I used to think “blog” was a dirty word.
I refused to start a blog long after blogging was a “thing.” Long after people told me they’d read it. Long after I wanted to, because I couldn’t get past the fact that virtually every mom in America had a blog, and, by and large, nobody read them. I thought, “The last thing the world needs is another mommy blogger filling up cyber space with pictures of her kids.”
The truth was – I was afraid of not being able to create something awesome, and my delicate little first-born-child-ego COULD NOT HANDLE creating something that wasn’t awesome.
But in the 2.5 years since I took the plunge I’ve had no less than 5 posts go viral, I’ve been contacted by bloggers, publications, agents, and editors, and I’ve grown my readership to a respectable little number for a one-writer, one-woman, part-time operation.
I’ve learned a lot along the way – about branding, presentation, promotion, community and more – but today I’m sharing 4 tips I’ve learned about content, which as a writer, is sort of my thing. I need help with images, technology, and business, but content I got.
There are a lot of things you can do to make your blog better, but if people aren’t interested in what you have to say, they won’t come back. And so it’s true – what they say.
“Content is king.”
Here is a list of content-related tips I keep in mind when I’m writing a post or doing some general maintenance around Lily Pads:
1. If you only have an hour – spend it developing good content. Don’t be afraid to put promotion, linky parties, widgets, buttons and every other thing that people say you “HAVE TO DO” on the back burner. You might get 50 extra visits from a linky party, but if those 50 people don’t like your content, they won’t be back. What you really want is a readership base that keeps coming back. Ignore your numbers for the first year, at least. Just create something awesome – then, when you finally start thinking about promotion, you’ll have something awesome to promote.
The only way to get people to share your blog is to create something share-worthy.
2. Create something that people actually want to read. I love this graphic: for ideas, inspiration, and a self-check.
My favorite question to ask myself is:
“Would I care about this post if I didn’t know me?”
If you can’t honestly answer “yes,” don’t automatically toss it; but try to think of a way to make it relevant. If you’re going to write about your weekend, make us care about it.
3. Don’t be afraid. This is what sets great bloggers apart from the sea of millions of so-so mommy bloggers. Say things that other bloggers are afraid to say.
You will have a natural inclination to clarify and weaken your statements because you don’t want to be misunderstood (or unfollowed). Fight that. Make your statements as strong as you possibly can. If you’re ever writing a post and think, “I can’t say that, people will think I’m a bad mom, a bad Christian, a snob, that I over-eat…” swallow the fear and just. hit. “publish.” If you do, I PROMISE, those are the posts that will connect with people. (My most-likely-to-be-misunderstood post is the one that has 245,000 Facebook shares.)
I recently wrote a post about how it feels to be 36 weeks pregnant. I chose to call my post “The Pregnant Sadist.”
Sadist is a strong, scary word. A word that the little voices inside my head told me to weaken, or at least include a disclaimer to insist that I’m not actually crazy. But I ignored that voice because there are A MILLION posts out there about what it’s like to be 36 weeks pregnant. There are not a million posts, however, about how at 36 weeks even the kindest, most nurturing women turn into sadists. (The post has 327 Facebook likes, 6 Tweets, and 19 comments.)
If you want your blog to be different, you’re going to have to do something different.
Nobody responds emotionally to weak content.
4. Quality over quantity. There is a lot of pressure in the blogging world to have posts up every week. Don’t get sucked into that trap. If you can churn out great stuff three times a week, then by all means do it. My traffic DOES take a hit when I go for stretches without posting, but I’ve never “unfollowed” a blogger because they didn’t post often enough. I have deleted bloggers that “pile up” in my reader. The pressure can make you take the time to sit down and create something beautiful, which is good, but never post just because “it’s been 3 days.” You want everything on your site to be quality – so that if someone (like a publisher?) visits your blog they can scroll down and enjoy every single thing you’ve written, even if they were posted 2 and 3 weeks apart. Are your archives hit-or-miss? Or do they represent your best?
Bottom line: if you want to have an awesome blog, don’t post anything that you don’t really believe is awesome.
That’s a lot for today! I hope you’re challenged by this post, but mostly encouraged.
Don’t worry about numbers (for now)!
Don’t worry about quantity!
Don’t worry about being misunderstood!
Don’t worry about how many other mommy bloggers are out there!
Just go be awesome.
© 2013 – 2014, A Sweet Guest. All rights reserved. Love it? Please share, pin, tweet or email but do not use my work without permission.