Wednesday, July 17, 2013

4 Focused Blogging Tips

I spoke last Saturday at the Lexicon Writers Conference, and one of the beauties of being asked to speak is the ability to attend other sessions. I learn a lot from other speakers, and man, did the session on blogging, given by Renee Groskreutz of Fun City Social Media, hit home!


Boy, do I have work to do. Not only am I not blogging enough, but I’m doing a lot of things incorrectly. So, I thought this month I’d share four of her main tips.

1. The blog title draws in your reader. That’s a no-brainer, right? But a few tips helped me a lot:
  • Make it either humorous, numerical, or use alliteration. See above. I overdid this a bit here, just to make the point!
  • Search keywords for your title before writing the post; the ones that come up first are those being searched most at the time. Search engines will pick them up much more readily.
  • Be as redundant as possible. In other words, do a long series with the same catchwords in the title. If you’ve done your keyword search, search engines will pick it up more and more.
2. Always use an image (I know Maryann Miller will be proud!).
  • I’ve balked at this because, well, it’s a pain in the butt. But studies have shown readers are much more likely to read a blog that has an image.
  • Put that image up front. Readers are more likely to begin reading text under the image, so make sure they can see it as soon as possible.
3. Use a lot of bullet points and white space.
  • Readers are daunted by long blocks of text. As authors (and especially those of us who began in the newspaper business), we know this. Note to self: I’m guilty of getting carried away with what I’m saying, and just ramble on.
  • Readers love bullet points. Of course, I explain this to my writers of nonfiction every single day. And have utilized it in my own nonfiction. But did I think about it while blogging? You know the answer! And of course, I’ve overdone it here, to again make that point.
4. Blog more often.

Eeekkk!!!

Okay, now that I have that out of my system, I do understand the need for this. We all do. But I had no idea the impact, nor did I have the tools to manage it. A few good ones:
  • Identify 4-5 categories, under which you can reasonably write a host of posts. Plan these out.
  • Write series posts. Another no-brainer, right? So why don’t I do that? Now and then I do, such a series on Viewpoint, another on Structure and the Novel. But then, of course, I don’t finish them! Busted again.
  • Here’s the tip that really phoned home for me! How many followers do you have on your blog? A few? A couple dozen? Studies have shown that for your first 1-50 blog posts, you’ll have a few followers. This might go up to dozens as your blog numbers rise. But there’s sort of a hundredth-monkey syndrome (my take) that causes your blog to take off, logarithmically. And that’s your one-hundredth blog post. The folks at Fun City don’t know why, but this is apparently an irrefutable fact.
Renee provided many more wonderful tips, but I have to stay within her 400-600 word limit, so I must stop.

What techniques do you use to pull more readers to your blog?


Award-winning author and editor Susan Mary Malone has five traditionally-published books to her credit (fiction and nonfiction) and many published short stories. A freelance editor, forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers. You can see more about her, and what authors say about working with her, at: MaloneEditorial.com

31 comments :

  1. I've definitely made mine shorter of late. I wonder if there are studies as to the best day to post if you do it once a week?

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    Replies
    1. Renee said the magic word count is 400-600 words, but didn't say anything about what day would be best!

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    2. http://morganlinton.com/can-you-guess-the-best-day-of-the-week-for-blog-posts/

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    3. Thanks for that link, Dani—interesting!

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  2. Great tips. I have no clue how many followers I have; all I can track are 'hits'.

    I make it look like I blog a lot, but even though I post 5 days a week, I host guests once a week, share recipes another day, and photos on another. So I'm only writing 2 craft-related articles a week. I love series--I don't have to think of totally new topics. Right now, I've been recapping ThrillerFest, which should carry me through several "weeks" of posts.

    Terry
    Terry's Place

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    1. You know, Terry, that's a great idea! I'm wondering if all the posts count? I know the guest bloggers do! And great idea to recap something like ThrillerFest as well.

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  3. Renee did a great job with this workshop. I'll be implementing a lot of her tips soon. Nice seeing you again too. :-)

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    1. Great seeing you too, Jean! I'm still somewhat reeling from that session. So much to do!

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  4. Blogging, Fazebook, Tweety and all the other social media thingies are major mystery's to moi. Okay, granted I ignore most of the tips I get ... like the insightful ones above ... to make the electronic turnstiles spin ... so, I guess I have no one to blame but myself. Still, it's depressing ... as near as I can figure, I'm the only one who ever reads my posts. On the other hand, I do like myself, so that qualifies as a social encounter ... right?

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    1. LOL, Christopher! '
      Just remember the 100th Monkey Syndrome!

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    2. Christopher, Christopher. Mysteries, please, not mystery's. You're getting as wild as Maryann with your errant apostrophes. ;)

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    3. Knuckles rapped again at the BRP.

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  5. Good tips, Susan. I usually only post once a week and sometimes it's a struggle to get that done! So much to do, so little time! LOL But I agree, short posts with graphics and catchy titles.

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    1. Me, too, Heidi. But I vow to do better. The social-media folks really swear by all of this.

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    2. Including the resident ones. ;) However, we never encourage anyone to do what they will hate for the simple reason that very quickly, they won't continue. So all is lost.

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  6. I never thought of searching for keywords for my post titles. Thanks for that tip.

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    1. I hadn't either, LD. Interesting, no? Renee said the search engines pick those up faster. And to write the headlines first!

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    2. Trying to get bloggers to do it is a problem most people would prefer to be clever.

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  7. It is interesting that Renee suggested shorter posts and some others are recommending longer ones. I wish I could remember where I read that tip, but it was on a post about increasing visibility of a blog. If I wasn't in the middle of drama camp, I'd look it up. (Smile)

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    1. Renee said it had something to do with the search engines. But please look it up when you get done with drama camp, Maryann! That could be useful info too!

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    2. Here's the formula that I think works. It all depends on... http://www.copyblogger.com/blog-post-length/

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    3. Info prefer shorter posts, to read and to write, so I am going to take Renee's suggestion to heart. As well as the directive of our fearless leader here.

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  8. One thing I do is give the 'illusion' of shorter posts by using jump breaks. This means visitors can see several posts without scrolling, and also (I hope) when they do reach the break, I will have hooked them to keep reading.

    Terry
    Terry's Place

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    1. Okay, Terry, you have to remember how remedial I am at all of this--what is a jump break?

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    2. We don't use jump breaks on this blog, though, because I don't ever click the "read more" to expand the rest of the text on any blog I visit. So I put my foot down here. ;) I encourage our bloggers to stick to around 500 words which is the length at which we get the most visitors consistently. After all, we have a daily blog and too many long and densely packed posts aren't fun for our readers.

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  9. I'm going to be jumping into the deep end of the blogging pool this fall. This post is a keeper, Susan. Thank you for sharing. :-)

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    1. Good for you, Linda! It's just crazy all the things you're supposed to do!

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  11. Thanks for these tips, Susan. And Terry, you make it sound so easy, but I know it's a lot of work. I guess you just need to train your thoughts to the task. Of course being an author requires some 50+ daily tasks, so it can get tricky and downright stressful to keep up your blog, especially while building a new one and talking to the ether.

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    1. I'm with you, Kathryn. Sometimes I just have to get away and quiet, write and edit, to keep my sanity!

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  12. Hi, Susan,
    I see you've been busy doing great things since I saw you last. Congratulations for the awesome accomplishments. I still have your first book, Body Sculpting, on my DFW Writer's Workshop shelf.
    Carolyn Rae Williamson

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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