Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blogging 101

I've been at this a long time (well, long for bloggyland--since 2008), and have been asked lots of blogging questions through email.

I've never written a post about it before, but felt now was the time, for many reasons.

In light of all the recent back and forth advice about what blogger/writers are "supposed" to do to develop our brand/target audience, I thought I'd add my own tips about what makes blogging successful. And I'm not talking about FOLLOWERS. Or number of monthly HITS. There is so much focus on all of that, it puts too much pressure on people. Also, factoring in TIME is a given. Building blogging relationships takes time (and perseverance), plain and simple. I mean, months went by where all I heard were the crickets chirping around here.


I'm talking about building a community of support. Will blogging bring readers to you (I'm talking readers of your future books)? Maybe or maybe not. But I'm not wholly sure that's what matters anymore. It matters to have an on-line presence so a reader can find you if they want to. And it matters that your on-line presence is professional. And it matters a heck of a lot that you WROTE THE BEST BOOK(s) you could.

But most of us blog because it's an outlet (to show who we are). Plus, we like the idea of a community.
And maybe that's all that matters ("if you build it, they will come"?).

With that said, I think the following TEN THINGS are important when you're blogging. They'll make people want to visit you more often and establish a relationship of support (Remember, my opinion ONLY. I'm okay if you respectfully disagree).

1. SHORT POSTS most of the time. For example, this is the longest post I've done in ages. In my opinion, your posts should be no longer than 500 words--250 words is even better, etc. etc.

2. WHITE SPACE. Please, put lots of white space between paragraphs and maybe use pictures that help capture the topic (and be sure to cite where the picture came from).

3. NO MUSIC. Stop forcing your style of music on me when I click on your page-- I CANNOT TAKE IT! :D

4. ONE TOPIC/THEME PER POST. When people jump all over the place, my first thought is always, "Geez, they could make five whole posts out of this one."

5. DIVERSIFY. If I always see the exact same kind of post (i.e. book reviews, author interviews, writing goals or tour dates), it doesn't show me who you are as a person. Unless that one topic is what your blog is touted as (then, carry on).

6. DON'T APOLOGIZE. For being gone or off topic for that specfic day/week and here's why: most of us read tons of blogs and we don't remember your "schedule". REALLY.  Announce you're leaving if you'll be gone for awhile (especially if someone from your "target audience" wanders across your blog).


7. DONT ASK FOR SUGGESTIONS. Sorry, but this drives me BATTY. It's YOUR blog, write about what you're passionate about (I strongly believe that)--don't ask readers to decide for you, I'm not sure that they really CARE that much. The market is over-saturated with similar information. If you decide to change how or what you blog about (remember, diversity is nice), people will probably come back for a specific topic, but mostly they'll come back for your personality or your relationship!

8. GET OUT OF YOUR BLOGGING HOUSE AND GO VISIT OTHERS. C'mon, if you only respond to comments on your own blog, don't expect people to come back and read your reply. VARY your responses if you're too busy or you have too many daily comments to handle. Respond back in the comments section and/or through email some of the time, but also GET OUT THERE and visit others every now and then. If you expect people to come visit you, but you NEVER go see them--shame on you! It's about building relationships.

9. FOLLOW. Is it going to kill you to follow someone back? Open yourself up to others, you'll be pleasantly surprised. We all know our Google readers are hard to manage. Forget about it-click on what you find interesting and that's that, we can all forgive each other for the rest.

10. MAKE IT EASY for people to visit you. If you constantly ask someone to click over to see you someplace other than your blog, it gets OLD. Make it simple to leave comments by using a pop-up comment box and no word verification (please). Also, add your email and blog link under your follower widget, under "settings" so the blog owner can comment/visit back.

ANYTHING YOU WANT TO ADD?


(cartoon network, I can has cheezburger)

40 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

Such a good post and agree with every single thing. I don't have time to really respond to comments unless someone asks a question. But I make up for that by actually visiting others, I think. I hope people realize that! btw, your comment on my Monday post gave me the BIGGEST smile! Thank you. xx

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This is awesome, Christina. And I agree with everything. I'm still guilty of going over 500 words. I had to do a lot of chopping to get mine down to close to that today.

The other suggestion is to add headings if your post lends itself to that. It adds more white space is seems less daunting, especially if you do go over 500 words. :D

Christine Danek said...

This is awesome. I totally agree. I tend to get long winded and it's something I'm working on and I'm trying to continue to visit as many blogs as I can.
Great post!!

Laura Pauling said...

I agree with all of those! Very well said.I keep up the conversation in my comments and sometimes respond through email.But I try and visit all the bloggers who comment on my blog if I can find the link. :)

Stefanie Wass said...

Great post! Definitely something for me to refer to if I ever decide to dive into the bloggy world!

Ashley said...

This post is great for someone like me who is new to the blogging world. Thanks for all the advice!

storyqueen said...

Great tips.

Love the part about clicking on what's interesting and that we all have to forgive each other the rest. So true!

People only have so much time, thy should at least enjoy blog-hopping.

Shelley

Joanne said...

Great suggestions. I think the most important is the short posts. They just suit the nature of blogging, a quick visit, sharing thoughts, making that connection. The Comments are also important to me, it's where all the fun dialogue gets going!

Lindsay said...

Great suggestions.

I'm with you on the short posts. I try to make mine short, but it doesn't always work. hehe.

Sarah Pearson said...

Some really good points here. I'm sometimes guilty of going on a bit, but I try to keep it short - and about the music - you only meant that annoying stuff that plays automatically, right? Cause I have music every week on my blog :-)

Matthew MacNish said...

Yes, yes and yes. And I'm sure you'll get there eventually, but you should read the post I link to today. It's not really etiquette based, but it makes some other interesting points about blogging.

Janet Johnson said...

Amen, sister! Great points. I loved "we can forgive each other the rest." My motto, for sure!

Patti said...

Wow, you summed it up perfectly. Especially about the short posts.

mshatch said...

I definitely agree with the keeping it short (there are a few exceptions). If I see an extremely long post I tend to click elsewhere. And it isn't so much that I have a short attention span but rather that I only have so much time to devote to blogging - unless I want to cut into my writing time. which I don't. Thanks for this :)

Christina Lee said...

Jessica, yes I do respond to question too (in email and here).

Sarah, oh yeah, I meant the automatic music!

Stina, good suggestion!

Laura Barnes said...

These are excellent, Christina. Thanks for mentioning no music. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Gwen Stickle said...

Great post. Wonderful suggestions. Thanks for the advice.

ralfast said...

All the music in my blog is optional. A video at the end of a post and nothing more. Not like those automated music apps/widgets that blare through the speaker the moment the page loads.

Those I loath.

K. M. Walton said...

Not a fan of the automatic music thing either - it scares the heck out of me every time.

Lourie said...

Def do not make apologies. I did make apologies of sorts today because blogger was bad last night, but normally I do not. Life is what it is.

Enable the email. I love being able to respond to things people say.

If you need an idea, do a meme there's tons out there.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Great tips and all very true!

And personally, I always like to be able to find pertinent information at the top of the sidebars -- info about the blogger, how to follow on Twitter, Member box, etc. If I have to search and search and scroll down countless Blogger Awards before I find out who the blogger is and how to join ... well, I probably won't bother.

Carol Riggs said...

Great stuff. I had to bookmark it. I can't believe how many people do NOT have their email set up on their profiles--though some don't know how. I mean, it's social networking. So it doesn't make sense not to have a way to contact someone! (I started a special gmail account just for blogging.)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Oh, my goodness. I think you totally hit the nail on the head with this post! I totally agree with everything. One of the biggest benefits that I get with blogging is the feeling of being submerged in this community, and getting to know so many people! I had no idea before I started how truly wonderful that aspect would be.

LisaDay said...

I like clean posts and your pictures always make me smile.

LisaDay

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I'm not a big fan of videos. If you post a video and it's 24 minutes, tell me why it's worth my time.

Amy said...

I'm with you on a lot of these. I'd include having the "white space" idea extend to the whole blog. Make it neat and readable!

Oh, and your blogger comments include name/url option. Love that. I had to get a )*^!*^!!! openid account just to comment on some blogger sites - yeesh! Make it harder for me!

MG Higgins said...

Great post. I'm such an introvert, it's hard for me to "get out there" and visit new people sometimes. But it's so satisfying when I do. There are lots of great people in the blogosphere and they don't bite.

Carrie said...

These are great tips. I like the one about not apologizing if you are gone.

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

I love posts like this. Sometimes it helps to to a check-up - have I been rambling? Am I getting in my own way on my blog?, etc. I agree with the music - big turn-off.

Cheree said...

Fantastic post. I agree with all of these, especially with the white space rule. I hate trying to read big blocks of text, it really hurts the eyes.

Beth said...

Great post. The only one I slightly disagree with is #6. If I'm going on holidays I don't want to announce it to the world that my house will be empty! Hopefully everyone will forgive me for taking a couple of weeks off, and come back once I've returned home.

Krispy said...

Great points, and I especially especially agree with NO MUSIC. Music that automatically plays automatically annoys me, and 95% of the time, I will just close the window without looking at anything.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Brilliant (as usual!) :D
#7 makes me crazy, too. If you can't figure out what to blog about then don't blog!

Sophia Chang said...

Hear hear! I just wrote my first blogging advice/don't do's post and it got me the most whopping comments out of anything I'd ever posted!

The music thing is such a "duh", but a common newbie mistake.

Very nice to meet you!

Lynn said...

LOL regarding the 'crickets!' Building a blog community, like any relationship, requires perserverance and cultivation. All great tips! Thank you! I came over here from Stina's blog today.

Regge Ridgway said...

Great post and advice. I learn something every day from great bloggers and writers and often feel like I'm in class. So far I just use my blog to practice writing and telling stories. Love your blog and will try and pop in from time to time and read your posts.

SharleneT said...

Excellent, as always. I'm guilty of over 500 words, but that's because I'm doing recipes, more often than not. But, sometimes it takes more than 500 words just to say 'hello'! Will work on that. Come visit when you can.

Lydia Sharp said...

yes yes YES to all of this!

Jessica PierreAuguste said...

Can you please expand a bit on this:
10. ...Also, add your email and blog link under your follower widget, under "settings" so the blog owner can comment/visit back

This sounds like a good idea but I am not quite what you mean or how to do this.
Thank you for the informative post!

Christina Lee said...

Hi there, Jessica! Sure thing!

You know how your little picture/icon appears on someone’s sidebar that you followed in blogger? If you click on your picture a box appears with your info on it. You can add information there. Like your email and links to your site. Under settings, it’ll say edit basic information, etc.

That way if you leave me a comment, I can email you back directly from my inbox. If your information is not available it will say "do not reply" to comment (or something like that) in my in-box...

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