With the blog site in place, the fun part of blogging had begun. What a wondrous opportunity for a writer to compose, present and collect feedback, in real time. Not yet convinced blogging was the right method of exploring my writing voice, I dove in anyway. Producing content was tougher than anticipated. Finessing the words was pure joy. When rules began interrupting the creative flow, the experience became something else entirely.
I expected the odd creative block and therefore mitigated the risk by collecting an abundance of material for one to two posts weekly. My challenge was sticking to the rules for ‘successful bloggers’ gathered through internet research and referencing social media stars. After navigating the plethora of advice, I narrowed it down to 10 key points.
10 Content Rules for Successful Bloggers
1. Specialize in one topic per blog. A clear vision of content attracts a more targeted and loyal audience.
2. Catchy titles. Have yours be the enthralling headline that drives someone to click and read.
3. Consistent post frequency. Some amount of consistency is best to keep new followers, whether posts are daily, weekly or biweekly.
4. Avoid venting. Use your power for good. Very few people can garner a faithful following of their complaints.
5. Subtitles, bullets and pictures. Organization and succinct thought presentation make for easy reading, especially for those who scan first before reading.
6. Promote comments and feedback. Creating a conversation with your followers generates three benefits: valuable feedback on content, follower retention, and new followers wanting to weigh in.
7. Make it easy to share. Provide easy ability to ‘share’ and ‘promote’ within social media sites.
8. Subscribe capability. Keep RSS feeds and email notifications ‘opt in’ prominent on the page.
9. Under 1000 words. The ‘sweet spot’ for most blog readers is between 600 – 1000 words.
10. Credibility. Display relevant credentials, awards and accreditations so readers have confidence in your content.
The internet offers an overwhelming amount of information about social media. I have handled the abundance of advice the same way I manage parenting tips. I read through material that interested me, and decided what made sense before drawing my own conclusions.
Without creating a number of separate blogs, I could not follow rule number one and stick with one topic. Since my blog goal was to find my writing voice, I needed the ability to explore a number of avenues that were incompatible and would attract different audiences. While the blog name “JustMomSensations” suggests impressions from a Mom, it could not be a well-targeted Mom-blog alone. It also needed to include short stories, snippets of manuscripts in development, business ideas, and favourite works of other writers. I broke blog rule number one and I moved on with a chaotic collection of topics.
With the exception of rule number one, the rules were easier to follow. My posts have not been as consistent as planned but it is balancing out over time. Since my first entry in September of 2012, I have averaged 1.5 posts weekly. I’ve managed to save my venting for journals and my husband, along with the occasional leak of steam on my personal Facebook page. The remaining rules guided me to structure the site and enable gadgets, all with the purpose of maximizing promotional opportunities to gain followers.
The inconsistency of post numbers reflects my chaotic approach to topics. The most popular post is a short story called “Picture in a Wallet” – a cautionary tale about unsuccessful child abduction. Short stories top the leader board in posts and shares, providing the feedback I was looking for.
I had fewer than 100 viewers when the blog first launched. I shared posts on my personal Facebook, and emailed family and friends. To increase my audience I needed to engage my existing marketing skills, and learn new ones with social media. Social media became my late night companion for weeks. Within a month my viewers topped 500, then 800, with consistent growth from there.
At first glance, social media appears to be free. One can use most tools without spending a dollar. The real and significant cost is human resource time to create an authentic presence in each of the tools. Each site had its own nuances, tricks and etiquette rules.
My education in going social continued as I learned how to use tools to push and pull viewers to my blog. ‘Build it and they will come’ is nice dream. Commitment and persistence is the reality of gaining blog viewers.
Next column: The Push and Pull of Blog Promotion