Tips from My Blogging Seminar

Last week I hosted a seminar at my local library. The topic was basic tips for starting and maintaining a blog. It was a success due largely to your comments and suggestions to my blog post, Please Help Me Not Look Stupid.

Here are my notes from the seminar…

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Since creating a blog is nearly a turn-key operation with lots of help menus and support, I’ve chosen to first focus on the things that no one tells new bloggers; things that are very important for the success of a new blog, but take the longest to learn. In other words, these are the things I learned and mistakes I made along the way.

Before you begin…

Don’t just jump right in! Proper planning and thinking ahead will greatly increase your chances for success with your blog. In other words, slow and steady wins the race.

Decide the purpose of your blog

Think about the focus of your blog…will it be about writing, humor, parenting, general life observations, etc…? Once you pick your focus/topic you’ll be able to target your audience accordingly.  

Decide your target audience

In other words, who do you want/envision reading your blog?

Example: If you are doing a blog about writing you’ll be targeting pre-published authors. If you do one about parenting, you’ll target parents. Yes, this is simple, but good to keep in mind during the creation process.

Create a REALISTIC Blogging Schedule/Goal

Updating regularly is VERY important! If your readers return time after time to check for updates, never knowing what they’ll find, you’ll lose them. Better to blog once a week, or even once a month on a regular, consistent schedule than to update sporadically.

If you don’t have it in your schedule to update your blog regularly, don’t bother creating one. Consistency is the key to gaining a following.

*Note…unless you have what every reader wants you are not interesting enough to post everyday 😀

You’ve Created a Blog…Now What?

Keep Your Posts to a Manageable Length

No one wants to read your seven page manifesto on anything (unless of course you’re Stephen King or a famous literary agent) so it keep it short and sweet. Plus, this makes it easy for you while you’re getting started.

Use knock-your-socks-off headlines for your blog posts

This will get readers curiosity up and make them have to read to figure out what you are doing.

This works especially well for putting up your post titles on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media. If the headline grabs attention, you’ll get more readers.

Create a Blog Title that Works FOR you

If your goal is to be a published author your blog title should include your name. After all, when your book is in the stores it will have your name on it, not some catchy phrase. When your loyal readers want to buy your book they’ll already know your name!

Comments

This is the most-cited in “what I wish I knew before I started my blog”. To gain readers you must visit other blogs that fall into your target audience and leave a comment. People won’t find you unless you search them out. Amy, who runs the blog Fix It Or Deal, put it this way…

“I think you have to treat blogging more like a community rather than a solitary venture if you really want to get anything out of it.”

Don’t just collect comments and let them sit unanswered and lonely. Someone took the time and thought enough about your post to leave a comment, don’t ignore the comment. Respond back to EVERY comment in a conversational style.

More comments makes it appear that there is a massive discussion going on in the comments section of your post and people may just click in there to check it out.

Until you are the Stephen King of blogging, pay commenter a visit to their site and leave a comment. Writers are a very supportive group, pay it forward.

Don’t Go Overboard with Graphics or Links

The appearance of your blog is fun to customize, but don’t go crazy with the widgets, links, full color blog awards and a bunch of photos. Not only does it clutter up the look of your blog, it makes it harder for it to load. 

Writing Style

What is your writing style for your blog? Will you be funny? Poignant? Over the top? Readers will come to expect and look forward to your “voice”.

Contests

Contests (with or without giveaways) are a great way to gain buzz for your blog and to gain readership. Keeping readers around once the contest is over depends on you.

To sum it all up I offer a quote from Florence, who runs the successful blog, Ramblings from the Left. 

Blogs can be expository and informative, funny and entertaining … but no matter what they are … they should be an honest attempt to communicate who we are to our readers.”

And finally, here is a link to a blog created during the seminar.

http://torimcrae.wordpress.com

Tori is an aspiring novelist and a member of my writing critique group. She attended the seminar and was brave enough to create her blog while everyone watched. I’d love it if you would stop by and show her just how supportive the writing community can be :D.

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22 thoughts on “Tips from My Blogging Seminar

  1. Christi, once more you have done a great job. I thank you for quoting me and for doing such a great job. You hit every bullet point, but better than that, you made it real.

    You were able to communicate to your audience … blogs are not free floating planets … they are part of a highly complex and intricate network of those who share a common goal.

    Thanks again … loved it 🙂

    • Florence,

      Thank you for providing such a great quote that hit the nail on the head when it comes to blogging!

      Christi

    • Florence,

      She’s just getting started but I’m hoping supportive comments from fellow writers give her just the push she needs to keep going.

      Thanks for checking it out!

      Christi

  2. Great post, Christi.

    I particularly like the ‘don’t clutter your blog with graphics’. I’m still on dial-up because our phone company doesn’t offer high-speed in our area. If a blog takes for ever to download, I close the window even before it is fully loaded . . . unless there is something I really want to see in that blog. But seldom do I revist because of the download time. Larger sites also don’t seem to download properly. Often pictures or graphics are missing.

    The other side of a cluttered blog is that I have no idea where to go first. I’ve been on blogs which I just searched for the obvious — the most recent post or ‘about me’ page — and couldn’t find it because of the clutter.

    • Diane,

      I had dial-up connections in mind when I wrote that :). I have high speed now, but when I was on dial up it really limited who I’d visit and how many links I’d bother with clicking.

      Even today with a high speed connection, a new computer, and a bunch of memory there are still blogs I avoid because they take too long to load. I’m a busy person and can’t wait 🙂

      Christi

  3. Thank you for quoting me (and for the link back to my blog)! So glad that I was able to help you out a little. This seminar sounds like exactly what a new blogger needs. Focus on the “why” and “how” rather than on all the technical stuff.
    Gotta go check out Tori’s blog now!

    • Amy,

      No problem! I loved your blog post about texts between you and your hubby. I read the transcript to my dear hubby and we both cracked up 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and checking out Tori’s blog.

      Christi

  4. I love that you took this talk out to the community. How cool is that!

    It took me a while to build some community for my blog, but now that it’s going strong, it is the best thing ever. It’s like friends keep leaving me notes in the bathroom stall I frequent.

    Signed,
    Leanne, Queen of the Failed Analogy

  5. Leanne,

    I’m comfortable with public speaking, but I felt a little silly giving a talk on something that I’ve only done myself for around 18 months. So instead of blabbing on like a pro (which I’m totally not!) I geared the seminar more toward a “look at the mistakes I made/why my blog took a while to get going/things I could have done differently” tactic.

    Self-humiliation always goes well for a public speaker 😀

    Christi

    • I’m not so old in the blogging world myself, and I’m sure that you’ve covered anything I could think of. (And more.) But I’ll wish her welcome to the blogosphere. 🙂

  6. Deborah,

    I wish you could have been there too…to stand right next to me and offer up your own experience and tips! Your blog is awesome!

    Thanks for the retweet of this post too 😀

    Christi

  7. Sounds like your blogging seminar was a big success! There are so many bloggers in cyberspace who should have had a solid, straightforward tutorial such as yours before they started. I left a comment on Tori’s blog… don’t know if it offered info that she didn’t already know, but hope it was an encouragement for her. I made up a manual for someone that I was tutoring in WordPress, but I think she still finds input of one tip at a time less intimidating. Tori’s lucky to have you as her mentor.

  8. Carol,

    I’m hoping Tori returns to her blog soon and updates the comments I’m sure everyone has left her. At the very least, I’ll see her again for our writing critique group and can run her through the process of approving comments (something I should have added to my seminar!)

    Thanks for supporting a new blogger!

    Christi

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