One of my recent followers is The Art of Blogging:
where you can find tips on how to make your blog better; all of which set me thinking, what are my tips on blogging? Do I even have any? Is the way I blog personal to me and not relevant to anyone else? Well, let’s find out.
I began blogging because as a writer I wanted readers – and blogging is an instant way to get them. In theory. In theory, you just hit ‘publish’ and your words are out there in the world for all to read. But blogging is like a miniature version of self-publishing; the publishing’s the easy part: in order to get readers you have to do the marketing. Which presents me with a problem: I’ve always eschewed self-publishing because frankly the thought of doing all that self-promotion makes me feel a bit faint and then I have to go and have a lie-down. Nowadays we’re all supposed to be self-promoting, self-starting, self-aggrandising little market forces, and that’s just not me. And what’s the point of writing if you have to be someone else in order to succeed? So I guess my first tip is this:
Tip No. 1 – Be Yourself.
If you don’t know what that is, you’ll find out in the process of doing this stuff, but don’t assume you have to be like others in order to succeed. You are unique and you have unique and individual things to say. So whilst you can learn from others, don’t try to be them. Be you.
Tip No. 2 – Communicate.
It sounds obvious, but make sure others can understand what you’re saying. If you’re blogging on a specialist topic don’t use words a lay person wouldn’t know: people have very limited tolerance for looking up words. As I’m continually telling OH whose main blog can be found at:
try to look at it from the reader’s point of view. Are you being too technical? Too abstruse? Too long-winded? This brings us on to:
Tip No. 3 – Don’t Go On And On.
OH maintains that a post of 2000 words is ‘not too long’: I disagree and aim for around 500. There’s no set limit but I tend to think that more than 1500 words puts a strain on the reader’s time and attention span. Remember, you’re competing with 1001 other things on the internet, all demanding time and attention. Which brings me to:
Tip No. 4 – Make It Worth Their While.
Just because you’re interested in something, doesn’t mean your readers will be. If you’re describing an experience, make them feel it; if you’re giving instructions make them clear and doable, so they’ve really learnt something. Nothing is more frustrating than a ‘how-to’ blog which skips important sections or assumes knowledge you don’t have: nothing is more dull than a description of someone else’s holiday which doesn’t take you there.
Tip No. 5 How Often?
When I started blogging I made it a rule to blog every day. My posts were a lot shorter then; but the every day rule was a daily discipline for me, so that I’d get into the habit. Nowadays I’m more relaxed and several days can go by without a post. There’s no hard and fast rule but I think that too much content can weary the reader: you don’t want your followers to be getting too many emails. On the other hand, if I’ve been absent for more than a week, I tend to find my readers drifting away, so I post something to let them know I’m still here. There’s no point in posting just for the sake of it, but you don’t want people to forget you – so find a balance which works for you.
Tip No. 6 – Don’t Be Ordinary.
Avoid cliches and everyday phrases; without being contrived, try to think of different ways to describe things. Depending on the topic, use humour; and if you’re writing about something serious like death or depression or suicide, be helpful. Don’t leave your reader on a total downer – nobody likes that.
Tip No. 7 – Edit. Then Edit. Then Edit.
Don’t just write, finish and hit ‘publish’. Your readers deserve better; hit the ‘preview’ button and check it through. Then click on ‘edit’ (I usually bring this up in a new tab so I can check back and forth) and look for errors: it’s amazing how many typos slip past even in a few hundred words. Then look at how you’ve expressed yourself. Is it clear? Does it flow? Could you substitute a colon or semi-colon for that full-stop? Are your sentences too long, too short, just right? Could the vocab be sharpened up? Does the title hook you in? What about the first sentence? Think of it like a newspaper article – you need an attention-grabbing headline and then a really good first paragraph (though as with tags, make it relevant to the article). None of this means the rest of it doesn’t matter, but hooking people in is half the battle.
Tip No. 8 – Categories, Tags and Sharing
These are the kinds of things you usually get tips on and I’m not an expert on these so I’ll just say this: categories are a means for you and others to understand the areas the blog covers and search it accordingly so think about how to divide up your content in the best way. As for tags, don’t misrepresent the post. If there’s nothing about Johnny Depp, don’t put him in a tag just to get more readers: if people want Johnny Depp they can go to other blogs. Make your tags short, punchy and above all relevant. For example, when I’ve finished this post I’ll probably put tags like ‘top tips for blogging’ or ‘how to perfect your blog’. Tags are picked up by search engines and are a really good way of getting accidental readers, so make them count. As for sharing, social media is a great way to reach more people; I connected my blog to Facebook years ago and got a sharp spike in views. I’m not on Twitter but if you are, use it: I recommend connecting to any social media platforms you’re on. You may find readers comment on those sites rather than on the blog itself, which some find annoying; but I tend to think all comments are worthwhile and a basis for engagement. Which brings us to:
Tip No. 9 – Respond!
When readers take the time and trouble to comment, respond. If you’re in the fortunate position of having too many comments to reply to, make some general response. Always thank people for commenting: not every time as that becomes a bit wearisome, but make sure commenters feel listened to and appreciated. One of the most enjoyable aspects for me is engaging in conversation with readers.
So, turns out I do have some tips for blogging – so please comment below and let me know what you think. If you like the blog, please click the ‘follow’ button on the bottom right, so you’ll get an email whenever I post. I cherish my followers – and I will ALWAYS look at your blog when you follow me.
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