I happen to be an independent author with a history of dissecting literature in grad school, so I blog about fiction: what makes good fiction, and what things we authors should avoid (for the most part).
That’s just me, though. People blog and read blogs about all kinds of things: some of my favorite blogs are faith-focused or philosophy-based, or comment on current events, because let’s face it, none of us has only one facet.
Now, marketing your blog is a separate subject. To have success marketing, though, you first need a solid product to put out there. Here are 4 quick tips to make your blog the best it can be content-wise:
1. DON’T BLOG TOO OFTEN FOR YOUR SCHEDULE AND YOUR LIFE.
I always tells authors they need to “write for you,” and that holds true for blogging as well. Blogging should be an enjoyable and pleasurable experience, one that challenges you but also brings learning and growth experiences.
I used to blog daily. I even wrote a post about how frequent blogging can help you break a perfectionism habit. Now, though, I’ve cut back to twice a week. And you know what? That is a much better schedule for me.
Blogging regularly is ALWAYS a good idea, but “regularly” doesn’t have to me “daily” or even “weekly.” It all depends on you. We are all different people and all have different lives, with different obligations.
When blogging becomes a stressor–when “blogging” starts to mean “anxiety about finding time to write” and “constantly worrying about what to say or how to meet my self-imposed deadlines,” then it’s time to cut back.
Cutting back is NOT a bad thing! It doesn’t mean accepting defeat. It doesn’t even mean you’ll lose your community. The people who have connected with you will continue to drop by, I promise.
2. DON’T OVERTHINK THINGS OR BE A STAT JUNKIE.
When you make blogging about you, then you don’t worry too much about finding the “perfect” title for a post or getting SEO “just right.” A small dip in stats won’t bug you.
That’s a good thing! Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take time to market your blog and increase your readership. Obviously, we all want that. But when attracting people to your blog takes precedence over how your blog is benefiting YOU, in my personal opinion, something’s wrong.
I’ve written posts from time to time to help me work through a problem with a work-in-progress. Through the process of describing what my issue is, I often figure out how to tackle it. If I don’t, sometimes a reader will leave a comment that helps me work through what has me stumped.
Those post aren’t nearly as popular as some other kinds of posts. And you know what? I don’t care, because those post are among the most beneficial to me. They help me grow as a writer. They help me confront my insecurities and doubts as a writer. And that’s way more valuable than a couple hundred more people dropping by my site.
I admit, I have been a bit of a stat junkie in the past, and I’ve written about how stat obsession is counterproductive both emotionally and in terms of my blog’s improvement and expansion. Because it is that.
Make blogging about the experience you create for yourself, not visitors whom you can’t control, and you’ll be a much happier blogger.
3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AN “EXPERT” IN THE FIELD TO BLOG ABOUT IT.
Some people hesitate to start a blog, or continue a blog, because while they feel passionate about something, they don’t think they are an “expert” in the field. They worry about saying something silly or even downright wrong. They worry about embarrassing themselves.
Well, here’s the thing: you don’t have to be an expert to blog. NOT AT ALL. In fact, if you have a real passion for something and want to learn more, blogging about the topic is a fantastic way to spur yourself to research more about it and expand your knowledge base.
Just admit your novice status and explain that you are speaking from your heart, from where you are. People will connect with and relate to that (as long as you are a responsible writer, you fact-check, and your thoughts and/or argument is cohesive).
You see, blogging is all about community. Blogging will connect you with others who share your interests. Conversations will start that will show you new points of view and new approaches to the topic.
As for me: I’m no expert in creative writing. I don’t even have an MFA. (My Master’s is in Spanish, with an emphasis on Spanish literature. I did take a creative writing sequence as an undergrad, but still… No MFA.)
I just blog from the heart. I expound on my experiences and put my opinions out there. I know what I like to read, and I base my philosophy on what makes good writing on that.
And I LOVE when people share different points of view in the comments section (as long as commenters are respectful of everyone else). I am always seeking to become a better writer, and people who disagree, or see things with different eyes, help me understand that my way of reading and writing is not the only one. They reinforce that there is no “one way” to go about writing.
I love when I need to defend, or break down, or somehow further explain my point of view to someone who feels differently or doesn’t fully understand what I meant to say. It’s an exercise in exposition, for one thing. It also brings me to question why I think what I do about writing. Sometimes that leads me to tweak my approach to the written word.
4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY SOMETHING NEW: A NEW STRUCTURE, A NEW TOPIC, ETC.
This goes back to not overthinking. To blogging for you. Generally, it’s a good idea to have a set structure for your posts and a theme to your blog in terms of topic. If nothing else, it makes blogging easier on YOU, because you’re not starting completely from scratch when you need to write a post.
This doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t veer from your usual pattern. It doesn’t mean that when you feel inspired to do something different, you shouldn’t or you can’t.
Your blog is for you, first and foremost. And if you feel inspired to write about a different kind of topic, then there’s an emotional or psychological need for you to do that. Maybe you need to work through something. Maybe you need to get something off your chest.
Is journaling an option? Sure. But if you feel a desire to share those thoughts, even if they’re out of the ordinary for your blog, you can and should.
I don’t do this too often, but I’m from New Orleans, and this year on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I felt compelled for some reason to share my Katrina story (and especially the lessons I learned from the experience.) I was away in college, not in the city when the storm came, though my family had to evacuate. My experience was a bit unique that way.
The topic had nothing to do with creative writing. But the post was from the heart. It was raw and honest, and some people connected with it. Looking back, I don’t regret my decision to write that post at all, if only because it reinforced to ME the lessons Katrina brought into my life, and it had been a long time since I’d reflected on those.
Focusing on them again, at this new stage in my life, was something I needed to do.
So, what do you think about these blogging tips? Do you find you have been following them? Do you have a tip or two to add to the list?
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You might also find these related posts helpful:
- Why Writers Should Read Blogs
- Why You Should Be a “Selfish” Blogger
- How to Take Your Blog to a Deeper Level