#FixThatBlog – Blog Housekeeping

The longer you have— and post in— a blog, the more your blog will need housekeeping. Any post currently on your blog can win you a new reader who finds you through a search engine. You want to make a good first impression!

One housekeeping chore is when you revise your concept of the niche or theme of your blog. You may find a lot of your own posts no longer fit. Should you go on a post-deleting binge? Not really. Some of my ‘off-topic’ blog posts are also my evergreen posts— every day they get a hit or two. Do those hits translate into readers? Probably only rarely, but still, it’s nice to have a blog that receives regular visitors whether they stay or become fans or not.

One type of post you CAN easily delete is the years-ago no-longer-valid post. You may have made an excited blog post or two five years ago about a traditional publisher that showed interest— only to find that the traditional publisher turned out to be a vanity press who was lying to you and would accept any work as long as the author paid the money.

Or you ranted against a politician you then hated but support now. Or you shared chapters from a work-in-progress that you never finished and now no longer want to finish. Or you wrote posts to justify Amazon affiliate links but Amazon since kicked you out of the program for not making enough sales in the first three months (that happened to me.)

Any old post that seems no-longer-valid and that has no comments, doesn’t regularly draw in new readers or visitors, and isn’t really about your niche anyway might be fodder for deletion. You don’t HAVE to delete old posts, but if you really feel some of them are dragging your blog down, delete them. Or revise!

Revising posts you have already posted may seem like a waste of time, but some of them are well worth revising. An evergreen post (that gets regular visits) that has spelling errors or is out of date in some way can be brought up to date. A rewrite of a post that is drawing new visitors through search engines might improve it to the point that the next few visitors stay longer and read the whole thing, or even go on to read other articles on your blog.

Revising old posts that don’t regularly draw new visitors may be a waste of time unless they contain old information that must be corrected, or unless the headline is misspelled or ungrammatical. Sometimes you can just leave it up to add to your blog’s total post number. A blog with 500 posts impresses readers far more than a blog with 12 posts.

Another housekeeping task lies in updating your categories and tags, or your labels. In WordPress blogs you can use categories and tags to sort your blog posts. Categories can be in a hierarchy— that is, under ‘blogging’ I can have the categories ‘blog hops’ and ‘blog improvement.’ You can give more than one category to a post. Also, on WordPress you can use tags. I use this when I mention a writer, such as Declan Finn, or a podcaster, such as Jimmy Moore. I can make a tag of their names and then readers can find other posts mentioning the same person, and it doesn’t clutter up the categories. In Blogger, however, you have to use labels for both functions.

I once made the mistake of eliminating a bunch of categories to make my category system more logical. The result was that a lot of posts became ‘Uncategorized’ and as a result that category became the top category. So from time to time I get ambitious and start going through old ‘Uncategorized’ posts, giving them real categories. My goal is to get rid of that ‘Uncategorized’ category in time.

Another blog housekeeping task is to regularly check your blog’s PAGES. Pages are those most important, just-under-the-blog-name tabs that are often called ‘About Me’ or ‘Contact Me’ or that list your books, book signings, and other important stuff. If you delete your Twitter account but it is still on your contact page, that is a BAD thing. It can be a good habit to look over your pages once a month just to catch any things that need updating. More, if you have a page for book signings and public appearances that needs to be kept up to date.

#FixThatBlog – Blogging and your WIP

This is a post in the #FixThatBlog series about fixing neglected author blogs, and also the July post in the Insecure Writers’ Support Group blog hop. See, multitasking!

A writer must write. Write on his works-in-progress, and finish first draft and other drafts. But he must also write blog posts so he can build a platform, right? But how do you find the time to do both?

You make the time. Platform-building, in the form of writing your blog posts, and writing your writing-works are both being-a-writer tasks. As are finding agents and traditional publishers, or finding book cover artists and editors-for-hire, depending on whether you are seeking indie writer or traditionally-published writer status.

But it’s tricky. I have a lot of days when I either write blog posts or do work on my WIP. I’ve been trying to schedule a second writing session in my evenings when I usually watch boring crap on television. But due to my health problems and to cheats on my ketogenic ‘lifestyle’ I am too exhausted in the evenings lately to actually do it. I must think of some other solution.

We writers are multi-taskers. We write on our WIPs, but we also go to our day jobs or get our laundry done or cook our meals. And make our bulletproof coffees. There have been cases of writers who took a year’s sabbatical to finally have time for their writing work— and they get even less done than when they were busy with a day job.

I’m not a perfect person on being organized or on Getting-Things-Done. I have Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder), which can make a person seem like they have attention deficit disorder as far as being organized and getting things done is concerned. And I’m not a spring chicken any more, and so have a set of health problems that cause a lot of fatigue, especially when I don’t watch my diet. So I have to adapt whatever advice I get from books to what works for me.

Days of the week are one ‘organizational’ tool I have. My garbage pickup is on Wednesday, so an important task on Tuesday is getting the garbage gathered and the garbage cart taken to the curb. Since this blog, since my recent small stroke in February, is also replacing a ketogenic diet blog I don’t have time for, I use Thursday as ‘keto day’ on this blog and make keto posts then. The first Wednesday in the month is Insecure Writers Support Group day. Saturday I can write about my cats or critters, and Sunday I can write things related to Christianity.  This gives me a bit of a planning scheme that I can remember.

To learn more about writing and time management, read How to Manage the Time of Your Life by James Scott Bell. (JSB writes a lot of how-to-write books that are very useful, and also writes mystery novels in the Evangelical Christian fiction market.)

To learn more about Getting-Things-Done, pick up  Getting Things Done by David Allen. This book has been found so useful by so many people that it made the book into an actual bestseller— as in ‘New York Times bestseller.’

IWSG folks on Blogger: if you have that ‘prove you are not a robot’ thing enabled, I cannot comment on your blog post. Sorry. It just doesn’t work on my computer and I’m sick of writing comments that don’t get posted so I have stopped trying.

Have you had any conflicts between getting your WIP done and writing your author-blog posts? Or getting your other tasks done? What do you do about the conflict? Have you found a solution that works for you?

Fix That Blog! The Tao of Guest Posts

This is the third post in the #FixThatBlog series.

A guest post is when you write a post for another blog, or another blogger or writer writes a post for yours. Why would anyone do that? It’s normal, when you post a guest post, to allow links to the guest author’s blog— and his latest book, if any, and a few other links to connect with the guest’s internet presence. So the guest author on your blog gets the benefit of having your readers read a sample of his writing, and have the link to find the author’s blog, should they want to know more.

When YOU write a guest post for another blog, you get the benefit of having that blog’s regular readers get to know you. A few may follow you back to your blog and become your readers. And the link back to your blog on the guest post is good for your blog’s traffic.

When you are eager for more readers on your own blog, guest posting on a BIG blog may be your hope. But how do you get that to happen? First, find blogs in your blog’s niche that have more traffic than yours does. Then, make a habit of visiting those blogs. Post positive comments regularly on their posts. NEVER post bad comments, in which you ignore their post and ask the blog owner for help with your blog, or you say nothing but ‘that’s interesting,’ or you write five paragraphs about why the blog post is wrong and stupid. Post the kind of comments YOU would like to get on your blog.

When you actually have gotten to know these other bloggers, then check their blog for contact information. Contact that person with your suggestion for writing a guest post on their blog. It helps to have a couple suggested topics for your proposed post. If the blog owner doesn’t respond or says ‘no,’ don’t get mad. Even if their ‘no’ is in a tactless email. Keep reading and commenting on their blog.

Be sure and also offer guest posts to blogs that are smaller than yours, and have less traffic. You may not get much traffic from their blog, but you will at least get a link to your blog. You will make a friend of the blog’s owner, who will probably be grateful. Many owners of small and untrafficked blogs feel very bad about their blog’s lack of good content, and will be glad of any help.

The number one rule of guest posts is NEVER CROSS-POST a guest post back to the guest author’s blog. Never accept a guest post on your own blog without making it clear that the content must be exclusive to your blog, and not also present on the author’s blog. The great god Google punishes blogs for non-original content like that. (That’s also why we don’t cut-and-paste book reviews from Amazon or content from other sources, but write our own original stuff in our own words.)

By the same token, when you write a guest post for another blog, never cross-post it back to your own blog. Also, it is a fine idea NOT to post on the exact topic to your blog for a few months. Readers who read both your blog and the blog you are guest-posting on will find the duplicated topics by the same author boring. If the topic is worth revisiting, do it after a few months when you will have a fresh perspective— which will make it easier to write it in fresh words.

Guest posting is all about being kind and helpful to other bloggers. Unfortunately, today in the internet world we often get more attention for being negative— for calling other people racists, communists, fascists, and cat haters. If your blogging persona has a lot of negative, though, people may be too intimidated to ask to guest post on your blog, and might be terrified of what negative stuff YOUR guest post might contain.

Define your blog niche to find more readers

I’m often working on improving my blog and my blog’s traffic. One resource I use is a site called ProBlogger. Today they had a post with the title How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche. OK, the problem with that was I wasn’t sure about the ‘niche’ thing. So I searched their site for a post on ‘niche.’ I found 15 Questions to Ask to Help Identify Your Blogging Niche or Focus.

This post contains a podcast on the topic. There is also another page which lists the 15 questions, called What Should I Blog About?.  Going through the questions I become more aware that I am a multi-topic blogger. There is a focus on writing and blogging, a focus on the genres of SF, fantasy and zombie fiction, a focus on politics, one on Asperger’s Syndrome, and also there is the faith thing.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I won’t ever be the top writing blog, or the top blogging blog, or the top zombie blog, or the top faith-based blog. But maybe I can be a good solid blog for people interested in several of these topics.

One thing I have noticed is that my faith-related posts sometimes get a lot of traffic. My all-time most popular post is the one about The Lutheran Rosary. Every day I get one or more visitors reading that post. Yesterday, when I posted on Churches in Chains, I got 42 page views. Normally I get 14. So I think I’m going to keep up with my Sunday posts on faith topics.

I also use Twitter to get my blog posts out in to the world. I use Buffer in order to post to Twitter several times a day without being on the Internet all day long. I’ve read it is recommended to post each blog post three times— the original posting time, later that same day, and then the next day. Of course I also go on Twitter to retweet other people’s posts and interact. I hope that will bring my blog traffic up.

If you are a blogger, what is your blog’s niche? Please tell us in a comment!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, what topics on this blog do you like the best?

On Twitter? If you leave a link to your Twitter page, I will follow you. (Though if you post naked pictures or other stuff I don’t care for, I may not stay a follower for long.)

 

5 Ways to Improve your Blog Post Titles & Get More Readers

If you are using your blog to help build your author platform, one thing that can mean success or failure is blog post titles. Doing it right attracts readers. Doing it wrong fails to do so. Here are some things that can help you improve your blog post titles.

  1. Place your blog post titles in the title form— above the place where you type in the post itself.  This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen a few blogs where the blogger puts nothing in the blog title spot. Some put the title on the top line of the post body, others don’t use a title at all. In the internet world, your blog title is an essential way to getting your post found in search engines and in shares of your post by your readers.  Don’t do this. Put a title in the title spot.
  2. Weak titles do little good. If you use ‘Book Release’ as a title when you announce your book’s release, you won’t attract as many readers as if you use something more interesting that relates to the book’s content. Like “Zombie Eats US President!!!” That might bring in readers. And if your book is zombie fiction and the US president is in fact eaten by zombies during the course of the story, you might even make a sale.
  3. Titles with numbers in it are good for how-to blog posts. Such as “5 Easy Ways to Stop Your Cats from Mating in the Living Room” or “7 Methods to Build a Zombie-Proof Retirement Portfolio.” For some reason people are more interested when you use numbers.
  4. Make sure your title matches your post. If your title is “Zombies Invade Banat, MI” and your post is all about finding a good book cover artist, you will just anger readers. If your post includes more that one topic, the title must match the biggest topic. If you are writing about how to use Scrivener to make an ebook, and you put in a line at the end about how your older cat and her daughter both had 6 kittens on the same day, the title shouldn’t be about the cats.
  5. Research to find more good methods of coming up with good blog post titles. I’ve read the blogs Copyblogger and Problogger to pick up tips. These sites often research what works and what doesn’t, and so they will have the latest trends in blog post titling.

Even if you are having one of those weeks when you feel everything on your blog is junk, try tweaking your next blog post title. It can make a lot of difference.  Have you written any great blog post titles lately? Share in a comment— and provide a link to the post in question.


I’ve been tending my old blog posts lately, making sure they have the correct categories and tags, checking to see if the content needs updating and such. Even the oldest posts can attract a new reader every now and then. Here’s a post I updated and I’m hoping to write a follow-up post soon.

Content Genres and Identity Genres


The Write Life: How to Write a Blog Post People Actually Want To Read