I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time now. At (almost) six months of blogging, I didn’t feel like I had the standing to post any blogging tips. Then I realized that many blogs fall by the wayside. In this respect, I’m already a veteran, so here it goes.
We’re all here for a reason. Some of us are building a platform to market a product. (Like this blog) Some are here to interact with the world. Admit that you had a reason for starting a blog. It doesn’t matter why – you’re here now. Focus on your reason and put some thought into what you want out of this.
After you have some focus, remember that every post should not be about that reason. I hate the word “followers”, but I’ll use it since everyone knows what I mean. Followers like people first and foremost in the blogosphere. Once they are interested in you as a person, they may become interested in following you.
Here’s an example: Many authors post a chapter of a story every week. This is certainly generous, but if the first time I cruise past it’s chapter 26, I’m probably not interested. When there is no other content, I’m gone, and I’ll bet many of you are too.
I get turned off by those who say buy my product, buy my product with every post. I assume others do too. I try to limit the posts about what I have available. I’m not afraid to include a link when I mention my first self published book, Wild Concept. See how it comes out in blue letters. You can read right through it if you’re more interested in my post than my product. I’ll go full tilt at “buy my book” once in a great while, but not every post.
Regular readers will recall tales about my pets, sourdough cooking, craft beer, chicken under a rock, and even a dream about cast netting for shrimp. Put some of yourself into your posts. We connect with people first and foremost. While this is a writing blog, you can bet there will be a post the next time I make sauerkraut.
Write original content. My focus is on writing and I want to connect with readers and other writers both. I appreciate some of the re-blogs I find and check many of them out. On the other hand, I’ve unfollowed several who don’t do anything but re-blog other people’s work. You need some original content. More than 60% I’d say.
My mother taught me, “if you would have a friend, be one.” This means you have to be a good blog citizen. This is a huge part of blogging. Read other blogs, make comments, answer the comments you receive. I spend at least an hour every day reading blogs. (Sometimes much more time.) When I like something, I say so. If I have something to say, I comment. This brings about the best part of blogging. You’ll make friends.
Let’s talk about Gravitars. This is the little calling card you place when you like someone’s post. You need one. Don’t be the guy with the little quilted pattern for more than a couple days. Use a graphic that catches the eye. I find myself drawn to faces and cartoons. Maybe that’s just me, but there it is. Cartoons are simple and show up in the fingernail sized image you place. This may come across wrong, but I’m drawn to pretty faces too. I’m not pretty, so I use a cool old inkwell that has turned purple over the years. It’s against a simple background so it shows up in the tiny graphic.
You need to have your blog site in the Gravitar link. People will click on your Gravitar, with the intention of visiting your blog. If the link is missing, you’ve just missed a reader and potential follower.
Post frequently. This doesn’t mean your blog should devolve into Twitter. I don’t need a picture of every meal you eat. You ought to be posting at least weekly. Three or more times a week is even better. I was really worried about over posting when I started, but my gauge is different than the world at large. I tend to get more views and followers when I’m here regularly.
I didn’t intend to touch upon tags and categories, because others have done this so well. Why you need them and how they drive traffic. I’m going to talk about categories anyway, but from a different point of view. I post about a variety of things. I use categories to break it all up. This is for the convenience of my followers.
I’ll use my Muse category as an example. Some people like the stories about my Muse and story characters. This is where I post word counts, new writing things I’ve learned, writing struggles, etc. All of these posts go in the Muse category so people can find them. A new reader might not care about making chicken under a rock, or my old pit bull. On the other hand, if that’s what they want, the Muse category keeps those filtered out of the other categories.
This is one I still struggle with, but I’ll put it out there anyway. Use an interesting, but accurate, title. I follow so many blogs that I have to browse. If the title is kind of mediocre, I may surf on past. A good title tells me when to stop by, and when to surf past too. Here’s an example: I’m not a poet. I don’t have that gene, and I usually don’t get it. Now I follow a lot of poets, and sometimes I’m in the right mood and try to get onboard. Poets are very creative folks, that’s why I follow them, and I click on every non-poetry post they make. Therefore; in a round about way … a good non-poetry post will hook me and reel me in. This also goes back to posting about more than your core intent.
Don’t make me click on something to read the rest of your post. This comes up rarely, but I get hooked and open the post. If I only get three lines and “click here to read the rest of this post” – I don’t.
The lifespan of a posting is about eight hours. There’s not much you can do about it, so if it doesn’t get a lot of love, just move on to your next post
If you want feed back or comments, ask for them. Even that doesn’t always work. (Like my post yesterday) Just post something else and move on. If nobody was into it, its lifespan was only about eight hours anyway.
We are almost all bloggers. I’ll bet 90% of your readers are bloggers themselves. We all have one thing in common, and it’s a good idea to post about it on occasion. A post about blogging is usually pretty popular.
I don’t worry as much about length as I used to. Short posts are almost always good. We have short attention spans in the 21st century. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid longer posts. You just have to write about something interesting. I follow Joe Konrath, because he’s very prominent in the self publishing world. I like his posts, but he couldn’t limit himself to 500 words if his life depended upon it. I find myself skimming his posts for the good stuff. This is a long post, and I’ll bet many readers skimmed over stuff they already knew. (Admit it, some of you did.)
This post has gone on long enough, and I don’t want your eyes to glaze over. I hope it helps some of you, and these things have worked for me. I owe my regulars a couple of short posts, and I’ll deliver.