I’m leading a workshop on blogging today at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. For the workshop, I came up with 10 tips I’ve learned over the years that can help you create and maintain a blog that matters. And I wanted to share those with my readers. So here goes….
1. Find Your Lane
This simply means to pick your “thing”, whatever that thing is, and stick with it. Have you ever read a blog that was all over the place? I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to read a blog that has no identity. I always tell people that being “all things to all people” works for evangelism, but not for blogging. You can’t be all things in the blogosphere. It’s nearly impossible. If I tried to start writing about cooking and recipes on my blog, I’d probably lose 99.9% of my audience. Because that’s not my lane.
2. Stay In Your Lane
Car manufacturers have capitalized on a recent consumer concern—overcoming blind spots on the freeway. They created a notification system (that appears in drivers’ rearview mirror) that helps drivers recognize blind spots to avoid changing lanes at the wrong time.
As a writer who wants to create content that matters, you have to create a similar system. Ask yourself some questions: Do my readers really think I’m knowledgeable about this? Is this what they really want to read from me? Is there anyone else out there more qualified to write about this that they’d rather hear from?
3. Write Your Passion
This can also be called finding your why. Why do you do what you do? Why do you write about the topics you write about? Is it a passion that you have? Passion normally produces quality content. Simon Sinek once wrote, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
4. Be Consistent
This tip requires a little subjectivity. Your consistent won’t look like my consistent. Some people can write four or five posts a week. Others can only write once a week.
But if your last blog post is dated 2012, then you probably don’t want to tell people that you’re a blogger. Becoming consistent will create trust with your readers and give them something to be excited about. Whatever schedule you decide on, be consistent!
5. Don’t Be a Stat Tracker
One of my biggest mistakes when I began blogging was tracking stats. I, seriously, woke up every morning checking analytics on post that I wrote the night before. It got to a point where I began to sort of idolize statistics. It was affecting my mood, which would change based on the perceived success or failure of a post that I’ve written.
6. Do the Legwork
I know I mentioned staying in your lane earlier, but have you ever driven on a road where two lanes become three in high traffic areas? Well the same thing happens as your blogging career progress.
There are times when your lane will expand. There are times where you might need to address a subject matter that requires you to do a bit more research.
7. Cherish Being Anonymous
I know that sounds counterintuitive for a workshop dealing with blogging that matters, but hear me out. Blogging can be a very lonely experience. It can be an anonymous experience. There are going to be days when you feel like no one is reading anything you write. It happened to me. That’s when I learned to cherish being anonymous.
In 1 Samuel 16, the prophet is looking for a person to anoint the next king of Israel. He knows a man, Jesse, who has eight sons. He goes through each of the sons. Nope, this isn’t the one. Not him. Nope. Then he asks Jesse, Do you have any more? Jesse throws David’s name out there. Yeah, there’s one more. But he’s just a shepherd. You don’t want him. Samuel asks for David to be brought to him and anoints him king. But David goes right back out to the field the next day. Tending sheep. He was anointed king, but kept tending sheep.
Blogging is just like that. You might feel like you’re anointed to be the next great writer. You might feel like you have a potentially viral post. But God is asking, “How well can you tend the few sheep I’ve given you?” “Can you be faithful over the few things I’ve given you?”
8. Have the Look of a Blogger
Here’s the thing about blogging. Once you tell people you’re a blogger, then you have to have the look of a blogger. That means you have to equip your blog with items that support your claim.
First, you should have your own url? If your url looks like computer coding or a long run on sentence, then it makes it harder to believe that you’re a blogger.
Second thing that helps you have the look of a blogger is that you need to have a decent, easily readable design. Today there are enough reasonably priced templates that offer customization so you can pick a theme that will help distinguish yours from other sites.
9. Be Clear and Concise
I have a system I’d like to suggest you use. I call it the two B’s: Bleed and Bandage. Ernest Hemingway famously quips, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” To this, most people would say, “That’s easy for you to say Hemingway. I mean, you’re Hemingway!”
I’ve found that it is possible to sit and bleed. But in order for that to happen, something has to be cut. Like spending an inordinate amount of time on social media.
It’s important to bandage after you bleed. This is what will make your blog clear and concise. Editing and re-writing blog posts are just as important, if not more important than the original post. It’s what separates good writers from great writers.
10. Find Your “Secret Place”
Find a time and a place to do your writing. As a Christian writer, I like to follow Jesus’ advice in Scripture when he talks about prayer. He says, when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father. For me, writing is a spiritual experience. It’s communing with God to help deliver a message that could change someone’s life.
Where’s your secret place? Where’s the place you commune with God in your writing? Where do you reflect on His word and become aware of his presence in your life? Wherever it may be, find your chair. God will meet you there. And you’ll be not just be a better writer for it, but a better person.