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Friday, August 07, 2015

Essential Dos & Don'ts of Blogging for Writers

by Edie Melson  @EdieMelson

I love to blog, and I try to share my love of blogging when I teach at writing conferences.

I also know that many of you aren’t such fans. Many of you try to love blogging because it’s a good way to connect with your readers and build an online presence. Others, don’t even try to love it, but do it out of necessity. The rest are like me, and enjoy the process as well as the connections it brings.

No matter where you are with blogging, it’s important to do it well. Whether you blog twice a month on a group blog, or daily on your own site, there are some essential dos and don’ts of blogging that I’d like to share with you today.

The Dos of Blogging
  • Do Keep a Schedule: I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it until the day I die. If you expect your readers to come back regularly, you must be dependable. How often would you visit a business if you never knew whether or not it would be open? If you don’t have a new post up when you say you will, it’s like you’re not open for business.
  • Do Include Social Media Links in Your Sidebar: Don’t miss out on valuable connections on other networks just because you’ve forgotten to add social media links to your blog.
  • Do Answer Comments: If someone is nice enough to make the effort to join the conversation, I feel it’s the LEAST I can do to answer them. I’m not one hundred percent on this, but I do try.
  • Do Use Proper Formatting & Images: This means utilize bold headings, bullet points, and images to illustrate your posts. Proper formatting will break up the text and make your blog easier to be read. Make your post scannable. This proves your post’s value and makes it more likely to be read.

The Don’ts of Blogging
  • Don’t Make Your Post too Long: The ideal post length is between 500-700 words. Any longer and it’s much less likely to be read. Yes, there are exceptions. But those exceptions are just that, and many of you that think you’re the exception aren’t. It’s a hard truth, but shorter posts will up the engagement and readership of 98% of the blogs out there.
  • Don’t Make Your Blog Hard to Read: Make sure the font you use is a sans-serif font, like the one used here, which is VERDANA. As opposed to a serif font, like this one: Times New Roman. Also make sure your font is large enough to be easily read. Finally, be careful which colors you choose for your blog.
  • Don’t Use Vague Titles for Your Posts: Your audience will judge your post on the expectations you set in the title you choose. Also, social media is often a world without context. Use this question when choosing a title: If someone were to only read the title, would they know what the post was about? If the answer’s no, then choose another title.
  • Don’t Clutter Your Blog’s Sidebar: The sidebar of your blog should be organized in the order of importance. If the most important thing to you is having people sign up for updates for your blog, then email and RSS signups should be at the top of your sidebar. If it’s hard for people to find your sign up or your social media links, you’re missing out on building your online audience.

These are my suggestions for the essential dos and don’ts of blogging. I’d love to hear what you’d add to the list. Be sure to share your comments in the section below.

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.


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