Blogging: Building Your Platform

 

thor-with-leaf

Thor sorting leaves. He knows where to find the good ones.

It’s been too long since I’ve been able to update! I’m writing this post in my bedroom/office/box storage room. Yes, the prolonged move is taking forever, but I will be off to a new state and house by the end of the month. Fortunately (or unfortunately), that means you’ll be hearing a lot more from me in the near future. Oh, Thor is walking/running now…so yeah, busy times!

Today I wanted to take a moment to announce a milestone on the QE page. I’ve met and surpassed 1000 followers! Oddly enough, the last 200+ followers have come during a period of non-activity on my page [insert excuses: moving, baby, editing, writing, stay-at-home dad, military spouse].

So how did the blog continue to generate activity without me at the helm being proactive? I mean, does my blog even need me anymore? Has it gained self-awareness? I wish…

thanksBefore I get into the platform building section, let me say “thanks!” People talk about followers just being numbers. You’ll only make X number of sales from X number of followers. It all seems so impersonal. Speaking from my experience, I’ve received awesome emails from people checking in on me and the family, gained clients,  found collaborative writing partners, joined a Legion, uncovered fellow editors (key wielding clones), and I’m very humbled and appreciative of these relationships. Sales are one thing, meaningful relationships are something much more. So again, thanks for reading and coming back for more.

Building the BlogNow that I’m done gushing, let’s talk brass tacks.

I wrote a how-to post about blogging before: Blogging: What Works for Me. I wrote that post in July of last year when I had hit 400 followers. People were curious about my process, and I’m always happy to share. In it, I offered some tips about how to craft your writing and your activity to increase viewership. Towards the bottom of that post, I wrote a very short paragraph titled, Technical Mumbo Jumbo.  It seems some of that technical hoopla is more essential than I realized.

The technical aspects of your blog are what allow you to reach beyond WordPress and start generating views from search engines and other sources. In the last two months, where I only generated a few posts, those 200+ followers were likely due to me taking advantage of some of the features within WordPress. It’s also due to the type of content I ordinarily post.

Looking at my site analytics I’ve noticed a massive amount of views are being generated from search engines. This was planned. *maniacal laughter* Here are some ways to make your blog more visible outside of WordPress and gain more traffic.

evergreenWrite Evergreen Content. When I say “evergreen,” I’m talking about the shelf-life of the post. Some posts we write are author/editor/blogger/life update posts. For many, it’s a given you will want to reach out to your readers. “I’ll be here at this convention” or “Check out my new release.” There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that those posts won’t be the workhorses on your page. In terms of search engine visibility, unless someone knows exactly what to type, they likely won’t stumble into those posts. The workhorses are the posts that don’t have a fuse or timeline.

There is little chance someone who’s never been to or heard of this page will type into Google, “Quintessential Editor Barnes and Noble Rant.” There is higher likelihood someone might search, “the herald archetype.” Both of these searches will bring up posts from this blog on the first or second page of Google, but one (the archetype post) is far more likely to pull a reader because it’s a logical search term.

The Barnes and Noble rant was a needed outlet for me to express my disdain, but it has little real usefulness to people.  On the other hand, posts about aspects of writing are tools people actively seek out. While your blog may not be centered around writing, finding ways to write content with no shelf-life and high applicability is a good move.

Your Blog Headline is Important. I didn’t realize this at first, but after studying the stats on my page over the course of the last eight months, I can’t refute the numbers. Writing and publishing clever headlines makes me smile, but they have little application outside of WordPress Reader. In fact, they can make your content nearly impossible for someone to stumble into from the endless sprawl of the interwebs.

harry-potter-newspaperThink of your blog headline like an internet search term. While the blog headline may be clever and will snag fresh readers taking advantage of the WordPress Reader, after a few weeks or months it will be buried. Yes, people can utilize tags and categories to find your posts here on WordPress (if they scroll long enough). However, search engines are a much bigger ocean and require more precision.

For example, I wrote about how to anchor readers using setting. I wanted to use a really clever headline for the post. Instead, I went with the very bland Setting: Anchoring the Reader. If someone types in “how to anchor a reader with setting” or “anchoring a reader with setting,” this post is usually on the front page of most search engines. The words a person might use to find this information with a search engine can be different, but the headline contains most of the words they would use.

Know the difference between a category and tag. Tags are the golden ticket. Not only will they allow people in WordPress Reader to narrow down their search and stumble onto your content, it also factors into search engine results. If you couldn’t tweak your headline to nail the topic entirely, you will want to add those missing words, individually, into the tag. Also add tags that are applicable to the topic.

For this post, I’ll likely have [writing, blogging, how-to, advice, WordPress, headlines, understanding, categories, tags, fiction, non-fiction, Corey Truax, dad]. You’ll notice dad there, it seems WordPress dads are always looking for kindred spirits so I always leave a breadcrumb trail. If you’re an author/editor/business person, it never hurts to toss your cats-dressed-vintage-photo.jpgname into the tag of each post. The more posts out there with your name on it, the more likely someone doing an internet search of your name will stumble into your blog.

[Here be rumors and unsubstantiated banter] I’ve read that some users will flood the tag area of their webpage posts. So let’s say you write a post about knitting sweaters for kittens. Some people will copy and paste more than 100 related and unrelated words into the tag field hoping someone searches for a topic and walks into their trap. In my opinion — you kitten sweater knitting maniacs — that’s a good way to ensure an unwary person never returns to your page. I’ve also read that certain search engines will boot your post from their search results if the tag seems like spam. [Here ends the trail of kitten tears]

labyrinthCategories Keep People on Your Page. Categories are how you organize your page. We don’t want readers to feel like they are navigating a labyrinth. I started with five or six main categories. One of them was “Writing.” This was a mistake because it lumped too many posts of different types into one giant category. If someone clicked the Writing category, a massive list of blog posts popped up. Some may have been what they were looking for, some weren’t. I broke “Writing” down into more precise categories: Conflict, Setting, Description, Dialogue, and so on. When I did this, repeat views from a single reader skyrocketed. Alas, some people who came to the page didn’t care about every aspect of writing.

If categories are a new concept for you entirely, WordPress has a page dedicated to explaining what they are and how to make them work for you. Check it out here.

You can really take advantage of your categories by using the widgets included with WordPress. Widgets offer different options that display navigation tools. If you are unfamiliar with widgets, WordPress has a page for you here.

That’s it for today. The last bit of advice I’ll give is this, take the time to understand how to leverage the tools I talked about above. It’s heartbreaking to see people grinding away so hard and not getting readership. Especially when their blog page is how they generate business. Implementing these small tweaks will add two minutes to your process — at most. Those two minutes will ensure your webpage is easy to find, navigate, and use. And heck, maybe your page will achieve self-awareness.

question-markDo you have any tips that have worked for you? Do you understand the bizarre search engine algorithms? There a few more tools I have under my hat, but this post is already well beyond my 1000 word cap. If there’s enough interest, I can write another one with some extra bits of info. Until we cross quills again, keep reading, keep writing, and as always — stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

33 responses

    • Thor has about six teeth now, and they should be listed as weapons. Between his razor sharp fingernails and those teeth…it’s a wonder I’m still alive. Add unlimited mobility to the mix, and you have a dangerous situation!

      I saw the author name in the tag when I was reading an article. It made sense to me as agents, publishers, and potential customers may want to Google you. Having a couple pages of blog articles popping up never hurts.

      Thanks for reading and happy writing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ouch, ouch, I know what you mean! It’s never a good idea to cross your toddler, unless you absolutely have to hehe
        I will try the tag thing : D see if it helps my blog become more self-aware.
        Best of luck chasing Thor around!

        Meno<3

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Blogging: Building Your Platform #wrtr2wrtr | Words Can Inspire the World

  2. I had to laugh when I saw the reference to cats. Since Heather watches all those cat videos. You always know how to get your point across and keep your readers reading. Can’t wait to see you, Thor and Heather. So proud of both of you. Love ya

    Liked by 1 person

    • She does love those cat videos (I might enjoy them too…). Looking forward to seeing all of you in a few days. You can help me wrangle Thor!

      Like

  3. Hey Corey,

    Good to see you back to start with. I hope everything’s gone well with the move and Thor.

    I’m starting to have the issue that some of my older content (not the really old stuff, but the alright stuff I did near the start) isn’t tagged or categorised. Do you know if there’s a way of getting things to auto-tag? Also, any ideas on how to push some of the older content?

    I will break 100 followers this year…

    All the best, Corey. Look forward to seeing you back to being a regular poster!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m unsure of a bulk action to do this. The fastest way I’m aware of is to use your admin page. To access this type in your WordPress web address and add /wp-admin/ to the end of it. Hit enter and you should be on your admin page. A lot people don’t know about the admin page. This is going to offer you a lot of cool tools to speed the process.

      Once you are on the admin page, click on “Posts” in the left column. Now you should see a giant listing of all of your posts. It summarizes everything. Scroll through and find posts missing categories and tags. Use the “Quick Edit” option to quickly open and add info.

      Also, if you ever messed up your Categories or Sub-Categories, you can click “Categories” and edit them as well. I know sometimes I forgot to capitalize a category or misspelled it and couldn’t figure out how to fix these issues. This area will allow you to do this.

      If you are still lost in the sauce, shoot me an email. Good luck bud!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve been packing the house, trying to keep up with Thor, and finishing all of my open editing contracts. Here in the U.S., when you move states you have to do all kinds of things to move your business. Unfortunately, I’ll have to close my current business and open a new one when we move. But I had to close out all open work first.

      I’ve certainly missed reading your poetry. Looking forward to catching up once we get totally moved and time becomes more abundant!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the kind words and for reading. This is my seventh military move since 2003, so it’s starting to become like clockwork. The only difference is having a baby now (and our fur-baby Niblet the cat).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, congratulations on reaching 1000 followers; I have the exact same number in reverse order.
    Your popularity is no mystery–you write very interesting and informative articles. Yours is a blog I can recommend with confidence because it always has great content.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not officially back just yet (unfortunately), as the moving trucks get loaded next Tuesday and we head to the new house the following Thursday. I’ll be homeless there for a day or three. Then I’m sure there will be shenanigans setting up utilities/internet/and all of that.

      Regardless, thanks for the kind words and I’m happy to be shaking off the dust. You’re one of the blogs/people I’ve missed reading the most—you’re writing is always so interesting and enjoyable.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Considering you’re the one who taught me pretty much everything I know about blogging already, I try to steal (ahem….) learn anything I can from posts like this. 1,000 is a huge milestone, and I’m happy for you. I’m glad you’re back, but I honestly can’t wait till you’re a closer drive away. Then there will be plans! Any rate, I’m glad you’re back.

    Liked by 1 person

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