Blogging seems to cause more angst for writers than anything else. Over the past year, I’ve received many, many queries about blogging, often referencing the “rules.” (What rules? That sound you can hear is me, face-planting onto my desk.) Blogging tips are everywhere.
Blogging’s become needlessly complex. Consider this: blogging is just instant publishing. That’s all. What do you want to publish right now, today, and WHY? You can read all the blogging tips you can find online, forever, becoming hopelessly confused, and in all that reading, forget what you want and need from your blog.
What works for others may not work for you, indeed, unless you’re a direct clone of the person who gave you the tip, chances are great that their tip won’t work for you.
Blogging tips you can use TODAY for a better blog
Let’s look at blogging tips you might consider if your blog’s a dud, and just isn’t working for you, and you’re wondering why…
Here’s the short answer. Your blog’s a dud because you never decided what you want from it. Let’s look at the tips. I hope that at least one of them will turn your blog into the wonderful tool for your writing career and business that it can be.
1. Blog for YOU: if you’re not having fun, no one else is either
Forget everyone else. Trust yourself. Ask yourself what would be fun to write about. Then blog about that.
2. USE your blog: have a goal for every blog post you write
You “should” have goals for every blog post you write, but if you consider your blog a dud, chances are that you’ve been TOO focused on goals. Your goal can simply be to have fun with your writing, as we suggested above.
Here’s what I’ve found with some of my students: they’ve developed a set of totally unrealistic goals. They read others’ blogs, and try to emulate them.
Remember: instant publishing. What do you want your readers to know, right now? Your default rule needs to be: FUN.
Next, think carefully about what you want from a blog post. Perhaps you want to promote your new book, and get reviews for it. Hustle yourself over to a relevant Facebook or Google+ group, and ask how to get reviews. Follow any advice which seems as though it may work.
Then, post your results on your blog. (See Tip 8: DO STUFF, so you have something to blog about.)
Two birds: one stone. You’re taking action on what you want, and you’re also giving yourself something to blog about.
3. Be patient: focus on TODAY
From The Passive Voice:
“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” Jeff Bezos
Brilliant advice. I’ve been blogging since the late 1990s. My original goal for my writing blogs was to inspire writers to take charge of their writing. Writers were being pecked to death by ducks. They didn’t stand up for themselves in contract negotiations — few realized that negotiation was possible. “Standard” contracts were everywhere, and there is no standard.
Today, many writers are still cowed, believing that there are rules they should be following. There are no rules. Write for your readers, do stuff… and be patient. 🙂
4. Write the words: figure out what to do with them later
My favorite question for writers is always: what have you written today?
Write the words. Inspiration comes when you’re writing.
5. STOP playing with the (expletive deleted) theme already (I know you won’t, so here are 15 WordPress themes)
I love WordPress. Before WordPress, I used almost every blogging platform which came along. I still have a tendency to try new blogging platforms, because… why not?
Much as I love it however, WordPress provides endless temptation. You want your blog to look great, so you change your theme, almost weekly. I did that too, for my first few years. It’s a real time sink, but I KNOW you won’t stop playing with your theme, so here are the 15+ Best WordPress Themes for Writers, Authors, and Pro Bloggers. 🙂
6. MONETIZE: please quit saying you’re not making money if you’re not trying to make money
Ah, the ever-popular “how do I make money blogging?” and “why isn’t my blog making money?” questions.
The reason your blog isn’t making money is usually because you’re not trying to make money. Choose a moneymaking method, and focus on that. Once you focus, you will make money.
Of course, not every blogging monetization strategy will work for you. Try something (sponsored posts, affiliate reviews) for three months. Document everything you do. If you’ve tried everything, and your strategy doesn’t work, try something else.
When you focus on a money-making strategy, you’ll make money. Only a little initially, and that’s where patience comes in again. 🙂
7. Be loud and proud: promote your blog posts to people who need them (yes, that means knowing your audience)
Promote your blog posts.
Write, and promote.
Promote each and every post you create to its audience, and don’t be shy.
8. Do stuff so you have something to write about: do first, write later
We writers are a curious bunch. We’re always trying new things. Whatever you’re doing, blog about it. I mentioned wanting book reviews, and blogging about it above.
Maybe you want to make money from your blog. Blog about that (see Tip 14.)
Here’s a super-important tip: being a beginner in something or other is hugely valuable. No matter what you’re trying to do, others have challenges in learning, exactly as you do. You’ve got a readymade audience, because there are always more beginners than there are experts.
Do stuff, document what you do, and your process. Success or failure… blog about it.
9. LAUNCH NOW — please don’t send me any more questions about fonts and color palettes
“Launching” seems to be a thing.
Unfortunately, “preparing for my blog’s launch” usually boils down to obsessing over trivial decisions and procrastinating. Blogging is instant publishing. Write and publish. Nothing happens until you publish a blog post, so use the default WordPress theme, write one post, and hit the Publish button.
10. Sell, sell, sell: create something to sell on your blog today
This tip is closely related to monetizing your blog, and the “launch” syndrome.
You’ve written some blog posts. Maybe three, maybe 103.
Compile related posts into an ebook, add some more content, and offer it for sale on your blog. You’ll get sales, or you won’t. Either way, you’ll learn something, and that something will inspire you to create another product.
Who knows? You may find success beyond your wildest imaginings. Many bloggers have created a product, and made $20,000 in 20 days.
You’ll never know until you do it. So create something to sell.
And sell it.
Which brings us to…
11. Stop the disconnect — you want everything to be free, but you nevertheless charge for what you do
This is the obverse side of selling on your blog.
Some newbie bloggers want to create a million-dollar-income producing blog, and they want to do it using free tools. Yes, it’s possible, but it’s just not realistic. It’s also pointless, and a bad habit. If you want to get paid, invest in yourself and in your blog.
Pay for a domain name, and Web hosting. Pay for any good commercial WordPress plugins you need, and a payment platform which allows you to take payments easily.
12. THINK and write: write about what you love and hate (but keep it positive)
Writing involves thinking and analysis.
As we’ve said, blogging is instant publishing. Remember the non-existent rules? if your blog is a dud, consider that it may be a “me too” blog. You may be copying other bloggers, and repeating their insights in your own words.
If you continually reproduce others’ wisdom, you’re not giving readers yourself.
ACT. Do things, and write about what you learned. Write about what you love, and why you love it. Write about what you hate. When you’re writing a “hate” post, keep it positive. Everyone has challenges aplenty. Lift your readers. Give them something positive, and something they can use.
13. Stop looking for a magic bullet: you don’t need 100,000 hits on your blog
Every piece of blogging advice is wrong. Yes, even the advice in this post. 🙂
Here’s why it’s wrong: you are YOU. You’re not anyone else, and trying to be what you’re not is the surest way to suck the life out of your blog.
Please don’t bemoan the fact that you have few readers. Your readers will come, as long as you’re having fun. Posts which show you how to get more traffic to a blog post are useful if — and only if — you’re getting the right kind of traffic.
An example. Let’s say you want blogging gigs. You write about something or other and get huge traffic. A big spike in traffic means that you’ll need to upgrade your hosting. If you get 10,000 or even (shudder) 100,000 hits on your blog, but not a single blogging gig, you’ve gained nothing at all from your traffic. Worse, your hosting company has just sent you a letter saying that they want more money now…
Far better to get ten visitors to your blog, and have one of your visitors hire you. In blogging, it’s never, ever about the traffic. What counts is results.
14. Blog your blogging income each month: start where you are
You can only start where you are.
If you’re wondering how to make money from your blog, why not find out, and blog about your process? Income reports are incredibly popular on various blogs. I’m sure they’re incredibly useful for the bloggers who create them too. You’d be less likely to slack off if you knew you had to create an income report at the end of the month.
Consider this. With millions of bloggers worldwide, and hundreds of thousands of bloggers going full-time, wouldn’t you love to read the income report of a blogger who’s never made a cent online — or who’s only made a few dollars, and wants to generate a $10,000 a month blogging income?
I’d love to read a series like that on a blog. I know that I (and I’m sure many other bloggers too) would be happy to share income-boosting ideas with a striving blogger.
Start where you are. If your blog is currently a dud, use the tips in this post to write something just for fun. Your creativity is always where the fun lies. I distrust the word “passion.” You don’t need to be passionate about anything. Just have fun on your blog… You’ll attract readers, AND your blog will start working for you.
Everything begins and ends with you.
Blog, and have fun. It’s time to help your blog to SOAR. 🙂
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Revised: July 8, 2019
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