Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Steps to Effective Blogging by Jennifer Slattery

Sometimes, it's tough to feel as if we're getting anywhere with our blogging. Jennifer Slattery is here today to give us some tips on how to make our blog posts more effective. -- Sandy

Jennifer: Does blogging make your skin crawl? Make you want stomp your computer into tiny pieces? If you’ve been in the publishing industry long enough, you know blogging is necessary, but you long to do more than throw random words on your screen. You want to engage. 

But how? With over 450 million English-speaking blogs floating around cyber space, how can readers possibly find yours? And why would they even want to?

If you wrestle with questions like these, relax. Effective blogging isn’t as difficult as it appears. By implementing five simple steps, you can dramatically increase your traffic and grow your readership.

Step one: Create a catchy title.

This is huge! Each day, people are bombarded with web content. So much so they’ve come to ignore most of it, except those that immediately stand out.

Perusing their Facebook feed, which posts do you think readers will be most apt to click on?
  • Flowers From My Husband
  • When My Heart Felt Bleak
  • http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/2014/04/15/5516/ (This is what happens when you don’t give your post a title!)

Titles matter. A lot. This is what shows up when someone does a Google search (using an example from my blog):

  1. The Power of a Dangerous Prayer | Jennifer Slattery Lives ... 
Step two: Make Your Lead in Strong

Your blog should NOT read like a diary.

Ex: “The other day I was…”
“God’s been laying something on my heart…”
“I feel the need to share…”

Honestly, unless you're Francis Chan or Karen Kingsbury, most people don’t care about your contemplations. They want to know what’s in it for them—why they should give up some of their valuable time. Most will decide whether or not to keep reading by the first paragraph; some even the first line.

Make that first sentence count! You should spend more time on your first sentence than you do all the rest in your post combined. It’s that important.

Step Three: Keep it visually appealing

Include lots of white space (paragraph breaks) to make it easier on tired or lazy eyes, and always add relevant pictures.

Step four: Keep it short and to the point

Never include anything the reader will skip. This means, if you’re discussing how to write an effective blog post, don’t go into an aside on why you love Apples over Toshibas or how long it’s been since you’ve blogged. Your reader won’t care, and if you make them not care enough, chances are they’ll quit reading. For length, shoot for posts between 200-600 words. Longer than that and you’ll lose them.

Step Five: End with an application and invitation to engage.

Blogging isn’t journalism. It’s a relaxed, conversational platform, and conversations work best when they’re two way. Keep in mind, you’re building a community.

Let’s talk about this! Where are you in your blogging growth? Have you implemented any of the above strategies, and what were the results? Did today’s post encourage you to do anything differently?


~~~



Beyond I Do (available for preorder at a discounted rate now! Purchase link:
http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-I-Do-Jennifer-Slattery/dp/1596694173/)

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadow’s encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion that threatens her engagement. Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiance or tear them apart?

Raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancĂ©. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.



Jennifer Slattery writes missional romance novels for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for her personal blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud and the group site, Internet CafĂ© Devotions. You can also find her at Inspyromance.com and  Faith-filled Friends where she chats about the intersections of faith and fiction. 

18 comments:

  1. Jennifer - great tips! I don't have a personal blog, I just started blogging here once a month. So this article is very timely.

    I do step one, step four (I hope), and step five. Now to learn to add in steps two and three. To me, step five is essential.


    I know you're right, because you listed the very types of blogs I'll stop and read. Thanks!

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    1. Jennifer SlatteryJune 25, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      I'm so glad you found this piece helpful, and yay on your great start! This is certainly a great blog to be a part of. :)

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  2. Most of the posts on my personal blog have a question meant to stimulate conversation at the end, but I don't get much reaction. I do reply to every comment. Any suggestions, Jennifer?

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    1. Jennifer SlatteryJune 25, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      I think that could, in part, depend on your audience. Not everyone is comfortable posting comments online. I've found sometimes my most read blog posts receive the least comments, and vice versa. But sometimes reminding your reader that they have information/thoughts/ideas that could be of benefit to others helps. You could also do give-aways on occasion, to sort of "break the ice". Bloggers don't have to have a novel out to do a give-away. They can offer a piece of jewelry, candy, a gift card, etc.

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  3. Never thought of working on the first line. Good advice!

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    1. Jennifer SlatteryJune 25, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      I'm so glad you found something useful in my post. :) Best of luck to you and your blogging endeavors.

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  4. My personal challenge when writing anything, including blogs, is to not get too wordy. Yet, I am the first to admit that when I open a blog, no matter how interesting a title, if it appears to be long, I will quite often close it and say to myself, "I'll read it later when I have more time." The blogs I find more interesting are the ones with a lot of images. So, I try to add at least two or three pictures to my blog posts. I also find bolded bullet points effective -- my eyes are drawn to them on blog posts.

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    1. I've read that advice about images and length and bullet points over and over, Robyn. Thanks for confirming it. :)

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    2. Jennifer SlatteryJune 25, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      I struggle with that as well and find I do better when writing for others than myself, as I can easily disregard my own word count max. :) You are so right regarding the use of bullet points! They're a great tool to help readers pick up out readers who skim--which I think might be most of us.

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  5. Whew! I need to work on all those steps!

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    1. Same here, Linda. You're not alone. :)

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    2. Jennifer SlatteryJune 25, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      Me, too! I am constantly having to remind myself of all these steps! I don't always follow them, but when I do, I find my page views and shares go up.

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    3. I'm right there with y'all. I always forget the application and invitation to engage. Thanks so much for the reminder, Jennifer!

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  6. I love the advice, keep it short and sweet. I blog at several wonderful group blogs, and I try to keep it under 400 words. IF that. I know, I tend to skip long posts...my ADD I guess. Great job today.

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  7. This is such a good post! I need to remember to do EACH of these every time I blog. Thanks for the reminders!

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  8. Thank you for these tips Jennifer. I've written them all down in my rough draft notebook so that I can remind myself of them while creating posts. I particularly liked the statement you made of 'what's in it for them?', very good to remember. Thanks again, have a great week!

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    1. That is a good reminder. It can keep us from posting a rant. :)

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