A timely reminder came into my mail box this morning: The Story Reading Ape’s digest. Among the usual excellent fare (including Monday Funnies, always worth relaxing over with your favourite beverage) was a post on ideas for your next blog post.
My first reaction was – let’s see if I can snag any ideas. My second was – I have too many ideas already, just get on with the things I do.
Of course, the most useful reaction was to take a look and store anything away that might come in useful. It’s a long post. But controlling the tendency to get involved in anything and everything is also a valuable asset. Keep the reason you blog firmly in your mind.
Why do you blog?
It’s a troublesome thing, blogging. Especially if, like me, you blog to have a presence on the web, rather than to make money attracting people to your pearls of wisdom. It’s worthwhile stopping every now and then, to ask yourself “why do I blog?”.
What’s the purpose of your blog
Who is your (intended or actual) audience
How does blogging fit into your life/routine/sense of self/work – that determines how often you should blog
Why do I blog?
I’m an author. If I were not an author I would still blog, because I have a drive to put my thoughts, opinions or flights of fancy out into the world, hoping for that warm feeling that comes when someone visits and comments on what I say.
Looking back on the origins of my blogging career, my guinea pigs started blogging in May 2009 (with a little help from their Mom), and Jemima Pett, Author, started in October 2010. I definitely know I would be blogging even if I didn’t write books!
My blog needs to showcase me, not necessarily talk all about my books. Reference them, yes, but mostly people want to read authors’ blogs to find out more about the person behind the words. On the other hand, many authors need people to discover them for some other reason and then decide to try this person’s books. So whatever content I choose has to reflect the fascinating person that I am, in such a way that you decide my books might be worth reading after all.
I do that by sharing my experiences with you. I don’t claim to know a lot about writing, so I don’t post editing instructions, and there are plenty of people who do. But I do share my experiences of being a writer, and of self-publishing, and blogging. Sometimes, I hope that gives you tips to help ease your way in any of those fields.
I also give you demonstrations of my writing, which are only occasionally directly related to my books. And mostly, I help you find me by joining in with memes where many people connect with others blogging on the same sort of topic.
My blogging pattern
A while ago (maybe four years now) I settled on a pattern for my blog, so that regulars know what to expect and when. The advice generally given is to blog regularly – it doesn’t need to be often. That depends on your individual situation, and the time you have to dedicate to your blog.
My regular output is:
Monday – a news or interest post
Wednesday – one of two memes – the Insecure Writer’s Support Group on the first Wednesday of the month, and I choose to publish my Fiction in 50 (words) story on the third Wednesday of the month, so it’s ready to link up to the originator’s post on the following Monday.
Friday – flash fiction day, often with a prompt from Chuck Wendig (whose language is not suitable for everyone, but he’s inspiring). On the last Friday of the month I promote #FlashbackFriday, with a rerun of an earlier flash fiction, usually from 3-4 years back.
Saturday – Book review day.
I sometimes do giveaways, and blog hops, and they mainly get squeezed into that pattern.
Most popular posts
The most viewed posts on my blog tend to be giveaways (highest rated when I’ve been giving gift cards rather than books as prizes). Otherwise, the most useful are about experiences, especially technical issues, that other bloggers and authors face.
The Insecure Writers Support Group is about sharing experiences that might help other writers tackling the same or similar issues. My post on writer’s depression had a huge response (by my standards). Handling reviews and adverse comments is another issue where support is helpful.
The business of taking a blog from free WordPress to the independent version (wordpress.org) was initially very frustrating, and the post of ‘one year on’ topped my statistics for years. Now that the technical wrinkles have been sorted out my follow-up post was pretty unexciting in comparison.
Another ‘most useful’ post was talking about making book covers with free software (much more powerful than I really need) called Gimp. It takes time to learn these things, and you do need a certain amount of design flair, but if you have that, or some good critical support from friends, it’s a great help.
Earlier this year I added Yoast Search Engine Optimisation to my posts. I’m not convinced it really makes a difference to whether people find my posts, but posting about that experience seemed useful, too. Yoast appears to be the real deal, not a spam thing.
Memes that help me
There are a huge number of memes about. I think in the past, I’ve chosen memes and hops that don’t really suit what I do. I’ve been trying to spring-clean them, but at the same time, I realise that many of my long-standing followers came from those events in the first place. Time changes things; there is no reason to keep going with memes if they have lost their freshness for you.
I’ve mentioned the April A to Z Challenge in a previous post for the Ape, which is a great way of getting you started blogging regularly, and also making contacts and friends in the blogging world. I think this has helped enormously in establishing my blog presence, but maybe it has peaked for me now.
Some of the people I met through A to Z are themselves doing other memes. I’m interested in Damyanti Biswas’s blog. Damyanti is incredibly well connected. Among the memes she participates in are two that spread a little happiness around. Next weekend is the Cherished blogfest, which I will join for the first time. She also co-hosts the monthly We are the World blogfest, which invites participants ‘to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.’
If October wasn’t busy enough, I’m doing Inktober throughout the month. The challenge is to post a pen/ink drawing on Twitter (hashtag #inktober2017) every day. There are prompts to help you. Last year this was an enormous help to me, since I was at the stage of drawing the chapter illustrations for books 7 and 8 of my Princelings series. I did one of those a day, and I really felt the benefit in the practice it gave me. This year I’m doing Inktober using my iPad to draw on, which is a new skill I’m learning. The first attempts have been very shaky indeed, but I hope the results will be up to my normal standard by the month end.
A great stand-by for my Monday post is the Book Bloggers’ Hop, which sets a question each week relating to reading and books more generally. You answer the question set, and see what others have said too. You can also submit a question for others to answer.
Short reading challenges like the TackleTBR readathon, which happened in September, help me to get through the pile of books I have to read. I don’t know why I buy books when I have so many to read already. And I still add them to my reading list (To Be Read list). Maybe I’m addicted.
The other side of that is a relatively new meme I’ve joined – Down The TBR Hole, where you look at the books you’ve had longest on your Goodreads list and decide whether you are really going to read them, or you should reject them. I’ve discovered some really bizarre books on my list that I’m never going to read. I check ten from the list each month – and I’ve discarded 20% so far. That’s easily been swallowed up by new books added since the previous review. I must get tougher!
These memes all help me one way or another. They all provide original content that doesn’t involve quoting someone else’s work – although linking to other sources is good practice. Many of them help me in my quest to be a good, or at least interesting, reader-author-illustrator-blogger.
If you’re stuck for good ideas for your posts, I hope you’ve found something useful in here – and if you think of something that might interest me, please add it to the comments.
Happy blogging – and
on October 31st!