I was a little hesitant to write this post today. I’m comfortable (somewhat) when I blog about writing and editing because I’ve been doing it for 13 years. However, I’m not an experienced blogger by any means. I’ve only been blogging for 51 days now. With that being said, a recent blog post I made here has prompted enough views and inquiring comments that I thought I would share my limited experience.
When I wrote the blog linked above (11 days prior to this posting) I had almost reached 300 followers. As of today, I have 409. I think it was these numbers that prompted the curiosity. So here are the things I have been doing. Like I said, I don’t know if what I’m doing is good or bad – it’s just my process.
Stay true to your voice. I write my blog as if it is correspondence with a treasured friend who is also on the writing path. I also write it as a means to compile my own thoughts for future reference (a personal journal or writing wiki of sorts). In this way, I hope to come off as someone with ideas to share, but not someone who is talking down to you.
Which bring me to…
Discussion versus instruction. If a thought or opinion is not mine, I do my best to reference it and link a source for people to find it. I treat those bits and bobs as instruction. When I am spit-balling my own thoughts, I try to preface it with words like, “in my opinion,” “I think,” “I believe,” and so on. I treat those as discussion. I feel it’s important to not be inflexible in your thoughts – especially when it comes to something artistic like writing.
Now if you are an accomplished author, editor, artist, or whatever – you can pull off a more serious tone that is heavy on instruction. You’ve earned your stripes, wear them proudly. As for me, I don’t take things too seriously. Writing is enjoyable, I want my blog to be as well.
Consistency is key. I mentioned earlier I have been blogging for 51 days. I have generated at least 51 posts. The idea is you can fish with a hook, or with a net.
This does two things for me. One, it gets me out there everyday. I meet new people and collaborate about ideas. Secondly, with the growing library of posts, I can reference old posts into new ones to generate additional clicks and sources of information for readers. In this way, I can be more concise with writing tips by referencing past material.
I try to limit posting to one a day. I don’t want to spam peoples screens with tons of decent posts when I can write one good one. Personally, when I use the reader to browse content I don’t like it when one person has 10 blog posts in a row. It intrudes and consumes the collaborative space. That’s just me – sorry if you are one of those people. If you are going to do multiple posts throughout the day, I recommend using the scheduler to space them out. This will increase the number of views.
Write about what you are passionate about. Every day I dedicate time to my craft (writing). I am writing my own books, editing others, and reading books (fiction and non-fiction). Now that I blog about writing, I keep a constant eye out for things that could be good blog fodder. In this sense, I have an endless supply of content to work from.
Additionally, since I only write a single blog post a day, I can take extra ideas and jot them down for reference later (those days when the well is dry). In the books I read, I toss post it notes into their pages to alert me to possible ideas. When I edit, if something jumps out at me worth sharing, it gets tossed into the idea journal.
Sharing is caring. When people comment or like my posts, I make my very best effort to reply back or go to their page and browse their content. I try to get to know them. If they took the time and effort to read, why shouldn’t I return the favor?
Also, I dedicate a portion of my day to seeking out posts from new bloggers and leave comments on them. Why should I expect people only come to me? Don’t fish with worms, use dynamite! Search out people who share your interests and interact. More often then not, they will return the favor. I start with my followed sights and browse their content, then I use tags to search out subjects that intrigue me.
I really try to target posts that have been sitting for a long time and have no likes or comments. Especially when they are well-written. We’ve all been there. You write this great post and no ones looks at it. It’s crushing. Take the time to spread the love.
Try to limit blog posts to under 1000 words (this one is an exception). People are busy. If I can’t relay my writing tip in 1000 words or less, I try to break it down more. I find when the word count grows, it’s because I don’t fully understand the idea I am trying to relay. Or it could be that I am trying to cover more than one point (like today).
Break up big blocks of text with pictures. When I am done writing, I try to find photos to compliment the words. People are more apt to continue scrolling when there are photos to pull them along. I like funny photos so those are what I tend to provide. It’s important to note I do my best to only use Public Domain images and I create all of my own memes. The last thing you want is to get a blog running on high octane only to have some chucklehead sue you.
Your home page is important. When you Google Quintessential Editor, I pop up first. Most search engines provide only a snapshot of the page. For me, you see the first two sentences of my home page. In those two sentences you know what you will see if you click into my website.
“Welcome to the Quintessential Editor. Here I provide writing tips every day, for everyday writers. You will find information regarding writing, editing, proofreading…” then it cuts off. The blog has been around long enough that it also lists my most commonly clicked on categories within the top search. There’s always a chance someone will randomly search a term in a search engine and your page will show up. You need enough information there for them to decide whether to enter or not.
Tags, categories, and blog headlines are also important. Categories are what allow people to browse content on your page and you can use widgets to support this endeavor. Once I had enough posts created I made sure they were in clear categories (and sub-categories) with relevant tags.
Blog headlines are essential. In reader, it prompts people to check out your post (for me, whatever photo I insert first accompanies this headline in reader). It’s also important for search engines. Think of your headline as a search engine term if possible.
Widgets are a powerful free tool. Once you have someone on your page, you want to encourage them to stay. Showing off other posts and information is a great way to do it. You will see in my sidebar some widgets. One is a drop down list that allows people to, at a glance, see what they can read (again, this only works if you have categorized your posts). I also use the widgets showing off my top 10 posts, and 10 most recent ones. This is how I try to chum the water and keep the sharks circling.
Other social media outlets should look different than your blog. I link my page to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, I try to make sure all of my social media outlets offer different things. While all of these roads link together (those other mediums all link back to my blog) each place offers something different. Instagram is more about fatherhood and life – but links to the blog. Twitter is about promoting indie authors, geek stuff, writing quotes, and other tomfoolery, but you can get to my blog there too. If everything looks the same, no one has any reason to look at your other outlets.
Technical mumbo jumbo. I am not an expert on this by any means. I did browse and find a template I liked and I did pay for my own domain and WordPress premium. The books I used to get set up are the following: WordPress: The Missing Manual, Smashing WordPress Themes, and Web Designer’s Guide to WordPress.
That’s pretty much it. There are a lot of things I still need to figure out. Like I said, I’m pretty new at this. Hopefully you found something useful. Some of the more technical things like widgets, categories, and tags you can search online to find more information about. As for themes, I spent a couple days tweaking and adjusting how mine looked (Youtube helped me here) to get it to function how I wanted it to.
Do you have any tools or tips that work especially well for you? This would be something I would be very interested to hear about. I think we are all trying to figure out the best way of doing business. Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!