I started this blog seven years ago and in that time it’s growth has been small but steady. I’m not a fantastic blogger. I take breaks too often, forget to post, throw up stuff before it’s probably ready, but over the past seven years I do seem to have to have gathered a group of followers who comment and like regularly. Who offer the sort of support that helps in the moments when I’m wondering why I even bother to pick up a pen or sit down at a keyboard. Today I wanted to write a post about how to blog successfully. I wasn’t sure that I’m qualified to write that post so instead I’m going to write a post that lists seven of the most important things I’ve learnt during my time on WordPress. Hopefully they will be of use and for those of you who make it to the end, it might even be an enjoyable read.
1. Tags Are Vital But Don’t Overdo It!
We’re going to start at the basics. I apologise. I know it’s a little boring.
When I started blogging I didn’t know what tagging was, and when I realised how important it was to tag your posts I went overboard with them. WordPress is set up so that a post with anymore than fifteen tags gets cut from the reader, and if you post too many different ones you might also get marked as spam. My top tip? Think about the tags you use to find blogs that you want to read. Pick three or four general tags and maybe two specific ones. All my posts are tagged ‘writing’. ‘Poetry’ and ‘flash fiction’ are two others than I use fairly often because I know that the people who want to read that genre will be searching for that in the reader. These tags work for me and once I found them I stuck to them.
*Top Tip* If you’re stumped for tag ideas you can search for the ‘hot tags’ on wordpress and find a list of what’s being used the most at the moment.
Know your audience and aim your tags.
2. Link-Ups and Blog Hops Are Ready Made Communities
Places like the DVerse Poets Pub and Friday Fictioneers are ready made communities that are always will to welcome new people in. Not only that, they are a fantastic place to find inspiration. I get the best feedback on my posts from people in these groups and after a while you start to make connections with those who comment of your blog regularly.
Of course you have to play your part. You can’t simply post and ignore the rest of the entries while still hoping to get everyone coming back to your blog. As with anything it takes a level of commitment, but I’d say it’s worth it. Why not find yourself a blogging event using the Daily Post’s event listing? You might find something you really enjoy.
Take the time to find groups that suit you and get involved with commenting on other’s submissions. This is a great way to boost traffic and make new blogging friends.
3. Proof-Read Your Work
This may seem like a painfully obvious point, but I’ve lost count of the times where I’ve read a blog and all I can see are the spelling mistakes and punctuation errors riddled throughout the post. I’m well aware that my own blog has fallen short on this front before, but it does take a person out of your writing so it’s something that should be taken seriously. It takes five minutes to double check that you start sentences with a capital letter and it’s easy enough to read through a piece and check that your whole paragraph isn’t one single sentence. The last thing you want is someone avoiding your blog because it looks like a five year old wrote it.
Take pride in your work. There is no such thing as the perfect first draft.
4. Know Your Limits. Pace Yourself.
Once again this is a failing of mine that I see again and again. If you can post four times a day, every day for a year, then well done you. However, for people like myself who can go months without posting a thing because we burnout, a different plan is in order.
If you want to post ever day then you need to plan it out. Create a blogging schedule. Look ahead for the year and maybe find some key calendar events that you want to post about. If you can create posts to schedule in advance then do this instead of throwing all you work up in one day. If I’ve posted three times in a day already but have a forth posts just screaming to be written then I schedule it for the next day and give myself some breathing space. This requires a certain level of patience that I’m not great at but in the long run it helps me.
Reducing your posting frequency can help your traffic in some cases. I’ve unfollowed blogs in the past because they’ll put up ten posts a day and none of them will be of any real content. It’s far better to focus on quality and regularity over quantity in the case of blogging.
Force creativity and you get rubbish. It doesn’t matter if you post once a day or once a week, what matters is that you love what your putting out there.
5. It’s Your Blog So Write What You Want
This is a writing blog if you hadn’t already noticed. I know the poetry and the short stories sort of give the game away a bit but I thought I’d make sure you’d caught those subtle hints.
I don’t only post stories and poems though.
I have posted articles of history, fitness, politics, current events, stuff going on in my life, and from time to time, the odd drawing.
I like to draw, so I’ll post photos of pieces from my sketchbook. I’m passionate about the past so I’ll spend a few hundred words telling you about The Celebrated Mrs Macaulay or Ditherington Flax Mill.
These things and things that make me happy just as much as writing so I include them here on this blog. It doesn’t dilute the theme, it just adds to it.
Don’t be afraid to tackle a new topic. As long as you present it well you’ll find readers who’ll enjoy it.
6. Read, Read And Then Read Some More
I’m not just talking about reading other blogs, though that is important as well, I’m talking about reading books, articles, the backs of shampoo bottles. [No joke. Those things can have some pretty clever writing on from time to time.]
Whatever it is you can get your hands on, read it! The best way to improve your own writing is to read someone else’s.
In my case, I consume books so quick I practically swallow them whole, and they are a huge part of my writing as a result. They inspire me and show me better ways of doing the things I’ve been doing for years.
Just remember that when you read something it will probably be the polished, final version. Don’t compare it to the scrawled first draft of something you’ve written and feel like you’re aiming for impossible standards. First efforts might take some rewriting but so did every book on your local bookshop’s shelves.
We all start at the beginning. Someone being better than you doesn’t necessarily mean their more talented. They might just be further along the road.
7. Develop Your Voice
Too often I will read a post and there will be nothing of the writer’s voice in it. This is something that does take time to craft, but it’s also incredibly important. People connect to the writer, not the blog.
For example, there are blogs I read over and over because I feel like I know that blogger, I like that blogger, and I want to see what they have to say now. It’s a form a friendship in some ways. If someone seems to churn out generic posts with no essence of personality then I quickly get bored, but if the blog post makes me feel like I’m standing in the room with someone, chatting away, I’ll most likely read it through to the end.
We’re social animals and we like to feel that connection so give it to your readers. You don’t have to tell them all your personal secrets, just slip a little personality into your writing style.
Your voice is important. It gives a reader something to engage with. Make them hear you, not the article.
So that’s it. The seven most useful things I’ve learnt in seven years of blogging. Perhaps you have your own list, in which case I’d love to hear it! This blog is one of my proudest creations and hopefully in another seven years I’ll still be able to look at it with the same pride and fondness. This blog is very much evidence of how my writing has progressed over time and I’ll be the first to say that there’s always room to build on what you have. Other than that I’m going to shut up as we’ve hit 1500 words and I don’t want the post running any longer.
Thanks for reading. Hope to see you in the comments below.
Some sound advice for us newbies . Thankyou for sharing your experience
You’re more than welcome. Seven years have got to be useful for something at least. :p
Thank you Frank. It’s nice to hear I’m not just waffling on about nonsense.
[ Smiles ] Great advice.
Unfortunately, a lot of newcomers to blogging tend to go overboard with tags.
It’s a mistake I’ve made myself and its easily done. I still have to look at my tags and ask myself if I’ve overdone it.
This is fantastic! Fabulous advice! And wow… seven years… that’s just downright inspiring! Thanks so much!
Hi Charlie, how are things over at doodlewash, I don’t think I dropped by in a while, I’ll have to remedy that.
Thank you for the lovely comment, I don’t know if seven years in inspiring or just stubborn but I appreciate the sentiment.
Things are going great over on Doodlewash way! hehe… just made it through World Watercolor Month in July and now just painting away. I’m just starting my 3rd year of blogging, but I think I have similar stubborn tendencies, so I’m pretty sure I’ll hit the seven year mark! 😉
all great tips. i learned by trial and a lot of error, and this will give bloggers a leg up on the process –
Thank you ksbeth. I didn’t want to just rehash all the same tip and tricks you read everywhere so I hope I managed to say something at least a little bit new with this.
Great advice Carol, and I like no 5 as that lesson was told to me when I first started blogging….a lot of people get to caught up in pandering to what they think will be acceptable when all the time as you say its your blog, do what you like with it. Thanks for sharing all that.
Thank you for the lovely comment. I think you can get stuck in a rut sometimes and being willing to post something a little different from the ordinary can be a great cure for writers block.
Yes that’s true. Sometimes allowing your creativity to flow takes you all sorts of good places.
It really does.
Thank you for these tips. The tagging part is still a mystery to me. Haha 🙂 I always fall short on checking my draft. I tend to publish it without editing only to find out, there some grammatical and punctuation errors. 🙂
You get to work out which tags work for you after a while but proof reading is defiantly an important part of the process. I was amazed by how many typos this post had when I read it through again before hitting the publish button.
Goodness, I had no idea you had been blogging for that long! Well done for sticking with it, and I couldn’t agree more with your sensible, sane advice. I’ve stopped trying to follow any rules. If it’s not fun for me, it’s not sustainable. And I don’t expect to have billions of followers anyway.
Well if that first sentence doesn’t make me feel old :p. Yeah, it’s very much been a slow growth project, partially because I’m not good at keeping a regular blogging schedule. I’m currently just under 2,000 wordpress followers so I don’t expect I’ll ever have masses of people reading this blog, but I do have a few people like yourself who seem to take a interest in what I post and take the time to keep coming back.
[…] at putting together a post containing seven things I’ve learned in seven years of blogging. Why Am I Even Doing This? – Tips From Seven Years Of Blogging went up last night and stemmed from my own ponderings about whether or not I’ve actually […]
Amazing advise Carol all of them. I totally agree with all of them. I am new to wordpress, so didn’t know about tagging. Also the communities you talked about ill try to visit them. Most of all i agree to your point about reading everything- i think its the great King who said that if you can’t find time to read you can’t write. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
Loved this post because I learnt a thing or two that I wasn’t aware of and could also relate to. The tags bit where 15 words are the cut off on WordPress, news to me! When I started blogging I never used to add tags and always wondered why I wasn’t getting enough traffic but now I know better.
I think I am going to initiate a Blogger Meet Up in our city because we hardly get to meet and share ideas in person.
Thank you for sharing this piece, it was very informative.
P.S. My latest blog post is also on blogging tips and tricks, you might want to check it out 🙂
Thanks for sharing your advice, I particularly appreciated your comments on developing the writer’s voice. I feel like I am still developing mine, especially in regards to blogging.
I set up my blog about two years ago, but I’ve only really started putting the time into developing it over the last couple of months. I’m also interested in writing and I currently have what feels like a few too many writing projects on the go.
It’s easy to overload yourself with writing projects, I’m one for taking on way too much and it all sort of going a bit pear shaped.
It’s great to hear you’re developing your voice though.
Thanks, I’m coming back to writing after a long time with my focus on other things and hoping to self-publish a couple of short stories soon. I don’t have anything even half way finished yet, and I’m trying to work on a novel, my blog and a book of writing exercises to improve my technique. It’s very easy to keep adding to my projects, especially when I’m getting quite a few story ideas at the moment.
All the best with keeping your projects manageable.
Thank you so much for this list! I’m a complete blogging newbie and had absolutely no idea about keywords.
You’re more than welcome, glad I could be of help. Thank you for stopping by. 🙂
Love the advice, sometimes I get discouraged when people don’t interact with my work. But I love the content that I have on my site. I try to post regularly but every now and again it gets hard. Sometimes I feel like my posts don’t have my voice yet, I feel like I try to hard to make a point in my writing, I don’t know if it’s me. I hope it is. But, as I continue to blog, i guess practice and writing will help.
Practice will defiantly help. I actually started noticing that in the last month, my non link-up posts have been starting to get more interaction on them, which is something new for me. Normally these get read and liked, but not commented on. I don’t know if it’s timing or my writing improving, but that interaction does come eventually.
Great post. I had not heard of LinkUps and Blog Hops. Sounds like these are different Blogging communities? Where would I find a list of these? Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have been Blogging for 2.5 years, it’s fun. Glad to meet you.
The daily post has an event listing you can check out. It’s linked in the post. Link ups and blog hops are simply individual blogs writing for a single event, putting links to that post in the same place and reading and commenting on each other’s work. Like the daily prompt.
Ugh – I started to comment hours ago, then life happened, and I shut my computer off being hitting send (a storm was moving in). Let’s just say my original comment was much witty, and well-written, but I still wanted to mention that I completely agree with these points (especially too many tags – recently figured that one out myself). Congrats on 7 years!
Double ugh – “before” not “being” and “wittier” not “witty”
Mostly write what you want to say and not what you think others want to read. You can easily get sucked in to … I will write a travel piece because they are known to get the most comments. I will post cats because that always gets comments. But you haven’t been anywhere for a while you really really are not a cat person so why?
All points raised are good valid ones it is a good post so thank you for leaving it for all to read.
Really an insightful post. Will try some of them, asap.
I’m glad you found the tips useful. 🙂
[…] series that I launched in anticipation of my seventh blogging anniversary in October. The first was Seven Top Tips of Blogging and the second is How To Create A Blogging Schedule [working off what has and, perhaps more […]
I’ve really learned a lot in those 1500+ words. I didn’t even realize it was that long. Thank you very much~! ^-^
Thank you for sharing this! I am new to blogging and can take any help I can get. If you’d like to provide me any feedback, I’d love that. Also, if you know of any event listings that I may fall under, could you let me know.
Really wonderful. Sometimes I find myself in this situation, oftentimes I ask myself why I write, the other times I just feel that there vast this things in my head and mind that are yelling and waiting to explode and be discovered. It is true that I write on instincts but
Sorry there might be errors in my comment, I wish I could edit them http://dokechukwu.WordPress.com
Really useful post, thanks for sharing your vast experience. Also really interesting re groups etc as it’s definitely something I need to be doing more. Also thanks for being so honest about your experience!
Outstanding wisdom shared. I tell the young writer. Take the comment, good and bad with a smile. The bad comments can help us.
I think the bad comments are sometimes to most useful. 🙂
Yes they are. I am going to a workshop every two weeks. 15 experience writers destroy my work. In four months. Less periods, more commas. We can learn from each other.
That sounds both soul destroying and amazing. I lost touch with a lot of the writer friends I had when I moved to Cheshire but I’ve been meaning to get more involved with the local writing groups. A lot of it seems to be about just getting off my butt and going to the events.
They are very helpful. I do enjoy them.