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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Post relevant content. This means that you post things that your readers might actually care to know.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income, by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett
- Essential Blogging: Selecting and Using Weblog Tools, by multiple authors
- Blogging for Dummies, by Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley