Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blogging Tips for Writers

In these days of publishing and media change, writers have to build platforms and learn how to connect to audiences if they want to improve their chances of publication. There are many methods of audience connection available to writers, but one of the most important is via blogging.

Since I've spent several years successfully blogging--both personally and professionally--I figure I've got a few nuggets of wisdom to pass on to writers who are curious about blogging or who already are.

Here's my quick list of tips:
  1. Start blogging today. If you don't have a blog, use Blogger, WordPress, or some other blogging software to start your blog today. It's free, and you can start off with your very personal "Here I am, world" post.
  2. Start small. Blogs are essentially very simple, but they can get very complicated (for people who like complications). However, I advise bloggers start small and evolve over time.
  3. Use your name in your URL. This will make it easier for search engines to find you when your audience eventually starts seeking you out by name. For instance, my url is http://robertleebrewer.blogspot.com/. If you try Googling "Robert Lee Brewer," you'll notice that My Name Is Not Bob is one of the top 5 search results (behind my other blog: Poetic Asides).
  4. Unless you have a reason, use your name as the title of your blog. Again, this helps with search engine results. My Poetic Asides blog includes my name in the title, and it ranks higher than My Name Is Not Bob. However, I felt the play on my name was worth the trade off.
  5. Figure out your blogging goals. You should return to this step every couple months, because it's natural for your blogging goals to evolve over time. Initially, your blogging goals may be to make a post a week about what you have written, submitted, etc. Over time, you may incorporate guests posts, contests, tips, etc.
  6. Be yourself. I'm a big supporter of the idea that your image should match your identity. It gets too confusing trying to maintain a million personas (even Herschel Walker couldn't do it, and he's Herschel Walker for crying out loud). Know who you are and be that on your blog, whether that means you're sincere, funny, sarcastic, etc.
  7. Post at least once a week. This is for starters. Eventually, you may find it better to post once a day or multiple times per day. But remember: Start off small and evolve over time.
  8. Post relevant content. This means that you post things that your readers might actually care to know.
  9. Useful and helpful posts will attract more visitors. Talking about yourself is all fine and great. I do it myself. But if you share truly helpful advice, your readers will share it with others, and visitors will find you on search engines.
  10. Title your posts in a way that gets you found in search engines. I could've titled this post Blogging Tips and left it at that. However, I know many people who read my blog(s) are writers and that this post is more likely to raise to the top of a more specific search on "Blogging Tips for Writers" than a generic "Blogging Tips" post. (Click here to read more on this topic.)
  11. Link to posts in other media. If you have an e-mail newsletter, link to your posts in your newsletter. If you have social media accounts, link to your posts there. If you have a helpful post, link to it in relevant forums and on message boards.
  12. Write well, but be concise. At the end of the day, you're writing blog posts, not literary manifestos. Don't spend a week writing each post. Try to keep it to an hour or two tops and then post. Make sure your spelling and grammar are good, but don't stress yourself out too much.
  13. Find like-minded bloggers. Comment on their blogs regularly and link to them from yours. Eventually, they may do the same. Keep in mind that blogging is a form of social media, so the more you communicate with your peers the more you'll get out of the process.
  14. Respond to comments on your blog. Even if it's just a simple "Thanks," respond to your readers if they comment on your blog. After all, you want your readers to be engaged with your blog, and you want them to know that you care they took time to comment.
  15. Experiment. Start small, but don't get complacent. Every so often, try something new. For instance, the biggest draw to my Poetic Asides blog are the prompts and challenges I issue to poets. Initially, that was an experiment--one that worked very well. I've tried other experiments that haven't panned out, and that's fine. It's all part of a process.
Now, leave a comment on this post and get blogging!

Also, feel free to leave your own top blogging tips in the Comments. I'm always eager to learn new tricks and tips.

*****

Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer



*****

Here are a few other blogging resources to check out:

77 comments:

E Johnson said...

Thanks for the tips! (See, I left a comment.)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks for the comment! (See, I responded to your comment. This is Blogging Tips for Writers in action.) ;)

belz said...

Robert, sir. What would you think about posting your email address on your blog? Or a link to a form through which readers might email you directly? I ask this partly because I just combed through my email archives and can't find your email address, though (as it happens) I do desire to email you directly. Best wishes,
Aaron Belz

Robert Lee Brewer said...

If you view My Complete Profile over on the right-hand side of the page, you click on the E-mail link, and it'll bring up my e-mail address (which is robertleebrewer@gmail.com--just in case). I do think it's a good idea to make your contact information--e-mail address at least--easy to find.

belz said...

Thank you!

Pearl said...

Good reminders, Robert. Keeping on top of comments and not getting discouraged when comments are few are tricky bits of the equation.

Carrie Schmeck said...

Thanks. I like the idea of starting small and not stressing. The weekly goal is doable.

Davalyn Spencer said...

I don't get as many comments on my blog as I do comments about my blog via Facebook or email. But at least they're commenting!

Robert Lee Brewer said...

That's right, Davalyn. And if you're doing a good job with your blog, those will grow over time. It's all a process.

Carrie, that's how I accomplish everything. Start small, build and re-evaluate regularly (because sometimes you'll find it's smart to actually "cut back" on what you're doing).

GutsyWriter said...

Thanks Robert Lee Brewer for your great tips on blogging. Building your brand as a writer, and your author platform is a necessity even for fiction writers today. As marketing guru, Seth Godin states, writers need to start promoting themselves three years before they hope to get published. Blogging is the easiest way to get yourself noticed. Another tip, as you become more confident, start guest posting on other blogs, preferably blogs with a larger following. If you're interested in learning more about how to start blogging, how to get followers and build your author platform, I was asked to speak at the OC branch of the California Writers Club. You can see the presentation video by clicking the video link on http://gutsywriting.com. Thanks to Writers Market for providing useful tips and great content.

Ruth said...

Great tips! I like how your blog is so uncluttered and easy on the eyes. I'll keep #s 13 and 14 in mind. The rest, I've already started doing or have been doing already, except the part about using my name in the URL. Maybe when I create a new blog :) Thanks!

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, Ruth! I believe Google gets it best with their uncluttered look and wish more places online respected the power of white space.

Also, thanks for sharing your video link, Lisa!

Stephanie McCabe said...

robert, thanks for this list of tips. i teach high school english and have just started having my students blog. i'd like to share this post with them if it's all right with you. :)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

I'd be happy if you shared this post with them, Stephanie. Thanks!

Stevie Jay said...

Thanks, Robert! I appreciate ALL of these helpful tips! ; - )

Barbara G.F. said...

Thanks for the tips. I'm a life & executive coach and writer. I'm just beginning to think about blogging to increase traffic on my web site (www.futurescoach.net). I could blog on my web site, I'm told. Am I better served to use a separate blog site do you think?

Barb Feinberg

PS I don't even know how to select a profile (below) - don't know what the options mean. Does that give you a sense of what a novice I am in this universe?

Cortney said...

Thanks so much for the tips! And for your twitter tips on a different post, as well. I'm an aspiring author and I'm trying to get my name out there, to build my platform, so this is very helpful!
Cortney Pearson

Robert Price said...

Another helpful tip. Everytime I read something from your blog it helps me out on mine. Thanks again.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Barb, I would suggest combining your blog with your already existing site. That way you improve SEO on your actual site and make it easier for visitors to learn more about your coaching and writing services.

Peggy Hanna said...

Your advice is very helpful and positive but I still feel like I need someone to hold my hand. Will look for that special person!
Thanks!
P.S. I don't even know how to "Select profile" below. Hope this goes through.

billtaylorcsp said...

Thanks, Robert for the valuable tips. I have been blogging for nearly a year and always enjoy reading your helpful advice as well as the comments from like-minded readers and writers. I invite you to visit my blog at billtaylorcsp.wordpress.com. Thanks!

Rugged Peak Design said...

Thanks for the tips but what if I am an unpublished author (aside from newspaper and magazine stories)working on a first novel not yet published or exactly finished? How do I get a blog started - what do I write and who do I target? Where do I go once I have a blog (which I do have but it is pretty much blank)? Thanks for your tips!!

julieprater said...

Excellent information source Robert. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I intend to put a blogging tips on my site now and would really appreciate your permission to link to your site? Regards,

Julie

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Julie-Feel free to link away.

Rugged Peak Design-If you're unpublished, that is fine. Many bloggers are unpublished. You can blog about personal things, but you can also blog about progress in writing your novel. Are there characters giving you problems? Do you have to do any research? Etc. Share the process on your blog.

Thanks for the invitation, Bill! I enjoyed your post on the 3-legged Christmas tree stand. I can totally relate!

Peggy, best of luck!

Marja said...

Robert, Thank you for the tips. I particularly like #6, about being yourself. I don't read many blogs, but those I do read seem like they're who are being real.

You may not be Bob, but I am Marja. No one ever gets that one right. I'd almost rather be a female Bob. At least people could pronounce it correctly.

G Thomas Gill said...

Following your advice, I created a blog. Thanks for the kick start.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, Marja! There are so many blogs out there that I think that's one of the main ways to differentiate yourself (by being yourself).

Good luck with your blog, Thomas!

adventureh said...

Thanks for putting me back on track!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Really helpful post, and I tweeted it just now.

dankasworld said...

Thanks for the tips. I felt proud of myself that I've already nailed most of them without knowing they were the 'supposed tos' of blogging. I guess I'm a natural. *Pats self on back.*

Can I also add that if you want to be a writer and you start a blog and you blog every day, you will have found after a while that you have become a writer.

Nic said...

Great post! I enjoyed the easy read - and fabulous pointers.

Thanks so much. :)

Belinda said...

Thank you Robert, from a confirmed blogaholic! Can't imagine life without blogging and reading blogs every day. I am in Canada and have entered the Canadian Blog Awards and also have my main blog on TopBlogs.ca. It's fun to get out there and expose yourself to the scrutiny of a more diverse potential audience.

Eliza Faith said...

great info!

Galand Nuchols said...

I enjoy reading other people's blog but find it hard to carve out time to blog myself. Then too, I don't always know what to blog about. My life is fairly routine.
Thanks for your tips. I'll certainly try to improve my own blog.

Melinda Brasher said...

Thanks. I'm new at this, so I appreciate the hints.

Booklet larvae said...

Thanks for the tips. See, I left a comment. (Ok, so it's not original).

Evonn

Rachna Chhabria said...

Loved this post, I appreciate you sharing all this information. Thanks for the tips. Came across your blog via Elizabeth Varadan's tweet.

christinefaour said...

Wow! Thank you for posting this - I have been blogging for a couple of years and your article will help me take it to the next level, especially the part about re evaluating my raison d'etre and posting more often.
Christine Faour

asimiller said...

Great advice! I'm in a social media for journalist class and we're just about to start blogging; this really got me excited to get going!

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thank you, everyone, for reading (and commenting)! I often refer back to this list myself. One more tip (hidden here in the comments) is to have fun. Your enthusiasm is contagious.

Rosi said...

I found your post through the Writer's Digest e-newsletter and am grateful for the tips. I'm fairly new to blogging, so these tips are helpful and confirming.

Laura Howard said...

This is such an awesome post for those of us just getting our feet wet in the blogging world! I love when I am able to walk away with a particularly great "nugget" and the Google nugget is one for sure! Thanks!

judy b and david o said...

Just discovered your blog and it is great. I am blogging as a Peace Corps volunteer, first in Niger and soon to go to Armenia. I know my blogs are too long so am trying to be more concise. You made that point well. Thanks for all the hints. I hope to incorporate some of them into my own work. You can find me (and my husband) at http://wwwjudybdavido.blogspot.com (No period after www due to my own error!)

Melissa Groman, LCSW said...

Great post, great tips, greatly appreciated!
Come visit me at www.hopeforward.blogspot.com

joanneeddy said...

To a neophyte blogger like myself, this was really helpful, if a bit daunting (the idea of at least posting weekly.) As I completed my book manuscript I thought I was doing well by posting weekly. What might interest others in my blog is my post on getting published: http://joanneeddy.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/the-rules-of-getting-published-how-do-you-eat-an-elephant/

karlalibby said...

Robert, thank you for sharing your blogging wisdom. I am an aspiring author on the brink of being discovered. (I wish!) My blog is a work-in-progress and your hints are helping me become more confident. Have a great day!

Denise said...

Thanks for the tips!
Unfortunately, I didn't read them before starting my blog and failed to put my name in the URL.

Come visit me at
http://denise-roomtowrite.blogspot.com

ann said...

How timely. I am trying to buckle down as a freelancer and my grown kids are encouraging me to start a blog as a marketing tool. So, thanks!

Rachel said...

Hi Robert, thanks for the tips. I wonder what your thoughts are on the above naming conventions in relation to using a pseudonym, or in fact using one at all?

Katherine said...

Hey Robert! I really enjoy reading your blog posts--they are always filled with straightforward, practical advice. Thanks and keep 'em coming!

Nakia Jewel said...

Thanks for the helpful tips, Robert!

kathrynmackie said...

Great advice Robert. Your point about providing helpful information is a good one. That's how I found your blog :)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, everyone! I'm glad this post is still helpful.

Jazzmine Rose said...

These are some great tips, especially for beginners. Blogging can be a very intimidating thing when you're unfamiliar and don't know what to expect. I know that was the case for me way back when...Thanks!

jerry-mahoney.com said...

Great post. I'm going right to my blog to make sure I've responded to all the comments. Thanks!

triawood.com said...

Thanks for the tips, Robert! I've been thinking that it's time to dip my toes into the blogging world once again, and this is just the encouragement I needed.

JeannetteLS said...

thanks for these tips. I do not have my full name as my blog for now because it has been my experimentation with writing memoir bits... and I have a brother I do not want finding me.

However, I have been thinking it's time to do JUST what you have said, to use my name. So I will start another blog that is linked FROM my old blog my not linked TO it.

Keeping this blog for two years has helped me learn to write what is difficult for strangers to read. The feedback from my limited number of followers has been wonderful.

But EVERYTHING you wrote here resonates and reinforces that I have to make that leap and use the new blog for something else, NOT my memoir. That's my writing project. The blog has to be a preparation for a launching pad.

Again, Thank you.

Jeanne Lowery Meeks said...

Thanks, Bob, for your many good writing tips. You mentioned that you blog on Blogspot. I've tried Blogspot, but some people can't leave comments, and I can't get help to fix it. What are your thoughts about moving to WordPress? I'm desperately frustrated with Blogspot.

Heather@ Creative Family Moments said...

I love the reminder about being yourself. For awhile there I was so caught up with trying to be like more popular blogs that the blog became a chore instead of a fun outlet. Once I went back to using my own voice- that was the initial goal in the first place - the blogging process made me smile again.

Karen said...

Thanks for all your great information. I'm just starting out with the blogging process and trying to glean ideas and thoughts. I am a writer and trying to get a Christian historical series published. I'm heading for the FCWC the first of March. Thanks, again,
Karen Campbell Prough

Alexandra Sue Burton said...

Thanks for your advice! It was reading your essay on blogging in the 2012 Writer's Market that finally got me to sit down and create my blog. Thank you!

Cindy said...

The thought of starting a blog and building my online presence is scary. I'm sure that I am not the only writer who feels this way. I have the normal fears of wondering do I have anything to say that will be of interest to other people, etc.

I have already purchased my domain name, though I haven't done anything with it yet. I need to. I am studying your 'My Name is Not Bob' blogs on a regular basis and every time I read one, I learn something new.

Hopefully, I will soon get my act in gear, follow as much of your advice as possible, and get started.

Thank you for the time you take to provide us with your blog.

Cindy Blair

Meena Rose said...

These are amazing tips!!!!

April Galloway said...

Helpful stuff, Robert. I never thought of blogging as a social media. I'm afraid I haven't always replied to comments on my blogs. I promise to do better.

Jane Newhagen said...

OK, so it was time I created a blog. I'm about half done. I'll share the address when it goes live.

My Twitter tag is @JaneLNewhagen. Please add me! ;-)

beatrix said...

This challenge gave me the kick in the pants to create an author blog and buy the associated domain name: larabritt.com. It is also helping me cull some of the blogs that I started ages ago as retool the keepers. whirledpeascafe.wordpress.com is still listed as my primary blog but it is very much in an overhaul phase as is Bottom's Op.

(Lara Britt aka Lori Sailiata aka beatrix)

Shawn Spjut said...

Robert:
Great adivce on blogging. I started mine about eight months ago and have learned alot of what you've shared through trial and era + reading blog spots like your own. Thanks for your willingness to share with the rest of us.

Beatriz said...

I will try... I don't know why I so scared of blogging?!!

Casey Flynn said...

I've been following your April Build a Platform challenge, and have been learning a bunch. Thanks for taking the time to write all this great advice, Robert!

Casey Flynn said...

Thanks for sharing all this great advice, Robert! I've been taking on your April Platform Challenge (a month late) and have been learning a tremendous amount. I'll keep reading!

tinkerbell said...

Dear Robert,
thanks for the challenge series! I started this month, but it is working well! Day 4:BLOG. I go to the profile section of Blogger and find "homepage URL, wishlist URL, IM username" can you pls tell me what to do with this? dint find ur email,so posting this here.Pls respond.thx.fasiha.

Kevin Ogbonna said...

this is one of the blogs i ever visited with straight to the point tips and i like it so much...I never want to be going about reading peoples blog on blogging topics/tips today i stumble on this and its educative.
thanks so much for the posts

williesha said...

Thanks for mixing common sense information that we tend to forget with fresh tips. Hey look, I'm commenting! :)

Lynne Streeter said...

Been writing for years with some success, but have decided to finally try to run with the big boys...Thanks for your encouragement and I WILL keep you posted! Lynne Streeter

Nicole Lynn Devine said...

Some great advice, thank you. I have begun creating a blog of my own. You should expect a link in the near future.

ktayd13 said...

I am just starting a blog to get in the hang of writing again, have a hobby, among assorted other reasons. I have been reading a lot of different lists and articles researching how to make a blog that someone might want to read, and I have to say that your list is one of the best that I have found.

Something that helps me stay organized is actually getting off of the computer and writing things down by hand! As much as I love the organization of the computer, there are still some old school techniques that shouldn't be forgotten.

Sophie White said...

Thanks! This Really Helped :)

Xoxo
Sophie