How To Write a Blog So That People Will Read, Part 3

Welcome to the third installment in my series on writing a blog, written for writers by an inveterate blog reader. If you missed the first two posts, you can find them here and here. The opinions herein are mine. There are endless guides for bloggers out there. Read a few and decide what works best for you.

Use bullet points. Sometimes. Every how-to will tell you that people LOVE to read blogs with bullet points. And that’s true sometimes. Bold print helps to break up giant walls of text. Be aware, though, that very often, people will ONLY read the bold print. The shorter the explanation of the bullet point is, the more likely people are to read it. Also, not all blog posts lend themselves to a  bullet format. Don’t limit yourself.

Don’t hit “publish immediately.”  This is a tough thing to do, but I recommend it. WordPress allows us to save posts as drafts and revisit them. Do that. Give yourself a little space from the post, anywhere from a few hours to a few days, whatever you need to see your work with fresh eyes. Then re-read. Not only are typos and sentence fragments more likely to jump out at you, having some distance allows you to read for clarity as well. If you aren’t sure you’ve hit the nail you were aiming for, use the feedback feature. WordPress lets us send a feedback link to anyone via email, even if they don’t use WordPress. The post will open for them and will look just like a live post so all formatting, photos, etc, appear in context. Linda A is one of my go-to editors. I trust her red pen. Find yourself a Linda.

Edit.  Put your best foot forward, every single time. The way most blogs are laid out, the most recent post is right there on the homepage for everyone to see. Make sure everything is all cleaned up. Root out any mixed up homophones and sentence fragments where you’ve cut and pasted and rearranged. And please, for the love of muffins, use paragraphs. I know. It’s not school, and we should feel free to format as we wish, but God created paragraphs for a reason.

Find your best time to post. This bit of advice is more from the standpoint of a blogger. You want to schedule your posts at a time where you have the most readers online because individual posts get buried in readers and in email.  Here’s the sad part. Every blogger’s sweet spot will be different. If I posted after 9pm, I heard nothing but crickets, but my friend sj’s rants posted at midnight would immediately receive 100 page views within minutes. Every demographic is different. You will need to experiment. Try a time slot for a week or two, then try a different one, maybe a little earlier or a little later. Check your stats. What time slots do you see those peaks? Here’s what I can tell you as a reader:

I rarely read blogs on weekends, holidays or particularly solemn occasions. I am usually too busy doing other things on weekends and holidays. As a blogger, I found this to be true as well. Hits were low over the weekend. If you’re a seven-day-a-week blogger, your weekend posts may get buried without many people seeing them. When there is an event of great magnitude, I turn off the computer completely. During mourning periods following a school shooting, racial injustice, etc, most of the stuff that is dumped onto the internet becomes senseless noise. I don’t read, and I definitely don’t contribute.

Your readership will have natural peaks and valleys. Write anyway. This tidbit isn’t a tip, just a heads-up. In the summer, for example,  page views may go way down. People are outside, on vacation, away from computers and devices. Write anyway. Write to improve your skills and, more importantly, to stay in the blogging habit. You can always reuse any gems later when people ARE reading.

 

What other tips do you have?

Next week I’ll start talking about social media for bloggers. Anyone out there use Pinterest or Instagram to promote their blog? Want to guest post, or at least give me some insight? Let me know in the comments, or contact me via email.

 

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32 thoughts on “How To Write a Blog So That People Will Read, Part 3

  1. I can’t agree enough on finding your time to post – and I have to add, sometimes you make your OWN sweet spot in which to post. When I was blogging more regularly, I always scheduled posts to go up at the same time daily, and people knew that was when my posts were going up – and started looking for them at that time. So look for those peaks, take advantage of them – and make them your own.

  2. Something I noticed recently with the draft feature is that when you do switch it to publish it publishes retroactively to the original date you started the draft. I start a draft today, wait a week, hit publish, the publish date is still today’s date. You can only find the post by scrolling back thru a week’s worth of blog posts. It’s guarenteed to be lost in the Reader. The work around is to schedule to publish.

  3. I haven’t used Pinterest or Instagram to promote my blog, although I have noticed occasionally people “pin” something on one of my post. I have no real idea what impact this has on my blog though.

    Early on when I was trying to promote my blog though (I’m more lazy about it these days), I added all my favorite posts to StumbleUpon myself. I actually had a few posts really take off on their site and it continues to bring me traffic. They changed their format a little, but I think you can still add your own stuff. I think their algorithm works better though if you actually use the site, so if you add stuff to it, make sure you start Stumbling yourself to “like” content that’s similar to your blog. Early on I used to add my stuff to Reddit, but I never had as much success there and they also kind of annoyed me. Different sites will work better depending on your blog content obviously, but I just started to try out everything I found and dropped the ones that didn’t work.

  4. I would be very interested in hearing about using social media to promote blogs, etc. I use Pinterest a little to promote my blog(s) (I have a board for each of my two blogs) and sometimes it boosts my blog views/traffic a bit! Don’t know if Instagram is bringing many viewers to my blog, but I have my WordPress blog in the “About Me” of my Instagram profile (I’ll usually mention in my photo posts that this photo has to do with a blog post too on my site). I don’t know if any of this helps, but it’s what I’m doing so far! ^_^

  5. I loved reading this series! I’ve gotten so busy with work/life lately that I feel like I’ve lost my writing juice. This helped put me in the right mindset.

    I’ve used Pinterest and Instagram a couple times, but I’ve found Tumblr more helpful in getting my better posts out. I pair an appropriate GIF with a good title and a link and it gets people to at least look.

  6. I use Pinterest to showcase the artwork of the illustrators I showcase on my blog, but oddly, the Pinterest board I made for my Edgar Allan Poe series is still the one that gets the most traffic. I HIGHLY recommend it, for people who have visual blogs. 🙂

  7. Another great post!

    I am still learning Instagram. People really like it, but it is a series of photos with little content. I don’t think I have found a way to promote the blog there because there is no easy way to click over to the blog. It is a decent way to share photos to FB and Twitter. I hope you find someone to write a guest post. I could use the pointers. 🙂

    I don’t use bullet points often because I find they tend to mess up formatting. I am not even sure why that is. My post yesterday had bullet points and just as I was going to post it, presto the formatting was messed up after an auto save.

    The other thing about wordpress that makes me crazy is the auto save. I wish I could tell it how often to save. I figured out that when things like titles and formatting get messed up, it is usually an auto save that I did not notice. Seems like it is a problem with the most recent update so maybe they will fix it.

    • I’ve also found that copying and pasting from a Word document will completely mess up the formatting. Word introduces bad code that can’t really be fixed. At one point there was a specific option to post from a Word documents, but I haven’t found it in a very long time.

      • As I understand it, they got rid of that option. It is supposed to do it automatically, but it doesn’t. I realized it about the time I agreed to a sponsored post where text was supplied…ugg.

        I recently went back to spruce up some old posts. They were written several themes ago. The formatting was a huge mess. Note to self for future reference: no bullet points and no inserting photos to the left or right with text next to them.

  8. So much great information in this whole series on blogging. The one I most needed to read — Write anyway! Yes, ma’am!

    You are such a wonderful storyteller and skilled writer, I’m honored that you trust my red pen!

  9. I just started my own blog, brylindantonio.com a traveling tragedy. I love your blogging tips. Read through all of them at one sitting and definitely made mental notes along the way. I am starting to promote my blog on social media content as well. By linking my instagram to the blog page to create traffic from the gram to the blog and back. You won’t believe how much one can really self promote by taking an engaging picture! anyways spent a significant amount of time on your blog and loved every part of it.

    • Welcome to the blogosphere! You’re definitely right. Images do catch people’s attention. Pinterest totally proves that, and I know lots of people who love it. Social media is such a great way to make connections!

  10. Thanks so much for the posts about starting. I found them very helpful. Especially since I am new to blogging, as of yesterday to be exact. I will probably reference them many times throughout my blogging start up. I have so far only linked my Pinterest account to my blog -at least I think I did it right, haha. I’m a bit hesitant about linking more personal sites such as Instagram and Facebook. I haven’t completely decided how to go about sharing my two littles. There are just some things worth keeping private and/or protecting.
    That being said, my daughter was completely enthralled with your chameleon photos. What a neat experience to see one hatch! I’m looking forward to reading what more you have to offer! Thanks again.
    Kayla over at littlefamilybigplains.wordpress.com

  11. I’ve read all three parts of your tips to bloggers. Your advice seems very sound and something I should follow. I could certainly do with a few pointers. I’ve only been blogging a few months and so far I seem to have hit every possible blogging mistake pretty much head on.

    I have been making an effort to blog regularly and blog consistently. I’ve also recently tried to overcome my natural shyness and do the interacting with other blogs thing. (Hey, look! Here I am!)

    So far the natural peaks in my readership haven’t really been much in evidence. I have managed a fairly impressive collection of valleys, canyons and gorges, though.

    • Welcome to the Blogosphere! It sometimes takes a while to make those connections, and blogging regularly is one way to do it. The first few months are the toughest, I think, and then maybe you’ll find the groove. What’s your blog about?

      • I hope you’re right. Writing each post at the moment feels a lot like throwing pebbles into the ocean. My blog is intended to be humorous (I provide helpful labels so people can tell) and deals with basically everything.

        Hmm, now that I put it that way, it doesn’t sound very focused, I must admit. Recent posts have been about umbrellas, struggles with mathematics, exercise, raging summer heat and concrete.

  12. Thank you for the tips! I started a blog 2 years ago, let it lapse for about 7 months and have now re-started it with a new focus. I’m trying to be more intentional about it and your tips were really practical and helpful.

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