Sunday, September 2

8 Tips For Blogging Success

8 Tips For Blogging Success

1. What's your angle?
Since you're reading this chances are you're going to blog about writing. That's terrific! There are SO many sub-topics no one can adequately cover even a fraction of them.

2. Narrow your focus
There are many ways to blog about writing. For instance:

- Authors: blog about your books, your book tours, the progress you're making on your current manuscript, where you get your inspiration, your process, writing tips, and so on. Kim Harrison's blog is a great example.
- Writing News: What's going on in the writing/book publishing world. New markets (e.g., Kobo's Writing Life), new reading devises, trends in the industry, who is in court for what (e.g., the DoJ lawsuit), etc.
- Writing 'How-To': Give writing tips, interview writers, editors, book publishers. Talk abut different writing systems (eg. Michael Hauge vs Christopher Vogler vs Blake Snyder), etc.
- Book blog: This is an idea for the brave. Post the unedited first draft you're working on, day by day. Or, serialize a longer story. Could do this with several authors contributing.
- Book Review Blog: These are sorely needed, especially for independently published books. Involves reading books and given an honest opinion.

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) matters
Choosing a blog name
I think everyone, even writers that hole themselves up in a cabin, 100 miles away from the nearest hint of civilization, know the importance of optimizing their website and/or blog for search engines. Hands down, the most important part of SEO is your choice of name.

This deserves a post--heck, a series of posts--all on its own but the rule of thumb I keep in mind is to use a name that is going to be relevant to nearly every post you make. (For instance, "Karen Woodward" is the name of my blog and each post includes the line: "posted by Karen Woodward". That's a very simple way to make sure the title of your blog is always linked to the content of your posts.)

If you're going to be setting up an author blog then you've got the name of your blog, it'll be the name you write under. Otherwise, try to pick something that exemplifies what your focus is. For instance, David Gaughran named his blog after one of his books, "Let's Get Digital" which also nicely summarizes the theme of the majority of his posts. And I think "Let's Get Digital" works especially well because it is easy to remember.

Choosing a domain name
Having decided what you're going to name your blog you now need to hope that it's available as a .com or, if not, a .net or .org.

Even if you won't be using your domain name right away--this may be the case if you're starting your blog over at Blogger.com or Wordpress.com--you still want to grab your domain name before someone else does. It only costs about 10 dollars a year and is well worth the investment.

4. Read great blogs
This probably should have been my first point. Just like writers have to read the work, both good and bad, of other writers so bloggers need to read other bloggers.

Naturally you're going to read other blogs--lots of other blogs--in your area, but you also want to read successful blogs outside your area.

For instance, I love Penelope Trunk's blog. I don't always agree with her--wouldn't that be boring--but I like reading what she has to say. She's engaging. And she shares what she has learnt from blogging, what has worked for her, what hasn't. Great stuff.

5. Commit to your blog
I feel as though my blog is like a child, or at least a needy cat. Through it might not seem like it in the beginning, having a blog is quite the committment and, like any committment, it can be stressful.
It helps--and it helps your blog to grow--if you have a set writing schedule. For me, I post 2 blogs each weekday and 1 on Saturdays and Sundays. That said, you also have to be flexible. For instance, last week I spent 6 hours on one post so I only posted one blog that day.

I think the single biggest factor in growing a blog is the number of posts per day. That and the quality of the posts. The second most important factor is consistency. Even if you blog only once a month, make sure you are consistent. That said, sometimes to need to ignore all the rules and do your own thing. Whatever works.

6. Learn what your audience wants
Blogger has analytics/stats you can use to see which of your posts was the most popular. You can also find out which of your posts were the least popular. This will give you an idea what your audience is interested in. If you're not set up on blogger (I think wordpress.org & wordpress.com also have built in analytics), or even if you are, I highly recommend using Google Analytics. It's free and it'll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about your blog traffic. I also recommend linking your Google Analytics account with your Google Webmaster Tools account.

7. Connect your accounts
Don't forget to, at minimum, tweet your posts. I would also advice cross-posting to Facebook. Even if you're like me and you don't use Facebook much, enough people do that it's probably worth it. Also, make sure your readers can subscribe to your feed and give them the option of having your posts emailed. Feedburner is great for this.

8. Guest posts
I've had wonderful experiences with guest posters. Not only have I received fantastic content for a fraction of the work, but I've made connections within the writing community. I want to put up a page with guidelines for guest posts in the hope this will encourage more of my readers to submit content. For instance, do you accept guest posts (yes please!), what topics you'll accept, how long the posts should be, how much lead time you need (this is important for folks doing promotional posts for a new book), and so on.

Okay, gotta run! I hope you've found something helpful in this post and best of luck to you. If you have a blog please do leave a link to it in the comments. :-)

Other articles you might like:
- Ursula K. Le Guin On Academic Criticism & Philip K. Dick
- Are You Writing The Right Book? 5 Ways To Find Out
- Fifty Shades of Alice In Wonderland: Sales Peak At $1,000 Per Day

Photo credit: Geoff Campbell

8 comments:

  1. Hi Karen, I was just 'talking' to you on twitter and thought I would check out your blog. (I am the Word of Ward and was whingeing about London weather.) So linking from Twitter clearly works.
    I have two websites and you are right about having an angle. My first website - www.thewordofward.co.uk is a general website where I review things. Anything. Which is pretty vague. It is still growing in readership but slowly.
    My other website is called www.scifiward.com. It is, predictably, about Science Fiction. This has shot up quickly and I get all sorts of goodies like free books from publishers, comics, and press invites to all sorts of events.
    Focus is important.
    Anyway. Like the site.

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    1. Oh hey! And we can use more than 140 characters!

      I like the idea behind thewordofward.co.uk, each post no longer than a sentence and then a link. I've recently started following swissmiss.com and I like that style, a lot of information condensed, you don't have to skim through it to find what you want.

      I'm a scifi gal so I love scifiward.com. I don't have as much time for reading these days but there's nothing like a good scifi read. I'm glad I found your blog, thanks for the comment :)

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  2. I think point #5 is the most important - you have to commit. People who get comfortable with your consistency level will come back and hopefully bring their friends. However, if you promise consistency and then let them down too often, they'll abandon you forever.

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    1. Agreed. And (* knock on wood *) I have found that it's true, the more one writes, the more one can write. Just this morning I was kicking myself for not starting a blog years ago.

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  3. Thanks for the post... So much for me to think about and absorb.

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    1. Thanks Terri! I feel the same about your poems. :-)

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  4. Good overview for beginner bloggers and even more advanced bloggers. If you follow all these tips, your blog will be pretty powerful and ready for you to start creating great content and attracting visitors.

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Because of the number of bots leaving spam I had to prevent anonymous posting. My apologies to anyone this inconveniences, I wish I didn't have to do it. I do appreciate each and every comment.