Jul

25

2013

Blogging Success

by Tamela Hancock Murray

S

Last week, I had a lot of fun reading the responses to my post on men versus women getting ready for travel. I appreciate my husband’s sense of humor in not minding that I posted it, and in reality, I give him credit for taking care of our little family all the time.

In response to that post, I received a private email asking how we built our successful blog. Obviously, ours is only one of many popular blogs written by agents, but this is a great question so I’ll share a few tips I have learned from writing for this blog, reading other blogs, and reading articles about blogs.

1.) Focus. What is your blog about? As readers know, ours is about publishing and we rarely veer off topic. I follow other blogs on publishing, of course, along with theology, Christian living, uncluttering, organization, and other topics of interest to me. I know that each post will relate to the promised topic. Does that mean each and every article is of intense interest, helpfulness, and importance to my life? No. But I appreciate that each blog stays on topic.

2.) Clean. What is your layout? Your readers probably follow several blogs so they may only have time to glance at yours before moving on. Are your posts as tidy as possible? Can readers gather the information you want to impart quickly? Granted, not every topic lends itself to numbered lists and bold font, but imparting information succinctly is valued by time-pressed readers.

3.) Value. Is your information important enough to encourage readers to follow your blog? To give another example, if you are writing a humor blog, is it funny and witty enough? Writing a blog is more than deciding on a purpose. You must be able to provide some sort of value.

4.) Authority. Steve Laube, Karen Ball, and now Dan Balow are each highly respected and as such their credibility lends authority to the observations and opinions that we all express. For example, Steve’s posts on industry developments regarding the B&H Fiction line, the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan merger, and most recently, Summerside, were the go-to articles on the topics for many editors, authors, and publishing executives. Are you an authority on your topic? Why should people read your words and not someone else’s? Or your words in addition to someone else’s? I suggest choosing a topic you know something about and can write many, many posts about to keep people coming to your blog.

5.) Consistency. People enjoy predictability and reliability. I suggest not overextending yourself. Choose a day once a week to start, and stick with it. Never miss a deadline. Then, as you learn to blog, increase your days. Just be sure not to overextend at any point because your deadlines will come on time, every time. Sort of like the utility bill. Be sure you can meet your obligation.

6.) Visibility. What are you doing to let your potential readers know your blog exists? You can have the world’s best blog, but if no one knows about it, no one will read it. I suggest being active on various social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other Internet places where your potential readers hang out. You may not have time to be active everywhere. For instance, I am not active on Instagram, mainly because I don’t enjoy taking and downloading photos, although I do appreciate lovely photos! But choose at least one or two popular Internet hangouts and be present and active on those.

Your turn:

So, what did I miss? What tips can you offer for a successful blog?

What blogs do you follow? Why?

Do you blog? What has been your experience?

55 Responses to “Blogging Success”

  1. Anne Love July 25, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    Lately, I’ve heard some discussion about quality vs. quantity (Q v Q). I believe it was Michael Hyatt who suggested that if you don’t have a topic of quality, just posting “fluff” might be more detrimental than not posting at all. At our blog, we’ve been shooting for a balance between, because I think consistency is important to readers. And it seems, from the blogger’s perspective, that once I start thinking, “well, I really don’t have anything for today, so I won’t post”–that’s when things slide, and weeks pass without posting. Consistency implies the discipline of writing. Some of my best posts happen when I stare at the empty page and start banging the keyboard. But if I’d just let myself off the hook, then where’s the discipline in that?

    So, I’d love to hear from other bloggers. What do you think about Q v. Q?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 6:39 am #

      Anne, I realize you asked for comments from other bloggers, but I hope you don’t mind me for stepping in. I think some “fluff” is fine if it makes sense for you and your blog. In fact, I visited your blog and I think your posts look cohesive and make sense for you because your blog is helping readers get to know who you are.

      Yes, it will be hard to come up with topics some days but I notice you posted on, for example, praying for celebrities. Years ago I gave a book about this to several of my friends for Christmas. The book gave a bio on each celebrity and suggested praying for each one. That book is long outdated and probably no longer available, but shows that this is a topic important enough to be addressed in a book, and provocative enough for at least one person to buy it. So I suggest that you continue to keep up with news items as one source. And you are good about talking about other authors’ books, but not to the exclusion of everything else. I enjoyed your visuals, too.
      I think you have a very nice blog.

      I did a Google search for your blog. I suggest that you see if you can get an IT person to set the algorithm so your blog shows up first under your name, particularly because there is also a D. Anne Love blogging and her results seem to get mixed in with yours.

      • Anne Love July 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

        Wow, how very wonderful Tamela. I really didn’t expect that, but I’ll sure take it to heart. Thanks so kindly. :)

    • Jeanne Takenaka July 25, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Anne, as for the blank page, don’t we all deal with that sometimes? :) Edie Melson has a blog (The Write Conversation), and she lists Holidays for the next month on the last Thursday of the current month, if that makes sense. There are holidays for each day, each week, as well as things that are celebrated for the month (I.e chocolate lovers month). I’ve found this helpful for spurring ideas. Just thought I’d share.

      • Anne Love July 25, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

        Great ideas Jeanne. Thanks.

  2. Ron Estrada July 25, 2013 at 4:18 am #

    I’m torn because I love blogging about writing. But it seems like there’s too many writers already blogging on that topic. On my blog for the family business I can write about RVing, camping, towing, etc., and we do very well with it, but it’s not really something that would draw attention to my Real Writer’s Blog. What do you think? Is it okay to blog about the writing process, or am I limiting my readership?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 6:50 am #

      Ron, there are indeed lots of blogs on writers and writing. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t blog about writing. You will find your audience, just as readers will find their favorits authors’ books. As long as you offer value, your blog should hsve measurable success. I realize “success” is defined differently by various people, but I would measure success as, “Do I have a loyal, active readership who appreciates my work?” I recommend striving for that as a goal rather than 100,000 subscribers who seem to be ignoring you for the most part.

      I visited your “Mystery Over Easy” blog and I’d say continue to work on your blog as one of the go-to places for suspense and mystery writers in particular. Yes, it’s a niche of a niche, but would distinguish yours from other writing blogs. This is, of course, just a thought.

      The only drawback I see to this in relation to the RV blog is that you have committed to two blogs. And you are right, the audiences have very little natural overlap. Sure, lots of people like to both camp and read mysteries, but few in that category will want to read blogs about both topics. I’d stay organized like you obviously already are and you’ll be fine!

  3. Frank Ball July 25, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    The percentage of people who read an entire blog is inversely proportional to the word count. Four blogs of 250 words is ten times better than one blog of 1,000 words.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 6:53 am #

      Frank, I think that’s great advice. As you may have noted, when I have a topic I just can’t address in a shorter blog, I try to break it up into sections with subtitles or make a bullet list so readers can make a quick scan and garner my main points quickly. Those who feel passionate about the topic can certainly choose to stop and read every word.

  4. Karen Robbins July 25, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    I’ve been blogging since 2004 and my blog has evolved along with my brand: Wandering Writer. It started out more as a journal but then to be different (I agree Ron, too many writers on writing) I started writing about all the travel we were doing and interspersing travel tips, books to read on the road, etc., all with some kind of travel connection even if only to my backyard.

    Yes, Frank, I personally don’t spend time on a blog that’s too long. I don’t have the time to read a lot of them. They have to catch my attention first then be short enough that I can absorb a couple of things from them. I try to keep my posts between 250 and 500 words. If I have too much information, I break it up into two posts. Since I post five days/week, that helps with having enough content.

    And Anne, since I post so much, that blank page is a challenge sometimes but then one of the reasons I keep blogging is to challenge myself as a writer. When I was writing columns for newspapers and magazines, I had to come up with good content and on a regular basis. Blogging helps to keep me on my writing toes (no, I don’t type with my toes–only metaphorically).

    Tamela, You make great points! I wish visibility were a little easier to handle. I do Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (my travel pictures work well there) but haven’t tried Instagram. I’m trying to look at other travel blogs and leave comments to help drive traffic. Maybe that will help boost the traffic. Mine’s not bad but I’d like to see more. After all, if they like my blog, maybe they’ll like my books.

  5. Lynn Morrissey July 25, 2013 at 7:05 am #

    Tamela, do you know Kathi Macias? Your name is so famliar! =] I think all you said in your article is spot-on, and I would also concur with your readers’ comments. When I read blogs, I feel that quality is king. I want to read excellent writing. That said, if a blog is burgeoning with excessive words, graphics, and photos, I tend to skim, zone out, and ultimately exit quickly. In terms of format, I don’t read blogs with tiny print or too-dark backgrounds that are hard on the eyes. I’m not sure why so many bloggers prefer miniscule print. I want to read what they have to say, but I won’t linger long to battle with it. I also love blogs where the blogger interacts with readers. If he leaves room for comments on the blog, I think many readers love him to respond to them, personally. It can also be disappointing when a blogger responds to some readers, but not all. So I greatly appreciated your personal response and encouragement to Anne. Christian blogs, in particular, are a form of ministry, so this personal interaction with readers really expands upon that. As for your comments on topic focus, what are your thoughts on a memoir-ish blog? Some of my favorite blogs are lyrically written about all manner of subjects from the bloggers’ lives, not just one particular aspect. Maybe living life *is* the topic! Also, I wonder if you would comment on the need for visual images to enhance the blog? I have been praying seriously about blogging, but I’m NO photographer! It seems to me that most successful bloggers include gorgeous photos, and this prospect has stopped me dead in my tracks. (Also, some bloggers don’t seem to attribute credit for their photos, which is wrong). Conversely, though, I realize someone like Tim Challies is quite successful and incorporates narry a photo. Your thoughts, Tamela? Also, I’m a new reader to Steve’s blog, so maybe this has been covered; but if you (or he) could write an article about how, when, why to start a blog, I’d be most grateful!
    Blessings,
    Lynn Morrissey

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 7:33 am #

      Lynn, thank you for being a new reader of our blog! Yes, I do know Kathi and have known her for years. She and I are great friends.

      As for posting, you pose many excellent questions. I see nothing wrong with a blog about your life. Not every blog can or should exist to sell or promote a product or service. It’s your blog and you determine your topic. What you will have to decide is, “Can I reach an audience I’m satisified with by writing about my life?” True, some people you know only on social media may take a liking to your blog but otherwise, a memoir may be read primarily by your immediate friends and family. For example, one of my cousins writes adorable posts about our family but I think even she would admit the posts are of interest primarily to us. On the flip side, The Steve Laube Agency blog has many readers. However, I don’t tell my family my feelings will be hurt if they don’t read my Thursday posts, because they aren’t publishing professionals.

      To draw strangers to your blog, I recommend that you slant it to an audience. Choose an aspect of your life you want to focus on and make that the centerpiece of your blog. It can be something esoteric such as happiness and success, or concrete such as the favorite time period you experienced firsthand. Then get the word out. These are just ideas.

      As for photos, you can subscribe to services that offer stock photos for a small fee. This is the perfect solution for those who don’t care to devote the time and patience to taking their own photos! However, if you are writing a memoir, you should have plenty of photos from the past you can post. I always like to see photos associated with memoirs, personally.

      As for responding to each comment, I decide on a weekly basis how to respond. Yes, I would like to respond to each comment but often the comments don’t need individual responses. For instance, my post last week generated lots of personal stories. I read and enjoyed each and every one and really appreciate everyone for sharing. But I felt that for me to insert, “Wow, that’s awesome!” or “Thanks for sharing!” after each post would just inflate the comments section with static. This week, the comments really are lending themselves to major feedback. So I hope you will stick with me and understand that I don’t always comment on each statement and why.

      I hope I covered everything. :)

      • Lynn Morrissey July 25, 2013 at 8:26 am #

        Tamela, thank you so much! Yes, you covered everything excellently. When I was referring to a memoir-ish blog, I was thinking of someone like Ann Voskamp or my friend Shelly Miller, who seem to draw spontaneously straight from their lives without a particular, over-arching theme….though Ann does seem to concentrate, on second thought, mostly on the theme of family and a Christ-centered life. I am passoinate about journaling and wrote a book about it (Multnomah), but I’m wondering if that topic would be too narrow for a blog. I’m prayerful, and if God leads me to blog, I know He’ll reveal the thrust. Your comments are so helpful here, and I do get what you’re saying about how/when to make them. It’s just that some bloggers *never* comment, and then I, as commenter, feel as if I am responding in a vacuum. So again, thank you for taking the time to having responded. Yes, I’ll stick w/ you, and any friend of Kathi’s…….!!!! I love her and we’ve been close for a number of years now. So YOU are the Tamela to whom she so fondly refers! I can see why!
        Blessings and thanks,
        Lynn

  6. Lynn Morrissey July 25, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Wow, that was a LOT of “also’s”!!! =]

  7. Lynn Morrissey July 25, 2013 at 7:09 am #

    I just had a thought: When I asked you if you would cover a new topic, Tamela, it occurs to me that this would be one way for bloggers to discover new writing topics…….just ask their readers what they would like covered.

  8. Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    Karen, your blog is lovely and your photos are excellent enough to make a wall calendar. And it’s easy for blog visitors to find your books. Since you write mysteries, the tie-in itself is more limited than if you were writing “Europe on $10 a Day” or something similar, but you indeed may find new readers once those readers visit your blog.

    I did a Google search on your name and I found a Karen S. Robbins, children’s author, whose results come up before yours, and an attorney is #1. Your results came in sixth for me. Perhaps an IT person can help your blog come up sooner.

    I wouldn’t say this to every author, but I believe you are missing a huge opportunity with Instagram. For an expert photographer, this social media hangout is a great way to find people who may want to learn more about you. One of my daughters posts her photos — everything from professional quality to cell phone snapshots — to Instragram often and she has lots of followers — more there than anywhere else she posts on social media.

    I did a Google search for promoting your book through Instagram and the page filled up with results on how to promote your business through Instagram. I suggest that your time may be well spent to investigate. Just a thought.

    • Karen Robbins July 25, 2013 at 7:29 am #

      Wow, Tamela, I had no idea Instagram could be that good. I’ll look into it. Thanks!

  9. Laura Jackson July 25, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    These are great tips. I’m a new author (first book coming out in Feb. 2014), and although I’ve used my blog for years for book reviews, I’m struggling to add more writing type posts.

    Also, it’s hard having a common name like Laura Jackson when you think about search results.

    I agree that Instagram is a great, fast tool. I love it, and with the popularity of Memes, it’s an easy way to share images with lines from your book, release info, etc. The only thing is Instagram crops a little off your picture, so have your info in the middle.

    Sorry to digress. :)

    authorlaurajackson.blogspot.com

  10. Cristine Eastin July 25, 2013 at 7:48 am #

    Tamela, this post is the blog tips I’ve been looking for! In a year of blogging it’s been frustrating because it just hasn’t taken off like I’d hoped. I’m also on Facebook and have a Community Page and have everything linked. My purpose for all of it is to create a community that might be interested in my novel’s eventual publication (Lord willing). BUT if I don’t post things that are of benefit to the reader, it’s for naught. I’m first and foremost aware that my blogging is for the reader, not me!
    I think I have a focus, but it’s more like foci: maybe the three or four foci I have are too many.
    I’m also an amateur photographer, and most of the photos on my blog are mine. It seems readers like pretty pictures. But you photo posters be warned, it’s incredibly easy to steal photos off the social media. So, if you care about that, protect your photos somehow. I didn’t know about Instagram. That will be my next stop to check out.
    I’ll be referring back to this post and the comments to keep trying to increase my effectiveness at blogging!

    • Jeanne Takenaka July 25, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      Can you protect your photos via Instagram? I’ve been posting more of my own photos and wondering about protection…..

      • Laura Jackson July 25, 2013 at 11:00 am #

        Jeanne, I’ve seen a lot of people put a watermark on their picture across the bottom and some on the center with their name. I don’t know if that keeps someone from stealing it, but it would make it a little more difficult.

      • Jeanne Takenaka July 25, 2013 at 11:16 am #

        Thanks, Laura. I’ll have to figure out how to do this.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 26, 2013 at 8:13 am #

      Cristine, you get major brownie points from me for using the word foci!

  11. Dakota Rae Smits July 25, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Great post. I am very new to the writing world. I started my blog to have a place to record my own thoughts and save great articles and websites that have been helpful to me.
    So, I have kept all my posts strictly on the topic of writing – until about a week ago when I posted something about baking sourdough bread and what it has taught me about writing.
    I was shocked that my view count for that day quadrupled. I’m not sure what it was about baking (maybe some new bakers wandered over?) or sourdough, but it seemed to bring in some more people.
    Not sure if it translates into meaningful traffic, as it didn’t generate more comments, etc. But something for me to think about.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

      Dakota Rae, you have a good point — you may have brought in people who did a search for “bread” and “sourdough bread” recipes when they were thinking about what to have for dinner. :)

      • Anne Love July 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

        You probably tapped into the foodie tribe! :)

  12. Meghan Carver July 25, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    When I started blogging a couple of years ago, I quickly eliminated the possibility of blogging about writing. I just didn’t think I had the authority to pull it off. I flip-flopped for a while, and then, about a year and a half ago, it clicked. I’m a homeschooling mother of six, and I finally realized I might have a bit to offer about homeschooling and parenting. There are a ton of those blogs already out there, but mine has grown consistently over the past year, and now I’m also a regular contributor to another blog. It’s not been easy, but I think I’ve developed loyal blog readers who, hopefully, will turn into loyal book readers. (Some of them, I think, think of me as a Titus 2 woman, although I’m only in my early forties!)

    All of your points have worked for me, Tamela, but I would emphasize offering something of value. I’ve read too many blogs that start with the title, “How to (fill in the blank).” But when I read through the entire thing, the blogger never really explains how to do it. They end up simply stating that they are doing whatever-it-is. Don’t cheat the reader or they won’t come back.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Absolutely, Meghan. I would suggest to bloggers that the best way not to cheat the reader by accident is to make out a bullet point list of what you want to share, then elaborate on each point. That way, you know before posting that you have enough information for a good article.

  13. Evinda Lepins July 25, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    Tamela,
    thank you for another great informative post! And I realize you are incredibly busy, but thought I could borrow you for a minute! After completing my first book three years ago, I was introduced to blogging — I had no idea what it was! The evolution of it has been mind-boggling and I believe divinely ordained. I received confirmation that I was/is what I was to do and have published three books because of it. My dilemma is that few know about the blog which is a “coffee hour” and consists of mini series. I know it’s not a matter of my faith or faithfulness, or lack thereof, but would love some critique. If/when you have a few moments, could you join me for Coffee Hour and A Cup of Hope for the Day @ http://www.chicklitpower.com/blog ?
    Blessings
    Evinda

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      Evinda, you seem to be blogging not to promote a book or one lone product, but aim to be part of people’s lives. Your blogs seem to be going for an audience of people who want to participate in a study online. This is a great thing, and I like what you have to say in your installments. Because you have a ministry (or mission, in the secular vernacular), and because you sell merchandise, your marketing reminds me a lot of FlyLady, http://www.flylady.net/. She talks about decluttering and cleaning. She sends out lots of email testimonials, etc., about her products and stories about people decluttering. Perhaps one way you could expand your ministry is to start an email list where people can share. I know FlyLady also works quite a bit by word of mouth, which is how I heard about her. I don’t know if setting up a big email list will be too much work, but it might be a way to take your ministry to the next level. It creates a sense of community and lets people know they are not alone. Just a thought.

      • Evinda Lepins July 25, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

        Tamela,
        thanks so very much for taking the time to check it out:) It started as a blog to build a reading audience and has exploded into something else:) Anyway, I have a hard time promoting my books??? Any suggestions? When people come to our workshops and hear me speak, they usually purchase one or all, but I’m not a big promoter of self!! I do have my own website now, http://www.evindalepins.com and the blog links to CPM’s blog page (had to get me off of CPM website stuff to form 501 (c)(3).
        Again, thank you tons!I truly appreciate your precious time:)
        Joyfully,
        Evinda

      • Tamela Hancock Murray July 26, 2013 at 8:04 am #

        Evinda, marketing is another topic! Terry Whalin and Mike Hyatt have both written books on promotion so you might want to check out their work.

      • Terry Whalin July 26, 2013 at 8:39 am #

        Tamela and Evida. Great conversation about blogging. I have a free ebook on blogging and a free teleseminar on the topic at: http://www.askterrywhalin.com Also my blog on the Writing Life has a great deal about marketing and promotion: http://www.thewritinglife.ws Use the search tool in the right hand column–scroll down and you will find it. My blog has over 1200 searchable entries. I hope this helps you.

  14. Carol Moncado July 25, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    I love to blog, but like someone else said, you let one day go and then it’s been six months… I’m working on it. Mostly. Once the kids go back to school, hopefully it’ll be easier. I do a lot of book reviews and try to blog about fun stuff sometimes as well. Last year, I did a whole bunch of blogs on having Bell’s Palsy while still recovering from plastic surgery after removing skin cancer on your nose. :p Yeah. Little too close to home ;), but I did have a lot of fun [and a lot of plot bunnies!] with it and some new friends.

    I’m still trying to get my new blog sorted out and how I want it to look since I moved from a free WordPress to WordPress hosted on my site. It doesn’t want to do what I want it to do :/. One day, I’d love to start a blog with several other writers [along the lines of Seekerville or Writer's Alley or other, more genre specific, blogs], but that’s still a dream at the moment ;).

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      Carol, I have found through word of mouth that WordPress does have its limitations! I don’t see any reason why you can’t start a blog with some of your friends. Why not? It would allow all of you exposure while spreading out the work. You might consider a fee-based service and that would mean all of you could spread out the cost, too. I’m just throwing out an idea to help you make your dream come true!

  15. floyd July 25, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    Followed Lynn over. Her book on journaling is amazing by the way. Great points and advice, thanks. I follow you on twitter but haven’t seen your tweets for your blog. How do you get the word out specifically for each blog?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 26, 2013 at 8:09 am #

      Floyd, I’m not sure if you were addressing Lynn or me. I do tweet about the blog often. However, you may have missed it because I try to tweet on a variety of topics so I don’t sound like a one-note ad.

  16. Jeanne Takenaka July 25, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Tamela, this is such a helpful blogpost. All the comments are so helpful too! I’ve been blogging almost six months, and I’m fascinated by the process and those who have “followed” me. Some followers were not exactly the audience I was aiming for, but some are. I’ve enjoyed meeting some new people through it too.

    Things I learned before blogging that have already been mentioned was keeping posts short (I aim for 300-500 words), having 2-3 photos to draw a reader’s eye, consistency in posting and having a focus. As a writer with a focus on women’s fiction/contemporary, I opted for writing posts about life, relationships and passions of the heart. These are broad enough for various posting topics, but I hope specific enough to be considered “focused.” :)

    I’m not very good at this, but I’ve read more readers tend to come to your blog if you have links to other places. I’m not sure why, but I’ve found in my stats that those links, when I include them, almost always are clicked on.

    The dialogue here today is great. Thanks for posting on this, Tamela.

    • Jennifer Major July 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

      I enjoy your blog IMMENSELY!!

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 25, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

      Jeanne, you are so welcome!

      I think the links may be helping because you have then drawn in others who are suddenly vested in your blog. People who are mentioned on a blog post are very likely to tweet that link to their followers on social media, hence bringing more traffic to your blog. Great suggestion!

      And yes, your blog does sound focused yet broad.

  17. Georgianne Moisan July 25, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Thank you Tamela! Your blog was really helpful, and I so appreciate all the comments. I hate that I missed all the back and forth comments this morning–I hope you’re still around, Tamela!

    My two biggest problems are consistency and visibility. I started my blog about three months ago, picking what I thought would be an interesting topic. I’m reading through the Bible, and writing about what I’m reading–what God has shown me, thoughts I’ve had on whatever chapter I’m reading. I was trying to post every Monday (forget every day!) but I had a medical snafu and that threw me off. I want to get back to it, and be consistent, but I’m wondering if this is just the wrong topic. But sounds like a blog about writing might not be the the best idea either. Anyone have thoughts on this?

    As far as visibility, Tamela, your comment about getting an IT person to set the algorithm so my blog shows up first under my name was a great suggestion. I wonder if there is a way to add key words that would make the blog more likely to pop up when someone is doing a search. Thanks so much for taking the time to go over this!

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 26, 2013 at 8:11 am #

      Georgianne, I’m not super techie — notice I refer everyone to an IT person. :)

      But as for topics, if you don’t feel your topic is working, try another one. A topic that touches your heart and you enjoy writing about. Visit other blogs and see what they are doing for ideas.

      People roll out “new” blogs all the time, even if they are established. You are just changing, that’s all. Make the rollout exciting and see what happens.

      • Georgianne Moisan July 26, 2013 at 11:30 am #

        Good idea – thanks. You’re more of a techie than I am-I had a vague idea what an IT person, no idea what my algorithm was, and even less of an idea how to get some IT person to set it! Pitiful….

  18. Jennifer Major July 25, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    What a great post today!
    I’ve had a presence in the blog world since 2001. Yup, WAAAAY back. But due to some personal reasons, I went “invitation only” a few years ago and don’t regret it at all.
    I struggled with the focus of my public blog, “Tales From The Redhead”, but decided I did my best blogging if I imagined that I was having friends over and we shared a bit about our lives. I’ve done everything from sharing recipes to my mission work in Bolivia to interviewing a person who works in Hollywood.
    And I’m as proud of my Bolivia video entry (“44 seconds with a death-cam”) as I am talking with someone who works with Really Famous People. I won’t say how many hits that got, but it’s umm, more than usual.
    Tomorrow I’m interviewing Lori Benton, and next week it’s back to the travel journal from my trip to Europe.
    My blog is me. Lots of various interests, lots of conversation and hopefully a bit of wisdom thrown in.
    I read industry blogs and could recommend all kinds of them, which most of you already know about.
    One blog I HIGHLY recommend? “Katy in a corner”.
    You can find her here:http://katyinacorner.com
    Prepare to laugh.

  19. Natasha July 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Hi Tamela,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while but this is my first time commenting. Thanks for all the great material here!

    This post really hits the nail on the head from what I’ve experienced. I’ve been blogging for a year and a half and have grown to a little more than 5,000 readers between Facebook and email subscriptions. I think focus especially has been key – I make sure that every post I write is about Christian parenting and always ask myself, “How will this post help equip a reader to be a better Christian parent?” To the tip list I would add:

    1. Learn how to write posts that draw search engine traffic. I get about 2,000 visitors every month just from Google searches on things related to Christian parenting. This high quality traffic helps my blog grow consistently.

    2. Focus on getting email subscribers, not just social media followers. You have control over information from your email list. You have no control over information from your social media fans.

    3. Make sure you know how to read and make use of data from Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and whatever third party email provider you’re using (e.g., Mail Chimp). Understanding traffic sources and the relative interest in various posts gives you a wealth of information with which to constantly improve your blog.

    Hope that helps someone! :)

  20. Peter DeHaan July 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    As others have mentioned, you also need quality content, which includes interesting topics, great writing, and catchy titles.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 26, 2013 at 8:17 am #

      Peter, I don’t think we mentioned titles or the writing itself so I’m glad you commented. Sometimes people will overlook blah writing if the content is critical to their business, but humor and other “fun” blogs have to be a joy to read. And a good title will grab me, too. Thanks for the thoughts.

  21. Jackie Layton July 25, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    I’ve read your post Tamela and many of the comments. Now I’m wondering if a blog on small town life is really important on not.

    I may need to rethink it.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 26, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      Jackie, don’t worry about being important, so to speak. Worry about whether you enjoy writing the blog and if you are reaching even a small cadre of fans who wouldn’t miss your blog for anything! I follow a couple of fun blogs that no one would call important but they brighten my day.

  22. Mike Martinez September 28, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    The 6 tips you covered pretty much sums it up. I think that bloggers must first identify their their specific target market, and then identify what issues and concerns are “keeping them up at night.” If you can provide valid solutions to your target market, then building a following will happen naturally. The key is good content that solves problems.

  23. Mike Martinez October 1, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    Great post Tamela. The six points you make in the article make sense. However, I would like your take on getting comments. I’ve shared with my social media friends, and manage to get a few comments. But I would like for my post to have more interaction with the readers. Any suggestions?

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