1. Site Matters – There are a number of blog sites out there on the big, bad web and they are not all the same. I happened to, by pure, blind luck, begin on WordPress. The other big player is Blogger, but there is also LiveJournal, Tumblr, and Weebly, among others. Which one you end up with should depend on what you are trying to do.
Some work best for photo blogs. Some are best suited for personal use. Some allow vlog services, some don’t, some have a Like button for quick acknowledgements, others don’t. Some have a quick, painless comment feature, others make you do everything but promise your first-born in order to comment.
What do you want to do with your blog? Which features do you want? Figure it out before you commit. Another difference is export features – some blog hosts allow you to move the contents to another site with relative ease, others do not.
2. Consistency is Key – When I first began RantRaveWrite, it was a diversion on a sick day – home from work with nothing else to do. I wrote in fits and starts, abandoning it for months at a time. It felt, much like novel writing does, that I was writing in a vacuum. I had a hard time figuring out what to post.
Then I realized my blog title said it all – I began just dumping the contents of my head onto the page. Most days it has an element of humor, sometimes it is just things taking up space in my brain and other days the posts are downright painful.
But once I started posting regularly, I realized that this was just an extension of my other, physical self. I just like telling stories. And as I began telling them, people began reading them. Without making any effort at it, I started picking up subscribers, picking up search engine hits and mentions in other blogs. All because I had a consistent presence.
3. There is No Formula – There are a number of blog theories – A post a day. Scheduled posts on certain days of the week. Theme days. Single topic blogs. Diverse topic blogs. And what it comes down to is the same thing I tell my clients every day: There is no right way to do this. There is only your way.
4. It is a Social Enterprise – Once you figure out what works for you, you may want to share. As a writer, this became a necessity for me. Working my way through edits and revisions took me out of the stories enough to acknowledge that I need a platform, and that building one is my responsibility. And how does one go about that? Social Media.
Six months ago, I had the personal Facebook account I begrudgingly used to keep track of distant friends. Now I have Tweeps, Pinboards, Networked Blogs and my newest addition – a Triberr Tribe. Right now, I am merely trying to learn their place in my world, later they will matter more. But in the meantime, they expand my reach and bring me into contact with people I would otherwise never meet.
5. I Will Make Friends – Bloggers are a community. Each of us may work through our words as a solitary enterprise, but there are many of us and if you reach out, respond to comments, comment on other blogs, you will find yourself engaged in that community effortlessly.
Participate in challenges and groups – Round of Words in 80 Days, Bookmark Break, 30 Day Blog Challenge, 52 Books in 52 Weeks – there are a ton of them out there. Find one or two to join and you will find yourself with a great deal of support and encouragement that can help you work through hurdles, or just feel a little less alone.
For writers, Kristin Lamb is perhaps the guru of the social nature of blogs and how writers can use them toward platform building. Her We Are Not Alone (WANA) movement is helping writers find not only their place, but each other.
6. There Will Be Mistakes – If you’re like me, there will be lots of them. It could come as a poorly chosen post, an errant comment or a fight with your technology. That’s fine. Wipe if off and move on.
If it was a post, you can remove it, or make it private, if the host allows. If it was a comment that got out of hand, do what you do in real life – apologize. Don’t be belligerent or argumentative for the sake of the argument. Community, remember? And in real life we all roll our eyes and try to avoid the guy who knows everything about everything.
Don’t be that guy.
And if it’s technology? Well then, welcome to my world. Again – resources. I have a number of fix it blogs I keep tabs on – some follow security issues, some are hardware based. For ease of use tricks, and a guide through the social media maze, I check in most frequently on the Cowbell: You Need More Of It Techie Tuesday posts.
7. Response is Relevant – For a long time I was a reader only. A lurker. I’d visit many blogs over the course of the week, but I never commented on them, or acknowledged the writer in any way.
As part of the RoW80 Challenge, I began commenting on a minimum of three of my reads each week, for the second round it was 10. As a result, I found my own traffic increasing. A ‘nice post!’ is appreciated by the writer, but a thoughtful, relevant response will have their readers click to your site through the comment link.
This made sense when I thought about it – I never fail to check out the site of someone who has commented on my work, and I find myself clicking on good commenter links as well. If I work that way, it stands to reason that others would, too.
8. It’s Not Just About Me – Feeling like you are writing in a vacuum and being in a vacuum are two different things. If you post about your family and friends from time to time, as many of us do, bear in mind – you may think the post was brilliant, but your family may not agree. They may not like being featured in the You Show. Remember your boundaries.
9. I Will Be A Pimp. You can see evidence of this above – I’ve pimped Kristen Lamb, Kait’s RoW80 Challenge, Cowbell and others. I want you to use these people. Click the links. Explore their worlds. It benefits them, because it can bring them new readers, you benefit by learning something new, and in a round about way, I collect on this exchange as well via thanks and tweet acknowledgements – it draws me a bit further into the community.
You, too, should pimp your favorites. Share them with embedded links, or as hops from the bottom of your post. If you find value in what they do, acknowledge them for it by spreading the word.
10. It’s Me – One thing a blog does for you that you might not anticipate is help you find your voice. Turns out my voice is a bit snarky, and at time verbose. But, so am I in real life. By perfecting your personal writing voice, you are strengthening the voice you use in all of your writing. This will show up everywhere – in query letters, complaint letters, thank you notes, and most importantly for writers – in your Works In Progress.
You will learn to recognize that which is off-key. And like a bad violin chord can make a listener shudder and wince, a bad verbal turn can yank a reader out of their precious suspension of disbelief state to stare at the words on the page in horror – What was that?
Blogging can help you crystallize your voice, so you can craft words that ring clearly and sincerely to your readers.
- How To Pimp A Blog Post (soulati.com)
- 12 Things That Will Kill Your Blog Post Every Time (seomoz.org)
- Blogging For Writers – 7 Important Tips