I published my first blog post on a brand new, free WordPress site early in 2011, and although I moved to a self-hosted site a year later, I’ve published new content consistently since that first post. Does it get old? Oh, yeah. Blogging requires a time commitment. Did I get discouraged early on? YES! When I first started I had huge anxiety around what to write about. Did I do it anyway? Absolutely. I eventually got more organized, I created a strategy, I focused my posts, and it paid off. Here’s the process I use to run my blog. Consider this my “model for success.” If this approach helps you look at your blog in a new way, my work is done!
1. Know why you’re blogging
Why do you blog? If your answer is “because I think I should,” your reply just may increase the odds that you’ll quit. There are lots of reasons to work at building a successful blog. If you’re an author, blogging is an important tool in your book promotion tool box. Blogging sells you, meaning your unique voice. It teaches you about social media and the online world, it helps you forge alliances with other authors and bloggers, and it brings traffic to your website, which lets people know about your books and enhances your name recognition with readers and search engines.
2. Commit to posting new content regularly
Blogging takes time and discipline. People who blog know that, and it’s actually what keeps a lot of on-the-fence bloggers from jumping in. Time – or the lack of it – also keeps bloggers who’ve started from continuing. Starting with a single post every week makes the mountain easier to climb. I actually committed to posting once a week early on in my blogging career. Later, I incorporated the strategy of hosting guest posters once a month, which means I’m responsible for only 3 monthly posts. That is so doable! Just keep in mind that a successful blog can be built without posting three times a week!
3. Decide on several overall subject categories
I blogged wildly for over eight months before I smartened up and focused on 3 or 4 subject categories (each houses a range of topics). Categories can be general, such as personal essays (yeah, that covers everything), posts about your books and writing processes, and one or two non-fiction topics you use as themes in your novels and that you’re passionate about. Examples: Cooking, nature, gardening, personal growth, or environmentalism. Establishing categories will focus your efforts, draw readers who relate, and help you organize your blogging time. If you struggle for ideas, check out my popular post, 101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas.
4. Here’s my secret: Outline the chapters of a non-fiction book for each subject category
Once I had my general subject categories, I identified three future titles and outlined the content of each one, chapter by chapter. Now, most of my posts cover one of those chapter topics and act as a first draft for the book I’ll publish (sometime!) in the future. That way, each blog post helps move another project forward. I’m flexible, of course, about these outlines. Topics can be added at will. This means my blogging time = future income via potential book sales, or an important freebie I can use as a subscriber incentive. This element also became another important reason why I blog.
5. Look at everything you learn, do, or research as a potential post
If I learn a new process, I write down the steps as I go and turn it into an article. If I attend a webinar, I take notes, put my own spin on it, give the presenter credit for the content, then turn it into a blog post. If I trip while I’m going down the stairs – yeah, you got it. Of course, you’ll be viewing your activities through the lens of your own subject categories, but you get my drift.
I can’t help you create more time to post regularly, but I know the time you spend writing and publishing posts pays off. Whenever I question the time my blog eats up, or I run out of steam about my intentions, I revisit my commitment strategy. It helps remind me why my blog is an important tool in my author/writer’s toolbox.
Readers, what’s your blogging strategy? Is your blogatude “full steam ahead” or “abandon ship?” What tricks do you use to make the process easier? Leave a comment and share!
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