3 Tips for Blogging Success
By Lexie Smith
Book People was quite crowded on the Third Thursday in April. People lined up way before 7pm—to see MTV reality star and author Lauren Conrad at her book signing. Meanwhile, devoted WLT members and friends navigated the crowd, found the elevator and got to sit down while they enjoyed the WLT Third Thursday panel on “Writing in the Digital Age: Blogging as a Creative Outlet.”
The panelists were Carla Birnberg, Ruth Pennebaker, Matthew Schulz, and yours truly, Lexie Smith. Book People person Madeline Smoot served as moderator and shared helpful information from her publishing experience.
This wrap-up about the evening was inspired by an audience member asking the panel to summarize the night’s discussion into text for a fridge magnet. In honor of that, here are three fridge-worthy tips on blogging for writers, with bonus alliteration.
Whether you choose to blog once a day or once a week, posting on a regular basis helps boost your traffic, build your community and improve your writing. Generally, blog traffic improves with increased posting, but you have to be realistic about how often you can blog. Carla’s habit of blogging five days a week for two years enabled her to earn money via guest blogging, community building, and as a brand advocate.
Using an editorial calendar to plan your blogging can encourage regularity in blogging. An editorial calendar simply helps you plan when you’ll write about what. One option is to assign a specific topic for a certain day of the week or month (Music Mondays, Tofu Tuesdays, etc.). It’s not set in stone, but it serves as a guide.
Content, Content, Content
Quality, as well as quantity, is important in building your blog. Posting junk once a day, every day, for two years won’t cut it. You must write something worth reading. The good news is that blogging can help improve your writing, especially if you practice all those awesome things you learn at the WLT writing classes.
Another content issue is what you write about. To niche or not to niche? Should your blog have a narrow focus or be more general? The answer is . . . yes, depending on your goals. Carla’s blog developed into her brand so it’s quite focused. Ruth’s blog is more general, giving fans of her novels or column more of her writing.
A final note about content—be yourself. Write authentically. Readers love Ruth’s blog for her voice. Not sure what your voice is? Work on regularly creating good content and your voice will emerge.
A definite plus of blogging is the potential for community. For writers this means mutual support, learning, and people to help you with various parts of your writing endeavors.
How do you build community? Find the online places (forums, blogs, message boards, Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups, Google Plus, etc.) where people like what you like. Join conversations. Leave comments, with a link to your blog, on other blog posts.
Guest blogging, either on someone’s blog or having them post on your blog, is a way to broaden your network and generate content on your blog. What a bargain.
Remember to link your blog to other social media sites you’re active on. On most blog providers you can set up the option to automatically link your blog posts to Twitter and Facebook. That’s one more easy way to expand your network. (A quick note about Twitter and Facebook: don’t feel you have to do it all at once. Pick one and play with it. Decide if you want to stay with it and then consider adding something else. )
Closing Thoughts (Not one of the tips, so don’t put that on your magnet.)
Turns out that the 3 C’s of blogging—consistency, content, and community—are also applicable to your writing. Developing them for blogging can benefit your writing and vice versa. It also means one fridge magnet does double duty. (You’re welcome.)
Speaking of benefitting your writing, May’s Third Thursday topic is “From Inspiration to Perspiration: The Drafting & Revision Process.” We’d love to see you there.
Blog statistics provide information on who linked to your blog, what keywords were used to find your blog, which posts are the most visited on your blog, etc. This can help you develop your community, by knowing where to look; create content people want, because you see what’s popular; and develop consistency, because it’s encouraging to see proof that people visit your blog.
These are the blog statistics programs mentioned:
Twitter Handles of Panelists
Carla Birneerg, @MizFitOnline
Ruth Pennebaker, @GeezerSisters
Matthew Schulz, @MatthewSchulz
Madeline Smoot @SelfPubX
Lexie is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through LexicalLight.com, BloggingForWriters.com . A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.