When I started this blog many years ago, I did so on a clunky platform and peppered the posts with lots of Amazon links in hopes of monetizing it. I had no frigging (a great 80’s word) clue what I was doing. Navigating the fonts and picture insertions was a ginormous (more 1980’s!) challenge. Most of what I posted could/can be categorized as an advanced form of scrapbooking.
Fast forward to today and things haven’t changed too much. I do have a better blog design, and there are occasional flashes of blogging brilliance. However, my likes/views/followers haven’t increased much at all. And (BTW I’m allowed to start a sentence with a conjunction), I’ve done absolutely nothing more to monetize this project.
Being in this unfortunate status and not unaware of what other successful bloggers have done, I have analyzed my deficiencies as well as my few strengths:
1. People gravitate toward what they like. There may be a limited audience for expositions on making chicken broth. If your audience is small, you need to reach out to them where they are and stop bothering everyone else—you know, the “other” people who are busy ordering home delivery of bad pizza and binge watching season 2 of Friends. So even if you like your bad pizza eating friends, you need to get over trying to convince them to make homemade bone broth. You need to find friends down at the local organic co-op or social media facsimile.
2. People don’t like to be insulted. See #1 above. Try not to divide and judge. Why is the Pioneer Woman so successful? Among many reasons: no judgment! She loves you even if you are a total loser in the kitchen. Follow her and you can clothe yourself in the misguided hope that you too can cook and have a nice family—even if you can’t/don’t. (And, BTW, anyone who can make a Basset Hound sound adorable and cute has amazing powers of persuasion . . . see discussion next.)
3. Heartstrings/headlines matter. There’s a reason that you are spending your lunch hour going through the clickbait links about “5 Best Puppies for Snuggling”. In case you haven’t noticed, anything with the word “puppies” in it is a winner (even if the puppy is a Basset Hound). I noticed that a local realtor changed all her for sale signs to include a Labrador retriever. I thought, “How dumb! What does the dog have to do with buying a house?” Duh! People like puppies.
4. Pictures! Your blog leads with a picture. Pictures need to be in focus and interesting (like puppies). BTW, people don’t need to see pictures of you (unless you are yucking it up with some beautiful puppies). If you have a badish picture, make sure you acknowledge it in the caption (e.g., I know this is a bad picture, but I was in a hurry because my puppy was experiencing a cuteness emergency.).
5. Write as if you are talking to your friends . . . but introduce little snippets of your life in ways that don’t obliterate your personal privacy. I think I do this well by naming my family members with aliases (Mr. Artifact, Number 1 Daughter, and Number 1 Son). (Self-awarded brownie point.)
6. At the same time, tell a story. Don’t just list ingredients, introduce the post with a SHORT story (not like something written by Hemingway). I love the 5 paragraph essay, but it often is not the best for a post. Why is this topic interesting? Are you solving a problem, responding to a long held quest, reflecting on your own mortality? I have to say that many of my posts do accomplish this. (Self-awarded brownie point.)
7. Create artwork that can be Pinterested. For example, put your list of “Top 5 Reasons to Love Your Mother-in-Law” into a graphic jpeg. I have no idea how to do this, so I’m SOL. But, I ought to figure this out.
8. Find your friends. “Like” other bloggers and engage with other blogger friendly sites. Your personal Facebook Friends do really like you, but you have to expand. If you belong to a FB group that is related to your blog, ask the moderator if she will promote your blog or if it is OK to occasionally post. (Nothing is more irritating than a self-promoting blogger on a closed FB group . . . except gophers in your garden.) Enter posts into contests at sites that are related to your content. Believe it or not, many local publications are starving for content. Do you have anything that might fill your local paper’s column inches? Ask. Everyone has online content now. In addition, some websites provide badges for content. These badges can then be added to the post that was linked or to your “About” page. For example, I have submitted some items to the Punk Domestics site. When submissions are accepted, the site has allowed me to put a badge on that post to indicate that it is also on that site. (I am only mildly successful with this, so I award a half-baked brownie point.)
9. Consistency matters. You need to be providing good content on a regular basis. Twice a week is optimal. If you drop off the face of the Earth for 3 months, don’t expect people to be hanging on your every word.
10. Be relevant. If you really want traffic, style your post to address a burning question. “How To” posts are always good, as are “Top 10” ones. This is a Captain Obvious suggestion. Everyone but me already knew it.
And finally. . .
11. Understand why you are blogging. Is it for fun? Are you trying to promote a product or idea? Do you want to be famous? Are you a creative who seeks community with other like-minded folks? Are you on a mission to educate? If you identify your goals up front, you’ll be more energized and inspired. This last advice has given me some pause, as I don’t actually know why I do this. Perhaps I’m an incurable writer. I’m OK with that.
In the event there are people out there in the universe who read this and think they can help me to improve my blog, please contact me. If not, I’m content bopping along and speaking to the pine trees and the poodle.