I’m not a blogging expert. And I’m certainly not a social media guru. But I have been blogging long enough that I’ve learned a few things about what can help make blogging successful.
Over the past year, my readership has steadily increased. And one of the factors that has played a role in the increase has to do with presentation. When a writer who’s serious about publication sets up a blog or website, in a sense, they’re hanging out a sign and saying, “open for business.” And as in any type of business, how we present ourselves is important. (Read this post: Maintaining a Professional Blog.)
A blog acts as a writer’s online “office.” It’s open to the public, to literally anyone in the world who wants to stop by. Our offices should reflect us—everything from the color we paint the walls to the pictures and decorations we set out. Sometimes, we can even decorate our cyber office in a way that reflects our writing style or voice. A great example is suspense writer, Brandilyn Collin's blog. The colors, headers, and font all work together to give an aura of suspense.
No matter how we choose to set up our offices, we want them to be inviting places—orderly, easy to read and navigate, and well-maintained. In other words, we want people to be able to stop by our offices, have a great experience, and ultimately desire to come back.
Since I’ve recently blogged about some of the positive things we can do to attract readers and generate more traffic to our blogs, I thought instead, I’d mention a few blogging blunders—things that may be detrimental to our online writing “business.” As with everything I write in my blog posts, I'm merely sharing my opinions. Everyone has the right to blog the way they want. There aren’t any hard fast rules about blogging—that’s one of the beauties of it.
With that said, if we hope to present ourselves as growing professionals in the writing industry, then we should think twice before doing the following:
Blunder #1: Not having our name clearly visible.
Occasionally, I visit writer blogs and I can’t find the blogger’s name anywhere. I’m not sure why some writers choose to avoid displaying their names. But those of us serious about publication have to get serious about having our names out there. If we’re too afraid to put it on our blogs, how will we cope with having it on our books?
It’s never too early to promote our names—on our blogs, in the comments we leave, with our twitter username, etc. The more places the better. From the start, we should use the name that we’ll put on our books. We should display it in the header of our blogs, and if not there, then it should be somewhere at the top of our blogs where everyone can see it right away.
Blunder #2: Not having our contact information easily accessible.
Yes, there are spammers. And yes, there are privacy issues involved in revealing our email addresses. But again, those of us serious about publication need to get used to the idea of having an email address that’s readily available—especially for future readers. We won’t be able to hide after publication, so why hide at all?
And what if an agent, editor, or other industry professional wanted to contact us? It’s been known to happen! What if they couldn’t find an email address?
Individuals and businesses who hope to succeed need to make themselves accessible. I have a Contact tab at the top of my blog. Listing our email address can suffice also. To avoid most spammers, we should spell out our emails. For example, whenever I put my email address on my blog I write it as: jodyhedlund (at) jodyhedlund (dot) com. Anyone wishing to contact me would fill in the area in parenthesis with the symbols.
Blunder #3: Focusing too much on ourselves.
I like blogs that are personal, especially when the writer shares about their experiences in their unique voice. But I like it even better when I come away after reading it challenged or changed in some way. In other words, I think there’s a difference between those who write to serve primarily themselves and those who write for their readers too.
If we’re only thinking about ourselves, it’s going to show. I’m not an advocate of posting large chunks of our stories within blog posts as a way to get critiques or to get noticed. I’m also not a fan of making a big deal of how many followers we have or don’t have. We're better to exude quiet confidence rather than chance coming across as desperate. If we’re hoping to present ourselves as professionals, then our “shop talk” is best left to the privacy of those closest to us.
So those are some of my opinions! What are yours? Are there other blogging blunders that you would add to the list? Or do you think we should do what we want in blogging and not worry about what anyone else thinks?