I can't believe it but I've hit a milestone with today's post - number 200. Wow. I started this blog two years ago in February. I wasn't sure what I was doing then (am still not) but with a book coming out the following year it seemed like everyone was saying "Get a web presence!" "Start a blog!" "Get on Twitter!" "You're not on Facebook??? What are you, a hermit?" Well, they didn't say that last one exactly (althought I'm pretty sure that's what they're still thinking :) but, hey, at least I'm doing 3 out of 4 things now. And while blogging seems to be on the wane in light of 140 character posts and quick Facebook wall posts I've decided I like it. I may not be the best blogger in the world and I may have entered into this world late and reluctantly, I can appreciate the positive about this art form.
So, what have I learned in my two short years doing two blog posts a week? Here are some thoughts about what I think works (and the things I know I should do but still need to work on to improve) FWIW.
1. Keep Things Short and Simple
I'm still working on keeping posts to just 3 or four paragraphs (today's post is a bit longish)but it's essential. People are busy, they might visit several blogs a day and if they see a long post at most they'll skim, at worst they won't even bother to read it.
2. Have a Snappy Blog Title
Sometimes that title alone is what draws people in. It's like the back cover blurb of the book - the blog title is a short synopsis about what your post is about or an intriguing question that leads someone to read more.
3. Make Your Blog Template Reflect a Little of Your Personality
A blog is a little insight to who you are as a person so why not spend some time and think about how it looks? Put up some pictures, think about the colours and fonts. You know a house doesn't look like a home until you decorate it, right?
4. Share Your Blog Posts on Twitter and Other Social Networking Sites
What's the point of blogging if no one knows you've written anything?
5. Visit Other Blogs and Follow the Ones You're Interested In
There's a whole world outside your own home with tons of interesting characters. You'll be amazed at the number of people you'll meet and the kinds of interesting discussions you'll get a chance to be part of.
6. Comment on Blogs and respond to Comments on Your Own Blog
I'm starting to improve on this but I could get better. I don't comment on others blogs just for the sake of commenting. When I think I have something to say I'll say it. But it is like visiting your neighbours - if you don't say hi to them, they won't say hi to you.
7. Be Personable But Don't Get Too Personal
This is a hard one - I'm all for sharing info about your personal life that you are comfortable sharing - it's how people get to know you. But I'm also worried about too much info getting out there that should be kept to yourself. Some people's blogs are all about their family and names, dates, photos are shared. That's not for me. You won't see many pictures of my family here nor will you hear their names. I signed on to be a writer in the public domain but they didn't. Same goes for info about my day job. It has nothing to do with writing so I'm not going to comment about it.
8. Make Your Blog Be About Something (Focus!)
I'm still working on having a real focus here - yes, I blog about writing and the publishing journey but there are sooo many blogs out there that do it better than I that I'm realistic about what I can contribute to the dialogue. So this blog is about what I'm learning through the writing journey - with occasional side trips to the lands of TV, movies, life lessons and hockey mom craziness. Not really a focus but I'm trying to just get comfortable in the land of public discussion.
9. Be a Regular Poster
I don't care if it's once a week, twice a week or daily but if you're going to do it, commit. And a blog is a living document - it needs nourishment. So I recommend at least a once a week posting. Like a plant needs water, posting regularly will keep the blog thriving.
10. Make Lists
People like lists. They're easy to read and help you to organize your thoughts - as you can see by this ten item list I've just posted!
So, there you have it, my totally unscientific list of what I think works for blog posting. What other things have I missed? (ooh, I just remembered. #11: Ask Questions! It helps build dialogue! :)