Published on Arabnet.me By Maysaa Al Ajjan | August 18, 2014 While the first blogging activity could be traced back to 1994 in the USA, it took the MENA region well over 10 years to catch up to this now infectious trend. Closer to home, many tech-savvies in Lebanon have taken to blogging as a fun challenge and found themselves to be still dedicated to blogging several years later. Perhaps one of the earliest and longest running blogs in Lebanon are Mind Soup and +961, both of which began back in 2008 as a cultural hub for all Lebanese and Middle Eastern topics that include politics, social movements, entertainment, sports and others. Gino’s blog and Blogbaladi followed suite in 2009 and have gradually become highly popular and referenced national platforms that are known for advocating social and political reform, as well as lots of fun and entertainment. Gino’s blog has over 11,000 followers on Facebook, a significant number considering Lebanon’s population of 3.5 million citizens. However, the blog that garnered the highest traffic was the food review blog, nogarlicnoonions, established later in 2012 by the food-savvy dentist Anthony Rahayel. Rahayel has 22,000 followers on Facebook and 8000 daily visits to his blog. Having visited—and reviewed—over 1000 restaurants in more than 140 cities, Anthony’s commitment to follow his passion is not to be taken lightly-which brings us to the first mistake you’re likely to make as a new blogger: Lack of commitment to your blog. We’ve talked to several prominent bloggers in the country, and this is what they had to say concerning the mistakes they see in beginner blogs.
1) Inconsistent Blogging
Having a blog is very much like running your own business; you’re in charge of your product definition (what type of blog is it?), market study (who’s your audience?), and establishing the brand’s image. You have to acknowledge your full time role as an entrepreneur with a purpose. As beginnings usually go, bloggers are more excited in the start of their blogging career, and tend to publish with greater frequency at first. Gradually, their enthusiasm tapers off and they start posting less as they graduate from college, or move into better jobs that are more time-consuming. If you don’t stick to a regular timetable, then readers wouldn’t know when to look for your content. “I’m a daily blogger,” Rahayel told Arabnet. “I have an average of 3 posts a day. [Blogging] has become part of my life.” Rahayel also does his best to visit more than 3 restaurants per week so he can find material for his blog. However, being a consistent blogger doesn’t necessarily mean that you should post only for the sake of posting. “I post once or twice a month,” said Rita Kamel, founder of the personal blog, Ritakml.info. Kamel has around 9000 followers and has been blogging since 2006. “I do it whenever I have something to say.”
Let’s face it. Lebanon is a small country where news travel fast through tens of press and media sources, including online content. “This shouldn’t be an excuse to copy breaking news from well-connected bloggers and post it as your own,” a blogger who wished to remain anonymous told Arabnet. “What you CAN do, however, is to tackle the subject from your own perspective, the way so many subjects are famously tackled and wittily criticized at Gino’s blog.
3) Deviating from the original topic
This might seem a bit dramatic, but, as we previously stated, your blog has to have a purpose and a target audience, the way a corporation has a mission statement and customer base. Is your blog about fashion? Politics? Food? Understandably, some of the topics may overlap, but a fashion blogger would not be advised to, say, start giving relationship advice, or posting about social reform. “Why would I be interested in a blog that talks about food and tech and society all together?” asked Rami Fayoumi founder of +961 blog. “[having] Focus is really important.”
4) Posting without double-checking the facts
“Posting about something without verifying its source can seriously harm a blogger's reputation,” stated Najib Metri, founder of Blog Baladi. Your relationship with your readers is built on trust in a time when print magazines are laying off fact-checkers. So make sure you’re up to it, and if you ever realize that you posted a false fact, don’t be afraid to apologize for it; it gives you more credibility.
5) Going for the money
One of the main differences between journalists and bloggers is that bloggers do it for free. They realize the moment they commit to a blog that they are doing this for personal satisfaction and public image, along with other possible causes of social activism and reform. However, when sponsors get in the picture, trouble often happens. “Bloggers need to have the [required] experience to appreciate the food choice of a restaurant, not because they got a free invite,” Metri told Arabnet. “A review has to be completely objective.” Rahayel (founder of Nogarlicnoonions) had a similarly non-negotiable opinion. “My blog costs me [a lot] every month, visiting restaurants and finding hidden gems. I don’t make a dime of it.” Read more on Arabnet.me