I have been diligently blogging for eight months, although my blog has been around for three years. On May 5, I had the distinct pleasure of welcoming the 500th follower to my blog! When I started blogging about my one-subject wonder—the Four Generations, I never imagined my blog, renamed and retooled in September 2014, would have this large of a following.
Firstly, I want to heartily THANK all my readers and followers of this blog. I am one lucky blogger! I also want to acknowledge that 500 followers is not a huge number, but it is an encouragement to someone like me, “A Serious Leisure Blogger.” Read about this here.
Secondly, I would like to share some simple blogging tips that you may find useful, based on some of my experiences as well as information I have read on blogging. I am not THEE expert on blogging, but I can share what has worked for me.
Tip 1: Find your passion. Why did you decide to start your blog? Are you an author using your blog to promote yourself and your books? Are you a burgeoning writer using your blog posts to hone your writing skills? Perhaps you are a photographer, world traveler, or fitness expert. These reasons are just drops in the bucket for writing a blog. Blogging about YOUR passion will engage other readers and create loyal followers.
Use your blog to share subjects about which you have expertise or strong interests. There is nothing worse than getting bored with your own blog and stop posting altogether. This happened to me, and if I hadn’t stumbled upon Blogging University 101 last September, I would not be here today. If you are in this rut, it may be a good time to take a good look at your blog and re-tool it. Last September, when I changed the focus and the blog title, the blog came to life!
Tip 2: Blog consistently. There are several schools of thought on this. After some trial and error, I believe posting at least 4-5 days a week is a good formula. We readers are fickle, and research shows that readers won’t return to a blog if there are no new posts to read. To help you stay on schedule, see the next two tips.
Tip 3: Create an editorial calendar and stick to it as much as possible. You do not have to post or share this calendar, but keep it for yourself. There are many ways to creating a schedule, from keeping calendars on Evernote, to simply writing in a spiral notebook. I use a spiral-bound calendar and write my post ideas on the dates. Low-tech and simple. I also have a WORD document with ideas listed. I often write the content in WORD first, then copy it over into the post. You will see that I have an even balance between posting photos and writing content.
Here is an example of my editorial calendar:
Sunday—Sunday Stills Photography challenge and Weekend Coffee Share
Tuesday and Saturday—no posts. I have found that these days tend to be slow for readership.
Wednesday—a post for BeWow Wednesday (Ronovan Writes), which include posts on leisure and outdoor activities. I may start the Writer’s Quote Wednesday hosted by Silver Threading
Thursday—One Word Photo Challenge hosted by Jennifer Nichole Wells.
Friday—Weekly Photo Challenge hosted by WordPress
I take part in other challenges and I often come up with other posts that seem relevant for the week. See Tip 4.
Tip 4: Take part in blogging events and challenges. If you are a WordPress blogger, you know there are many options. Events like Writing 101 and 201, Blogging University 101 and 201, are designed to help hone the skills of bloggers at all levels. Participation is free, but there is a time commitment. If photography is your game, WordPress offers events such as Photography 101 and the themed Weekly Photo Challenge. Frankly, the weekly photo challenge has driven more traffic to my blog than I expected. I make sure to use a compelling image. (More on that in Part Two, still to come).
The Daily Prompt is also a great tool to help kick start your post ideas. There are many bloggers who host their own photography challenges. Outside of WordPress are more opportunities for getting your blog read. Facebook hosts the Ultimate Blog Challenge and I have recently seen April’s “A to Z Challenge.”
Not only do these events and challenges provide ideas for posts, most have link-ups or ping-backs which are shared with other bloggers who may not be following yours. The 101 courses also have a community pool of bloggers who are taking part in the same challenge and I have discovered many new blogs this way.
Tip 5: Read, follow, and engage with your fellow bloggers. Blogging is hard work and 500 readers do not follow overnight. Ask any of the “power bloggers” out there. Remember that bloggers are part of a wonderful community that encourages and supports one another. Friendships are built every day in the blogosphere. After writing that great blog post, don’t you want readers to “like” and comment on your post? Of course you do. Now you have to do the same for other blogs you follow.
I personally follow over 400 bloggers. Many are not consistently active, but there are quite a few that are. I use the WordPress Reader e-mail notification tool so that I don’t miss my favorite bloggers’ posts. Some bloggers simply use the Reader to read blogs they follow. When I open the e-mail notification that takes me to their blog, I usually “like” or leave a comment. In doing so, those same bloggers see that I stopped by and will likely visit my blog and do the same.
Whatever your blog reading strategy is, make sure you are consistently using it. This is where it can be time-consuming. But truthfully, I would rather spend my time reading interesting and well-written blog content than troll Facebook and all its silliness.
In my next installment, I will offer tips on images, social media use and link-up parties.
I would love to hear what has worked for you. Stay tuned and thank you for stopping by!