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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!