Saturday, August 9, 2014

10 Tips to Jump-Start Your Writing Blog

Have I mentioned that I’m obsessed with research? Right now my favorite topic is social media. I am fascinated by the way we devour it. So many platforms, so little time! Some of them I’ve embraced willingly, like Facebook. Pinterest? I’m addicted. I love collecting things, and hoarding is perfectly acceptable there. Others I’m slowly adding to my repertoire.

This obsession has grown from my realization that using social media is vital to writers. Sadly most of us can’t just rely on our lovely words to land us an agent or a publishing contract, so we go to work on our author platforms. It can be a daunting proposition, but it doesn’t have to be as frightening as we think.

Jayel Aheram via Compfight cc

Starting Your Blog

The first step, if you don’t already have one, is to start a blog. Don’t worry, it’s much easier than you think. There are lots of great tutorials out there. Two of the most common free blogging sites are Blogger and WordPress. I use Blogger, but we use WordPress for the collective writing site ReadWriteMuse. There are pros and cons to both. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

I must admit that I put off starting my blog for far too long. I was worried about whether I would have something interesting or relevant to say. Now I know that I don’t have to be an expert on everything. The old adage “write what you know” is true here more than anywhere. The struggles and journey you are taking as a writer give you many topics to explore.

Determining Your Goal

The key is determining the goal of your blog. Do you want to tell stories of your life like a journal or a writing sample? Or do you want to share your experiences in a way that other people can use the information themselves?

I follow a beautifully written blog by a writer who is chronicling her journey as a single mom. It is very personal and not a blog that is followed by a lot of people. Strung together as a whole it would make a powerfully moving book, but I don’t think the intention is to grow a platform.

If your goal is to establish an author platform, then you must write posts with your audience in mind.

Finding Your Audience

Don’t worry – writing for your audience isn’t as painful as it sounds! As a writer, you probably have already found your voice. Your personality is important, and blogging can be as informal as you are.

The important point to remember is incorporating points that your readers can take away with them. Tell them about your struggles, but show them how your fight can help them in their own battles. You know much more than you think! Those quirky things you do that help you write – they just might give someone else that breakthrough they’ve needed.

Lotus Carroll via Compfight cc


  1. Make an interesting bio page with a professional picture. Fun or interesting is okay, but you don’t want to look crazy here.
  2. Always use images in your blog posts. Visuals are what draw the eye, and you must have an image so you can pin your post to Pinterest, or post to Facebook, or other visual platforms. Visual break up your text and keep readers' attention. Be sure you have license, like Creative Commons, for the picture. (More on using images in my next post.)
  3. Whenever possible, use headers to break up your text into sections. People skim through blog posts, and this attracts their eye to important parts of your post.
  4.  Always cite your sources. Be sure you have permission, like Creative Commons license, for an image and cite the source. Share from other sites, but be sure you link appropriately. And when you have a few posts up, you can backlink to related content on your own site.
  5. Use short paragraphs. They are easier to read and force people to slow down. Long paragraphs can make people skip ahead or stop reading altogether.
  6. Be consistent and post regularly. You don’t have to post every day, but make yourself a schedule and stick to it.
  7. Make sure you have social media sharing buttons on your page so that people can share your posts. Good ones to start with are Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, and Stumbleupon. Be sure to share your own posts.
  8. Display your own social media links on your blog. You want your readers to follow you on other platforms as well.
  9. Use tags. Tagging helps people locate posts. Use popular hashtags as well.
  10. Answer every comment. Engaging with your readers and starting a discussion is crucial.

.reid. via Compfight cc

Take these tips and go blog away!

I’m going to continue posting about social media and writer platform in the upcoming weeks, so if you are interested in the topic please follow my page.

Let me know: How has blogging impacted your writer platform and your social media presence?

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  1. You nailed all of these comments, Natalie!

    I think I can't underestimate the important of establishing exactly what your goal for a website is, nor the importance of narrowing and identifying your target audience. I wish I had taken this advice much more seriously at the beginning. People told me to sit down and figure that out, but I kind of brushed them off. Because obviously that's not THAT important.

    Yeah, right. I wish I wasn't so prideful sometimes ;)

  2. Thanks, Katie! There is so much good advice out there that it's almost overwhelming. I agree with you - knowing your audience is so important. And it really helps you when you sit down to write. But I have to admit that taking advice can be hard, even when it's my own!

  3. I am not very good at any of these things... I need to start. Thank goodness I have help! You ROCK!

    1. It's not as hard as you think, Andrea! And I'm always happy to help out :)

  4. This is great advice. I think I will spend some time tomorrow, using this as a checklist on my own blog. Good stuff!

    1. I'm so glad you found it helpful, LaDonna! Thanks for stopping by :)

  5. This is advice I need right now! Thanks so much

    1. Tori, I'm so glad you found it helpful! Thanks for taking the time to comment. Best of luck in your blogging :)