I’ve been blogging for around six years and I maintain not one blog, but two. I’ll explain why below. When I first started, I barely knew what a blog was. The learning curve was vertiginous – and you learn new things all the time.
Blogging is regarded as an essential pillar of the “author platform”. I have to say I find it more rewarding in many ways than other forms of social media. It’s not difficult to set one up, and the main free blogging providers, WordPress and Blogger, give detailed instructions.
But a lot of blogs are out there, dispensing writing advice, promoting the author’s books or setting them up as an expert on their subject. Read my friend and fellow writer Louise Charles on the topic.
So here are 10 things I’ve learned, nos. 1-5 below (you can read nos 6-10 here). Do I do all of this? No. But do as I say, not as I do.
#1. Decide on your focus
What are you blogging about? The most focused blogs get the most readers. My other blog is about life in southwest France, where I live. It’s built up a respectable following. But when I started posting about my novel and writing topics, some readers unsubscribed. I asked them why. They replied, “We didn’t sign up to a writing blog and yours is turning into one.”
So I started this one to focus more clearly on writing and on Corsica, which is the focus of much of my writing.
#2. Identify your readership
You might be writing your blog for yourself, or for your friends, or for the world. It doesn’t matter, as long as you work out who constitutes your target audience. And this is strongly linked to focus.
#3. Write informative and well-written posts
This might seem obvious, but people need to feel they’ve taken something away from your blog or they won’t come back. But don’t be controversial just for the hell of it.
Equally, pay attention to grammar, spelling, formatting, etc. If you’re using a blog to showcase your writing, this is critical – but bear in mind that good blogging takes time.
Reading online is different from reading a book and readers’ attention spans are shorter. Avoid large blocks of text and write short paragraphs, interspersed with photos, cartoons or diagrams if they add something.
#4. Make it easy for people to subscribe
There are various ways to do this, depending on which blogging platform you use. Mostly, they use prominently-placed follow buttons, by which readers can sign up to email updates or feeds. Make sure these are activated on your blog.
On my other blog, I have a link to email sign up via MailChimp (one of many such providers) which sends out a customised newsletter each time I post. I haven’t got round to that here, yet.
#5. Read other people’s blogs
This will keep you abreast of news and views and provide ideas. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you plagiarise, but you can write about a similar topic from a different angle.
And if you follow and leave comments on other relevant blogs, and Tweet or share their posts on Facebook, their owners and readers are more likely to read yours. It’s helpful to review from time to time where your traffic is coming from. The blogging platforms provide stats dashboards for you to obsess over.
You can read part 2 here.
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