Letters from the Real World: So, you’ve got a blog. Now what?

By Cait Reynolds
This is my blogging face.

This is my blogging face.

I am terrible at blogging consistently. It’s a true struggle for me. I have lots of ideas of what to write about, but the fact is, very few of them make it to my keyboard. Maybe it’s my self-sabotoging perfectionism rearing its ugly head. Maybe it’s my own Judgy McJudgerson attitude about what I choose to read in a blog.

Either way, I struggle.

The following are issues that drive me nuts about bloggers and blogs (including myself!!!), and a big part of my struggle is figuring out how to circumvent these:

  • Half-baked, fluffy and/or meandering posts: I’m not just talking about the quality of the writing (see bullet #2). I’m talking about the crap that gets thrown up on blogs just for the sake of hitting the social media frequency meter. Everybody has a different tolerance for fluffy posts and what they consider to be fluff. But, you can only be better served by catering to the Judgy McJudgersons of the world and developing a strategy for your content.
  • The quality of the writing (or OMG, your editor needs a raise!): I hate proofreading and am not very good at it, but I have learned a trick of walking away for a period of time and coming back fresh to check for typos. Typos, grammar, spelling – that’s just scratching the surface. Let’s talk structure – a post has a beginning, middle, and end. A post should start with a journalistic hook. A post should have paragraphs that flow into each other and build support for your premise in the first paragraph. (Yes, it’s sounds like a college paper, but seriously, respect your readers’ time by making the posts as well-written as you can.)
  • “Vegetarian Spam”: This is what I call the incessant hounding of readers and potential readers to check out your blog. It’s not as bad for you as real Spam, but it’s not exactly great for you, either, potentially lacking in solid nutritional value…especially if you’re constantly asking me to go check out your half-baked fluff.
  • HootSuitism: Closely related to Vegetarian Spam. STOP with the endless repeats of promos for your posts and articles. I might like you as a person, and I will feel guilty, but I will unfollow you on Twitter if you clog it up with five promo posts a day. Sorry. I know there are multiple schools of thought on how often to post on Twitter, but as a semi-regular “lay” user, I abhor people who promo themselves and their posts more than three times a day – especially if that content is from last month…
  • “Celebrities Lifestyle”: I’ve got my hands full with my life. I don’t have time to read about another person’s mundane life. What’s it to me? I’ve sinned like this a lot in the past. I understand now that it’s not about me. It’s about the reader.

It’s about the reader.

So, here are some things I’ve spent a couple of weeks really thinking through and working on in terms of how/what/why I blog:

  • What is the purpose of your website/blog? Aside from selling books. What do you, as a human being, have to say?
  • Brainstorm (without self-editing) a list of topics you consistently want to write about
  • Who is your target reader friends with? What is this friend interested in? What makes this person share a blog post?
  • Don’t blog just to blog. Say something important or meaningful. EVERY TIME.
  • Judicious promotion: how much, when, where, etc. Where are my readers and their friends? When do they check social media? When do I ease off the gas pedal of promo? Can I build that into a marketing schedule and strategy?

Blogging is a marketing tool, but remember, what it markets is YOU. You are writing because you have something to say, something that’s inside of you that is unique. A blog is a powerful tool. That is why everyone talks so much about using it and “leveraging” it. But a blog is only as powerful as your words. I now have a quote from Anais Nin (one of my faves!) on my bulletin board:

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” Anais Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 5, 1954

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