This is an informative post for any writer looking to use blogging to build an author platform. I have said this before (but hey, who am I?) that blogging consistently is possible without taking away from writing and publishing books.
Blogging is part of your branding; if you are confused about your branding, you will be confused about what to blog about. Think about it: if you knew exactly what you were going to write about each week, how much easier would that be? – Rachel Thompson
Even if you are not being paid to blog it is still helpful to helping you to find more readers (which helps you to get paid kind of indirectly). Readers and authors I’ve met through blogging are still among my biggest supporters.(Blogging consistently also helps you to…wait for it…grow your blog).
Below are three links. Two are from Rachel Thompson and the other is an older article I published to this blog three years ago on how blogging between books has been helpful to me. (read more articles on blogging from me on the Blog Tips page). Enjoy.
Note: This can apply to any new blogger but since I use WordPress, I am specifying WordPress bloggers.
New bloggers have approached me for my secret to blogging. I don’t have one. There is no secret to blogging. At least not one that I know of.
Let me start by saying that I never consider the information I give advice. What happens is that the information, (proving helpful to bloggers) is referred to as advice simply because of those who find it useful and valuable and for this I am thankful. As for me, I am just sharing what has worked or is working, my experiences and recommendations but nothing is set in stone.
That said, there’s no step A and step B to how to build up a blog. I receive decent traffic and new subscribers are coming in daily but understand that this has taken me three years to build. I started out with no likes or comments just like you. I started with little to no traffic just like you. I am no one special.
Recently, many of you have emailed me asking questions based on my blog posts. I find this humbling and I hope this post is helpful to you.
If you are wanting to be a successful blogger, writer, business person or anything in life, then you must put yourself in a position to be successful. We know that success is a definition that can mean different things to different people but in context, I assume we all want:
Increased Blog Traffic, Increased Views, Increased Subscribers
Basically, we all want someone to read our work and to care. That is where being in position comes in.
My husband loves gardening. He’s a green thumb. You may assume I am because I’m a woman and you would be wrong. In fact, I am not very “girly” in that sense. I don’t care for pink, I don’t wish to spend three hours shopping and I’m not into gardening. At least not like that. Moshe (hubby) on the other hand, loves to plant. I love it that he does too because we have fresh tomatoes and herbs that I love cooking with. Anyway, he set up a garden on our enclosed back porch. I’m telling you, the man can grow anything (he can even start from a plastic cup). Because of how our back porch is made, he sets pots out to catch the rain water. Rain water as we’ve come to understand, makes plants grow as if they are on steroids. It could be because rain water is clean. That is, water free from chemical additives, such as chlorine or salt. We’ve been getting lots of rain. Here’s our tomato plant:
It’s almost too big for the small space. This would not have happened if we had not put the buckets in position to catch the fresh water (which is when it grew like crazy).
Being in position is all about being prepared for whatever comes. Having the cup on the table when the water comes, your hands open and stretched out when the football arrives. It’s about being ready to receive what it is that you want.
If you’re not ready to receive then you will not have what it takes to hold onto what you do get or to expand into something greater. Positioning ourselves for success is a challenge because it requires discipline and time. You can be in position for a long time before you see results.
Examples of Positioning
If you are getting traffic to your blog but there’s no follow button, then people will not subscribe to your blog. You cannot receive new subscribers because you are not prepared to receive them. In this instance, it has nothing to do with your writing abilities. It is not about posting as much as you can or speaking as intelligently as you can. This is why blogging is not just writing. Writing is one thing but all of these other elements is blogging. In this instance, you are not increasing your numbers because you are not in a position to increase them. You do not have the one thing that can guarantee followers: a follow button.
When you go into your WP dashboard and add tags to your post, these are not to make it look pretty but they actually serve a purpose. Tags act as keywords that help increase traffic and engagement to your blog. By ignoring adding tags and categories to your post, you are leaving traffic on the table (or if your blog is monetized, money but since my blog is not monetized, I will leave that for someone else to discuss). Having a tagging system is another reason why blogging is not just writing. Writing is writing but to blog successfully there are other things that must be done. These “other things” are things like tags and categories.
If your tagging sucks like mine did in the beginning then you can be losing out on views but don’t go overboard. Personally, twenty and thirty tags to a post are not necessary.
A better system is to remember that tags are like keywords that readers would potentially search for. Think about fifteen that you want to use on your post, with a category acting as a tag so fourteen tags, one category. Of these 15 some of them should be tags that are overly used. Words like Blog, Blogger, WordPress, Writing, and Poetry. These tags are used a lot and can be helpful in people finding your blog.
I will tell you now, I am no SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert at all but I do not believe you have to be. I have read that Tags don’t impact the SEO (meaning its more so keywords used within the post itself), but based on my own search experience I can tell you that it does help improve SEO when you have multiple articles with relevant content linked by the same tag. For example:
Say you just wrote an amazing piece on “The Best Cheeseburgers Ever.” When someone opens Google and types “Recipes for Ground Beef”, (as I often do that’s why I am using this as an example lol) in this example recipes and ground beef are tags you may have included in your post about “The Best Cheeseburgers Ever”. Searching using these words, I just may find your article if you post a lot about recipes which leads me to your blog and, if I like what I see, I will follow your blog (if there’s a way for me to do so).
Another example is if I’m a reader who wants to scroll through your blog. If you have a search bar, you just made this easy for me. Using the search bar on your blog, I can type in words and the post containing those words will come up. I can easily access that post, read it and possibly share it with others. Just by adding a search bar, you’ve just gotten yourself in position for more views.
A real life example: I wrote a blog post two years ago on voting. Because this past Presidential Election was so different, that post got thousands of Facebook shares and counting. It took two years but the post was in position for the traffic it received (although I couldn’t foresee it). This is why I said it can take a long time to see results but being ready is always worth it.
Mostly, categories and tags allow visitors to easily browse related posts with the primary purpose of augmenting the user experience.
As you can see, content (your writing) is just part of how this works. It wasn’t just your writing alone that led me to your blog but a combination of things.
What I want you to see here is that because you were ready for me, I was capable of following your blog with no problem. You were in a position to receive me.
This same thing can be said of about pages and even the WordPress theme you choose. If your text is hard to read (too bright, too small, too fancy) people won’t want to read what you have to say. Why? Because you have not prepared them.
It is said that we have attention spans of goldfish. One vibration, text, or email alert and our internet addictions lead us elsewhere. In nothing short of seconds someone can forget all about you. For this reason, blogging is more than pushing the publishing button, you also have to be ready to receive the traffic you seek.
If you are a new blogger struggling to receive the kind of traffic you want or are having difficulty navigating the blog in general, I want to help you get into position. Ifyou would like me to take a look at your blog and offer feedback, I have set up a separate mailing list specifically for blogging.
In the meantime, I have added the links to some of my most helpful blog articles on blogging for those of you new to this blog. I have determined their value based on the feedback they have received so that I know these links are helpful to you. This goes back a couple years so excuse any information that is outdated. I have not gone through them to edit.
Don’t forget to Thunderclap! I am twenty people away (at the time of this writing) from my goal. It’s free and SUPER easy to participate- click THIS LINK and then click “support with Facebook” or “support with Twitter” or “support with Tumblr” or all three if you are feeling obliged. Thanks so much in advance!