JUST BLOG IT!
I blog. I’ve been blogging since before there were blogs—when I and others did posts regularly on Onelist and on its predecessor (the name of that entity now escapes me, but then it’s been a very long time ago). The point is, I clearly like blogging or I wouldn’t be doing it all these years later.
Often, I’m asked for blogging tips, by writers and others. Here are some of the general tips I often share:
1. Don’t blog because you think you’re supposed to do it. Blog because you want to do it. Because you have something to say you believe will be useful to and benefit others. Blogging isn’t about you. It’s about your readers. Respect them by sharing content for them and try to never waste their time. Now, does that mean you can’t share your news? No. But make it relevant. My point is, if you hate blogging, you will resent it and that will come through in your posts. That, you don’t want and your readers won’t want it, either.
2. Blog on a central theme. Think hard about what you want to share and why you want to share it. Let me share a few examples from my own blogs.
On Writing: When I started writing, I didn’t know another writer. I’d spend days looking up the most basic things. It was frustrating. I spent years learning (still am) and began mentoring other writers. Doing a blog on writing craft, the business and writing life was the natural outgrowth of my experience. I wanted to spare other writers the frustrations I experienced. I wrote articles on writing, answered questions. I considered it a win/win because I had to stay on my toes and my readers could avoid many of the mud puddles I’d had to stomp through. I still feel this way, so I still blog on writing.
Thinking Aloud and Penny Thoughts. We’re busy, but we don’t want our minds to turn to mush. So I started this blog to focus on a snippet of thought. A few lines—sometimes a single sentence. But a thought to ponder as you go through your day. It’s fast, it’s food for the mind, and often uplifting. Again, a win/win for the reader and for me.
Christians Read. Less than a decade ago, I started writing inspirational stories. Writing a blog that dealt with this aspect of life seemed natural; it reflected where my mind and heart were. But I didn’t have the time to do a daily post in this area as well as to meet my existing commitments. Still, I didn’t abandon the idea, I expanded it. I invited other inspirational authors to join me and made Christians Read a group blog. Its theme is on topics of interest to Christian Readers, Writers, and life as a Christian (which covers just about anything. All topics are from the perspective of one doing the best s/he can to live every day life while walking in faith.) Authors post M-F and we post our own book news (our books, conferences, workshops) on the weekends. Christians Read is posted in multiple locations and between them we have over 40,000 followers.
I do other blogs but chose these three because of their diversity. One is short, one has longer posts. They’re all theme-centric. One is a group blog.
3. Establish and maintain regular posts. Whether you post daily or once a week, or twice a week—whatever—do so routinely. On Fridays, on Tuesdays—this way, readers know to expect and when to expect your posts. Readers love fresh content. But if you post erratically, they might enjoy your posts but they’ll miss (or forget) them because you fail to set a pattern that is established in their rhythm.
4. Team up! If you’re new to blogging, you well might want to gather a group of like-minded authors and do a group-themed blog. This will expand your reach and theirs. It’s a win/win, provided you stick to the blog’s central theme and everyone does what they agree to do. You can set yourself up as Administrator and permit others to contribute and post their own posts. This does mean you’ll be asked to assist the others now and then, but if your group is experienced, this will not be an ordeal and shouldn’t be an issue. Do a basic set of instructions and share them with the group, prepare a schedule in advance, and their calls for help will be occasional and grow to rare.
5. Make it easy for your readers. Allow your blog posts to be emailed to readers. On both my Christians Read blog and my personal blogs, far more people have the posts delivered to their email than go to the website to read. When you deliver to them, they don’t have to remember to visit your blog to read your posts. The easier you make it for readers, the greater your odds for a successful blog. If you use an email service (like Mail Chimp or madmimi.com), delivery is a snap to set-up and automate. Your mailing list is created and it is an extremely valuable asset. If you use a free blog at wordpress.com, then it will have your mailing list and you’ll have to go through it to access your readers. That’s not as good, but it is what I did initially on Christians Read, which is why I now have multiple lists. It’s difficult to get readers to transfer over, so you want to avoid moves if at all possible. On wordpress.com, the service is free. On Mail Chimp or madmimi.com, the first hundred subscribers or so are free, but then you’ll have to upgrade to a paid list.
6. I’m going to harp on this because it’s so important. Be mindful of your readers’ time. Whatever your theme, work to give them something of substance and value to them in your posts. In other words, give them what they need or want. A reason to read. Posts don’t have to be long. Shorter is fine. It’s substance not length that matters. My Thinking Aloud posts are as popular with readers as my full-length articles. (See why the thematic approach to your posts is important?)
7. Moderate comments. If you don’t, you’ll get a ton of people who are advertising their products/services on your blog. Some blogs allow for moderating non-followers and permitting followers to comment. That’s perfect, if available.
These are tips I’ve shared most often. I hope they’re of use to you. Happy blogging!
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© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: The Marked Star and In Case of Emergency: What You Need to Know When I Can’t Tell You (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. KNOW IT FIRST! Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!