On Blogging

I have been thinking about creating a post with some tips and tricks for blogging for some time now; though I already made a post regarding the unforeseen consequences of blogging, I wanted to give some advice and examples that have helped me gain the dedicated following I have. When I created my blog 3 years ago, WordPress provided a free e-book that gives tips for starting a blog and gaining traction. I will preface my advice by saying I followed a lot of what the e-book said, especially regarding tags and using SEO to get views and draw an audience to my site. What follows is advice I wish had been shared with me when I was first starting out.

1. Friends

We’re All Friends Here.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of blogging techniques, I want to emphasize the social aspect of blogging that often gets overlooked. As bloggers, it behooves us to support our fellow creators and seek out those who have similar interests. The more you interact with other bloggers, the more people will see who you are and will want to come visit your site. . Reblogging content by others, while helping to share and spread their content, also makes it more likely for other blogs to reciprocate. However, it is important to remember that you are not beholden to a blog if you dislike their content or their views; part of being a blogger is knowing not everyone will connect or agree with your posts, just as you don’t have to connect with everyone else’s. For those blogs you do want to support, another way to connect is through social media.

2. Social Network

Creating a Social Network.

While the content on your blog is the meat and potatoes, so to speak, of what you are offering, creating and maintaining social media profiles will help expand your online footprint and spread your content farther out on the web. Blogger follow trains are often found on Twitter; these are a great way to not only spread your blog to others by gaining followers and subscribers, but also a way to network and interact with other blogs. Some channels will be more responsive than others; it is up to you to decide whether to give the better performing channels more attention, or to try and get all on an even footing.

One thing I did to spread out my content and bring it to those who might otherwise not see it was to amass followers on my LinkedIn profile. Depending on the content and mission of your blog, this may or may not be the route to go down. Regardless, what I did was, in the beginning, add anyone in my recommended connections that had five or more connections in common with me. I only had a few former coworkers and friends on my profile when I began doing this for a grand total of 14 connections. I would go through and send out requests to anyone fitting the above criteria once a day, five days a week. After three or so years since I began, I now have over 5,300 connections on LinkedIn. Do I know many of them? Not at all; but people are very willing to connect with those they may not actually know on LinkedIn since it is focused on business networking. This created an entirely new audience in addition to my readers on WordPress, and it added another place to share my work and foster discussion.

3. Sharing

Sharing is Caring.

Engaging your audience at the end of a post is a fantastic method to create more interest and traffic on your blog. Discussing topics with those who agree or, more importantly, disagree with you can lead to widening perspectives. This can add depth to the relationship between yourself and your audience so that you’re not just some anonymous person posting on the internet; now you’re just some person posting on the internet who has lost anonymity. People want to know about you, and asking what they think is a great way to help them learn without explicitly stating “I like this, and I like that, and sometimes I feel like this about that.” However, if there isn’t much for others to comment on, then how can you grow your audience?

4. Gimme

Gimme, Gimme More.

Content is the essence of what you do and what makes your blog valuable. Keep tone and voice in mind not only with your writing, but with your site itself. I have noticed a correlation between posting regularly and gaining new/retaining current followers on the blog. My blog has continued to grow through the years because of a rigid regimen of posting and adding new content. There are blogs with far more followers than me, but they also post more frequently (some multiple times a day), and many make the best use of the statistics found here on WordPress.

5. Stats

By the Numbers.

Stats are not the end-all-be-all of blogging, but they can be a great tool to organize your -content. They allow you to choose the best times to post and which social media profiles to focus on (whether it is because they get more traffic, or because you’d like them to). It is important to remember that your worth as a blogger is not based on the frequency of likes or views your site receives. Yes, it is invigorating to see the actual evidence of people connecting and enjoying your content, but don’t get down on yourself if people don’t flock to your site immediately. Keep your head up and focus on your posts; sometimes the smallest intentional change can make all the difference in what your audience connects with.

6. Building Blocks

Building Blocks.

The type of content you create will determine post length, but it is good to keep your reader in mind regardless. People’s attention spans for written content online is especially short, so it is imperative that you keep their concentration; paragraphs should be shorter and to the point when possible. A reader’s attention can also be captured by adding relevant images to your post.

7. Pictures

Pretty Pictures.

Blocks of text are daunting and make people want to skim through after losing interest. Using images in your posts can help break up the text while adding relevant imagery for your reader to keep in mind. If you are going to use a copyrighted image, make sure to give credit where it is due and link to the original image or its location; otherwise, there are a ton of free, stock image websites that have a large selection of copyright free pictures for your use. I used the site Pixabay for all of the images in this post; I also scheduled this post and kept to a deadline.

8. Calendar

Keep to a schedule.

I’m a pretty organized guy, so working to a schedule is a necessity for me. Regardless of your natural temperament, creating an editorial schedule will help you plan out posts to better suit different times of the year; for example, most of my Music Monday posts are songs that I feel fit the mood of the seasons and I can plan out my posts accordingly.  After creating the content, I make a deadline for myself to edit  and prepare the piece for posting. This adds a sense of urgency to my revision process and keep me from procrastinating on a project, as well as trying to continually improve the post until it is perfect with no time frame. However, blogging is often a hobby or a creative outlet outside of a career, and adding the weight of a self-imposed schedule can prove to be more stressful than helpful.

Hiatus

It’s Okay to Go Away.

There is no shame in a hiatus or deciding to shift the focus of your blog; we all get burned out and if there is something else that lights your fire more than your original focus, follow that! People will understand and stick around because they enjoy the quality of your content. This site began as a blog devoted exclusively to book reviews; then I started doing Music Monday posts and eventually movie reviews before becoming burned out and shifting to a personal focus. I now feel far more refreshed and look forward to blogging again (hence the fact I’m even writing this post).

10. Finish

Finish Strong.

This is by no means an all-encompassing list of how to blog; these are just some tips and techniques I have picked up over the few years I have been doing this. I have a decent following and enjoy doing what I do on here, so I think you could do worse than to take something from this post and apply it to your own blog. There are other posts out there that go into far more depth and have better techniques for amassing large numbers of followers, and I encourage you to seek those out (just be forewarned that not all of them are for free). Plus,  I figured we could all use a break from me writing about heartache and loneliness.

So what do you think? Are there any tips you think I should have added? Do you disagree with any of my ideas? Should I stick with what I know and get back to writing sad poems and personal essays? Feel free to comment and add to the discussion below!

 

68 thoughts on “On Blogging

    1. I think it depends on what you’re using it for. Twitter definitely is easy to gain followers on, but you won’t benefit much if you don’t use it often. I have a bunch of followers, but little interaction with my shared blog posts. I try to limit my time on Twitter because there is a lot of negative stuff that is easy to get sucked into, but it is also a place where many bloggers also communicate and form friendships.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I love the advice here. It is pretty on point. I would also say though on your first point of us all being friends here, it is also perfectly fine not to be everyone’s friend if there are good reasons behind not being friendly with someone. Even when you do not get along with someone though, you should not promote hate, negativity, or such things. Just ignore the person. There are bad apples in every community, but don’t become one yourself.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Thanks for the post…great reminder and helpful tips! You obviously ‘did’ stick to what you know so I have a question: Do you recommend any plugins? Most seem expensive especially if you’re not getting paid for your blogs? thanks again!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you! So I am just on the basic plan for WordPress and don’t have access to plugins. The only thing I am pay for (since I’m one of the many who does this for free) is my domain name, and that was just a personal choice I made for my site. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

      Like

  3. Excellent post! I have been hesitant to use any picture that’s not from a free website because I read somewhere that giving the source credit is NOT the same as gaining permission and you could still get into legal trouble, so I error on the side of caution. In fact I used an image from Canva (free source) in my last post and I credited Canva as the source ….they still tracked down that image and contacted me and asked that I make Canva a link so that readers could click through….so from now on I’ll do that. I haven’t had that happen with Pixabay. I didn’t know any of this when I first started blogging and grabbed many images from Google before I was better informed! I still think of going back and switching out those images! Your post provides a great service as we spread info and all learn from each other! 👍

    Liked by 6 people

    1. That is in fact very true! Just because it is online does not mean you can take and use it on your blog or anywhere, even with a link back. You do need to ask permission. I always use a stock photo site for commercial use, that way I know I’m not stepping on any toes. Because even free to use doesn’t mean free commercial use. I too just used whatever images from Google searches when I started. Since then I’ve taken business classes for artists and copyright courses online. It saves you a lot of time and effort to just only use stock photos.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Good decision. But I found it’s quicker for me to either take my own photo or draw a cartoon! Searching for the right photo took so long. I can’t believe I used to ask individual Flickr photographers for photos!!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. See I use very specific stock photo sites like unsplash so it takes me next to no time at all. Taking my own or drawing something would take me worlds longer. But I suck at drawing, lol. And taking my own photos is more a matter of not always having what matches the post.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve thought about creating a separate Linked In profile just for my blog, that way it’s not linked to my day job, but wasn’t sure if it would be worth it or not. I find Facebook and Instagram drive traffic but very little comes from Twitter.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I would say feel free to try it; worst case scenario is you don’t drive more traffic and you’re no worse off than before. I originally linked my blog on my LinkedIn profile until making the switch to personal posts; now I make reference to it, but don’t directly link or post blogs unless they’re appropriate to that audience.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you posted this. I’m still learning how to grow as a blogger and these tips are really helpful. I need to start asking more questions at the end of my posts. I agree when you said you have to engage your readers and not just give them stuff they can’t comment on. I also plan my posts out. I have a list and I stick to a schedule too.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Of course! I would say you can give or withhold as much information as you want; I decided to link up the blog with my professional and personal accounts knowing that the information would be available to anyone who found one of the profiles, but it also allowed for a wider footprint. It all comes down to whether putting your information out is worth more than maintaining privacy.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really enjoyed reading your blog, some great tips there.
    When you started writing my blog especially if like me you have big issues with some of the basic writing skills. I used to write in one long sentence . You don’t know how much reading your blog and other have helped me a long the way to think about the structure of my blog posts.
    I know I have so much more too learn on this monumental journey .
    So thank you for your blogs they are appreciated alot. 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I have to admit, I don’t understand one tiny bit where you are coming from with posts like this. The very thought of admitting 5K strangers into my online house isn’t just one that gives me pause but is downright anathema to me. The thought of trying to use a site like twitter, etc to drive traffic to my blog gives me the heeby jeebies.

    That would being said, I know I would be interested in a post about why YOU blog, what your goals are, etc. Even if I don’t understand the drive behind Reason X, simply knowing that you do Y for Reason X is a huge step in me understanding you.

    Please don’t take this comment negatively. I just don’t understand the motivation is all 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Pingback: A Blog’s Purpose – Perpetually Past Due

  9. Reblogged this on K. DeMers Dowdall and commented:
    Erick, thank you for this very informative blog post, and for Charles French for reblogging it. I wish I had seen this five years ago. Your information is so clear and pertinent to what a successful blogger must do to reach the audience he or she is looking to develop. Just wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. i also appreciate what you shared, but its been almost two years since i have been writing but still i have only 4 followers, and i am not 13 yet so i dont have any of the social network so without it can you suggest me a way to gain followers

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! So one of the biggest things that can help outside of social media is going to other blogs, liking posts, following them, and commenting on the posts you like. A lot of people follow back as a rule, and seeing you interact with other bloggers will draw more back to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. But attention and the growing number of followers still freak me out! It’s confusing why I’m still blogging to this day. I want to connect with like-minded people (like you mentioned), but I want to keep it anonymous. That’s why I’m strict about giving likes and rather like comments that resonate with my thoughts instead of commenting directly. And yet, when I find an interesting post like this one, I just can’t help it. 😛 Mostly, I want to avoid the illusion of knowing the person (simply through their blog).

    Liked by 1 person

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