1 Read a good blogging book
Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to a Better Blog is excellent.
Bryan Allain’s ebook on blogging is worth scanning.
Judging by Jeff Goins’ other material, his Intentional Blogging Course should be good.
2 Post every day
In my opinion.
Firstly, you will get into the habit of daily writing, which is the most useful habit a writer can have.
Secondly, after a year or two, you will find writing becomes swift and easy. After two years of daily blogging, I can get a first draft of a post in 20 minutes, and get it revised and posted with an image and links within an hour. Not always, but very often.
Thirdly, the surest way to get loyal readers is if people can come to your blog daily, knowing there will be something somewhat interesting and thought-provoking. I get irritated when I visit blogs which are irregularly updated, and get out of the habit of visiting.
3 Write as well as you can
Not as well as you can’t. One learns to write by writing and reading, and by daily writing, you will soon become a whole lot better. When I look back to last year’s posts, I am surprised at how much better I’ve become, over a year of daily “publishing” posts!
4 What should you write about?
Follow your bliss. Choose something you can write about every day without getting bored. I tried 3 blogs: a literary blog, a “life, love, culture and the universe” blog, and a Christian blog. The latter was the most absorbing, so I incorporated the other two into it.
However, while everything I write is from the point of view of a Christian, I do have occasional “secular” posts like this one, or updates on my family, our travels, my reading, and myself!! And a few photo-essays.
The ideal post length is 250 to 800 words, to which I mostly adhere. If the subject is important to me, however, I make the post as long as it needs to be!
4 Blogging is a new form. It is capacious, and as varied as bloggers are. Read other blogs in your niche to find out what the form can do.
Leaving comments on other is the best way for a new blogger to introduce herself and build blogging relationships.
For the first two years, I visited the blog of everyone who left me a comment, and left one in turn.
I can no longer do this, alas, partly because I started doing “real” writing in addition to blogging. And partly because of my limitations of organization and energy. And besides, blogging is busy!!
5B Responding to Comments is Sheer Good Manners!
I have neglected responding to comments when too many came at once, and I was busy, and then I fell further behind, while hoping to catch up with the old ones. Some of those commentators have never returned.
I myself never comment again and often won’t revisit a blog if I have left a long, carefully thought out, deeply felt comment, and the author does not respond.
So respond to comments, as long as you possibly can. It’s just good manners!
(Though, as blogs grow, this may not always be possible!)
6 Twitter and Facebook
I haven’t figured out what I am doing on my Twitter, and just hope I am not annoying people!! So the only authoritative thing I have to say about Twitter is that I enjoy it!
However, engaging on twitter has been responsible for my blog readership’s tripling in six months.
And it has introduced me to several bloggers, and several interesting people. And I hope to “learn” it.
Facebookis another nice way to meet and keep in touch with bloggers.
Ah, do you see the black hole of the blogosphere opening before you? Seek God as to how much time you should spend reading blogs. I used to limit it to 30 minutes, but now read my favourite blogs as they pop up on Facebook.
Your blog probably needs a Facebook fanpage for the increasingly number of people, who, like me, only read blogs on Facebook.
8 Give and you shall receive.
If you want links, give links. If you want comments, leave comments. If you want page views, read blogs. If you want retweets, retweet.
I say this shame-facedly, again, as because of limitations of energy and organisation and absorption in my own writing, I am failing on all these counts. When I remember, I try to be generous
Give value. Be a blessing to your readers.
I sometimes write a post for the pleasure of writing and sharing experience and ideas or working something out.
However, I often ask myself: Is this going to help my readers? Be a benefit to them? Inspire them? Do some good?
If not, I put it on the back burner (unless I feel a silly broody love for the idea).
I truly like my readers, those I have met in real life, and those I have met in cyberspace, and want to write things which might be a blessing to them.
10 The greatest pleasure of blogging is the community.
When I come across a blogger on the same wavelength, who writes on the same subjects in the same way, I put them on my “radar,” read their blog, and if possible, try to meet up in real life.
Many writers whose books I have loved have been disappointments in real life. But I have met, oh, at least 20 bloggers in real life, and all of them have been as I imagined from their blogs, lovely, or, in one case, not-lovely but as I expected! Perhaps with daily blogging, it’s harder to keep a mask in place.
The friends I have made through blogging have been one of the best things about blogging!
And, of course, some blogging friendships will help your blog; some will be a delight, though not directly helpful for your writing; and some friends you will be able to help. But, all that is secondary to the joy of friendship!
11 Honest blogging grows your blog most rapidly.
Don’t bother to appear nicer than you are, or more spiritual. It will ring false, and be less interesting. A) People will smell a rat; b) Blogging will no longer be a joy!
Our hearts hunger for truth. To really know people. Their real lives and emotional contours. Memoir is one of the fastest growing genres. An honest blog is captivating. Be yourself, be real, and the note of raw undefended honesty and immediacy will shine through and captivate readers.
It’s important spiritually and for your writing to be honest and real, even if you sometimes disappoint your core audience. I am trying to push through barriers of propriety, and fear of alienating my audience to be more honest.
I am sometimes told, “Anita, this post does not show you in a good light.” And I leave it up, thinking, “Why should I give the impression that I am perfect? It is showing me in an honest light, if not a flattering one!”
Because one person who will not be alienated, but in fact, will be rather pleased by my honesty will be the Lord Jesus (even when I have got my thinking wrong!)
12 Controversy, negativity and attacks get more page views than positivity and inspiration—but at a (too) high price
I occasionally write negative posts for the therapeutic value as I work something out; or because I feel angry and indignant about something. Or because I truly believe hypocrisy or injustice or abuse should be exposed,
Doing negative posts is not wrong. Jesus said lots of negative things about the religious hypocrites of his day, for instance.
But negativity extracts a cost from the blogger, in terms of one’s own mental state and happiness. So I try to minimize them.
I also ignore hostile comments, and try not to get sucked into fruitless arguments and controversies in which I have little interest.
Attack is a double-edged sword. Only use it when it needs to be used!!
Remember what Jesus said about those who take up the sword…
But remember too that he can heal wounds inflicted by swords!
Incidentally, I no longer follow predominantly negative blogs, twitter streams or facebook feeds. I want to keep my thinking as positive as possible. You too will be happier if you do not follow predominantly negative, sarcastic or “bad news” blogs.
13 Track your page views and analytics daily. Understand your audience
Use Google Analytics, and track your stats everyday. The most important metric is Unique Monthly Visitors. Then, when your stats drop, you can use some of these suggestions or Pro-blogger’s suggestions to keep growing.
Also track the page views each post receives. That way, you will understand your audience.
Negativity, attack and scandal always get views, but I attempt to minimize such posts them for the sake of my own soul.
My theological posts surprisingly get a lot of views, perhaps because I tackle theology in a layperson’s language and style. So I am going to do more of them.
Gardening and travel are popular, as well as time and life management and some embarrassingly personal posts.
Monitoring your stats will let you know what your audience loves, and what makes them yaaaaawn!
It will tell you when your titles let you down and sink an otherwise good post. The title is the most important line in the post. Many a good post has vanished because of a boring, non-descriptive title chosen at the last minute. And has been resuscitated with a good title.
14 Design Matters
Everyone likes pretty things.
My blog’s appearance was a weakness for a long time. I am kind of fond of it now, though it can do with improvement.
Please give me some feedback on its appearance!
15 Your Archive will be your Best Friend.
If your blog grows, most of today’s readers will not have heard of you a year ago.
It’s wasteful to write a long beautiful post which will languish unread in your archives. After my second year of blogging, I have started posting about three archive posts each week, which I have freshly edited. I zero in on the main point, cut the fluff and add value. The end result is always a better post, since it retains what has stood the test of a year’s thinking.
Not every post, of course, is worth reposting. I probably repost the best 5 or 10%.
Use Link Within to increase your page views.
16 Guest Posts grow your blog.
They do take energy and organisation and correspondence (and ironically, for me, more work than writing out my own post!!) and I haven’t done one for a while, but probably will return to them.
I use them when I have a question I want answered. Do the meek inherit the earth? Can the years the locusts have eaten be restored? Can the Lord really renew our strength so that we soar on wings like eagles? Or I have done series on my interests like favourite books or Christian heroes.
17 Pray before you write. Read Scripture before you write.
Doing the former will save you immense time. Your unconscious, or God’s spirit in your unconscious will give you ideas, and sort out the post in the most logical and effective fashion.
Reading Scripture gives me ideas for what to write, and sometimes condemns what I had been planning to write!!
19 I believe a worker is worthy of a hire, and a blogger should earn something from her labours.
I have barely monetized my blog, though have had cheques from Google Adsense, and sold some of my own books through my blog.
I will probably explore ways to monetize my blog.
I would be grateful for your ideas on monetization.
19 All that is alive grows. Beware of plateaus.
Last August, I realized that I had to increase my readership, or I was wasting my time blogging.
And so applied some of these tips. My blog tripled to 15,000 page views a month (according to Blogger stats) within six months. Since mid-Feb, however, I have plateaued.
So if the Lord gives me strength and energy, I will soon make another push.
And I welcome your ideas on how to grow my blog.
20 Have fun.
Blogging is life-enhancing, and has many benefits. And it should be fun.
Don’t hesitate to write the bad posts to get them out of the way, for the good posts to come. The niggling small posts sometimes need to be written to get the skill to think about and write the big posts. And sometimes what we thought was a trivial idea was just the tip of the iceberg of an important post.
If you don’t love it, and are not enjoying it, just stop!! Blogging should be a joy, not a misery.
Though please don’t stop reading my blog.
So, what have I omitted? Please share your tips.