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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Some self-congratulations, and some tips about blogging



I started writing this blog in September, 2008. Since then I have posted more than 2,100 times and the blog has had more than 1,000,000 "page views." I wish I could have charged the viewers a dollar each, or a dime, or a penny.

My blog traffic has had ups and downs but has gradually increased from the original one page view (mine) to more than 3,000 on most recent days.

That's nothing compared to Huffington Post (which has gazillions of readers and more than 9,000 people doing the writing). However, there are apparently more than 150 million blogs online, some get hundreds of daily visitors, many get dozens and some get none -- so I am quite pleased with 3,391, or even half that number.

I have no secrets to divulge but I will pass on some tips:
  • Write regularly. Three or more times per week. Five is best. You want your blog to become a daily habit with your readers. Some blogs get new posts just once or twice a year. Why bother?
  • Publish in the morning. As early as possible.
  • Don't bother posting more than once a day. If you feel the need to spout more frequently, use Facebook or Twitter.
  • Have a reason to blog: Do you want to sell something, entertain people, change the world, satisfy yourself? For me it's "all of the above."
  • If you're a writer -- and many of my readers are writers -- be aware that writers of nonfiction will probably find it much easier to blog than will novelists or poets. There is just not much to say five times a week about lesbian cannibals from Venus, or your poems about daffodils. If you have a very specific, artsy genre, a website is proper better than a blog.
  • It's nice to publish guest posts but don't let guests replace your own unique voice. One blogger I used to like a lot but now often ignore has become more of a publisher than a writer because he publishes so much material that he does not write. A blog should have a personality, not dozens of personalities.
  • Promote your blog on other media -- websites, Facebook, etc.
  • Mention your blog in anything you control, including books, comments on other blogs and websites, business cards, letterheads, etc.
  • Cover a variety of topics, even if not closely related to your blog's title or premise. Up at the top I say that I discuss "writing, editing, design, publishing, language, culture, politics and other things." Other things allows me to write about anything I feel like without violating my "charter."
  • Variety allows the blogger to preach about world events or personal emotions, and maybe grab readers who don't care about the main topic. Most of my readers come here via Google. They may be searching for topics I discuss (eyeglasses, food, politics), and not necessarily searching for me or my books.
  • Don't be afraid to publish reruns. You should be attracting new readers every day, and someone who reads your blog today may not have read the same material three months or three years earlier.
  • If you do publish a rerun, update it if necessary (this post is an updated rerun). Add, correct, provide new illustrations, change the title. Pick reruns of popular postings, not ones that attracted few readers.
  • Once a year or so change the look of your blog. You can use a different template, change colors, shift things around.
  • Allow readers to comment and respond to the comments promptly. Comments should be moderated so jerks don't spout obscene or libelous material before you can reject it.
  • Blog spam is a BIG problem. Some blogs automatically distribute the spam to all email subscribers before the blogger has a chance to kill it.
  • Write about things that interest you. If you're disinterested -- if blogging becomes a chore -- readers can tell and will turn away.
  • Few things are bigger turn-offs than an abandoned news blog. I've started and stopped several blogs but they were not presenting news and they can stand as completed works, almost like books. Brent Sampson, boss of Outskirts Press, skipped posting on his blog for more than six months. A Book's Mind is a strangely named competitor of Outskirts. It started and stopped publishing a blog. Did Outskirts win?
     


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