13 Simple Tips for a Better Blog

I was talking with a client who has a book releasing in about a year, and she was concerned about how to begin building her blog and increasing the traffic. At the moment she doesn’t have a great deal of time to devote to it, since she is still writing her book. We brainstormed and I gave her several tips off the top of my head — simple things she could immediately begin to change about  her blog, that wouldn’t change her blog traffic immediately, but over time would have a positive effect. Here are the things we discussed.

1. Focus first on improving the content of your blog rather than any fancy strategies for increasing traffic. The better your content, the more your blog readership will naturally grow.

2. Make sure every post contains a single main idea. It can be supported by related ideas, but do not ramble. One idea.

3. Keep your posts brief. As little as 300 words can make a good blog post. Try not to go over 500 words, occasionally 600 but don’t do longer posts too often.

4. Make use of bold fonts and subheads for emphasis whenever possible (without overdoing it and becoming annoying). Your goal is to create a user-friendly reading experience. Your reader must be able to scan your post for important thoughts and key words to determine whether they want to pay more attention and read carefully.

5. Use bullet points or numbered lists when it makes sense; this is just another way to create a simple and positive reading experience.

6. Incorporate humor whenever possible. Don’t take yourself too seriously! Show readers that you’re a real person; make sure your posts have personality.

7. Be controversial. Many people shy away from it — writing things with which people are sure to disagree can be scary! But controversy draws people out of their shell and encourages dialogue, and often can increase the level of reader engagement on your blog. It can also get you more “shares” and more traffic.

8. Use at least one image in every post. I recommend you acquire them legitimately through stock photo websites. I use iStockPhoto and 123RF.

9. Intentionally spur conversation in your comment section, by asking a question or encouraging your readers to share their opinion or their story. If you don’t do this, you’d be surprised how few people will take the time to comment.

10. Make it easy for readers to comment. Don’t make them sign in or jump through other hoops. Most of the time, they’ll  just skip it.

11. Think carefully about your post titles. I often come up with very cute titles, but scrap them in favor of something more boring but likely to draw in readers from a Google search. If you can word your post title in a way that exactly matches how people might search on Google, you’re likely to draw in more readers.

12. When using Twitter and Facebook to promote your blog, never say “New post!” or “Visit my blog!” Always offer the reader something valuable. This might be “Today’s blog post teaches 13 simple steps for improving your blog.” Or it could be a quote from your post. Or you could post your blog question on Twitter and Facebook, and send readers to your blog to chime in with their thoughts.

13. Always keep a running idea file. Make it easily accessible and jot down EVERY possible post idea you have. I keep one on my computer which is also accessible on my phone so I can write down ideas on-the-go. Once you’ve created an idea file and get in the habit of using it, you will find yourself looking at the world differently. Suddenly every experience is a possible blog idea! This can be your most valuable tool in increasing the attractiveness of your content.

All of these ideas are meant to help you create the most satisfying reading experience on your blog. You want readers to love visiting your blog, and look forward to coming back.

What strategies have YOU used to improve your blog? What good blog tips have you heard lately that you are willing to share?

P.s. I broke one of my rules today; this post is 694 words!

 

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  • http://bethvogt.com Beth K. Vogt

    You broke your rule, but the fact that you numbered everything so nicely made for easy reading!
    :)
    It’s important to blog about something you care about. If you’re bored, your readers are going to be bored. And if everyone else is blogging about it — than what are you going to say that is going to make your blog stand out? (Hey, that rule applies to writing a book too, doesn’t it? But I digress …)
    I retired one blog because it just didn’t catch on with readers. Reality was, a lot of other people were blogging on the same topic. So, I stopped blogging until I found a topic I was passionate about — and people were interested in — before I started blogging again.

    • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com/ P. J. Casselman

      You have a easy to read, informative and fun blog, Beth. I’m glad you restarted, because it works well.

      • http://bethvogt.com Beth K. Vogt

        Thanks, P.J. It only took time … and a good bout of insomnia for me to settle on the “In Others’ Words” Idea.
        A “good” bout of insomnia?
        ;)

        • http://www.dabneyland.com Dabney Hedegard

          I’m beginning to love my insomnia for that specific reason. I get more done in the middle of the night when no one can ask for juice.

          I’d agree with P.J. Great blog.

          Dabney

          • http://bethvogt.com Beth K. Vogt

            Sometimes insomnia is our friend …
            ;)
            Thanks for the encouragement, Dabney. Planning on reading your oh-so-intriguing post later tonight!

  • http://www.generationalwomanhood.wordpress.com Jill Farris

    You should care about your readers! If you’re building your blog to eventually sell your book, it will come through and you won’t be authentic. If you care about your readers and have a message to share with them, they’ll get it…they’ll know.

    • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

      Excellent point, Jill!

    • Else

      Jill, that’s an excellent point.

      I started a blog about a year before my most recent book was published. I don’t suppose the blog has moved more than a couple dozen copies of my books to date. But it’s brought some wonderful people into my life.

      Serendipity.

  • http://www.gabrielle-meyer.blogspot.com Gabrielle Meyer

    I find being consistent is key. Once you find your voice, use it. Let your readers know what they’re getting each time they visit. Reach out to other bloggers on a regular basis and grow in authentic relationships. Don’t view them as a means to generating readers – learn from them and offer up your own unique perspective. Then, offer to host them on your blog. Authors are always looking for good quality blogs to promote their books (and they bring with them a whole new set of followers). Be a gracious host and go out of your way to spread the word for them. Be encouraging and helpful – but don’t be afraid to be yourself! After all, no one is as good at it as you are.

    • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com/ P. J. Casselman

      Good advice, Gabriel, and words you actually follow. :)

    • Jeanne

      Great thoughts, Gabrielle!

    • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

      Gabrielle, I think both you and Jill have brought up a key point. Connect with people; don’t use them as a means to accomplish your goals. I think if a blogger focuses on the blog, cares about it and its readers, he / she will be more successful than a writer who blogs just to sell a book. A writer who connects with other bloggers with genuine respect and friendliness will gain much more (knowledge, friendship and intangibles) than one who contacts another blogger as a means to accomplish a goal. I see so many people on Twitter who flood the site with “friend me on FB,” “like my FB page,” “Follow this link to read my blog,” “Buy my book HERE.” But these people never send tweets that respond to people or even invite conversation. Everything is “me, me, me,” never, “So, how are you?” I don’t know how this hits other people, but for me, I’m completely turned off by it. Now if someone writes, “What do you think of…?” (as Rachelle mentioned in # 12), that’s a link I’ll follow and a blog I’ll read.

    • http://www.josephjpote.com Joe Pote

      “…but don’t be afraid to be yourself! After all, no one is as good at it as you are.”

      I love this, Gabrielle!

      I think this concept has been one of the main things I’ve learned in a year of blogging…and am still learning…

      I don’t have to worry too much about being professional or coming across as an expert. Nor do I need to worry about expressing potentially controversial viewpoints.

      Much better to be myself, let people get to know me, and write about topics on which I have a unique and passionate perspective.

  • http://ibischild.blogspot.com marion

    Getting used to Flickr.
    A wonderful resource for my photos.
    Though I wish they’d let me send photos to a draft and not to a published post.
    And I wish sets of photos could be manipulated more on the blog page.
    But at least, if I post a photo, I have some security on it. And people can click on the link for other photos in the set.

  • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com/ P. J. Casselman

    I need to blog more consistently to create a following. At this juncture in life with family illnesses and church projects, it’s all I can do to write in my book each day and check out others’ blogs.

    Perhaps one key to building an audience is be a good audience member. Those who interact with me on my blog are the first I read.
    Also, have a follow button that’s easy to find. I’ll look for it for 8.7 seconds. If it’s hidden, so will be your future words.

    • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

      I’ll second that. You get when you give.

      And then you find that you get the opportunity to give even more.

      Just as The Man intended.

      • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

        I totally agree, P.J., about being “a good audience member,” which goes back to what I ranted about above: connect with people rather than try to increase numbers.

        Blessings on your family. I am praying for them and you.

  • http://www.camilleeide.com Camille Eide

    I’ll have to ditto Beth. I get more interest/response when the topic generates a spark of real emotion in me. (At least I think that’s what Beth meant by “care about”…)

    So far, all I have done to improve is pay attention to what content gets the most response and keep this in mind. Since I blog about personal experiences that illustrate God’s grace, the content getting the most response is the kind in which I’ve been not only honest, but vulnerable. Grace is deeply personal, so I need get (& stay) personal. :-)

    After 6 months in a committed blog relationship, I’m getting more of an idea of what kind of content is most interesting and to whom. And I originally meant to keep the word count around 500wds, but I have gone way over a few times. I will be more diligent about that, thanks for the reminder.

    • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

      I wouldn’t worry about the word count. Say what you need to say, in the words that come into your heart.

      God’s Grace doesn’t need the ‘word count’ button.

    • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

      Camille, your bold print sentence is important: “a committed six-month blog relationship,” There is so much in that one phrase that is important: that it’s a relationship, that the blogger needs to be consistent (I’m still working on that) and that it takes time.

      Blessings.

  • http://Www.graemeing.com Graeme Ing

    Great post. Timely too, since I am starting to concentrate on making my blog more compelling. It isn’t easy but your tips are going to help.

    I know that one of the cardinal rules is supposed to be post weekly on the same day. I started doing this a while ago but still found traffic spikes on non posting days, so I stopped worrying about a specific day. After all, who knows when a mention elsewhere is going to bring in traffic. Anyone have thoughts about this?

    • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

      Personally, I’ve found that the ‘rules’ to increase traffic through scheduling is like reading the entrails of a dead sheep to tell you who you should marry. (Might be more fun than some dates, though…)

      Most people don’t know their OWN blogs’ schedules, much less yours.

      Post what you want, at your own schedule (within reason, not ‘yearly’!), and don’t worry about it. Trust your content.

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    This is the best list I’ve seen yet on this topic. Before my retirement at the end of 2010, I used my blog almost exclusively for posting prayers I’d used in worship while on a pastoral staff. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn more about actually writing 3 or 4 times a week, having something to say that people might actually read. It’s a slow, steady learning process and these are truly helpful pieces of advice. I will begin incorporating some of them ASAP. Thank you!

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    This is the best list I’ve seen yet on this topic. Before my retirement at the end of 2010, I used my blog almost exclusively for posting prayers I’d used in worship while on a pastoral staff. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn more about actually writing 3 or 4 times a week, having something to say that people might actually read. It’s a slow, steady learning process and these are truly helpful pieces of advice. I will begin incorporating some of them ASAP. Thank you!

  • http://www.eviemclaughlin.com Evie McLaughlin

    As soon as I see a Rachelle notification come into my email I’m excited because I know I’m going to learn something helpful. Today is no different :-) I started a blog which was intended to be about the experience of fitting in writing around a job and family. I write just before sunrise and so that’s what I called my blog. But partly through lack of time and partly not being quite sure what my point was, I’ve left it be for now. Your point about having to be interested in the blogs other people write is very important. Also your tip not to post those incessant ‘read my new post’ posts on twitter is true as I find that irritating. When I come back to my blog, I’ll be using your 13 tips. Meantime, I’ve found that my Rewrite No 8 which I thought was going to be a final tidy up, has turned into another substantial, with the blending in of a whole other layer! Thank you for every blog you post Rachelle :-)

  • http://www.fictionherofeatures.com Nancy Kimball

    This is a great post. Number one is so true. When I re-launched my blog this summer after finally understanding my value proposition, the results were amazing. Except for keeping the posts short, which by nature of my new format is impossible, all these things are right on the money. Especially taking away that “prove your not a robot” feature that made it hard for people to comment.

    My tip: Know who you’re competing against for time spent. There were just too many great blogs already out there geared toward writers. When I went after readers instead in the new format, my value proposition is doing the rest and blogging is fun again and the most successful it’s ever been.

    Best of all, I’m building a nice, strong platform for when it’s time to feature my own fiction heroes.

    • Jeanne

      Nancy, it’s fun to read what you have learned in your blogging experience. As a newer writer, would you mind explaining to me what “value proposition” is? :) Thanks.

      • http://www.nancykimball.blogspot.com Nancy Kimball

        From good old Wiki – A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced.

        For the purpose of blogging, this was covered well in a recent post here about competing with Facebook. My value proposition on my blog for the authors who participate is exposure and for the followers, discovering if the hero of the featured novel makes that book a “must-read” or not by looking at the hero in-depth.

        • Jeanne

          Thanks, that makes sense. :)

    • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

      You lost me at “prove YOUR not a robot.”

      • http://www.nancykimball.blogspot.com Nancy Kimball

        Yes, it’s a running joke among my critique circles that my partners need to review my blog comments before I’m allowed to post them. That you’re/your gets me still after three years, especially before dawn.

        Some blogs require you to retype characters displayed in an image before your comment is accepted. I found over time this safeguard became more of a barrier and did away with it on my blog.

    • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

      Nancy,

      Thank you for getting rid of the “prove your not a robot” button. I hate them. There have been times when I’ve had to try three times to type the nearly unreadable words in order to post my comment. I won’t go past three tries. It’s just not worth the frustration.

      • http://www.nancykimball.blogspot.com Nancy Kimball

        I also hate them. The button was not fully responsible for taking my average comments from zero to two to fifteen to twenty (not including my own) but I know it helped and in five months I have yet to get a “robot” or spam post in the comments. Most of my followers would work pretty hard for the giveaways but I don’t want them to have to.

  • http://jubileewriter.wordpress.com Cindy Huff

    These 13 tips are pretty universal for those blogs with a lot of traffic. I really wish more bloggers would follow them. I don’t have time to read a rant that goes on for sometimes 1000 words. Especially if in the end there was no point.

    I’m sure everyone who reads your blog knows this but just in case I’ll add it. Your blog is not your diary. If you want to get your name out there don’t write any old thing that happened that day. Don’t rant negatively about every little thing. And be sure that you have your facts right. Sharing on hot topics is great just be sure you don’t come off as a whiner. Rather present yourself as a sharp editorial commentator.
    Which takes us back to main point illustrated in this blog. Great Content!

  • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    The biggest improvement in my blog came when I put aside the pretensions of who I thought people would want to meet, and just wrote whatever came to heart.

    I don’t have a lot of advice to offer, or a lot of free beer in the form of hot topical humor.

    Ladies, I can’t give you ten steps to Make Him Commit. My wife had me hooked from Day One, and her friends thought she SHOULD be committed. Close enough?

    Guys, I can’t tell you how to Enjoy Life Without Strings, because you’re the puppet, God’s the puppeteer, and if you gut the strings you wind up in a boring heap with your knees around your head.

    I just let the hamster freestyle his wheel, skipping and pirouetting his way to the day’s new post. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it sucks.

    But tomorrow is always another day.

    • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com/ P. J. Casselman

      A lot of the codified advice I see on blogs would be better on paper so the outhouse could keep fresh stock. I prefer you write from the heart. Some of your most provocative work might be that which you consider rubbish.

      Yesterday my hamster woke up a premier ballet dancer. Today, it spins the wheel with it’s right paw while yawning with left. I’m surprised I remember how type.

      • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

        Where’s the picture and the rest of the story?

        • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major @Jjumping

          Cherry, I snorted outloud at your comment.

      • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        I envy that hamester!!!!!

      • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        I envy that hamster!!!!!

    • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

      I like your kind of advice.

  • http://juliesunne.com Julie Sunne

    Thank you for these great tips, Rachelle. I already do some and am moving toward incorporating many others.

  • http://www.kristaphillips.com Krista Phillips

    Great tips!! I’m already *trying* to do many of them, and work be working on the rest. I’m bad with post lengths… mostly because I don’t really count the numbers and then when the post comes up on like, “holy cow that was longer than I thought!”

    I’m currently working on the theme of my blog and figuring it out… I let Annabelle hijack my blog for a very long time, which was actually really GOOD for my blog traffic (bittersweet as it was… I would much rather have had a cruddy, no-one-looks-at blog then have the reason I did!), but just trying to figure out what my blog will look like going forward and how to keep the readers I have and start “growing” again.

  • http://Www.summerjarviswrites.com Summer

    Great post thanks! I just recently realized the importance of the titles in relation to Internet searches. Maybe I’ll go back and change some of my titles from earlier posts.
    I tried to install disqus but had some problems with it. Is there any user-friendly comment interaction widget you recommend?

  • http://www.juliegarmon.com Julie Garmon

    I keep a camera with me at all times. I try to stay at 300 words or less. I blog every Wednesday, which probably breaks a blogging rule, but I put my heart into every single post. :-)

    Love this one, Rachelle! Thank you.

    • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

      “I keep a camera with me at all times.”
      That is great advice – so do I.

  • http://www.staceythureen.com/about/ Stacey Thureen

    Great post – thank you! Another great website for stock photos is http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

    • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

      Thank you for the link, Stacey. :)

      • http://www.staceythureen.com/about/ Stacey Thureen

        You’re welcome!

  • http://www.nitaleland.com Nita Leland

    I’ve been taking a hiatus from blogging and trying to figure out how to get back into it and improve it. Thanks for the useful tips. This is a big help.

  • http://www.chadrallen.com Chad Allen

    I love Copyblogger’s stuff on writing great headlines: http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/

    Great post, Rachelle!

  • http://www.mikeduran.com Mike Duran

    7. Be controversial.

    The problem with many writers blogs, as I see it, is that they all sound the same: they politely regurgitate the same industry advice and conventional wisdom. It’s understandable. If a writer is trying to get their foot in the publishing door or build / expand a platform, we don’t want to offend potential agents, publishers, and readers. The result: We end up with blog fluff. Of course, being controversial for the sake of controversy is a problem. But tip-toeing around it all the time does not make for compelling reads.

    Rachelle, the last time I posted here, I received plenty of disagreement. In fact, a high profile journalist ended up writing a specific post rebutting my thesis! It’s just the response I wanted. Kinda like preaching: It’s better that people want to stone you after the sermon, than that they slept through it.

    • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

      Ha! Mike, I thought of your blog the instant I read the advice to be controversial.

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major @Jjumping

      Controversy? Mike Duran? Nooooo.

      I dare you to write about Toddlers and Tiaras. Or the Prosperity Gospel. Or both.

  • http://www.LucilleZimmerman.com Lucille Zimmerman

    I use those same title headlines Chad mentions. There’s a place in your blog, at the top, where you can change how the title would show up for search engines, so you can keep it simple, and yet still have a unique or silly title that readers see.

    Does that make sense?

  • http://tracygreenlee.blogspot.com Tracy Greenlee

    Know the rules so you can break them effectively D.Lama

    Your blog post was informative, thank you.

    I feel, on my poetry blog, consistence is most effective.

  • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    And always remember your audience!

    Your blog is designed for a certain readership – it’s great to add demographics, but don’t neglect your original Tribe

    • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

      Amen, Andrew!

  • Jeanne

    Great tips, Rachelle. When I start my blog, I plan to refer back to this post. The idea of controversy never dawned on me before today. I guess if I have a controversial post, I’d better know how to speak words of grace with those who disagree. I appreciate your wisdom here!

  • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

    Suddenly every experience is a possible blog idea!
    I couldn’t agree more!
    This is the essence of being a writer.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

    Solid, easy-to-follow advice Rachelle. Here’s what I would add personally from my own experience:

    – Keep it personal but not too personal. In other words, I need to share my own stories and struggles without sharing everything I’m doing with my family, friends, colleagues, etc.

    – I don’t necessarily try to seek out controversy, but I do try to have strong opinions. There’s a lot of gray there, but the more I let my personal likes and dislikes come out, the more people seem to respond.

    – Test out current or future book ideas on the blog. If I’m thinking of writing something for a magazine, I test a shorter version out on my blog. Recycle, recycle, recycle!

    I’ll also second your advice to keep things short!

  • KarenM

    Thanks so much for all of your invaluable insight, everyone! I took the plunge over the weekend after the last great guest post and launched my first blog. These tips will definitely help me stay on track and hopefully build my following.

  • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

    Thank you, Rachelle, for these great tips. I was surprised to find that I am doing a number of them. My biggest sin (which will surprise no one whose noticed my comments on your blog) is that my posts tend to be too long, not always, but too often. It’s something I’m working on.

    One thing that I do in addition to use boldface type (sparingly) is to use color or highlights for a few important words or concepts.

    Thank you for the photo website. I would like to use pictures but haven’t done so very often for the reason you implied; I don’t want to download illegally. On occasion, I have created a of my own on Paint and downloaded that, but as I haven’t mastered the fine art of drawing on the computer, I’m rarely happy with the pictures. They just add a little color and whimsy.

  • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

    My blog is where I have freedom to be me, to philosophize out loud over daily occurrences. Readers who like my blog will probably also like my novels; so blogging helps me identify my potential audience.

  • http://chariseolson.com/ Charise

    I think these are great tips. My “idea” file is to start a draft of the post with that idea. Then it feels like I have a head start when it’s time to write the post.

    Any thoughts on frequency? I blog once (trying to get to two times) a week. I know others (like you) who blog much more frequently. But I know so many others who then slack off. I thought it might be better to stay consistent rather than overdo it and then retreat?

    • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

      Charise, this just my opinion but I think you have to decide what you can commit to. If you can write an excellent blog more than once a week and keep up with that pace, then go for it. However, it’s better to write a great blog once a week than it is to write mediocre blogs more often. As Rachelle pointed out, content is key, so focus on content rather than frequency. Graeme and Andrew mentioned that blog traffic doesn’t always follow the post date. I’ve found this on my blog as well. I post once a week, but traffic will spike about three days a week and new readers will look at the blog I’ve posted for that week (and sometimes they look at older posts too). I know for myself that I can’t blog more than once a week. So that’s what I do and my readership has been steadily increasing. So, in regards to frequency, go with what works best for your life and schedule and what will best benefit the blog content.

      Blessings!

  • http://www.wix.com/connymanero/home Conny Manero

    Interesting blog and well worth following.
    I like the idea of blogging about controversial issues, but I’m a little worried that this might cost me readers rather than gaining them.

  • http://bbwomenswrites.blogspot.com/ Beth Browne

    Your blog is just the best. Thanks for these great tips in such a readable form.

  • http://www.joannaaislinn.wordpress.com Joanna Aislinn

    I work on consistency and including a wide variety of topics. My one requirement to guest bloggers is family friendly. And did I mention I’m always open to guest bloggers? Feel free to contact me :)

    Nice post, Rachelle. Thanks! 690-how many words? Think I might need to go back and count, lol.

  • http://josephiregbu.com Joseph Iregbu

    Often guilty of the ‘New Post’ bug! Thanks for sharing, very insightful.

  • http://tyreanswritingspot.blogspot.com/ Tyrean

    I’ve found that visiting other blogs is the best way to improve my own. It just seems to work that way.

  • Elizabeth Kitchens

    Great post! And it didn’t feel long!

  • Joannah Miley

    Very helpful blog post. I am in the same boat as many authors; editing my novel and creating my platform at the same time. It’s difficult to strike the right balance, but I figure that starting somewhere is better than not starting! :)

    Thanks for this post!

  • http://debioneille.blogspot.com/ Deborah Schubbe (Debi Oneille)

    Since writers use blogs to attract readers, I’ve often wondered why many of their blogs boast numerous articles solely about writing, which would be interesting to other writers (unless they’ve already read ten similar articles), but not necessarily to readers who are not writers.
    If a writer needs to attract readers who may eventually read his or her upcoming novel once it comes out, how will an article about writing tight attract a young-adult audience, the target for writers of YA fiction?
    Some teens, including my beta readers, would be bored sick reading articles on commas versus semicolons, improving dialogue or other writing tips; because they like to read stories, not lessons. So how do we craft our blogs to attract the YA audience we’ll need once our novel comes out?

    I’ve been told over and over to blog only about writing, writing, writing; but it seems to me, this advice would make more sense if I were writing a “how to” book on writing that I planned to publish soon, rather than middle-grade and YA fiction. Any ideas?
    Thanks.
    Deb

    • http://ibischild.blogspot.com marion

      Months ago, one of my few blog followers said I had too many posts about writing.
      He’s not a writer, he’s a photographer.
      Since he’s a loyal bloggee, I had to take this criticism seriously. And I think he was right.
      I’ll post about writing sometimes–mostly the process as I’m experience it. After all, writing is what I do.
      But the market is glutted with blogs about writing. It’s probably better to blog about something else, most days.

      • http://ibischild.blogspot.com marion

        Oops. Nearly midnight here. That’s my excuse.
        I meant: As I’m experiencing it.

  • http://dianeyuhas.com Diane Yuhas

    I’m considering a more consistent topic for my blog, but fear that I’ll become bored with it. So far I’ve been pretty flighty about the subject of each post- finding my voice and all that- and my readership is very small as a result. What advice have you?

    • http://dianeyuhas.com Diane Yuhas

      What I really meant in terms of advice is, would you consider writing a post on this subject?

  • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    One thing I’ve considered doing is adding a section from my in-progress novel (whose working title is Dead Men Rising)to each blog post. It would serve several purposes –

    1) I might get some feedback from the bright folk who read my blog

    2) I would have some pressure to keep the writing process moving

    3) Hopefully, anyone reading it would enjoy it and have something to which to look forward each day.

    Good idea?

    Stupid idea?

    Introduce the hamster to duct tape?

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major @Jjumping

      Good idea.

      Who are the wise people?

      • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        Mainly people who read Rachelle’s blog – that’s the source of most of my traffic.

        Lots of wisdom there.

        • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major @Jjumping

          You’re SUPPOSED to say “you’re the wisest, Jenny Wan Kenobi”.

          • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

            That was implied!

        • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major @Jjumping

          Oh. Riiiiiiiiiight.

          I knew that.

          Thanks.

          ;)

    • http://ibischild.blogspot.com marion

      I’ve heard that you shouldn’t post unpublished work.
      If it’s bad, people will think you can’t write.
      If it’s good, someone might steal your ideas.

      • http://ibischild.blogspot.com marion

        You can ask me for feedback on WIP, if you like.

  • http://www.meghancarver.blogspot.com Meghan Carver

    Life is a blog post! I have so many ideas jotted down that I’m not sure when I’ll get them all on the blog. :)

    Also, a controversial subject definitely drives traffic — but be prepared for snarky comments! I posted about submission (of wives to their husbands) a couple months ago and had to delete a couple of comments but also found my blog traffic increased significantly.

  • http://www.waltmussell.blogspot.com Walt M

    My wife made comments 1 and 2 about my blog about two weeks ago, so I started doing that. I’m thinking about mentioning this blog post to her, but I’d like to avoid the “I told you so” that would follow. :-)

  • http://www.meghancarver.blogspot.com Meghan Carver

    One more thing — photos are a definite help. A picture is worth a thousand words and all that. But with copyright infringement being such a hot issue, I’ve found that taking my own is just as easy. Plus, my readers enjoy seeing a little bit into my “real life.” Thanks, Rachelle, for a great post!

  • http://cynthiawashburnauthor.blogspot.com Cynthia Washburn

    These are great suggestions and I’m pleased to see that I do follow some of them already. One I would like to add is: Blog regularly. Pick a schedule and stick to it. Be realistic but I think less than once a week would mean people forget to check in.

    Oh, one more pet peeve of mine: If you have a blog roll, check it out from time to time. I went through one recently on another agent’s site and found that several had not posted for over four months, two had moved, one had said goodbye, and one was only accessible by password. I can’t think the blogger was aware of that.

  • http://showknowgrow.com Melinda Viergever Inman

    I’m trying to build my file of ideas right now, so there’s not so much pressure to produce content each week. I don’t post daily, like you do; but I post at least once a week. With all the other writing I do, it’s enough for now. I saw an earlier response about sticking to one particular day. I also found that it varied when people actually read the posts, no matter what day I put them up. Summertime seems to fluctuate more than during the school year, too. So, I now post weekly, but not necessarily on the same day.

  • http://www.meadowrue.com Meadow Rue Merrill

    These tips are great. I’ve been blogging once a week for about four months and am just beginning to hear from new readers. Getting them to actually post though is really tough! Do you think posting once a week is enough?

  • http://www.susirobinsonrutz.com Susi Robinson Rutz

    Thanks so much for these tips, Rachelle. Incorporating humor and being controversial on my blog will be the most challenging for me. My melancholy-choleric temperament can cause me to come across as a know-it-all do-gooder. At your suggestion, I’m going to try showing more vulnerability and sharing the silliness of life, even if I only dip my toes at first to test those waters.

  • http://darcyflynnromances.com Darcy Flynn

    HI Rachelle,

    I’m a debut author and am new to blogging. One of the things I was thinking about doing was to have my readers help me to accomplish an important task or goal. Something major, that might take weeks or even months for me to accomplish. They would act as my online advisors and cheerleaders!

    What do you think? :)

  • http://www.randomreflectionz.com Christie

    What a great post! These are really helpful tips. I try to keep a running file of blog ideas too. And I couldn’t agree more about the brief blog length. I occasionally use my blog to try out new writing styles such as freeform poetry. I am also using my blog to debut some of the ideas presented in my book on progressive religion.

    One thing I struggle with is providing tips and advice since I have a hard time coming to terms with the idea that I am in any position to dish out advice.

    Blogging has definitely brought some wonderfully supportive people into my life and I find that reading other blogs can be invaluable for inspiration and mentoring.

  • http://aboutproximity.com Lisa

    Patience. Not so easy, but it has been vital to not losing my mind with blogging and especially social media. It takes prayer, time, and thought. Connecting with people sometimes takes reaching out to them multiple times. I try to keep my readers forefront in the lens of everything I do.

    I often write personal notes of thanks to them for committing to journey with me. Their thoughts and encouragement are priceless and so wise. I hope if I become published someday that my encouragement and dedication to them will earn their respect to want to read my words.

    Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. I just wrote today about my frustration with rejections and trying to establish a social media following. I realized I’m striving for automatic perfection, which is just impossible. God is sufficient to meet all our needs, in the correct timing.

  • http://dalesittonrogers.wordpress.com Dale S. Rogers

    Thanks for the helpful ideas, Rachelle.
    I’m going to put some into practice. One
    I just started is connecting my blog to
    my Facebook page. I can already see a
    difference.

  • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major @Jjumping

    These tips are great, especially #2.

    I wonder if I should add more to my blog. For me, my blog is an extension of my life, with the truly awful bits left out to protect the guilty. As I approach a season of querying, I want to add some zing, but I don’t want to put something on the blog that isn’t *me”.

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    • http://bansheeweaver.blogspot.com Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts

      Just from a reader’s viewpoint, Jennifer, I’d say your blog is great. What makes it great is that you are you. Your personality comes through on the blog and I think that’s important. You have shared a bit about your journey to research the book and people who have read that, I think, will want to read the book. It you wanted to change from a journal-type format, perhaps you could write reflections or share information related to what you’ve learned about the Native Americans, especially the Navajo.
      Beth mentioned the importance of passion, and it’s a subject I know you have passion about. Just a suggestion.

      • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major @Jjumping

        That “reflections” idea, Christine, is great! I do have quite alot to tell about the trip, especially setting foot on hallowed ground. To actually stand where a treay was signed and a people were set free is an experience that goes beond words. Walking the dry, infertile ground and seeing the beautiful but useless Pecos River brought tears to my eyes. People died where I stood.

        See, you got me going!!

        “Passion” is right.

        • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major @Jjumping

          clearly, a blog on proof-reading should be written as well.

    • http://www.sally-apokedak.com/index.htm sally apokedak

      I love your blog because I love your sense of humor.

      The only suggestion I would give you right off is to move the “subscribe by email” button up to the top of the sidebar. I couldn’t find it and I wasn’t checking lately because I thought you weren’t blogging on your trip. Now I go over and see a bunch of photos.

      • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

        I’ll go do that right now!! Thanks Sally, feel free to give any more ideas as you see them.

  • http://triplethreaded.wordpress.com Samantha Bennett

    Love the idea of focusing on content. I can get so caught up in doing more, more, more, instead of polishing what’s there.

  • http://www.sally-apokedak.com/index.htm sally apokedak

    One good way to increase traffic to your blog is to visit other people’s blogs and to link to other people in your posts. I have met some of my favorite bloggers in the comments sections of blogs I read regularly. Since we have similar interests, it makes sense.

    It’s time consuming to link to and comment on other blogs but if you’re not a famous agent or author, it probably helps a little to reach out to others, instead of just waiting for them to find you. And sometimes real friendships grow. I’m friends in real life with several people I first met in the comments section of my blog or in the comments section of their blogs.

    When you leave comments at their blogs, you aren’t just connecting with them. You’re connecting with all their readers.

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      No kidding!! I just clicked my way through all kinds of goodies on you blog.

      :)

      • http://www.sally-apokedak.com/index.htm sally apokedak

        Hey, thanks, Jennifer. I’m getting a little paranoid, though, because you said you clicked through some goodies. No one entered to win the Kindle Fire or Google Nexus, today, so if you tried that, it didn’t go through.

        • http://www.sally-apokedak.com/index.htm sally apokedak

          Oh, never mind. I just realized I’d linked to several blogs in the last couple of posts. THOSE goodies. Yes, they were goodies. :)

  • http://smartchurchmanagement.com/ Patricia

    I think focusing on good content and staying away from the spammers is the best way to grow the blog. I’ve had to learn how to identify the friendly people out there who want to take advantage of our hard work!

    Thanks for the detailed direction and breaking your own rule!

  • http://kristinlaughtin.blogspot.com Kristin Laughtin

    A lack of ideas for interesting content and excessive length are my biggest challenges, though the two seem like they should be exclusive. I often feel like I arrive too late on the scene to offer much original on whatever news is shaking up reading/writing/publishing, and when I do think of a good idea, I can’t be brief! Perhaps I should try breaking those posts up, if all else fails.

    One more thing to add: consistency is key. I don’t know if that’s what has caused this or if I’ve just been improving a little bit at blogging, but I have seen my traffic increase since I started blogging on a less sporadic basis. Comment counts are high, but it appears a few more people are reading the blog than before.

    And it’s definitely to important to connect with and participate on others’ blogs! Most blogs I’ve discovered have been the result of an interesting comment, and I can recommend the names of a lot of new commenters on my own from the comments section of other blogs, so they’re probably finding mine the same way. (It’s just tough to comment on lots of things when you’re focusing on writing! But even a few a day is a good start.)

  • http://www.prosefromthepros.blogspot.com Bonnie Doran

    Thanks for the post. It’s nice to know I’m doing a few things right. Using a relevant post title is something I need to do. Punny has been more my style.

  • http://www.authorpeterdehaan.com/ Peter DeHaan

    Thanks for these tips, Rachelle. I already do most of them, but my traffic’s not what I want, so I’ll being working implementing the remaining ones.

    (By the way, I seldom read posts that are over a couple hundred words — unless they’re really good and easy to read. And I always read yours.)

  • http://christianmomthoughts.com Natasha

    These are all great tips, thank you!

    Here are some additions that have helped me:

    1) Put Google Analytics on your blog and learn to love the data. :) I analyze my data constantly – sources of traffic, time on site, referral patterns, social media patterns, days since last visit, etc. This has been hugely important for my blog growth – analyzing the data and responding accordingly with content strategy.

    2) Someone else mentioned this and I totally agree: Be personal, but not too personal. Unless people truly are reading your blog to learn about you personally, they are much more interested in the insight you can provide for their lives. Personal anecdotes have been very helpful to support my posts, but I am very careful to not make my blog a personal blog about my life.

    3) Get your readers to attach to your blog before they leave – either as an email subscriber or a Facebook fan/Twitter follower. Once you have most of your readers as Facebook fans, you are in a great position to leverage Facebook tools to bring people back again and again. (And once you have a fan base in Facebook, my last addition would be to learn all the ins and outs about using it to reach them. Learn all you can, for example, about Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm!)

  • http://kathrynmcclatchy.wordpress.com/ Kathryn McClatchy

    I have a few topic that I am interested in blogging about. Someone suggested setting up Google Alerts to search out those topics. It gives me daily updates about news and what others are writing about relative to those topics. It really helps me come up with ideas to write about.

    Also, I write when the mood strikes in a MSWord file, and then edit later. When I am satisfied with it, I copy and paste it to the blog, with a scheduled post date/time. That way, I post every five days whether or not I am home, working on my blog, or even paying attention to it. I always try to keep two or three posts ready to go in case I get sick or something comes up that I can’t post. This makes my post consistent, and I don’t feel pressured to write just because I need to post something.

    Thanks Rachelle and all that shared good tips as a reply.

  • http://poletosoul.me/ Christine Macdonald

    I just recently started incorporating questions at the end of my posts. It really does help with comment traffic.

    I try to keep it simple, but always real.

    Also, I like to sit on a post for 24 hours before posting, so I can read it with new eyes, and fine tune (a.k.a. trim the fat).

    Great post, thank you!

  • http://thejaimereports.blogspot.com Jaime Wright Sundsmo

    Great advice! Especially the running idea log … I always get ideas at 2 AM and forget them by morning. LOL

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  • http://holessence.wordpress.com Laurie Buchanan

    I keep it brief, use my own photographs, make a point of using the “we” approach (not the “you” approach), and I respond to every single comment.

  • Susan Preston

    Great ideas, simply put for a beginning blogger with little time.

    Thank you

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  • http://www.glynisj.com/ Glynis Jolly

    I especially needed to read #12. I usually just let the ‘add to’ app do its thing when I post at social media sites.

    Most of my posts are 600 to 800 words long. Time to look at being concise again.

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  • Kathy Rouser

    You may have broken your own rule, Rachelle, but you
    as usual gave good advice worth taking the time
    to read and you kept to the point!

  • http://elizabethshack.com Elizabeth

    Great tips. I’m still growing my blog–most people comment on Facebook or LiveJournal, but at least I know my friends and family are reading.

    My most helpful (to me) discovery was changing my scheduling from “post every Monday and Wednesday” to “spend half an hour on blog posts every Monday at 6 am.” Until I made that switch in thinking, I rarely got around to posting. Now it’s a habit.

  • http://www.janettedolores.com Janette Dolores

    Wonderful tips, Rachelle! Keeping a running idea file has made blogging that much more manageable for me. I keep my main running idea file on my PC at home. When I’m on the go, I use my cell phone’s voice recorder to record longer ideas that occur to me, and my cell phones notes function to jot down shorter ones. When I get home, I input those thoughts into my PC’s running idea file.

    FYI, I made this particular blogging tips post the subject of my blog post today! I appreciate your advice and encouraging voice.

    Be well,
    Janette

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  • http://intelligenteditingblog.wordpress.com Will DeRooy

    Apparently I’m well on my way to a great blog! (But I already knew that!) Thanks for the links in #8!

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  • Lynda Schmeichel

    Like most of your other readers (I believe), I am an aspiring writer, so I have been helped very much by your good advice on your blog & try not to miss a single post.
    On my own blog, I try to answer every commenter, even if it’s just a simple thank you. I am often moved by people’s comments & where I can I engage them in conversation.
    I have a “Blog Ideas” folder on my email page, so if I see something interesting or humorous I can save it here.
    Please keep up the good work, I appreciate your posts!

  • http://writeandmarket.blogspot.com/ Sandy Penny

    I loved your article, and it inspired me to add some tips of my own to my write and market blog. I shared your first three tips with a link to this post on creating a great blog. Check it out and see what you think.

  • http://writeandmarket.blogspot.com/ Sandy Penny

    The blog post is at http://writeandmarket.blogspot.com/. Sorry forgot that in the above comment.

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  • Firdauz San

    hello there,(im not good in english, i hope you understand what im going to ask)well im a new comers in blogger. So i just want to ask about your opinion and some suggestion about the title of the blog. by the way, i like very much about your tips given for making the blog more interesting. i just want to know is there any purpose the blog title that we gonna put it or we just make it as our own words?

  • Andrea

    Thank you so much, Rachelle. You cannot imagine how much I learned from your posting today. I’m looking to start a blog and publish a book at the same time. You can imagine how overwhelming I feel now!
    Your piece was tremendously helpful

  • Andrea

    Overwhelmed*

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  • http://www.jakekail.com Jake Kail

    Thanks Rachelle, this is great. I am planning on ways to improve my blog for the new year and this is helpful!

    Any thoughts on how often to blog? I have been doing about one post per week, but sometimes its a little longer between posts. I am thinking of doing 2-4 posts per week, all on the same theme.

    Thanks,

    Jake

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  • Bhanu

    Thanks! :) Helpful! The idea file is a great idea, now I think of it!

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