The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Suggestions to Improve Your Blog

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         I first encountered blogger Daron Henson on a discussion forum at LinkedIn.  Soon I was a regular visitor to his blog Daron Henson--Freelance Writer to read his series of short stories based on some of his favorite country songs.  The stories are peaceful and optimistic.

         Since I had already been offering my critiques of his stories and suggestions about blogging, Daron recently contacted me for some advice about how to freshen his blog and attract more readers.   Here is what he wrote:
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I would like your opinion on something. I have had an "Inspired by ... Country Music" feature on my site for quite some time. However, I believe that my site is getting rather monotonous. Do you think I should add in occasional accents to my site such as top 10 music of different genres/styles/themes? Maybe an occasional focus on other aspects of pop culture? 
Check out my site at http://newkidintown1995.blogspot.com
Tell me if you have any ideas to enhance my site. 
Thank you.



Dear Daron:

What I latched onto shortly after I started blogging was regular features.  I don't adhere to this as closely now, but for quite a while I would have a special theme for each day I blogged and I'd make sure I was consistent in my posting of these.

This method is what made me start 3 extra blogs concerning niche themes.  So now I deal with blogs concerning dreams, memoir, and Bible study, publishing one day per week and always on the same day for each respective blog.   In other words, my Bible blog posts every Sunday, the memoir blog every Saturday, and the dream blog every Thursday.  Readers of those blogs have expectations of when posts will appear and I make every attempt to meet those expectations.

On my main blog, Tossing It Out, I consistently post on  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.   Lately I've been delving into the theme of controversial debate topics and that has been getting a decent response with many long well-thought comments.  I think I've got some readers interested in this debate concept.

You might want to consider a 2 or 3 day schedule where you continue to do what you've been doing on one of those days but maybe expand the story themes to some extent.   You can stick with your current stories based on country music concept since that's kind of like a trademark and it's a good concept that you can take a long way.  Then on other days you could explore non fiction themes about writing, pop culture, life, or whatever.  The mix of fiction and non-fiction will create a nice balance and display your versatility as a writer.

Your posts don't need to be long or complex and most importantly you should involve the reader.  Make the posts as much or more about them than you or what you're doing.  Engage in conversation.  ASK QUESTIONS--this is the most important thing I've done to get better reader response. When I began including questions at the end of my posts, my comments increased significantly You want them to listen to you, but remember a lot of them would like to say something too.    It's up to you to facilitate those conversations.

Variety is good.  As I've mentioned before, you might want to consider the rigor of the A to Z Challenge.   It's a good way to test the waters to see what readers respond to best and to develop a networking system for yourself in order to make social rounds a bit more organized.  Check out some of the posts at the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Blog to get some ideas.

Hope that helps.  Happy to assist in any way I can.

Please stop by Daron's blog and provide him your words of encouragement and support.  Hopefully you will discover a new blog to follow.

      Do you blog according to a schedule?   Do you use recurring regular themes on your blog?  What are some suggestions you might offer to make a blog more interesting to capture a larger audience?


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21 comments:

  1. Great response Lee and great advice from somebody (yourself) who knows a sure lot about the running of a successful blog. Features is something that I might look at including although I can never commit to them for too long unfortunately. Great post Lee, there's a lot for me to consider here on a personal level.

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  2. I even remember when you used to do those Bible study posts here on Sunday!
    My posts stick with a formula that gives me the opportunity for variety. I've been told it's like gathering around the water cooler in the morning since my posts have so much information about what's happening.

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  3. Blogging is a funny thing some blogs fly along and are followed by hundreds others just a few (such as my own). I think we all have our own inner style and what ever you blog about you need to be happy doing it. I post every day at present but I am not going to be able to keep that up much longer so will stick to a schedule myself a post on certain days.

    I looked at the blog and the one thing I would say to Daron is that he probably needs to post on slightly more regular basis, followers are fickle and they need regular posts or they are off looking at other stuff and forget to come back to visit.

    I think in short I am saying I agree and for what it is worth.

    I would also like to say HAVE A GO at the A to Z, there is no harm in trying even if you don't make it to the end. I was well impressed by the one blog last year who kept going and finally got to Z about August, OK we could not all do that or it would be chaos but the point is you may regret it if you don't at least start.

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  4. Great advice. I started posting on a schedule and it has really helped.

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  5. I've always blogged about whatever interests me that day. I like to think variety is a good thing.

    Giving good advice there Lee.

    JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

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  6. I had a blog with five different themes. Didn't have much success. I made another, the dragon cave, and I post regularly but I don't think I'm following a formula. Maybe I am... In any case it's true there are more comments when there are questions to reply to. Problem is, often I don't know what to ask.

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  7. Excellent response. Not just to Darren but to us all.

    Thank you.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  8. i find like a good book, you start with the cover... if the cover this case blog site. then i will read on... find something to connect and continue to read. if i find something i like i comment, very least let them know they have fans/friends.

    great read Lee, you helped i am sure.

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  9. Yeamie -- Since your blog is mostly like a life commentary, you already have an intriguing theme that keeps readers coming back for what is usually a fresh new episode. It's a life serial of sorts.

    Alex -- You've achieved a successful niche as a blogging news blog. You do the networking with a bit of trivial fun and occasional commentary so yours is like a newsletter.

    Rob -- A to Z is a great way to practice consistency in blogging and it's a great way to experiment to see what gets the best reaction.

    Tracy Jo -- The schedule gives a blog predictability. People know when to come to find something new.

    Jo -- Variety is good, but unpredictable randomness doesn't usually work too well to build an ongoing audience. I'm all for eclecticism though. I'm interested in too many things.

    Al -- The simplest and seemingly most obvious questions are always the best to include. I also like to add something a bit deeper to stimulate more thought. I find that readers don't always directly answer the questions I ask, but at least my asking invites conversation.

    Shelly -- That's why I asked Daron if he minded if I used our correspondence. After I wrote it I realized it looked like a blog post. Wow, my mind is starting to think in blog post format!

    Jeremy -- Not every blog works for every reader--just like books. Good comparison.

    Lee

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  10. Good advice Lee.

    I generally keep to a theme, but I like to shake things up a bit for my friends. But the main thing I always feature is POSITIVITY and the beauty of our community.

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  11. When I first started blogging I was much more "formatted" than I am now. Well, not at first. But there were certain days that I posted on each week. And then my life spun out and that just DID NOT HAPPEN. Just getting my HERE'S TO YOU post back on Thursday is a major first step toward getting my blog "back on track."

    However, I was never particularly great about asking questions at the end. I suppose that is something I can try and see how well it works out. No harm, no foul. Right??? Thanks for the share.

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  12. Great advice Lee. I'd also add that how you decide to blog is necessarily focused on what you want to get out of your blog.

    It might just as important to figure out those goals before making any changes.

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  13. I post every Wednesday evening. Once a week is about all I can muster with my schedule. I do ask questions. This week (tonight, actually), I plan to ask several questions around my topic to encourage more comments. Then next week, I'll add my own 2 cents. There is a lot of wisdom out there, and it's fun for me to tap into it.
    I'm still a new blogger, still building a followership. Lee, your advice in the past helped me start on the right foot. Thanks.
    Jagoda
    www.conflicttango.com

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  14. Yes, I blog according to a schedule. And a schedule within a schedule. It's the way my mind works. If I don't have a plan, I find I have nothing to write.

    As for how to get a bigger audience--I have no idea. I have a small audience. But, they're a good group, and I find I can keep up with them, so I don't want to grow so big that I can't reciprocate.

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  15. Michael -- Positivity probably attracts more readers than negativity. I may post controversy sometimes, but I try to keep a somewhat positive spin on things as much as I can.

    Robin -- Try asking an obvious question and see what response you get. Or just probe for the reader's reaction to what you've said in your post.

    Johanna -- Having a goal is good.

    Jagoda -- Once a week is fine. It's best to post every week if that's your schedule. Or once a month on the same day might work. Just randomly whenever the fancy hits you is not as good to maintain a loyal readership.

    Liz -- The schedule helps me keep my commitment to posting. It would be easy to just let things go and do something else, but it wouldn't help a blogger to retain an audience. The bigger audience? A mystery, but you're right about keeping up with more readers.

    Lee

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  16. I was also thinking about starting one more blog to diversity my readership so this motivates me and gives me hope.

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  17. Excellent advice,Lee. I've been blogging since 2009, and am still kinda feeling my way around as to what I really want Life is Good to be. I always come back to why I started it in the first place, "to vent, practice, and share". I'm a writer. I need to practice my instrument. I like an audience while I'm practicing. With that in mind, I've posted on a multitude of topics, and I feel like they're all game since I'm JUST WRITING.

    That awesome advice came when my blog first got noticed which was when I joined a weekly meme. Doing that is a great way to find new readers, and part of the responsibility of joining one is the visiting of the other participants. I made lots of new friends, and things took off.

    And then fizzled. One can only sustain oneself on what others think of you for a limited time.

    That's when the 2010 A-Z came along and I joined, and finished, and now here I am, a co-host for the secod year with a well-established blog and having the time of my life.

    So to add my two cents, Daron, TRY the A-Z Challenge. What do you have to lose? Really nothing. But think about what you could gain! It's a huge community out there, and finding your place in it really helps. I wish you the best, and am heading over to check out your place now.

    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

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  18. Great informative post Lee. I follow none of those recommendations (other than maybe my weekly graphs, which seem to be a little popular) and maybe that is why I have grown so slow. I think you advice to Daron is really good and I am going to check out his blog.

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  19. I've noticed my blog has changed over the years - it used be very centered on my own musings, and now it's branched out into being more about writing, and celebrating other writers. The main thing I've tried to keep the same - positive attitude.

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  20. I've tried blogging on multiple topics without any kind of umbrella theme and splitting it up into multiple blogs more specific to individual topics.

    I must say that the multiple blog method was awful for me. I never felt like any individual one got enough of my attention.

    So I now post daily but usually post specific topics on specific days. My overall umbrella theme is "Regular Doses of Common Sense," but I post a few fun things there, too.

    Establishing a regular schedule of posting definitely helped me focus the topics and improve the content.

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  21. Patrick -- Unfortunately click on your name links me to an incomplete Blogger profile so since you've left no links I can't visit any of your sites. I'd love to see what you do. If you see this response perhaps you can forward the links to your blogs. You might also want to add the links to your Blogger profile.

    Lee

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Lee