, make sure to use a calendar/daily planner to delineate long and short term to-do lists. You can make adjustments to the lists as you go but always track your progress.
4. Create Good Quality Content
Think of your blog as a job. Give it the respect, time and attention it deserves. Spend time creating diverse content; don’t limit yourself to articles but also post videos, podcasts and photos. However, don’t throw something up on the blog for the sake of diversity. Instead, learn how to create high quality videos , post high-definition images and carefully edit any piece of writing before you share it with your audience. Your chosen topic might lure visitors to the blog the first time, but high quality content and presentation will keep them coming back.
5. Be Consistent
Generate new content on a regular basis so your blog doesn’t begin to feel stale or outdated. Part of maintaining a blog means interacting with your readers, answering their questions and simply chatting with them so they feel welcome. I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes life happens, but as much as you can, stay on top of your blog.
6. Link Your Blog to Social Media
Using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to increase your public profile and drive traffic to your blog is an incredibly effective method. Make sure that whenever you do share information from/about your blog on social media, it is relevant, pithy and, if possible, connected to current trends or events. These ingredients will peak the interest of your Facebook friends or Twitter followers and, in turn, will garner shares. All this should then add to your blog traffic and readership.
7. Do not Feed the Trolls!
If you don’t know what a troll is, be thankful! A troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments, upsetting people, and posting inflammatory or off-topic
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his neighbor. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his guest.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh
This Muslim model of etiquette applies in the online world as much as the real one. So encourage discourse and even kindly worded, constructive criticism, but do not tolerate someone who tries to instigate fitnah on your blog.
8. Ask for Advice!
You will be surprised to know that people are more helpful than you think. MuslimahMontage would not nearly be where it is now if it wasn’t for the kindness, advice and help of others.
Sabina is a writer, activist and Mama. She is an Assistant Editor at AltMuslimah and the founder of Muslimah Montage. Sabina is also the Membership Development Chair at MuslimARC.