Technically, I’m not the most educated blogger. Much of what I’ve learned about the technical aspects of blogging came through trial and error on my WordPress dashboard, with many questions for the all-knowing Google and tech-savvy friends. However, as a personal blogger, writing and recognizing a well-written blog post is something I’ve come to understand very well, both through my writing process and as the editor of Midlife Boulevard.
6 things to pay attention to:
Your content. Your content must be in your honest and genuine voice. Whether you write about family, divorce, marriage, personal finance, social or political commentary, humor, health or all of the above…no matter what you’re writing about, you have to be real. That’s what people want to read. There are bloggers whose writing I would know without a glance at their byline, and that’s who you want to be – a voice as recognizable as a face.
Your generosity. No blogger will succeed without generosity towards other bloggers. It can be a lot of work. You don’t need to share everything you read – in fact, you should be selective. But without sharing what you find interesting, enlightening or entertaining, your social media followers and friends will grow weary of your constant talk about your blog and your life. They want to know what you’re reading as well as what you’re writing.
Your reach on social media. You might want to reconsider how you use Facebook. For bloggers, it’s become much more than just a place to catch up with friends. Think of it as an outlet for your blog and a way to connect to others beyond your personal friends. Our business and fan pages are dying, so we must consider moving our blog business to our personal pages. Be judicious – don’t flood your stream with your posts every hour. And if you aren’t already using Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, you should be. Pick two platforms and make them work for you, leaving the others to occasional visits. We can’t do all of them well, so do a few with excellence.
Using larger sites to share your content with new audiences. I can’t count how many times I’ve had the conversation “should I or shouldn’t I give away my content for free?” My rule of thumb (which has worked very well for me personally) is this: If you’ve already published it on your blog and the site is bigger and more influential than yours, it may be in your best interest to share your content for free. This doesn’t apply to those bloggers who are using affiliate links in their content, as they can be penalized for this by Google. However, those who are looking to build your names not just as bloggers but as authors can only benefit from being published on multiple websites. My one caveat – be sure to get a link back to your blog in whatever content you share for free. This is your payoff. If you’re told this isn’t possible, decline the opportunity.
Your consistency. Try to write on a consistent timeline. Once a week, twice a month – whatever works for you. Your readers look forward to hearing from you – so keep them engaged.
Your creativity. Most of us live ordinary lives not filled with adventures to write about. The key is to turn those ordinary stories into fascinating blog posts. The most interesting posts do one of two things:
they either validate what we already think, making us feel connected to the author
they challenge us to think differently, encouraging us to open our minds.
There should be a key point to every post written, and there must be a beginning, a middle and an end -which sometimes is the most challenging thing of all.
I’d rather be disagreed with than ignored as a personal blogger.
Blogging is not about popularity – in fact, some of the biggest blogs are those that are consistently hated and criticized. Blogging is about writing. You can tweak your SEO and create fantastic pinnable images, but if what you put on your blog doesn’t resonate with readers, those things won’t matter. Grab their attention, keep them engaged, and get them to want to come back for more. Some bloggers prefer a shorter post, but others like longer. If your traffic and engagement are growing, you’ve done what you need to do to be a successful personal blogger.
The number of friends you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter won’t matter if what you write isn’t of interest to any of them.
Whatever your reason for blogging, whatever your goals, the most important thing to do is stay true to your voice, your experience, your point of view. If you do that, your readers will find you and stick with you.