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Some things about blogging

April 19, 2012

There’s always wisdom to be gained from going to school on other peoples’ experience. As a blogger, I’ve got some experience, and since I don’t blog about blogging very often–would that be metablogging–I figured what the hey? If you’re using your blog as an extension of your authorial presence, or considering it, what tips can help you be successful–beyond the obvious?

  • If you’re the only person writing your blog, by definition, it will be limited to your thoughts, experiences, and viewpoint. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be limiting. For instance, in this blog, you’ll see precious little about the publishing process, non-fiction, poetry, or a love of shoes. These things aren’t part of my existence, so they tend not to be mentioned. Instead, there’s lots of fiction, industry news, and whining about how bad the Mets are.
  • It’s important to regularly have new content, but you can pick how often. Doing in-depth, long posts that deeply investigate an issue doesn’t work for me in this blog. Most of my posts are squeezed in around other activities. They have to be shorter and less involved. You may choose to blog once a week, but have a longer, more thoroughly researched entry. If you’re a non-fiction author, this is an especially good idea.
  • If your blog doesn’t get a lot of hits at first, that doesn’t mean it’s a failure. This blog has a built-in audience of the Florida Writers Association. The first month I published, the blog averaged 13 hits a day. For all of 2009, the blog averaged 31 hits a day. That’s not a lot. Over the past year, traffic has really picked up. Part of that is because of better content (thanks Julie and Mary Ann), and part of that is because word of mouth can take time.
  • Like anything else, blogging is something you’ll improve at over time. Maybe it’s hard to use the blogging software. Maybe it’s hard to get your ideas down in the right format. Maybe it’s too difficult to figure out what to write every day, or how to turn an idea into a post. That stuff is hard for everyone. As you repeat the process, it gets a lot easier.
  • You should have an idea what you want on your blog, but you should also be open to change. This is a blog about writing. But one day, I felt like blogging about my emotions one of the last times I drove my daughter to swim practice. It was self-indulgent, but it resonated with people. The next day, I was back to the basics. Have the courage to experiment. If something doesn’t work, you’ll know.
  • Also have the courage to discontinue something that isn’t working. For quite a few weeks, I ran a Friday series on tools of the trade. But these posts were a lot of work, relative to other posts. And they weren’t getting the same traffic as other posts. Out of stubbornness, I stuck with them, but the numbers didn’t come. So, now I periodically do one, but not every week.
  • Your blog may help you in ways you can’t imagine. I work at an accounting firm–numbers stuff. This blog is about words–not numbers stuff. A few people at work read this blog–and you’re all the best people in the entire place, by the way. Word got out, to the right person, and I got an opportunity as a result.

If you blog, what tips do you have for other bloggers? What do you want to know?

  1. Ron permalink
    April 19, 2012 8:47 am

    We have a site at work for blogging, for employees only, little subconscious voice keeps saying you should try this; Course fear instantly set in!!! You never have done this before; how will I find intelligent things to write; once you start, when or can you quit, who wants to be a label a quitter; (someone) may not like the thoughts! OK: over that. Starting a once a week blog next week. So keep sending thoughts, it’s the new way of life for me, I’ll need the help, in way over my head!!!!

  2. April 19, 2012 9:16 am

    My blogging skills are underdeveloped, but I’ll share something I learned from others who do it better. Write with a clear purpose for a specific target market. This will keep things focused. Good advice for any kind of writing, I think.

  3. April 19, 2012 10:39 am

    Chris, you’re a blogging superman. I continue to be impressed by the quality of posts you turn out on a daily basis. Just amazing. Some of my favorites are the industry news roundups, because I don’t always have time to keep up with all of it myself, and you seem to find the important stuff.

    You do so many things right here. I like, for example, that I get reminded on Facebook and email subscription to tune in.

    I’m not a blogger. My effort goes into a weekly newsletter (which has really worked for me, by the way). What I’ve learned from the newsletter applies to blogging. Consistency, course corrections, and persistence are important and so is providing good content that meets the needs of your audience.

    Thanks for the shout out about my posts. I’m not so sure that it is my “better content” has helped, thank you very much, because you already produce great content. But I do think that having guest posts can help to increase the number of views and introduces people to the blog who may not otherwise have known about it. (There is a similar benefit for the guest poster, of course.) When I post here, I put a notice about it in my newsletter which has close to 1,000 subscribers now, post about it on Facebook, and the blog is listed in the sidebar of my website.

    So if you’re not already sharing the spotlight on your blog, guest posts are something to consider. Similarly, I believe gang blogging is a good idea. Murderati and Beyond the Margins are great examples. There is a shared burden for creating content, and every blogger draws his or her own audience to the site. I think the result in quality and in reach is greater than the sum of what each blogger could probably achieve individually.

  4. April 19, 2012 11:46 am

    Thanks Chris for these ideas. I came to this site to re-read yesterday’s post and send you my 30 minutes, but this was one post that I felt I could share a few things about, too.

    I’ve been blogging for just over two years and I feel like the first two years have been the hardest. I now have three blogs up and running, and I secured a fourth (my author website-one day I WILL publish my books!) with hosting and domain name which will eventually be the parent website for all blogs. One of my blogs is a personal journal blog about my life as a Mrs. living in W KY (after 23 years of life as a Ms. in FL), I have a food blog and also a blog devoted entirely to seafood. The only blog I want to monetize is the seafood blog. I’m proud to say that I’ve attracted a few companies (getting paid with Alaskan seafood and kitchen tools count as currency, right?). The blogs don’t get a lot of traffic, but that’s okay for now, because it gives me the chance to try different ideas. Some work and some don’t. But I’ve only discovered what works and what doesn’t through trial and error.

    One thing I know for sure, consistency is key. As you mentioned Chris, it doesn’t matter if it’s once a day or once a week. Sharing your blog posts on social media also helps as MAD pointed out. Facebook and Twitter (for me) are two different audiences, so I share accordingly. For instance, I’ll share my journal blog with Facebook, but not Twitter. My food blog is in the developmental stages and so I share very little. And of course, I share my seafood blog to both FB and Twitter. Commenting on other people’s blog (consistently) will eventually generate traffic. But don’t get discouraged about low traffic, I once read (I can’t remember-kind of like not being able to find my glasses on the top of my head) that there are as many blogs as there are people living in Japan.

    One other tip for new bloggers is that if you blog on the weekend and are looking to build traffic, then post during the week. Many people surf the web during the work week. You can post-date your blog posts. I’m sure Chris has a blog post about that on this site.

    One other thing, if you’re not having fun, then you’re doing something wrong. Lastly, I found the book, Blogging for Dummies, to be an invaluable resource.

  5. Chris Hamilton permalink
    April 19, 2012 5:11 pm

    Ron, the only way to do it is to do it. If you’re concerned about it being at work, try it out on your own first. WordPress and Blogger are both free and you can set something up and share it with family and friends until you get your legs under you.

    Kristen, great advice.

    Mary Ann, thanks for the kind words. Also, great point about doing what works for you. The blog approach really works for me. It’s probably my best form of writing.

    Maureen, Florida’s loss is Kentucky’s gain and congrats on yours Mrs-hood. Also there’s a lot to say about both consistency and trying different ideas. And the social media. I used to love Twitter, but over time, I stopped getting much out of it compared to what I was putting in, so I stopped using it.

    Here’s the post about setting dates:

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