All too often I hear from writers that they’ve taken everyone’s advice, gotten their writing muscles limbered up and started a blog. But now they’re stuck.
“That’s what everyone says you should do,” the dispirited author will tell me. “Well, I did it and it didn’t work for me. Maybe it works if you’re writing about brake linings or losing weight, but it won’t work for me because I’m writing about …” whatever it is they are writing about.
Of course, I feel sorry for these writers. It’s no fun to get excited about all the marketing and relationship-building power of a blog, and then to not have any readers. You have to watch while other bloggers post articles that get circulated, commented on, Tweeted and shared. Maybe they thought it was all going to happen in a week or two.
Or at least in the first month, right?
Blogging is Building a Media Asset
No, sad to say, like most everything else, a blog is something that can have powerful effects on you, your business, your book sales or whatever it is you’re blogging about. But it’s not going to happen in a week.
And even if you’re a great novelist or experienced nonfiction author, you still have to learn this odd form of writing, or media, or whatever it is. Blogging has its own conventions and it really helps if you learn them.
One of the biggest lessons I learned a few months ago when I was converting dozens of blog posts into a book (A Self-Publisher’s Companion) was just how different a blog post is from a chapter or a section of a book. Very different.
Likewise, succeeding at blogging isn’t like succeeding as an author, or as a magazine article writer, or as a speaker or an expert on a topic. There are specific writing, marketing and technical things you have to learn to really make your blog fly.
11 Reasons to Get Better at Blogging
But there are reasons blogs stumble along when they could fare much better, and some of those reasons trace back to the blogger herself. Sometimes we search for a subject, and use that journey as the subject of our blogging.
Or we experiment with different voices. Or we just get too busy for a while. Hey, life happens.
But when you come to the place where you want your blog to do more for you, when you’re ready to make a commitment instead of living on guilty thoughts, then it’s time to take action.
Here are the places to look if you want to know why your blog isn’t working.
- Your articles are always the same. It’s easy to fall into a rut when you’re not getting the response you’d like. Varying formats is a great way to attract and keep an audience.
- What you are writing isn’t interesting. Learning to think from the reader’s point of view is the secret to effective blogging.
- Nobody knows about your blog. Many bloggers haven’t realized just how powerful and easy blog marketing can be.
- Your posts show up at odd intervals. No one knows when the next post is coming, then there’s a rush of activity, then nothing. There are easy solutions to this problem.
- You don’t have an email signup. You keep meaning to get to it. But if you realized how powerful it is, you would do it today.
- You don’t emphasize engagement. Can people subscribe? Is there something besides your latest article on your blog? Is there a payoff for readers who want more?
- You don’t enter the conversation. When readers make comments, they are opening a conversation with you. That’s a big payoff, so if you don’t answer them they may decide you don’t really care what they think.
- You don’t format for readability. Large masses of gray type with no break just aren’t that inviting to read online.
- You don’t write great headlines. I know I look for interesting headlines and then read the articles that seem most appealing. If you have boring headlines, you’re eliminating readers before they even get started.
- You don’t have a “hook.” Writing in an academic or corporate style will kill your blog pretty quickly. Try to see it more like a magazine or newspaper, where a “hook” that’s surprising or interesting draws readers in.
- Your posts confuse your branding. If the subject of your posts changes from day to day or week to week, readers don’t know what to expect. But you can use your blog to establish a powerful brand.
Here’s the good news. I’m going to explore each of these areas in separate blog posts, one at a time. In essence, we’ll accumulate a short course in blogging for authors, so come along for the ride.
Let’s call it Author Blogging 101
Photo by CarbonNYC