Refresher Tips on Blogging

Blogging is one of those things where you start off really excited and then you’re running out of steam before you know it and start asking, “Well, do I REALLY have to write this post?”  And of course, the answer is, “Yeah, genius.  It’s not going to write itself.”  I’ve had these ups and downs myself with some periods where I’m writing almost a post a day and others where it’s a month between them.

Add that to the fact that the blog evolves over time.  I just realized I started this blog five years ago this summer.  When I did, I had some clear ideas on what I would and wouldn’t do, and greatly limiting the potential value this blog could have to readers.  You start looking for ways to stay relevant to your ready, and you start losing sight of basic principles in that search.

A lot of what I’ve learned about blogging came from Robert Lee Brewer’s article Blogging Basics: Get the Most Out of Your Blog, which appeared in the latest edition of Writer’s Market.  It’s been included and excluded in different editions over the years, and I’m glad it returned in the 95th edition last fall.

Most of what follows is distilled from Brewer.  Some tips I’ve picked up on my own.

Finding Ideas

This is the most difficult part of blogging, especially when you feel like you’ve exhausted every possible article idea.  You haven’t.  I agree with Brewer that you’ve got to be relevant and helpful to the reader.  Sometimes, I’ll post announcements about my latest work getting published, but I never go over the top on this.  HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator is a recent discovery that I’ve fallen in love with.  You enter a few key words for what you’d like an article to focus on, and it’ll generate potential titles and narrower topics.  I stumbled on this yesterday and I’ve already got article ideas for the next two weeks!

Frequency of Posts

The more you write, the more you’ll post.  Brewer suggests starting off with a weekly post to get into the swing of things.  Some writers published way more posts than that.  For example, I subscribed to Chuck Wendig’s blog, and will wake up some mornings to find two or three new posts, but he usually writes a post per day.  I limit myself to three posts each week.  I feel it keeps readers from being overwhelmed with new content, and it’s a slow enough pace that I can enjoy personal time in between and weekends.  It doesn’t take long to write a post – maybe an hour – but with the amount of work I’ve had lately, even an hour can be a real good breath of fresh air.

Link to Social Media

If I relied on the blog to sustain itself, it wouldn’t last long.  I’m more active on Facebook and WAY more active on Twitter, and so whenever I have a new post, I always mention it on these platforms.  Likewise, I also have my Twitter feed linked back to the blog so if readers like a particular post and sees something they like on the Twitter feed, it’s very easy for them to follow me.  I also post about non-writing stuff on social media and interact with others in a way that’s more humanizing and satisfying, which leads me to the final point…

Remember to Have Fun

I think Stephen King said, “If it ain’t fun, it ain’t good.”  Coming up with topics is the most serious side of blogging for me, but once I arrive at an idea, I don’t agonize over it.  Most of my posts are first drafts reviewed only to ensure spelling, punctuation, and grammar are on the level (it’d be embarrassing if my posts had mistakes like the smell hanging off a dead skunk).  I blog because Twitter limits me to 140 characters, and my friends on Facebook would go mad if I talked about writing nonstop like a one-dimensional cartoon character.

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