New bloggers and seasoned bloggers alike have similar questions when it comes to doing their best work on their websites. What’s the right way to do this? How do I grow my audience? How do I increase engagement? How do I know I’m not somehow messing all this up?
There are the typical blogging rules all bloggers know to follow: write well, insert as much media as possible, use keywords, etc., etc.
But what about the rules not everyone talks about — the “unwritten rules”?
So I’m going to write down these unwritten rules for you, because I’m a writer and that’s what I do. My approach to blogging comes from over 8 years of typing words and hitting publish and still not always knowing exactly what people want from me — but I love every minute of it, and any wisdom I do have from all my years of doing this, I’m more than willing to share.
Blog consistently, or not at all
Different people have asked me the same question a dozen times in the past few years: “How do you get views, likes, and comments on your blog? I don’t get hardly any.” (First, thanks for leaving comments to ask this question — really.)
Here’s the best answer I have for these queries, since Novelty Revisions only just turned two in March 2017 and I’m bad at promoting myself on social media: post consistently.
I post every day, and have for almost two years straight. I do not recommend new bloggers do this (I had been blogging six years before I started doing this) because you will crash and burn and it will hurt your brain a lot.
Post five days a week, post every Tuesday, post once a month — it does not matter how often you post. Post good content, and post it on the day(s) and time(s) you say you will. Always. It has worked for me, and in time, it could work for you too. There are no guarantees. But this is the best way I have found to draw people in and keep them coming back. Consistency tells people that you’re here, you’re committed, and they can come to you at a designated time and place and you’ll be there waiting.
Only write about what you care about
I like this better than “write what you know,” because that idea is often misinterpreted or misrepresented to mean you shouldn’t ever try to learn something new or write about less familiar topics. Writing what you care about is a completely different way of looking at writing, inspiration, motivation, and getting your work done. Knowing is subjective. Caring — well, you know what you care about. And you’re not going to give that stuff up very easily.
Never blog about something because you think it’s “popular” or “trendy” or “a lot of people will like.” You won’t last a month managing that blog unless you genuinely care about the content. Because in the beginning, you’re responsible for all the research and writing. This is going to be your life now. If you’re not completely invested in the topic of your blog, good luck trying to keep it going.
Treat your readers like good friends
No one that I know in my personal or professional life reads, likes, or comments on my posts. (At least that I know of — mom, are you there?). Everyone who follows and interacts with me on my blog is a stranger. But I don’t treat you all like strangers. I treat you like you’re my friends. I don’t talk with you about my problems (uh, debatable) or share gossip, but when you need me, I try my best to be there for you.
My whole blog revolves around the idea that I am just one of you — a writer trying to figure out how writing fits into the grand scheme of my life. I love giving advice and helping any way I can. I keep my tone conversational yet as professional as my can’t-ever-take-anything-too-seriously brain can manage. I don’t like to convey my authority in a way that makes me unapproachable. I want my readers to feel like they can say/ask anything and they’ll get an honest reply. Always interact with your readers as if you genuinely care about their well-being. Well, it helps if you actually do. I hope you do. Otherwise, what are you in this whole writing thing for?
Only quit if you don’t love it
I’ve seen a lot of bloggers drop out of their writing projects out of frustration. They aren’t getting as many views or comments as they think they should be, so they decide it’s not worth it and give up less than a year into it.
I’ll never tell you that poor performance is a good sign, or that there aren’t times when putting a project on the back burner is in your best interest. But I will tell you this: if you aren’t having fun, drop it. If you love blogging, keep it. Even if you have about a dozen regular readers and that’s it, that’s no reason to stop. Having a big blog isn’t the only way to be successful. What matters is that you’re doing something that excites you — and that you’re bringing value to your audience, no matter how small.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.