I attended a wonderful talk by Sonia Marsh, author of Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island and My Gutsy Story Anthology: True Stories of Love, Courage and Adventure from Around the World (Volume 1). She talked about blogs as a promotional tool and asked the audience for our experiences with them.
I’ve been blogging since 2003. Back then, I was using static HTML pages that I created in Microsoft FrontPage. Today, blogging tools have greatly improved. I use WordPress, but there are a variety of blogging sites. The key for successful blogging is to provide quality content that your readers can use.
Here are some tips about blogging that I’ve found helpful.
Get Into a Pattern
Sonia Marsh recommended writing a blog post at least twice a week. This is great advice that I’ll start following. I also think it’s helpful to follow a pattern. The videos I follow regularly on YouTube — Vlogbrothers, Crash Course, and PBS Idea Channel — all follow a set schedule. I know when the next video is coming, and I can look forward to it. Posting on a regular basis helps you attract and keep readers.
Although I agree with C.G.P. Grey about choosing quality over quantity, it does help to be on a regular schedule. It helps you as a writer by getting you into the habit of posting regularly. The discipline keeps you going. When I knew I had to post, I can always find something to write about, as I did when I posted daily for Fun a Day Reseda. Establishing a schedule benefits you and your readers.
Use Statistics to Help You Pick Topics
My blog covers a variety of subjects. (Look at the Categories to the right for a list.) How do I choose which things to write about? I look at my statistics. Here are my top posts for today:
Using statistics helps me determine which content people are most interested in and what I should cover in future posts. I can also see which posts interest people the most during different times of the year. This is the start of baseball and softball season, so people are looking for ideas for opening day speeches. Later this spring, Toastmasters districts start looking for area governors for the coming term, so I can give more tips about leadership. I can see more views for instructional topics during the school year. When schools go on holiday, I can focus on more entertaining or philosophical subjects.
Tweet Your Old Stuff
Even though readers appreciate new content, they are willing to look at your older posts to find the information they need. I find it helpful to tweet an old post that has become relevant again. With the start of baseball season, readers might find a story about baseball and persistence helpful. Readers who are preparing for a big speech may want to videotape themselves and review how they look in front of the audience. Even though these posts are seven and eight years old, they still seem fresh because they still have useful and relevant information. Tweet your old posts to connect your readers with your still valuable content.
Why Blogging Is Worth the Effort
Blogging seems like a large investment of time for information you’re essentially giving away for free (or for whatever you can get from advertising.) Why do it? First, it is your “demo reel” as a writer. You’re demonstrating your writing style and showing your areas of expertise. You’re also building an audience base that you can turn on to the books, videos, and services you are selling.
More importantly, blogging enables us to express ourselves on subjects matter to us. When we express our passion, our readers can feel it and connect to it as well. Readers search for content that matters to them. When they know this content matters to us as well, they are willing to read our blogs and buy our books and products.
Writing in the digital age seems like shouting into a windstorm. It is hard to be heard, but there are people who need and want to hear us. By blogging, we keep shouting loud enough for people to find us.