How to Blog, Part 1: Here’s the Plan

chalkboard communicatorsI had no idea how to blog when I started. Why did I go to the trouble? Because I read blogging was something authors should do. Just so you know, I’m a dedicated pantser. My MO is to jump off the cliff and figure it out on the way down. On the other hand, when I started I had a full time day job, and had to keep the blog from overwhelming my life. So I committed to publishing a new post once a week and decided I’d just have to figure out what to write as I went along. After a year of hard work, I was able to share my thoughts on how to blog … and get results!

Why should I spend so much time blogging?
The overall consensus is that maintaining a blog that consistently delivers good content can help establish an author’s platform, encourage discipline, and allow a writer to practice craft and find a voice. Bottom line, the real reason to blog is to get noticed. By Google, by your colleagues and peers, and by anyone who may be able to offer support or opportunity. We blog to connect with 1) readers who might be interested in purchasing our books, 2) supporters who will spread the word about what we have to say to other readers who might be interested in purchasing our books, and 3) a community of authors and writers who share ideas that can help us find our way.

How to blog: Establish the basics
Every blogger needs to understand the basics before they begin (or soon after.) This information will help you determine the best days to post, and subjects to write about:
1) Define your target audience (Who are you writing for/talking to?)
2) Review blog analytics to interpret the days of the week that get the most traffic (What is/are the best day(s) to post?)
3) Determine the type of posts that get the most traffic (Which subjects draw the most readers?)

What should I write about and when do I post?
If you’re a brand new blogger, decide who you want your target audience to be, what kind of content will attract that readership, and the best day(s) to publish and promote your posts. This information will give you an editorial calendar for your blog. Your calendar will dictate what you’ll write about in the future and when. Ask readers and supporters to fill in once in a while with guest posts that compliment your plan. Don’t be completely rigid, though, it’s okay to stray once in while. And remember to make have fun! of people

How to blog to be certain it isn’t a waste of time
As a former mortgage industry marketing manager, I learned to apply one question to everything I write for my day job: “How can I repurpose this?” For example: The basic information in a new hire’s press release morphs into a blog post, a Facebook post, and an article in the company newsletter. You can also apply this philosophy to your blog. If you determine a way to string your types/categories of posts together early on in your blogging career, in time you can compile these separate posts into a body of work to sell, or utilize as another marketing tool.

How to make a blog pay off in more ways that one
Whether your personal passion is travel, cooking, documenting your self-publishing journey, or recording anecdotes about your crazy life or eccentric sister, a properly designed, written and promoted blog can help you get noticed in your chosen field. In turn, idividual posts can be edited into a cookbook, a memoir, a travel guide, an anthology of poetry or short stories, a friendly grammar guide, or your experiences with home schooling. You can sell your ebook, or give it away as a freebie and an incentive for people to subscribe to your blog. Note: Search engines don’t like duplicate content on the web, so it’s best not to publish exact posts on other websites.

Why should I blog? Oh right. I can re-purpose my posts!
When the light bulb finally went on for me and I figured out my blog’s dual purpose, I formed a strategy that helps me determine what to write about, both now and in the future. My blogging strategy makes it easier to spend my free time writing posts (gah!). Nearly every article published on my blog falls into one of these categories (with a few exceptions):
1) An essay about my life and what I’ve learned
2) An article describing what I’ve done that works re: writing and/or social media
3) A guest post or interview that’s either an essay about the guest’s life, a techy-related article, or a self-publishing how-to.

I decided months ago that someday I’ll compile my personal essays into an ebook. And if I have any success as an author, there’s a chance I can turn my series of self-publishing-related posts into a book that documents that journey. I’m trying to make the point here that everything you write can be part of a bigger purpose, if you make a plan. Your plan will make it easier to spend your precious free time writing blog posts, and can also help you market yourself outside your blog as an author, writer, even a speaker, if that’s the way you want to go.

Blog, blog blog – and remember: It’s all about the content
My philosophy about content: It must deliver value. People want information. Readers don’t just want to know what to do, they also want to know what was successful, why, and how you did it. Posts don’t need to be long or complicated. If you write about a subject that lends itself to how-to’s, consider writing them. After a year or so, you’ll have enough chapters for a book that displays your talents, reveals your knowledge, and/or helps guide those on a similar path. And you’ll feel much better about slogging through your blogging tasks!

To recap: Establish a range of subjects your blog will cover, post consistently (whatever consistent is for you), and have a plan to repurpose your posts. Next week, I’ll discuss Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how using great keywords in your blog posts can enhance search engine results and bring more traffic to your blog.

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32 Responses to How to Blog, Part 1: Here’s the Plan

  1. Heal Now and Forever June 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Cannot wait until next week! <3

  2. Roxanne June 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Nice post. Like you, I started to blog, then thought about how to, when and why. Then I break some of the universal rules or suggestions. But you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

  3. Diane Hughes June 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Great insights and suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

  4. griselda heppel June 12, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Very useful tips, especially for those of us just starting out and wondering how it all works. Thank you very much!

  5. Laura June 12, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Thanks for a great post. I was terrified of blogging, but have found it to be rewarding even though my audience is still small. Hopefully that will change as I post releavant content related to adult children and their aging parents.

    • Molly Greene June 12, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      I was terrified too, when I began. Then I realized nobody was reading my blog anyway – by the time people WERE reading, I was over it!

      • Annette - carinskarin June 12, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

        Very refreshing to read this Molly. Helped me MUCH. ? How did you get them to start reading. I need a new blog place for sure but don’t know much about the techo stuff and my computer geek son is too burned out from programming all day to help me. Can you refer me to a site that has easy step-by-step instructions on how to start. My daughter set up my first blog. OOps…I’m giving away the color of my hair!

        • Molly Greene June 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

          Hey Annette! I started on WordPress.com and set up my own site without too much stress. I like WP better than Blogger sites because I think WP loads faster. If you Google “How to set up a WordPress blog” you should get lots of information. As for readers, start blogging consistently, write great content, tweet & FB your posts. If your build it, they will come. It takes time!

          • Barbara Olson August 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

            Thank you Molly ! I needed direction and you gave it. Inspiration,, handwritten books, a need to publish, all around me. I am so glad I was directed to your blog, my first ever ! Thank you Sara. Thank you Molly.

          • Molly Greene August 19, 2012 at 7:00 am #

            Hi Barbara! I’m so glad you found the post helpful. Trust me, I don’t always have a plan, but I feel more organized and productive when I do. Best to you on your blog and publication goals!

  6. Laura Zera (@laurazera) June 12, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    I’m very lucky when it comes to blogging because I know this rad marketing manager named Molly who gives me really good ideas for blog posts. Without her, I’d be writing about Cheerios for breakfast.

    I must say, it’s such a great feeling when someone gives you the feedback that your blog has deeply resonated with them. As a writer, I find it to be a great confidence builder.

    Thanks for being you, Molly. Can’t wait to read Jodi’s post next week, too.

    • Molly Greene June 12, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      HA HA! Now you know – I was working on this blog post when I made those suggestions to you. LOVE YOU, love your blog, can’t wait to see what you come up with going forward. I love my friends’ blogs because I get to live vicariously (sp?) through their posts. So will you go to Fiji and write about it, please?

      • Laura Zera (@laurazera) June 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

        Actually, we have semi-serious ideas about moving to Fiji! We’ve been twice — 2008 and 2010. Francis is totally hooked. I wouldn’t argue…

  7. Staci Mercado June 13, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    I really appreciate your tips Molly! The information about repurposing gives a great long term goal while still allowing us to become immersed in the blogging moment.

    • Molly Greene June 13, 2012 at 9:20 am #

      Staci, so happy you liked it, thanks for stopping by!

  8. Dannie Hill June 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    I’m late as usual, but I never miss your blog now that I’ve found you, Molly!

    Great post and advice. If only I could do all the things you do. I know my excuses are a confidence thing– who want to read about me? I will keep moving forward– I hope, lol.

    One thing I have found is: even if you don’t blog often you can still stay in potential readers radar by commenting(not in a late fashion as this) on good blogs and saying nice things and true thing. People really do read the comments. It has helped me while I prepare my next book for pub.

    I have taken to saving all of you blogs to Word so I can review them. You are doing a good thing for people like me, Molly!

    • Molly Greene June 14, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      It’s impossible to do it all, Dannie, we can only do our best. Blogging, writing, editing, book promotion? Acccck! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comments and your support, and I’m so happy that my posts are helpful!

  9. Maria June 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Very helpful post, especially the part about repurposing, which I need to do!

    Thank you.

  10. Rae Ellen Lee June 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Molly, just when I’d decided that this time I will write a post once a week if it kills me, here is your wonderful post on how best to go about it. What a great idea, to make a plan. And to think about re-purposing. That’s brilliant. Thank you for holding my hand.

    • Molly Greene June 15, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

      Ha! Rae Ellen, I did the same thing last year. Threatening myself is the only way to be sure I’ll do something. Wish it would work with exercise … can’t wait to read your blog posts!

  11. Jane Myers Perrine June 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I started blogging about 6 months ago and ONLY because I had a big book coming out. I did not want to! The first blogs were terrible–I’ve deleted many. But I find I really enjoy it! At the same time I started, I read a blog like this in which the blogger said to spend only 20 minutes/blog. That was great advice! I write 250 words, don’t kill myself, and really enjoy it. Probably takes longer to find the best clip art! I have a major blog on Tuesdays and a short one on Thursdays. AND, I read and enjoy your blog very often.

    • Molly Greene June 17, 2012 at 7:27 am #

      Jane, I felt the same way when I started blogging. Now that I have a plan it’s much easier – and I like your idea about time boundaries! Thanks so much for the read and lovely comment.

  12. Mary Yuhas June 22, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Great blog, Molly! I enjoyed a lot! So informative! Thanks for publishing this!

  13. Aries June 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    New blogger here and I thank you for this clear and easy to understand how to blog post. I will refer back to it often as I set up the blog.

    Thanks again!

  14. C R Myers June 26, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Great blog as usual, Molly. All your posts are interesting and informative. Of all the things I do as a writer, blogging is one of the most challenging. Thank you for all your good ideas.

    Cat :D

  15. go4publish July 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    Dear Molly,

    after having read your post, I feel like a kid eating chocolate for the first time: I can’t get enough!

    Your tips make your blog the compass for all brand new bloggers.

    Thank you!

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