Happy Thursday! This will be my last post in The Blogger Series. I have loved writing this series and was overwhelmed with how popular it became and how many questions and comments I received from people who found the information useful.
Both those who are thinking about starting a blog as well as those who already have one. I hope that those who have been considering starting one, find it a little less daunting now.
All the posts will remain accessible in my Blogger Series section.
01 – Content is King
You will probably have heard this before, but it bears repeating, Content is king. It is important what you put on your blog. If you are hoping to reach other people, to connect, to create a following and have engagement, then your content is key.
And organised content works wonders. This can be running a series like I have (World Builder series, Blogger series) or maybe running different themes, like my fellow blogger Rachel Poli who does so wonderfully.
These kinds of organised content can help to draw readers in and bring them back again and again.
02 – Consistency is Queen
Having great content doesn’t work so well if you aren’t putting it up consistently. When I started blogging 5 years ago, my consistency was almost non-existent. I barely remembered to post.
Even when I decided on Friday’s at 6:30pm I still missed that deadline more times than I care to admit. And my readership suffered (as did my ranking).
It you want to do well with blogging you need to be disciplined. Set yourself a schedule, announce it to create some accountability to your readers and then do what you can to stick to it.
Now yes things happen that can affect your time, but do what you can to minimise it. Write and schedule posts in advance were possible to give yourself some wiggle room. If you aren’t that organised yet, you can always reblog a post from another blogger you enjoy reading.
03 – Write with a genuine voice
Don’t try to imitate another blogger or writer. Make sure you use your own authentic, genuine voice in your writing.
Your personality should be clear in your posts, and while you may need to make it more “family friendly” if you monetise your blog, it should still be you.
One of my favourite blogs that does this well is writer Lorraine Ambers. Her posts are full of her voice and makes it feel like she’s talking directly to you.
Another blogger who writes with a distinctive and genuine voice is author Andrew McDowell.
04 – Pick a niche and pare it down
I always hated this piece of advice when I started blogging. But that’s probably because I wanted to blog about 20 different topics. However, it’s REALLY good advice. Your blog should cater to a niche.
Don’t make it so narrow that it limits your readers, eg blogging about camping in North Wales would be narrow. Blogging about camping, better.
Your niche can change but be aware of making a big 180 shift. When I started, my blog was about sharing writing advice. I’ve been writing for years and shared some tips on the artist community website deviantArt. They were well-received and I got questions on additional topics.
This blog grew from that, however, I have branched out slowly to include marketing for writers and blogging. These two tie in nicely with the original writing niche.
Now if I suddenly wanted to blog about gardening, this probably isn’t the place. I’d be better off starting a new blog.
05 – Break your topic down
Originally, I wrote long(-winded) posts without really thinking about what I was doing. Now I know that people have limited amounts of time to read posts so I look at the topic and consider if I can break it down into smaller pieces (more posts).
There is nothing wrong with long, detailed posts, which can be good for the odd post, such as the one I did about Scrivener. However, I prefer to keep my posts on the shorter side more often.
Most of the time my topics were pretty broad and could have been split over two or even three posts.
06 – Blog posts need editing too
Blog posts may not be as important to you as your novel, but they are still an interaction with others and so deserve to be done well. This means editing! Don’t just dump your information onto the blog without editing.
This doesn’t just mean checking for spelling and grammar. Check that the blog post reads well, that you have been clear in your points and that there is an order to it.
07 – Be readable
I learnt the hard way about this piece of advice. I write on a laptop attached to a large monitor. So my posts always looked great. Until I saw them on my tablet, then on my Android phone. Ouch.
The best method for this is short paragraphs. Don’t worry about paragraph structure on a blog, believe me your readers are more interested in whether or not they are faced with a huge block of text.
Use headers and/or images to break up the text as well.
08 – A Content Calendar is a life saver
I seriously can’t believe it took me until 2018 to realise I needed to use a content calendar. By that time I was already publishing 3 blog posts a week.
Not only is a content calendar good for keeping track of what is to be posted and when, but helps to get you thinking far ahead. I have a month’s worth of posts planned in my calendar along with “shuffle pieces” (articles that can be moved around if necessary).
If you blog more than once a week I recommend you use a content calendar. Heck, even if you only blog once a week, I still recommend it. They make things so much easier.
09 – Blog growth is a marathon, not a sprint
A big issue with new bloggers is they get disheartened by how slow things can take. Getting those first few views or comments can take forever. You track your stats constantly and it just makes you more frustrated.
Bloggers have been known to stop blogging due to lack of followers, comments and likes. Yes some people get hundreds in their first 6 months, some sooner. I have only just started seeing a bigger increase THIS YEAR and I’ve been blogging for 5 years.
It takes time to build a following. People have to find you so you need to blog well and consistently for a length of time before Google even starts indexing you. If you don’t already know about Goodle Spiders, check out my SEO post that explains it.
10 – Keep learning
I am still learning. That’s because things are always changing. Technology changes fast and so you need to keep checking that what you are doing is working. Rules change, algorithums change, platforms change.
Blogging is not just about searching for cool pictures and writing an interesting post, there are other aspects you need to know such as SEO, ranking, branding, marketing.
So never stop learning. It’s one of the reason’s I’m signed up for Skillshare. If you think you might like to try it, check that link and pop to the bottom of the article to get 2 months Premium access for free.
11 – Add in something personal
This ties in with using your genuine voice. Readers are interested in the person behind the words, so throwing in some personal posts can be a great way to connect with people on a more personal level.
I’ve discussed mental health issues on this blog because they are important to me and connect with my writing. I also share my monthly goals, as does blogger Rebecca Alasdair.
Bryan over at A Crack in the Pavement flavours some posts with personal anectodes that really connect with his readers.
12 – Be positive
Make your posts positive. Yes there might need to be a “OMG Don’t do this” post every now and then, but try and keep the majority of your posts positive. Think about how you can support and encourage your readers with what you write.
13 – Use tools to make life easier
I would not be able to run with blog if it wasn’t for finding and using tools that have helped me optimise how I work.
I use tools for everything from creating graphics, compressing pictures, scheduling social media – whatever takes time, try and find a tool that can help you manage your blog more efficiently.
Check out my Tools Page were I have started to list the tools I use. This is still under construction as I am continually adding to it.
14 – Create value
Consider what you are sharing and whether it is helping your readers. Most people come to blogs for ideas, tips, advice etc. Not sure what your readers want help with? Ask them. Aim at creating a blog that people will value and will share.
15 – Change happens, deal with it
As someone who is not big on change, it’s just something you have to deal with. Your blog will eventually change. The more you blog, the more you grow the more you realise the blog has to change.
Whether that’s moving platforms, changing to a different paid version, a whole rebrand etc. As technology changes or you change, make sure your blog changes to reflect that.
Once I realised this was going to be my Author Website hub, I had to make changes to how I wanted it to look, to run etc.
When the GDPR came into existence, that was more changes needed. Change should be embraced, not shunned.
16 – It takes practice to blog well
Blogging and writing fiction are not the same. But they do share something. In both, your early works are never that great. Until you get into the swing of blogging, figure out what works, how to plan and prep and create a good post, you’ll write some drivel.
But that’s okay, if you want, you can do what I did and go back and tidy it up (I don’t recommend that if you have loads of posts, believe me it’s a big job and I had less than 300).
Or you can just leave that stuff as it is and make sure that you get better and that your new stuff is awesome.
17 – Don’t compare
We all know comparion to others, in anything, is almost always a bad idea. It leads to low self-esteem, jealousy, feelings of doubt. Seriously, who needs that!
You can’t compare yourself to others. You don’t know what path they took to get there, what help they had or didn’t, what knowledge they brought to the table, how many hours they have spent etc.
There will always be people doing better than you and worse than you. Focus only on your own work. Don’t get me wrong, learn from others, but don’t get bogged down trying to emulate them.
18 – Try things yourself
People can give you all the advice in the world, but in the end you need to see what works for you. Everything from your schedule, your niche, your voice, your style can have an affect. So what works for one blogger might not work for another.
Take the advice, try it and if it doesn’t work after a given length of time, try something else. Learn what works best for your blog and your audience.
19 – Support other bloggers
Blogging is a community and it’s a very inclusive and supportive community. Take the time to join it.
Show your support to other bloggers by visiting their blogs, share their content, offer spaces for guest posts. Don’t just plug your own posts and never leave comments on other blogs asking people to visit yours.
Some awesome bloggers who go out of their way to support others are:
Chris from The Story Reading Ape who shares other bloggers’ articles and has a Hall of Fame for both authors and supporters.
Stevie Turner who does a weekly Round Up featuring articles from other bloggers.
AJ over at Writer’s Treasure Chest offers guest posts and does Author spotlights, giving people a platform on her blog.
20 – Invest in your blog
Depending on your goal with blogging, and its purpose, you may want to consider eventually investing in it. That means throwing some money at it.
Whether that is moving to a paid version to get more tools and features, buying a more personalised theme, paying for your own domain name or investing in courses or advertising.
You don’t often need to pay anything at the start, but eventually, if your blog is going to be a big part of your platform, then treat it as part of the business and invest a little capital in it.
BONUS – Have fun
Blogging shouldn’t be a chore. Yes it can be frustrating sometimes and yes it can be time-consuming, but it should definitely be fun. You get to share your thoughts, your ideas and your advice. Enjoy it, make connections and make friends.
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I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who read The Blogger Series and for the comments and questions I got.
Originally, I was not sure if it was something I should have attempted but the encouragement was overwhelming and I was so pleased to be able to help so many people.
I have a new series starting next Thursday, so I hope you check back 😀