Tweet chat 29th January 2021 The art of blogging.

Participants: Rik Lonsdale, Maria Johnson, Gerald Hornsby, Elizabeth Holland, Sandy R. Stuckless, Mordecai P. Martin, Pam Portland, Kathleen Kalb Marple, Mole Chapman, Bradley Galimore, Kirsten Hesketh, Anita Belli, Deborah Klée

Introductions

Rik: I’m Rik in Dorset, UK. I do, sort of, have a blog, but I set it up to make myself accountable for my study and writing rather than for marketing. It’s been running since September 2019. My blog is mainly about my study, but also has a couple of posts about writing and a couple of short stories.

Mole: Hi, my name’s Mole, I write reports, training manuals and Equality & Diversity books. My blog straddles work and personal boundaries, but is largely underpinned by academic research. I like using the blog to work through stuff I’m mulling over, turn a bad experience into a learning opportunity, and also like Rick to demonstrate accountability in storytelling 

Gerald: I’m in North Essex, UK, from Birmingham via East London. I’ve been blogging for years and years. Probably have at least half a dozen abandoned blogs floating around the internet. I blog about my writing; writing in general; my books; publishing in general; the publishing industry. I see my first post was December 2010! gerald-hornsby.com/blog/

Maria:  Hi, I’m Maria! Great to be back for one of my favourite chats of the week! I’m from North Wales and now based near Manchester. I blog on my website. Used to be sporadic but now I try to blog every week, on a Monday or sometimes a Tuesday if I’m still working on it. My blog topics are about writing & books. I rotate between my author journey, aspects of the writing craft, discussing elements of my books, book reviews & short story/flash fiction pieces. You can find my blog on my website here mariajohnsonauthor.com/blog

Elizabeth: Hiya! I’m Elizabeth from Kent, England. I run two blogs. One for my writing and the other is a mental health blog. My blogging started over 2 years ago when my MH was really bad and it helped me though it. elizabethhollandauthor.com anxietyandliz.com.  My writing blog focuses on author Q&As. I’d love to eventually write more but I just don’t have the time at the moment. I blog weekly on my mental health blog, although I’ve taken January off to focus on editing my WIP. I do lots of author Q&As but eventually want to include writing tips, self-publishing tips, etc… I’ve also posted a bonus chapter on my blog and it’s something I’d like to do more of. I just need more hours in the day

Anita: Evening All! I am Anita, living in North Essex via Manchester and London. I have a blog and I post weekly about The Stories Behind The Stories of my novels; and about the process for writing. I blog about the themes in my novels; the inspiration and how I write; the process and the product. anitabellibooks2020.wordpress.com

Deborah: Deborah from North Essex and I blog on the Inner Journey of the Creative and my books. abrakdeborah.wordpress.com

Sandy: I’m Sandy from Toronto, Canada. I don’t really blog. I’ve posted a couple short announcement type things on my site, but nothing with any regularity. It’s something I’d like to add to my toolbox for building my brand.  The few short ones I’ve had I try to keep it away from writing. I’ve heard it’s a good idea to blog about other things that interest you. I’m thinking about focusing on camping/outdoors stuff and cooking.sandystuckless.wixsite.com/sandyrstuckles…

Bradley: Hi, I’m Bradley Galimore. Originally from New Orleans, now residing in New York. I currently blog through a weekly poetry column (#LENNY) and small press poetry book reviews (Yellow Journalism: Conversations & Reviews) via @poetryquestion thepoetryquestion.com

Pam: Hi, Pam here. I stumbled upon this chat and I’d like to hear from other bloggers, so I thought I’d chime in. I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years. I mostly blog about U.S travel and life lessons learned therein, but I also write about emotional attachments to objects and a touch of fiction

Mordecia:  I’m Mordecai Martin, I grew up in New York and hope to return there, but currently living in Philadelphia. I’ve been blogging at since around this time of year last year, starting right before the pandemic and finding it a comfort throughout. I blog about art I see, thoughts I have as a Jew in the world, obituaries I read, and generally any piece of writing that I think meets a certain kind of quality. That’s mordecaimartin.net

Kathleen: Kathleen Marple Kalb, Connecticut, US. I started blogging ahead of my trad pub debut because it was a good way to drive some attention. I never expected to enjoy it….but I do!

What are you hoping to achieve by blogging?

Kirsten: I am terrible at keeping my blog up to date. But I blog partly to keep my readers up to date with what’s going on in my writing life and partly as therapy!! #FriSalon

Gerald: I want to be interesting, informative, entertaining. I also want to drive people to my books and newsletter signup in an effort to be more commercial.

Elizabeth: I use my blogs as a platform to promote and help others. From a selfless point of view, I want to help people, however there’s a selfish flip side that it also encourages people towards my books.

Maria: Hopefully engaging with other writers & potential readers. I’m hoping the book reviews will give other indie authors a boost and that writers might find my writing craft type posts helpful. I always try to mention my newsletter in my blog too and vise versa.

Kathleen: I started because my trad publisher told me I should. I never expected to enjoy it — but I do! The historical facts on Goodreads are mostly fun…but I hope the #amquerying survival one on my website helps other writers who are going through it.

Anita: For me it is a reference point; a space where I can explore some of the things which interest me about writing but which don’t fit in a novel. I am fascinated by the process of creating any art.

Sandy: A broader reach, maybe. Or, just any reach. I’m still a relative unknown and I know I have to do more to attract readers to my work.

Rik: I’m not entirely sure! For me I think it’s about making my commitments public.

Mole: I’m a passionate believer in community learning, spreading knowledge across boundaries, I put my training online so that people can benefit irrespective of where they are 

Mordecai: I’m hoping to give vent to thoughts that are too long for twitter and too eloquent for Facebook, that I feel deserve to be part of my writing career more broadly.

Bradley: I want to challenge what we consider to be poetry and open that question up for a broader discussion. At some point I want to use this opportunity to bring more attention to @poetryquestion and also create a partnership with #TeachLivingPoets

Pam: I’ve been so many places, and I don’t want those memories to be lost, so I blog. If I have readers, yeah, but I’ll blog regardless. 

Elizabeth (to Pam): This was what encouraged me to first start blogging my mental health journey. It’s nice to have something to look back on and I think your passion for that shows through.

What have you found to be most successful in engaging people in your blog?

Bradley: A large support network is pivotal and essential! If I recommend my posts, the engagement is low unless it’s readers who are already intrigued/interested. If I have a strong reposting from other bloggers it “cross-pollinates” our bases and finds new readers.

Maria: I’ve found book reviews are among the most engaged with posts, then maybe my writing craft type posts. I do get some engagement too when I post author journey/aspects of my books but I don’t do these very often.

Anita: Posting regularly. Titles are also important; my most read have titles such as ‘how to…’ Or they ask a question. Or they have preposterous claims like ‘How Creativity can Change the World!

Deborah: A title that would be great for a news story is not necessarily the best for a blog. x ways to… How to …. etc work well

Rik: Apart from a post on twitter and Facebook I don’t do anything to seek an audience for the blog. I see it as a tool for my own writing journey. Yes, it’s great when I get responses from readers, but that’s not the raison d’etre, so little engagement doesn’t bother me.

Deborah: I read a tip in a bloggers post that it is a good idea to review which blogs get the most views and comments and then analyse why. Use this info to inform future posts. Improve the big hitters. Produce evergreen posts. Evergreen posts are ones that can be used again and again. If they are specific to a time of year for example you are limited to when you can post. I have started promoting old posts and there are a handful which get loads of views

Anita: I like Evergreen posts. I also think tags and categories might help

Deborah: On WordPress you can use categories and tags. I use both for all of my posts.

Elizabeth: I’m not sure how relevant this is to author’s blogs but I’ve found opening up on my Mental health blog really encourages people to engage. By showing that human and vulnerable side to yourself people relate to you.

Mole: It varies. But I get far more views after I’ve shared space with people. For example, posting a more detailed version of a keynote, or a workshop summary. It helps get out the nuances I might have fudged live

Deborah:  Last week @Lizzie_Chantree suggested that Pinterest is a good way to promote blog content too.

Elizabeth: Pinterest is great for re-promoting old posts

Maria:  So far, results have come from linking aggressively on my social media. Unfortunately, I’ve found it very difficult to ever get real feedback beyond wordpress statistics and the occasional person signing up for email updates. I would love to get more conversation!

Elizabeth: I try to put aside whole mornings or afternoons to bulk write. Even if I just get drafts finished that I can then go back and polish. It seems to work for me.

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

Elizabeth: Having the time! Sometimes I’m stuck for inspiration, however when I do get ideas I write them down. I now have a lovely little list that I can pick from when I find the time and inspiration to blog.

Mole: Having dyslexia I really struggle to get the copy as good as I’d like. Having said that blogs are easier than books because mistakes are forgiven more easily it seems. The immediacy is fabulous. I like the quick and dirty approach : languageofrespect.blogspot.com/2018/05/a-quic…

Gerald: Keeping up a regular posting schedule!

Maria: For me it’s about having enough interesting things to say, eg writing craft topics. The process of blogging can be a bit tedious if you’re trying to find the right images or wordpress doesn’t let you do a particular thing!

Mordecai: I put very little pressure on myself to keep up with the blog. Sometimes a good month can go by between posts. So, I’m taking it easy, but I imagine I could be more successful if I was more dedicated to a writing schedule with it.

Deborah: I have a planning schedule with ideas for each week. Occasionally I have time to write a few notes against the ideas too. Then when you come to write you are not starting with a blank page.

Pam: This is HUGE for me! I have a running list of topics that will keep me writing for years. If I didn’t do this, I’d stare blankly into the blogging abyss and stumble mightily

Kathleen: The Schedule! I’ve worked ahead a little bit, but there’s still that pressure to post EVERY WEEK! It’s good discipline, though!

 Are there any resources/tools that you can recommend?

Mole: Using the pomodoro technique changed my productivity hugely. Only 20 minutes invariably turns into 1hr, but as a kick off it’s fantastic. https://t.co/EL97eFQR88

Anita: Canva to make strong image and word pics. They really stand out in a blog post and can be used of social media as well.

Maria: Thanks for the tip! I tend to use Pixabay or Pexels for images, I’ll look into Canva. I think social media is really helpful, especially Twitter. I find putting it as a pinned tweet and then giving a ‘RT for a RT?’ type post really boosts my visibility and engagement. I also put my previous month’s blog posts in my newsletter, which can drive subscribers to it.

Elizabeth: Canva (for graphics), Yoast (for SEO), Newsletter and always include your social media links and a share option on your blog posts. Also, backlinks. The higher your domain author the better your ranking on Google. An easy way of achieving this is getting links to your blog on bigger websites. Guests posts can be a great way of achieving this! It’s the more ‘technical’ side of blogging but the higher your DA the higher you’ll rank on Google and people will organically find your blog

Bradley: support/repost/network with others who do the same. Some may have a large follower base, but if they are only promoting themselves or others with a lot of followers, your request for support may fall on deaf ears. Make genuine connections and create genuine work.

Deborah: I downloaded the WordPress app on my phone. It was a game changer. It makes it easy to discover new blogs. I attracted a lot more followers too.

Pam: Agreed! I completely revamped two pages while curled up in bed the other night.  Find guides about the specific platform (i.e., WordPress) and plan. There are different features accessible depending on the plan and platform. As I learn new skills and features, I go back and enhance older posts based on what I’ve learned.

A great chat with lots of helpful tips generously shared. Remember to look up each other’s blogs. Next week we are chatting about how to launch your book. successfully.

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