Changing the world's opinion… as soon as we finish this math homework
Social media is hugely important in the field of publishing, and many professionals in the industry suggest that writers keep a blog. Of course, this leads to the inevitable question of: What the heck do I post about?
When I first started blogging on Tumblr, I’d often find myself scrolling through blogs and thinking, “How do these other bloggers find so much cool stuff to talk about? What’s their trick to coming up with content that attracts viewers?” Now that I’ve been on Tumblr for over a year, I’ve figured out there isn’t a real “trick,” but there are certain methods that make it much easier to attract readers to your blog and keep them interested.
Some of these methods apply universally, whether you use Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, or any other blogging platform. So, without further ado, here are five tips to help you come up with that perfect blog post:
1. Pick a theme, and stick with it.
Most popular blogs have specific themes they use to attract readers. It’s best to do the same with your own blog; pick one broad topic to focus all your posts around. Maybe your blog is a book review blog; maybe it’s about publishing news; maybe it’s about your personal writing experiences. Once you settle on that single topic, it will make it easier for readers to find you. The more your blog mentions that topic, the more often search engines will direct people to your blog when they do a search on the subject.
This method also helps you draw the right type of readers. Posting three times about the latest YA releases will attract people who read YA, and they’re likely going to stick around to see your next three posts about YA books. In contrast, if you make three entirely random posts about three entirely random topics, you’ll end up with a scattered audience who might lose interest when you stop posting about the topic that originally drew their attention.
The book world has some great examples of this, such as:
Heroes and Heartbreakers, which is a blog run by the publishing company Macmillan that focuses on romantic fiction.
The Creative Penn, which is run by author Joanna Penn and focuses on the business side of self-publishing.
YA Books Central, which has a blog that focuses on reviews and news about YA releases.
Books and Cupcakes, which focuses on book reviews and bookish photography.
2. Know what is expected on your blogging platform.
If you use Tumblr, you shouldn’t be filling your blog with long, text-based posts that have no photos. Simply put, no one on that site is going to read it. Similarly, if you post twenty times a day on WordPress with funny GIFs and links to super short articles, you’re not going to attract any followers.
Every blogging platform has expectations of its writers, even if they’re not official rules, and even if they can be difficult to figure out. Really the only way to truly understand what’s expected is to experiment a bit and to read lots of other blogs on the same platform. Kira did a great post HERE that explains the basic expectations on each of the most popular blogging platforms.
3. Don’t be afraid to be unique and experiment.
Every site needs something unique to make it stand out. Otherwise, why would people choose to visit your blog over the millions of others out there? One of the easiest ways to make content unique is to add your personal opinions to posts. Instead of linking to a Goodreads newsletter that talks about pretty covers, how about you make your own list of your favorite book covers from 2014? And posting about the winner of a big award can be interesting, but it’s going to make your readers happier if you include your own review of the book, and express why you’re so happy that author won.
Being “unique” can also mean approaching a topic in a new or exciting manner. Pretty much every YA book blog out there has a review of The Hunger Games, but maybe yours has a review made entirely from GIFs. And most writers have a “FAQ” page on their blog, but maybe you answer the questions with passages from your favorite books. Don’t be afraid to go a little crazy sometimes, but keep in mind that readers are often creatures of habit; because of this, it’s generally best to stick with content that has a unique “twist” on a well-known concept, rather than creating something entirely new.
4. Post selectively and regularly.
The entire goal of picking good content is to keep your reader interested, so they stay on your site and explore more of it. In order to achieve this, you have to be picky when it comes to deciding what should go on your blog and what shouldn’t. Put yourself in the shoes of your readers before you post something: If you stumbled across this post, would you stop and take the time to read it? If your answer is “no,” then don’t expect other people to find it engaging.
Posting regularly is nearly as important as posting quality content, although I’ll fully admit this part is a lot harder. It can be really tough to keep up a blogging schedule, but if you manage to post on a regular basis, your chances of gaining readers will grow hugely. If you’re really short on time, try using a queue system; most platforms have an app that allows you to upload a bunch of posts at once, but only have them go live at scheduled intervals. Do a simple Google search to find the best queue app for your chosen platform and your personal tastes.
Seriously, we call it “social media” for a reason. Get out there and talk to people! It can be intimidating at first, but starting conversations with your readers is a great way to get them to stick around. Pose questions to your readers, answer comments, and engage with them as much as you can. Also be sure to check out other blogs similar to yours, and try to engage with their writers.
However, do be careful. The writing and reading community on the internet has some truly lovely members, but there will always be people on the internet you should stay away from. As a general rule, if someone or something is making you uncomfortable, get away from them. And if you ever feel genuinely threatened by anyone, report it to proper authorities. Just because a threat occurs online doesn’t make it any less real.
Do you have your own blog? And if you do, how do you decide what to post and what not to? Has any method worked particularly well for you, when it comes to attracting readers?