How To Write a Blog So That People Will Read

This year, one very popular resolution  has been to either start a blog or to be more involved with an existing one. I think I can help you guys out!

No one asked me for advice, but I’ll pretend they did. I think I’m pretty qualified to make some suggestions, not because I’m a blogger, but because am a reader. I read blogs. A lot of them. Every, single day. A significant portion of my lunch break at work is devoted to catching up on my blog reading. I enjoy reading the work of old friends, and I adore discovering the next great voice.

So how do you make your blog stand out? I’m a WordPress user, so some of my suggestions are specific to this platform. If you use Blogger, you’ll need to check and see if your platform has similar features.

1) Decide your intended audience: Ultimately we should write for ourselves, of course, but most of us hope to have some readers.  Knowing your audience will help determine your approach to a given topic. Blogs intended to be read only by family, for example, will likely have a different focus than one that is meant for a wider readership. A back-to-school post meant only for grandma might consist of a snapshot of little Lulu and her giant backpack with a caption “Lulu on the first day of preschool. What a big girl!” A post with a bigger readership will need a bit more meat to it. Those related  to her actually care about Lulu. The average reader won’t. A back-to-school post may still be appropriate, but it will need to be handled a different way. A tortoise blog directed toward the scientific community is going to be much more technical than one aimed at the general public.

Word to the wise, cats make a poor intended audience. They tend to be snooty and judgmental about grammar.

Word to the wise, cats make a poor intended audience. They tend to be snooty and judgmental about grammar.

An aside here: for  parents who are new to blogging, decide from the get-go how and if you are going to present those kids in your blog. Will you use their first names? An initial? A nickname? It’s a personal decision, and it makes no nevermind to me as a reader, but I’ve talked to a number of parents who wished they had given more thought to using their kid’s name. Once that name is out there, it’s really tough to take back.

2) Post regularly. This bit of advice is on every how-to list you’ll find. There’s a reason for that. Posting regularly helps people get to know you. Writing regularly also helps to hone your skills. Posting daily is fine, especially at first, but don’t feel like you have to, and don’t expect all but your most loyal readers to read every day. I only follow a few daily blogs, including this one. I don’t have time to read a ton of dailies. You’ll find that certain days of the week get more traffic than others, anyway. No point in wasting your brilliance on a Saturday if all of your readers are at the beach.

3) Don’t post more than once a day. New bloggers are very excited and have lots to say. Publishing multiple posts in a day can be a hardship for readers, however. Assume that anyone following your blog also follows others. Be respectful of their time. Use WordPress’s  auto-post feature. Schedule posts out over the course of a few days, a few weeks, even a few months.

4) Use SEO to your advantage, but don’t abuse it. Search Engine Optimization simply means tagging your posts effectively. If all of your posts are uncategorized, it’s harder for a search engine to point readers your way. Use relevant tags.The important word here is “relevant.” I’ve seen a few bloggers try to boost their traffic by using tags for hot-topics that aren’t related to their post at all. Tagging a post about taking your cat to the vet with “Ferguson” or “Bill Cosby” may bring some traffic, but it will also land a blogger on WordPress’s naughty list and will turn off conscientious readers.

Don’t forget to tag your images, too. Which brings us to…

5) Throw in an image or two. Pictures help break up walls of text. We humans are visual creatures. Gimme something  to look at. And you don’t have to be a great photographer or even own a camera. There are plenty of good quality images available under Creative Commons. Here’s a great article on where to find free images and how to properly credit the image owner. Pick smart. Don’t steal. Karma is a you-know-what.

I was hoping for a place to share this image. It's our Little People nativity illuminated by a leg lamp. I need people to know that I am classy.

I was hoping for a place to share this image. It’s our Little People nativity illuminated by the soft glow of a leg lamp. I need people to know that I am classy.

6) Use social media properly. Now that I follow a gazillion blogs, social media is my favorite way to follow new ones. Use the Publicize feature on WordPress to automatically publish links to your post on your favorite social media sites. Be aware that most of your Facebook friends will never see your post in their feed unless you cough up some cash. Twitter, however, directly publishes to all of your followers.  Be careful that your Twitter isn’t cross-posting to Facebook, which then cross-posts to Twitter, which then cross-posts to… This is a common mistake. Check your social media settings. Sometimes I’ll see six identical posts in a row from the same person because their all of their social media is set to cr0ss-post everything.

7) Be yourself. My favorite blogs have one thing in common – they are unique. Amy’s blog is very different from Nicole’s blog, which is nothing like Linda’s blog.  None of them are trying to be anybody else. Be who you are. Unless you’re mean. Then go right ahead and pretend to be something else.

8) Write what interests you. We talked about intended audience and all that, but your first reader is you. If you don’t like what you’re doing, no one else will, either. I write about tortoise belly buttons. Because it makes me happy.

9) If a reader leaves a comment, respond if you can. Answering comments helps to build a sense of community. Never, ever responding to comments completely is kind of rude. Sometimes we’re not available to respond immediately, or we find ourselves with 80 comments in the queue,  or an individual comment gets buried in the notifications. Readers get that. And sometimes a comment is antagonistic, so withholding an answer is actually taking the high road, but most readers are earnest in their comments. Answer when you can.

10) Read other blogs. Don’t just read them, engage with them. Leave a (meaningful) comment where appropriate.  Not in the hopes that they will return the favor, either. Engage with other bloggers. Build your own little blogging family.

What do you love in the blogs that you read? This post may morph into a mini-series, so additional tips are welcome!

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111 thoughts on “How To Write a Blog So That People Will Read

      • Great advice. I just signed up for both Twitter and set up a Facebook page and have no idea what that auto post ping back thingie is that you mentioned so I’m going to be THAT blogger. Damn

      • You’ll figure it out once you’ve done a couple of posts. If you click on your profile pic on your twitter page, you’ll see all the tweets you’ve made. It will show you if you’ve daisy-chained all your accounts together. Your best bet is just to not set Twitter to post to Facebook. If each of your accounts is only linked to your blog, you should be okay.

    • Yeah, if it’s your cuppa, go for it. But on WordPress, mature blogs disappear from global tags for the most part. But who needs porn when you have TWINS?! Babies are worth tons of page views right there!

  1. I may not have asked for your advice I am going to follow your advice. I am looking to get my blog on social media this year and I would have never known about the cross posting thing. Julie

  2. I don’t blog, someday maybe after I retire, but I read a lot of blogs…i have been known to call myself a blog-whore, meant in the kindest way possible, of course. I enjoy blogs that are informative about something I am interested in or have a very specific “voice”. I follow a lot of animal blogs because I love animals and crochet and quilting and gardening and homesteading, etc. See where the above moniker comes in now? I follow your blog because I like your voice and cats..ha You’re quirky and quirky is good in my book!

      • that is how I found you, through Miss C. I should have mentioned that. 🙂 When I retire in a couple of years, I (or we, depending if my husband wants to continue to work for a few more years here in Texas, ugh, not me!) will be moving to Tennessee to either build or rehab an existing home for our small farmette in Eastern TN. Maybe we’ll meet someday.

  3. Great advice!
    My daughter works in web analytics and SEO. Google changed the way it searches. Tags are important for WordPress users who search in the reader. What’s most important is the title and key words embedded in the first 55 which support the title.
    Happy Monday!

  4. I really like this post! You have some excellent suggestions here.

    When I first started blogging, I was advised to keep my posts under about 2,000 words because a lot of times people would just quit after a while (for a variety of reasons, including short attention spans). I try to keep my extra long posts to a minimum, and often will break really long pieces into chapters and post them as a series. That has worked out really well for me.

    Another great piece of advice I received was to try and post once a week. It’s not so often as to create reader (and blogger) fatigue, but it’s also often enough to establish a routine and not to fall out of the readers’ memories. Quality over quantity. 🙂

  5. Oh my goodness. I am so honored to be included in your list despite my utter inability to master Twitter. lol Thank you. Thank you! Your tips are excellent. One thing that took me time was understanding how the social media platforms cross post to each other. I was a slow learner. I also had to decide between replying to comments or reading other people’s blogs and leaving a comment. I just do not seem to have enough time to do both consistently. I wish I did. Maybe when I retire (if ever), then I will have time to train the dogs in the field 6 days a week and reply to comments. 😉

    But you know what? The real true gem of this post is the photo. A little leg lamp makes everything bright and including the little people Nativity is a bonus. 🙂

  6. I *love* this. (And not just because you gave me a shout-out…but thank you for that!)

    This is a total must-read for anyone blogging, or thinking about blogging. I’m going to promote the heck out of this one. People need to know this. (And I wish I’d had this when I started…I didn’t even start tagging posts until about a year and a half in!)

    The nativity + leg lamp = GENIUS. I love it!

    • Did I ever tell you the story of the leg lamp? It’s a good one.

      I wish I had had some kind of how-to when I started blogging, too. I made many mistakes. I still make mistakes. It’s a constant learning experience.

  7. All great tips. I’m especially a fan of #6. I hate unfollowing people on Twitter who I mostly like but drive me crazy with all the cross-posting… but I’ve been known to do it.

    • Same. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have enough of a relationship with them to say “Hey, can you tone it down with the Twitter spam?” And in those cases, I sometimes unfollow. I hate that.

  8. When I first started blogging I visited the Freshly Pressed blogs a lot. It’s interesting to see what blogs are being noticed and why, which is also why I usually read the top, most popular books too, even if they aren’t usually my cup of tea. What makes the masses tick, I guess.

    I’m going to try and blog at least once a week and not use “the laptop is in a whole other room” excuse. I mean, that’s what husbands are for, right?

  9. I love this and try to do many of these things. After blogging for a little over two years, I have found the voice that I like to use when I write. Oddly enough, my favorite blogs to follow are ones that make me laugh and are nothing like the way I write.

  10. I’m new to blogging so this is really helpful thanks! Doh – too late, I have used kids’ names already. Would love to know more about crediting photos appropriately if I find them through google images? Love tortoise belly buttons too 😉

  11. The hardest thing for me is to answer every comment, i must try harder with that, thank you for mentioning me and also what an excellent collection of very sensible and useful tips.. love love.. c

  12. Being yourself is so important.

    I went thru a period of just being able to get posts up and keep the lights on at my blog. The lack of time to get out and read what others were writing really affected the blog, and my writing.

  13. Excellent info for newbies. Great reminders for veterans. I love blogs where I learn things (like turtles have belly buttons) or are super creative in thinking, writing, art, craft… Lucky when it is all rolled into one like here! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Pingback: Thursday Barks And Bytes–Blogging 101 & Blog Hopping 101 | 2 Brown Dawgs

    • One of the advantages of doing it right there on your site is that visitors can see straight away that there is actively engaged. And sometimes bloggers will find one another and start fantastic discussions right there in your comments section. Thanks for reading!

  15. Love, love, love this post! Thanks. You can pretend I asked because I am every day. You hit the nail on the head with the Blog being a New Years resolution. I have written for a long time but, for other people and I am tired of it. I have just been apprehensive about doing it for myself. Thanks for the simple yet practical advice!

  16. Linda from 2 Brown Dawgs sent me this way, and I really enjoyed reading a bit on this topic from a readers point of view. As a reader, I find I have a hard time keeping up with daily blogs too. I’ll still visit them, of course, but I find that I miss out on a few posts here and there, mainly because I just can’t keep up!

  17. Thank you for the great advice! I’m doing a blog for my social media class and I need all the help I can get, errrrrr umm find:)

  18. I can’t always keep up with all the blogs I follow, many times my reading/commenting comes on Thursday or Friday after the crazy week has died down some.

    I really loved this, “Be who you are. Unless you’re mean. Then go right ahead and pretend to be something else.” One of the biggest compliments I get about my blogging is that reading my blog is like talking to me in person. Obviously this comes from those who have met me. 🙂

    Lots of great ideas in here, things I wish I knew when I started blogging.

    • Facebook changed their business model a couple of years ago. Even when people indicate in their preferences that they want to see a particular blog/page in their feed, only a small percentage do. It was 15% at one point. It may have changed since then.

  19. Thanks so much for this post! I am trying to get my blog out there and the biggest thing I struggle with is finding my voice as a blogger, along with being consistent about blogging at the same time each week. I didn’t know you could schedule posts ahead of time though, that is really going to help me out. ^_^

  20. Pingback: How To Write a Blog So That People Will Read, Part 2 | Becoming Cliche

  21. Pingback: How To Write a Blog So That People Will Read, Part 3 | Becoming Cliche

  22. I’m going to be sharing this series with my writing community, as a lot of people have started blogs this year and you have a lot of great advice (plus, as you can see by how late I am responding, I do read all of your posts, even if it’s a month overdue, haha.)

    Thanks for this! (I admittedly completely forgot to label all of my images… something i’ll have to dedicate some time to going back and fixing.)

  23. Pingback: For the Love (Part 1) | Wiggins Words and Images

  24. I absolutely love this! I’m working on getting my blog together. Mainly broadening my vocabulary and trying to build my blogging family. Is it weird to feel like you’re writing for the masses that aren’t reading? Does that make sense?

  25. Thank you for the helpful tips they are much appreciated! I’ve just started a new blog and am trying to get some traffic. I do love documenting my children’s learning though and hopefully that comes across!! Love your wit and humour by the way! Raising gun free boys, number 4 had me laughing out loudly.

  26. I appreciated your common sense approach that makes things seem possible instead of some other suggestions that seem way out of reach or overwhelming for new bloggers. Thanks for sharing!

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