Blogging for Dummies (Don’t Worry- I’m a Dummy Too)

I’ve been doing a ton of research recently about what I can do to get my name out there and build my platform before I publish. I believe one of the biggest keys to making it as a writer is to advertise. For those of you out there like me who are in the process of finishing a novel and planning to publish, you know that advertising plays an essential role. But it’s not just after you publish the book. Advertising should begin now, during your writing process. It actually doesn’t take rocket science to figure out how to market yourself. We have this great tool called blogging right at our fingertips. It took me long enough to realize what a great tool blogging can be, but now that I’ve learned so much about it, I’m one step closer to expanding my “fan base.”

Here are several things I learned about successful blogging over my senior year in college:

  1. Choose a specific category. I didn’t realize how important this advice was when I started my blog. I thought I could be super eclectic and just write about every topic under the sun that interested me. Little did I know there’s great purpose in this advice. By choosing a specific category/topic for your blog, it ensures that more like-minded people will find and follow you. It also lends structure to your blog. I chose writing, books, authors, and all things having to do with the literature world as my main focus. It enables me to know exactly what to talk about every week without having to sit around and waste time thinking about my next topic. Plus I get the added benefit of being followed by and following editors, aspiring writers, soon-to-be famous authors, publishers and the like. I’m exposed to lots of people like me, so I’m learning on a weekly basis something new about the writing world. If you’re using your blog as a tool for your future then this is the way to go. It puts you in a category and enables other bloggers to find you easier.
  2. Be creative with titles/headlines. We all know that titles create interest. When you use a catchy title, it’s easier for someone passing through to get hooked. I know for myself there are many times when a title sounds so interesting, I have to read the rest of the post. I try to implement the same tool for my posts. I want to make sure my title and headlining sentence draws my reader in. I like to view the title as a teaser for the rest of my post, so I try to come up with creative titles that I know will spark interest. It’s not always easy to come up with something cool, but it’s well worth it to learn the art of title-making.
  3. Use correct grammar. One of my greatest pet peeves is when someone is blogging about pursuing a writing career; and yet, their writing is AWFUL!!! I wouldn’t want to read anything they published if it looked like their blog. I believe it’s highly essential, whether you want to be a writer or not, to use punctuation and appropriate grammar. It makes your blog look more professional and it enables readers to take you seriously.
  4. Use tags effectively. I know how easy it is to get caught up in tagging your post. When I started my blog, I would use A LOT of tags. I thought that was a good thing, but it actually does more harm than good for your blog. By using too many tags, you’re actually losing the chance to be placed in search engines through Google and the like. By using less tags, you have a much greater chance of finding your blog on a search engine. Once narrowed down to certain tags, the internet websites have a better chance of placing your blog in a convenient spot to be found. I generally use two or three tags to mark my posts.
  5. Don’t be selfish. This is actually the greatest tool to use when blogging. I’ve learned this first-hand. When I first started blogging, I was all about me. I thought if I just posted a bunch of blog posts, I’d be racking the followers up in no time. Sadly, that was a huge misconception. Let’s face it, we’re all a little selfish when it comes to social media. It’s all about how many likes we get on our pictures and posts and how many followers we have. But blogs are vastly different than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Those sites are easier to get friends/followers. All you have to do is be popular already, be super good-looking, be famous etc. With those credits, you get followers. On a blog, if you’re not already famous, forget it. I try to explain this to people. I have over 700 friends on Facebook, but on my blog, I only have 106. Why is that? On a blog, it’s not anymore about your looks. It’s about what you have to say. I’ve found that if I go and explore other blogs- interacting with bloggers, liking and commenting  on their posts, following them- I have a greater chance to be discovered. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. You get to learn from people all around the world and you get to grow your own site. It feeds other bloggers ego when you take the time to read their work and like what they have to say. See, we’re all a little selfish 😉 If I truly like what another blogger has written, why not comment and let them know how brilliant, beautiful, intelligent it was. It doesn’t take much time and you get more exposure.
  6. Be consistent. I haven’t’ been the best at this one. Planning my wedding early this year caused me to stop blogging for awhile, but now I’ve slowly gotten back into a routine. By being consistent with weekly blogs, it shows you’re serious about this. It’s not just a hobby to you. You really care about having your voice heard and you have something to say. I don’t generally follow bloggers who barely post anything. What’s the point if you’re only going to blog every once in a blue moon? It’s a waste to even follow you. I understand how busy life gets so this isn’t always possible, but trust me, it does wonders.

Although there are many more ways to make your blog successful, I feel these are highly essential tools in making your blog shine. I’m still learning and working on each of these. It’s a growing process, but I want to have a firm foundation of fans before I publish. If I continue to expand my following through my blog, that means I have access to many people when I actually publish. I can then use my followers to help advertise for me. Word of mouth is such a huge tool! They can tell their friends and followers about me and spread the word. If you’re looking to publish, try these tools with your own blog and watch it grow. If you think I need to shut up because my blog isn’t that big, well I challenge you to watch it grow in the next several months 😉

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