Effective Blogging

Yesterday we talked about the fact that agents and editors are putting more and more importance on blogging and other internet connections as ways for writers to build their platforms.

If we're planning to blog to build connections, then how can we blog most effectively to achieve that goal?

I follow quite a number of blogs and I know many of you do too. Let's consider for a moment what kinds of things make a blog attractive to a reader:
  • They're not too long, have short paragraphs, and are easy to read.

  • The content applies to something we're dealing with.

  • They contain a question that we can comment about.

  • They may offer words of encouragement.

Can you think of other things that make a blog attractive to a reader?

As I was considering which blogs are most attractive to me, I realized I like the blogs of people that I sense are genuine. Here are a few ways I think bloggers can be genuine:

  • If someone leaves a comment on your blog for the first time, take the time to go over to their blog to thank them and leave a return comment.

  • If someone signs up to be a follower on your blog, take a few minutes to go to their blog, and sign up to follow theirs (if appropriate).

  • If someone leaves a comment on your blog, attempt to give a personal response to let them know you read what they said and appreciate their input. (or email a response)

  • Get to know the people in your blogging community personally; show genuine interest in them and the things in their lives.

What are other ways you believe bloggers can be genuine in their networking?

Author, Karen Witemeyer summarized the need to be genuine last week in one of her comments on Rachelle Gardner's blog. She said:

So many new writers who are focused on the goal of "getting there" see networking as trying to win the favor of big name authors, the top editors, and the most prestigious agents. And as charming as they try to be, it is obvious that genuine concern is lacking. Those we are trying to impress can sense that we only want to be in their circle to further our own careers. Instead of trying to smooze these big names, form relationships with people who are at the same developmental stage as we are on this journey. The relationships will be genuine and as the success of the group grows, you will find a network already in place. And beyond that, you will have true friendships that will last a lifetime.

So, what do you think? How can we blog most effectively? Here are my questions again: What makes a blog attractive to a reader? How can bloggers be genuine?


  1. I know it's kind of silly, but I'm a visual person...I like cool pictures too. I agree with all the things that attract you.

    I think you do a wonderful job of responding to people's thoughts, Jody. It's one reason I love to visit your blog every morning.

    ~ Wendy

  2. I like/enjoy blogs that are either one of two things: helpful, or probing. Probing? I don't know if that's the right word. Blogs that make you think, or reflect. Helpful blogs are awesome - anything I can use and apply to my writing is great. Blogs that make me reflect/think are just plain enjoyable.

    I agree with the importance of being authentic or genuine. Richard Marbry also discussed this as a guest blogger on Rachell's blog. If the only reason we're doing all this is to get ahead... then I think that will show. The best relationships are the ones that come about naturally. The ones that are sincere. :)

  3. Jody,

    I love your blog. You always have something informative or inspiring to say. Your blog today especially caught my eye, as it's something I am struggling with lately. I'm caught between being a writer and a mother and not sure which to blog about some days. Both are such an important part of my life! I also love your comments about being genuine. :)

    Thank You for your wonderful words once again!!!

  4. I think you've listed all the top reasons for me. It's what I seek; it's what I strive to put out.

    And Karen Witemeyer's words are very wise!

  5. Hi Wendy,
    I like the pictures you put on your blog! You always have one that captures the essence of what your post is about! Someone (maybe you!) should do a blog post about where to get pictures and how to give the photographer credit. I tend to stick to the free sights, but always struggle to find just the right picture.

    Thanks for being so encouraging! I've noticed its something you do well! :)

  6. Man, great questions. I hope mine is genuine.
    I agree about visiting people who comment. I think it's courteous. Did I spell that right?
    Once I'm published I might have to just set aside one day, depending on how the schedule is, for commenting, but I hope I'm never too busy to care about people and where they're at in their journey.
    Wonderful post, Jody!

  7. Oh, these are good questions, Jody. They're making me reassess my own blog posts.

    I actually like blogs that occasionally share a bit about the writer's life. Helps me get to know the authors of books I hope to read some day. Watching writers traverse this journey helps me feel like I'm not alone, and I really do consider the owners of most of the blogs I visit as cyber friends. Writing is a very solitude endeavor, having cyber friends helps keep me sane and interactive with humans in at least some feasible way since time to go out and play with friends is limited when your a wife, mom, church member with responsiblities, and a writer.

    As for being genuine. Again, I think that comes through when the owners are willing to share some of themselves in their posts, including writing related topics to help others succeed. You do a great job of this Jody. I feel your passion for your writing journey and your willingness to share what you've learned along the way. Thank You!

  8. Hi Katie,
    Do you like blogs that make you think really hard? Just wondering if readers tend to skip through blogs where they have to think too long and hard to answer the questions? Since most of us are trying to limit our time with blogging, I usually come back to the posts that need a more thoughtful answer after I've had time to think. I hate to write something just to write it!

    And I loved Richard Mabry's post last week. I read Karen's comment in response to his post. It was so thought-provoking!

  9. Hi Marybeth,
    Thank you so much for your sweet words! I also struggle with how much personal information to share vs. writing business stuff! I really do like the blogs that have the personal touch too! And you do a good job of weaving funny family anecdotes in with other encouraging posts. I've just loved some of your stories (like the one about the ants!). It's fun to get to know other writers on a more personal level.

  10. Hi Janna,
    You do a great job with your blog! I've enjoyed reading your posts!

  11. Hi Jessica,
    You are very genuine. You are one of the first bloggers I met and I was so impressed with your blog and how you made such great efforts to comment on other blogs. And I like how you focus on different writing aspects that help remind me of things I need to keep working on. Thank you!

  12. Hi Eileen,
    I totally agree! Writing is so solitary and we need each other. I consider you (and others) to be my community of writing friends (as Karen Witemeyer mentioned). We're all on the writing path at about the same level. We're encouraging one another and supporting each other to stay on course. And someday we'll be each other's cheerleaders when we each start to get published. What a joy that will be!

  13. I agree with you on this. I love a good visual. I like to learn something. I love humor when possible. It has been great for me to meet a group of fellow writers, and I think it is important to keep in mind that we all can rise together as we network.

  14. This is an awesome roundup! I think you've pinpointed many things that make a good blog. I follow blogs that are either (1) informative and helpful to me as a writer, (2) promise genuine, friendly interaction from the blog author - either as a friend or fellow writer. That said, I follow a lot of blogs.

    I'm planning on doing a series (or one if I can fit it all in) posts for creating a visually appealing blog. I had a blog reader who asked specifically about it, and now I'm wanting to expound and do as he suggests - give some pointers. I don't know how well I'll do, but I'll try! That might not happen until next week. My plate keeps piling higher ...

    Thank you for such an awesome series of posts on blogging! I've quite enjoyed it. :)

  15. Hi lotusgirl,
    Humor is always good! Great point! And you're right, we can rise together as we genuinely network together!

  16. Good suggestions, helpful. I've been blogging for all of, oh, 5 weeks now. So, any and all suggestions are helpful. Keeping it short and the attitude of genuiuneness were very helpful. Thanks.

  17. Hi Lady Glamis,
    I would be very interested in hearing your take on how to create a visually appealing blog. You do a great job with your blog and follow a lot of blogs. You probably have learned a LOT about what makes a blog appealing and what doesn't! I'll look forward to that post or posts! Sounds like you've got a few more strawberries on the plate this week! But you're doing a great job. Keep up the good work!

  18. Hi Warren,
    Thanks for stopping by! I'm still learning myself what makes a successful blog! I've learned a lot by looking at other blogs and what makes them appealing to me. Best of luck to you!

  19. I do enjoy photographs on blogs, both on others, and using them on my own. Sometimes the photograph alone will inspire my post/question. Also in being genuine, I enjoy sites like yours where a dialogue gets going in the comments, as though we're all stopping by for a visit, learning from eachother.

  20. I feel all blogs should have at least a touch of playfulness ;-)

  21. The only two things I disagree with are following those who follow you and personally emailing commenters. Taking that last point first, I find that most bloggers don't have their email addresses in their profiles. So now I have to try a website, where again I often don't find an email address.

    I respond to comments on my blog on my blog, and if it's a first-time commenter, I go to their blog and comment there at least 99% of the time.

    As far as following, truthfully, I'm not sure what it's about although I have that widget on my blog. More for other people than for me. I read blogs through Google Reader which is fast and efficient but also means I don't see the widgets on people's blogs, only the posts. Also, although I read a whole lot of blogs, I'm not sure I want everyone to know everything that I read. Feels too open. I'm a pretty voluminous commenter so folks tend to know if I read their blogs.

    So folks, if I'm not following you, don't assume I'm not reading your blog. More than likely I am, at least on occasion. It would be impossible to read the blog of everyone who ever reads mine. I already read about 60 per day.

  22. Jody, the idea of good questions is what I needed to be reminded of today. I love responding to comments, I wish more people would leave a comments. Inspiring post.

  23. Hi Joanne,
    I have really enjoyed the photographs on your blogs! You do such a great job tying the picture into something for your readers to think about and comment on. I like feeling like we're a community and chatting with each other! It's part of the blessing of blogging!

  24. Hi Rebecca,
    You have that playfulness on your blog for sure!

  25. I'm not as worried about the success of my blog as I am the people I meet. I love to follow blogs that are genuine and weave the personal journey into the post. It helps me to see I'm not the only writer struggling with the balance of my work time and family. I usually skip through a blog that is stiff and makes me take the time to decipher the meaning. I really don't have the time. But then again I love to read about great writing tips and advice. Just as long as it's not text book;) And I LOVE the LOOK of your blog!

  26. Jody-- I started reading your blog because it was genuine and about writing and there is a warmth about it. THat must be you coming through:)
    I try to share about myself now and then but I hate to bore people too with too much so I think there is a need for balance in a blog.

  27. Hi Patricia,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this whole process! I just love hearing everyone's opinions. It helps me to understand how different people view blogging!

    I do have a few regulars to my blog that are not followers. I'm not sure about the whole follower thing yet, either! But I guess I've decided that I can show support of that person when I sign up to follow their blog. Those that follow my blog, get my top priority. I add them to my side bar of updated blogs; so they are the first blogs I read on days that I'm especially busy. It's a system that's working for me so far!

    But everyone is different! Isn't that the beauty of it? Thanks for reading my blog and offering your insights! I appreciate it!

  28. Hi Robin,
    Thanks for stopping by! I do think asking questions is a great way to get people to leave a comment. Although I also respond to really encouraging posts as well!

  29. Hi Jody,

    When I started reading your blog, your generosity and kindness came across immediately. I like kind and generous people, so I keep coming back! (Plus, your content is always top-notch!)

    I've learned a lot from how you respond to your bloggers. I think the "watercooler" effect where we're commenting and having a discussion is a huge draw. I always come back later to see what's going on.

    Thanks so much!

  30. Hi Chelle,
    I am so with you! My eyes tend to glaze over blogs that are like a text book! We just don't have the time. The personal, helpful, thoughtful, encouraging. . .those are the ones that keep drawing me back! We especially need to see that we're not alone in this writing journey!

  31. Hi Terri,
    Thank you! I appreciate your blog's warmth too. You have a way of weaving your personal experiences through it and somehow being able to tie it into a writing question! I'm not so good at that yet, but I'm learning!

  32. Hi Jill,
    I love the "watercooler" analogy! That's so true! That would be a great title for a blog, wouldn't it? Anyone want to take it?

    The Writer's Watercooler

    Sounds good, doesn't it?! Anyway, we do need each other for our sanity! And I'm just loving the relationships I'm gaining at the watercooler! I've been encouraged and blessed beyond what I ever imagined!

  33. I think if you be let yourself be "yourself", it comes across in your blog posts. Also, I've visited some blogs and made comments and have NEVER had any contact either on their blog or mine. It was like they were in a black hole somewhere. Eventually, I stopped visiting their blog. It was like getting the cold shoulder. Brrrr! LOL!

  34. That's a good summary of what to look for in a blog. I love it when blog authors respond to comments (maybe not every single one, but here and there--particularly from new followers). It makes me feel like they're truly looking at what people have to say and they care about the interaction. Most of the blogs I follow are fellow writers blogs and I always seem to learn something from them.

  35. I agree with Cindy. When people take the time to comment, they're starting a conversation. Sometimes the interaction in the comment section becomes an extension of the original post.

    Susan :)

  36. Hi Jennifer,
    YES!! What a great point! I have felt the exact same way. I have left comments on blogs and then never heard back! It does leave you feeling like you've been given the cold shoulder! I think the polite thing to do is respond in some way!

  37. Hi Cindy,
    I've seen bloggers respond in different ways. Some group responses together, some respond individually, some respond sporadically, and some don't respond at all. I wonder what most people like? That would be a good questionnaire for someone to post on their blog! I guess each person needs to find out what works best for them, right? I think I'm still trying to figure that out.

  38. Hi Susan,
    Sometimes when I read the comment sections, I actually learn even more than from the post itself! That's where I picked up on Karen Witemeyer's comment. It was so insightful!

  39. I agree leaving return comments is just good blog etiquette.

    Also, you're right about there needing to be a sense of genuineness, and I'd even add sincerity.

    I don't know if I always manage to blog effectively, but I hope that I come across as being genuine.

  40. Hi Kate,
    Your blogs are always very real and your personality and writing style are very evident!

  41. I think everyone's covered it. Great post! Thanks.

    Lynnette Labelle

  42. Hi Lynnette,
    I agree! A lot of good stuff covered today! Thanks for dropping over! Happy Writing!

  43. Jody: Thanks for the wonderful post! I enjoy blogs that teach me something, not just about writing, but life in general, and the person writing the blog. It has to be somewhat personal and warm, or I'm not drawn in. Also, because I can't spend a lot of time blogging, I appreciate shorter posts and comments---that way I can visit more blogs!
    Jody, you are an encourager through and through. I appreciate your deeper than skin blog, and your character of kind respect.

  44. I love this! I sometimes have problems with a long blog post on my own... I'm a bit long winded and what you don't know, is that I've probably already gone through and deleted half of what I wrote. LOL. But I'm working on it:-)

    I will read a longer blog post though if it's on a subject that I really care about. But there are limits to the length too.

  45. Jody: Thanks for the wonderful post!
    I enjoy blogs that teach me something, not just about writing, but life in general, and the person writing the blog. It has to be somewhat personal and warm, or I'm not drawn in. Also, because I can't spend a lot of time blogging, I appreciate shorter posts and comments---that way I can visit more blogs!
    I learned recently that the more photos and artwork you have, the longer it takes to load your blog. This is particularly true if a person has dial up internet. Because we live in the country, we have dial up, so I avoid blogs with too many pictures and music. Not because I don't like them, but because it takes ten minutes just to load!
    Jody, you are an encourager through and through. I appreciate your deeper-than-skin blog, and your character of kind respect.
    You are an example to all bloggers!

  46. Hi Krista,
    You really just share from your heart and I appreciate that! Your genuineness comes through on your blog posts and in your comments. You take the time to make your blogs and comments meaningful! It feels like we're actually having a conversation! So thanks!

  47. Hi Jeanette,
    I agree, shorter posts do mean we can read more people's blogs! I hadn't thought about pictures and music slowing down the dial-up folks! But that would be really frustrating to have to wait on that! Boy, you've given me something to think about!

    I appreciate your encouragement! I'm just so thankful that God is leading me to wonderful new blogging friends like you! You'll have to do a post after your conference in June and let us know all of the details. (I'll probably be hounding you to see how it goes! Then I'll know better how to plan for next year!)

    Blessings to you!

  48. Jody, what I have experienced concerning questions is most will leave a comment that has nothing to do with the questions, but what has stood out for them in the post.

    I re-read your post what stood out this time is:
    # Get to know the people in your blogging community personally; show genuine interest in them and the things in their lives.

    Challenging but I agree! You have some great writer friends linked to your page.

  49. Great post, Jody and agree with all your thoughts.

    Blogs that turn me away as those that are overly cluttered with lots of stuff, weird colors that my old eye can't read, political, or the use of swear words.

    The blogs I like to read are those that I can learn something from, plus the person is a good writer, has a sense of humor, and yes seems genuine.

    The bloggers that are genuine really shine through in their blogs: they are positive, welcoming, friendly, and truly care. You don't get a sense of falseness. There aren't any masks hiding the real person.

    I've commented on some blogs and noticed the person will only reply to their 'regulars' and other commentors are treated as if they are invisible. You can guarantee I won't go back to those blogs. They are cliquish and I always disliked that.

    I like what Karen W said, she has some good advice.

    Time to read to James. Have a good evening.

  50. Hi again Robin,
    Thanks for stopping by again! I think that's true: sometimes people will pick out things within our posts that strike them and then comment about it. I know I do that! And it's so cool for us who write the posts to hear such varying perspectives. I know it's totally blessed me!

  51. Hi Robin of My Two Blessings,
    (I had another Robin stop by today, so I wanted to make sure you knew I was talking to you!)

    That would be a quick turn off to get on a cliquish blog! If I only wanted certain people reading my blog, then I would make it private and only open to those people. So, I feel if you have an open blog, and you're trying to network and build community, then make sure you're friendly to everyone, right?

    There are a lot of strange blog backgrounds now that do make it hard to read. I think even in those little things, we need to make our blog as welcoming as possible!

    Great thoughts as always! So, whacha reading with James? I'm reading a Lewis and Clark book called Seaman to my kiddos!

  52. Hi Jody,

    James likes reading to me in the evenings and his favorites right now are the Magic School Bus books. He likes to read and analyze every single page, which takes a while. Even though he's already read the book a dozen times. We are about to start reading Tree in the Trail by Holling for read aloud time. We haven't quite gotten to Lewis and Clark yet. "Seaman" looks good. We have one written by Columbus's parrot which is quite silly.

  53. Hi Robin,
    My kids like the Magic School bus too! It's great when they can get excited about books, isn't it! My 11 year old just finished reading the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It seems like just yesterday he was reading Magic School bus! But it did it's job, it sparked a love of reading that is really strong today!


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