I’m a sucker for reading blogging tips, because:
1. They distract me from blogging.
2. They distract me from blogging while educating me on how to make the process easier or more efficient or somehow better for me and the reader and quite possibly the aliens who excavate this blog in the year 5000.
So when I peeled back the writing curtain of a fellow scribe and discovered Nina Badzin’s post from 2011 titled Blogging Tips: What I Know Now, I eagerly read it.
Here, paraphrased, is what this now-seasoned blogger thought she knew about blogging when she started out, versus what she discovered a year later.
#1. She thought she needed a cute or catchy blog name, and now knows: “You don’t.”
Uh-oh. I’ve got the cute or catchy blog name. But I must admit, I love forcing people to say “squirrels in the doohickey” aloud, especially the folks in technical services when something goes amuck on my server. However, I don’t like having to spell “doohickey,” so she might have a point.
#2. She thought family and friends would read her blog, and now knows: “They mostly don’t.”
Boy, is that the truth! Other than my aunt, it appears my family and friends have better things to do than read about the nutty stuff I do when confronted with the stuff that drives me nutty. Which, come to think of it, makes it fair game to blog about them regularly.
#3. She thought the blog would suck up every minute of writing time, but now knows: “It doesn’t.”
What!? How is this possible? Well, according to Nina, she posts once a week so she can spend the rest of the week on fiction. I noticed she’s also an advice columnist and contributing writer and essayist and WAIT A MINUTE…how does she find time for all that writing!? I post once a week too, but by the time I’ve drafted a piece in my head, typed it up, revised it fifty times, and realized the revisions are worse than the original draft, I’ve blown a good five hours. I need a time management plan. But who’s got the time?
#4. She thought her readers would return to her blog to see her response to their comments, but now knows: “Most do not.”
Since my aunt is the only person leaving a comment, I don’t have this problem. Okay, I’m lying. More people than my aunt leave comments. Three. Okay, I’m downplaying the truth here. There’s five. And two of them are friends, so I lied about that, too, and while I’m coming clean, my pops reads my blog, and comments via telephone. But I digress.
While I’m digressing…
I usually get somewhere between 1 and 70 hits on my blog per day. And then, on Friday, August 21, 2015, I had 928. That’s nine hundred and twenty-eight hits! Was this spam? Was this some underpaid computer genius in the Ukraine wasting company time? Or was this one of those five commenters checking back to see if I’d responded to their comments? No, these visitors came from Facebook. I’m not even on Facebook. But someone who is on Facebook and has a ton of followers (or a ton of aunts) ,“liked” my post (the one about introverts wanting to avoid becoming party poopers), and 450 more introverted Facebookers “liked” it, and the whole thing snowballed. And continues to snowball! Now, before you tell me this is a Facebook glitch: don’t. Let me bask in the delusion that 928 people other than my aunt actually read my work on Friday, August 21, 2015. And if you, dear reader, are the fairy godperson who initially started this snowball effect, please announce yourself so I can send you a lifetime supply of gratitude.
But did any of those 928 people leave comments?
#5. She thought she would be the kind of blogger who offered giveaways, displayed badges, sought ads, etc., but now knows: “I’m not.”
Okay, I don’t even know what badges are. And giveaways? Of what? Aren’t my demented ramblings enough?
#6. She wishes she had set up a self-hosted site from the get-go.
Score! This I did. Self-hosting from the start is a must. I got that tip from Nina Amir (another seasoned blogger), the author of How to Blog a Book.
So, those are Nina Badzin’s tips. To find out why she knows what she now knows, (or knew), in 2011, here’s a link to the post, which I heartily recommend reading. Leave a comment while you’re there.
And as a bonus for reading this far, here’s two more tips, from me:
#7. I thought I needed to come up with a new post every week, but now I know that I can re-purpose somebody else’s post and add my goofy comments. But only with the best intentions and utmost respect and prior permission.
#8. I thought I wanted readers in the thousands, but now I know that if thousands of readers left comments, all of my free time (which is zero) would be filled trying to respond to each and every one (even though Nina Badzin advises against such madness, and rightly so); still, I would drive myself to respond, all the while yearning for the good ‘ol days when my aunt was the only person who read, and commented on, my blog.
Feel free to leave a comment about this post. And “like” it. Let’s see if we can top Friday’s numbers!
I loved this, Diane! Thanks for playing with my post here. So, in 2011 when I wrote that post, I was still working on fiction. During that year I had a handful of short story acceptances in literary journals. But soon after I started dabbling in submitting essays to other sides and slowly but surely I started picking up those regular gigs. I still only post to my blog once a week, but more often than not it’s with a link to a post I’ve been paid to write elsewhere. So . . . I write very little fiction these days, but I turned my love of nonfiction into a freelance career. I’m pretty happy with that! And I started The Twin Cities Writing Studio to teach writing and blogging classes in person. (Can’t do everything virtually.) My point is this: Goals change, interests change, and circumstances change ( have four kids now and had two when I wrote that post.) I’ve really enjoyed writing essays and other nonfiction types of pieces over the past few years, but I do find my imagination wandering back to fiction a bit nowadays. So who knows what the future will bring.
Thanks again for the great post here!
You’re making my head spin. Okay, here’s the deal…write a post about how you manage multiple writing jobs, and I’ll read it. Deal?
Congrats on the publishing creds, the freelance writing career, and the teaching. Oh, and the studio you founded. If I lived in the Twin Cities I’d haunt your classes.
I really enjoyed this post!
It’s always beneficial to see updates about what we thought then and what we think now. I have friends who send me articles about blogging or advertising books or whatever, and the source document is 2010 or something. Things may have changed! Where’s the update? Here’s the update. Great job.
Thanks Dan! I see you blog about blogging too. Oh goodie! More tips to devour.
I’ll be re-blogging this today if that’s all right.
Have at it! Thanks, Dan.
It was very Interesting to read this, although it fills me with apprehension because it just continues to make clear how often I’ve done precisely the wrong thing up to now.
On the other hand, I have had a self-hosted site from the start, so well done me. I probably should add, though, that this was because I had no idea what I was doing and was only dimly aware that other options were possible. I’m glad of it now, of course.
Point Number Three about writing a quick blog post and then having endless time to write novels, find cures for cancer, help impoverished nations and so on has not been my experience at all. I post twice a week which gives me plenty of spare time to, er, work and sleep.
Like you, Diane, I do tend to respond to everyone who leaves a comment on my site. I actually enjoy this job, despite its being very time consuming. It’s like writing lots of very short, very easy blog posts where someone else has been kind enough to provide a subject for me. I wish the main posts were as easy.
Well, if you have a self-hosted site, you’re way ahead of the game.
Wait…you have time to work and sleep?
It seems to me us bloggers just write for each other, such as oceans of ink devoted to blogging tips. I even sank to the bottom of that pond last week. Yet, I want to influence heads of state, mob bosses, or at least Taco Bell managers. I want to persuade people that GMOs are probably safe to eat, but maybe dangerous to the ecosystem. OK, I don’t even write about those subjects, but its a principle.You can skip the reply, I know already: I’ve got squirrels in my doohickey real bad. Or, maybe squirrels in somebody else’s doohickey, since I’m not self hosting. And nobody attracts Ukraine spammers like I do. I even do pretty good with Burkina Faso too. Who else can say that? I’ll swap you my Portugal for your New Zealand. Oh, and has anybody bought 10,000 twitter followers for $25? I’d like to know how that worked out. My puzzler is sore. Keep the answers coming.
Taco Bell managers, spammers from the Ukraine…you’ve found your ideal reader!
Ah, I will sleep like a baby tonight!
I really enjoyed this! I’m famous…I’m the aunt and proud of it!!!!!
Yes you are. The cat’s out of the bag.
There’s so much in the 8 tips from the original post, and your commentary on those 8 tips that really hit home with me. I’ve been struggling with my blog for a couple years now (mostly unsuccessfully) but one day I had a MASSIVE surge in views, though I never was able to figure out what happened. It was just that one day. Usually I average about 40 hits per day. I do have a small group of personal friends that connect to my blog through facebook who read every single post, some abnormally fast. (Which is a little creepy sometimes, but at least they’re reading right?) I LOVE the name of your blog by the way. I like cute and catchy blog titles, and will stop to read some posts every time I come across one!
I had fun with the commentary, but it occurred to me after posting that I was voicing what a lot of struggling bloggers feel. I like to peel back the curtain on writing and show what goes on as we labor over our words.
Cute and catchy blog titles work, I think, for humor bloggers. For my copywriting site (if I ever get around to building it) I’ll use my company name. For my fiction site (like that’ll ever happen) I’ll use my real name. It all depends on what you’re “selling.”
Thanks for visiting, and I’ll check out your blog, too!
If I have big spike in traffic, it’s usually because (A) I discussed a controversial subject, like writing race into characters without being using skin color or stereotypes, (B) somebody popular reblogged me, or (C) I made an embarrassing mistake like starting a fight. Fights are bad but they can send your traffic sky high. I STUPIDLY got into it on Twitter one day and a TON of people joined the fray, and I STUPIDLY fought back and they went to the blog and discovered I was a nice guy who was kinda helpful – and a bunch of them followed me. But that was totally a mistake and trying it again wuld be playing with fire – no, it’d be playing with ntro glycerine. But it happened. True story.
I’ll take B any day.
I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing.
Glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting!
I kept this post open for weeks before realizing what I really wanted to say:
Thank you for this!
You’re welcome! Hope it was helpful, or at least amusing entertainment!
As a newbie blogger, I found this article helpful and also encouraging. Maybe I am doing some things right! The learning curve is still turning out to be a long uphill climb, however. My delusion about having an instant crowd of interested readers has already rolled down the cliff. What others wait around the next bend?? But I plod on, and receive encouragement from bloggers like you and your delightful writing style!
Keep plodding on! Write to please yourself first, as Jack Kerouac said. That’s not the advice you usually hear, but in my opinion, if you’re pleasing at least one reader (yourself), and not focusing on attracting crowds, you’re doing your art, and that’s the important thing. Keep plodding on, and the readers will come.
You had me laughing out loud a one point, agreeing you the next. Excellent post. And by the way, love your writing voice.
If I can make someone laugh out loud once a day, I’m happy.
Thanks for the feedback!