My library’s writers group has taken a change in direction. With our lead librarian finding a full-time job at another library (yay Amy!), we’ve turned to a member-run group. I volunteered to run the first meeting and I felt it was appropriate to talk about something I know well; blogging! Here’s a short summary of what I talked about. This is all personal advice so if you’ve heard something else or disagree, please share your thoughts in the comments for others to explore.
I think it’s important to pick a topic for your blog and stick to it. If your blog is about traveling, you shouldn’t have recipes that you didn’t pick up while traveling or review books that aren’t about traveling. If you’re writing about music, your blog isn’t a good place for a religious discussion. Stick with one post. Those that follow you share the interest your blog covers and they could be dissuaded by your other interests.
Don’t worry too much about your layout unless you’re a pro. On mobile devices and blog rolls, the layout doesn’t matter as much anyway. Most blogs go to a single format. WordPress and (I’m told) Blogger offer templates. These are safe and you can stick with one and not sweat it.
Posting on a regular schedule is a great way to stay consistent. I post Monday through Thursday and I’ve done this for almost a year now. I write my posts over a week ahead of time (except WWW Wednesday) and hold myself accountable to the schedule. It also allows my followers to know when new content will be posted. I try to keep the posts I put up to a few types: book reviews, book club reflections, book/movie reviews, writing group summaries, statuses on my writing journey, WWW Wednesday, and challenge updates. You won’t find too may posts on this site outside of these categories.
Memes, awards, and challenges are a great way to start your blogging platform and to continue growing it. Jumping into an already established meme gives you a way to join an established community and hopefully meet like-minded bloggers who share your passions. Your participation in these will likely change over time as you begin to post more original content and you might find yourself hosting some of these.
Original images are a great way to brand your blog. Make sure they have no content that someone else could claim such as a picture of a celebrity or a book cover. An original image is completely owned by you, either created or photographed. I’ve put my 2016 When Are You Reading image here as an example.
I believe very strongly in comment management. If you take the time to read my post and write a comment, you deserve a response or acknowledgment of your comment. I try to respond to all comments within twelve hours. If you don’t care what others have to say about what you post, why do you have a blog? Write in a journal if you don’t want to share it.
There is such as thing as ‘shameful self-promotion.’ Posting your links in unrelated posts is spam, don’t do it! Promote yourself in an organic way. If you wrote a similar post to the one you read, leave a comment and a link. You can leave a comment with no link and it’s likely others will explore your site. Promote yourself by being active in the community and interacting with other bloggers.
Social media can be very powerful. At the end of every post, I give you six ways to contact me: Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Most of these accounts I use personally and for my blog; Facebook is the exception. Know that there will be bloggers who want to follow you in these mediums and decide which ones you’re comfortable sharing and which you want to keep private. Continue interactions on these other platforms when you can. Connect with other bloggers on them. If you don’t want to, leave your email and nothing else. Again, it’s all about connecting.
So there’s my blogging advice. Not a lot of it is about writing, but it will set you up for a good way to start a blog which is all writing. If you disagree with me or have something to add, please leave a comment so others can hear your advice. I’d love to learn even more.
Until next time, write on.