I’m going to share a secret with you … ten months ago I didn’t know the first thing about blogging. That’s right, until my publisher (ahem) “strongly suggested” I start a blog, I was clueless … because I had never even read one! Talk about an eye-opener, I was in for another learning curve.
So, after receiving more than two thousand comments on my blog site, as well as a surprising number of questions asking for my advice, I began to realize how many folks are not only interested in learning tips on the process, whether technical or creative, but on understanding how to make their blogs valuable. Let’s pursue the answers using my blog as an example.
PURPOSE: Generally, your purpose for having a blog should permeate every piece you write. The SusanButlerLive.com website contains a sub-heading to clarify my purpose: “Building a Relationship with Jesus Christ.” In addition to the four rolling statement screens, i.e. “Living in God’s Amazing Grace,” The Mission button on my home page contains a more complete mission statement. No matter whether your purpose is to sell an idea, a product or an expression of your ideals (or a combination), you need to be consistent. Lastly – BE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR TOPIC!
- TECHNICAL: Okay, this is where I can guarantee you there are better peeps out there to assist you than me. However, I continue to be asked about my web design and my blog platform, so here you go …
- Godaddy hosts my site, and I used their Web Builder program to design the site. I had 24/7 access to their technical support, and believe me, I got my money’s worth! I highly recommend them.
- WordPress is my blog platform, and I’m using the 2016 design for my blogs because I like the clean lines and color which complement my website. It was very easy to learn the basics (and I’m still learning).
- Spam can be eliminated on WordPress with the Akismet plugin. I activate it for a couple of days, then deactivate it and allow comments to flow again. It usually cures the problem for a week or so. Remember, all you have to do is hit the spam option underneath the comment if you don’t like what you see.
- Hacking and plagiarism are definitely serious issues and you may want to check with Legal within your current blog platform . Having your dedicated writing used without permission is something we must all guard against. (Do make sure you construct your writing in Word or other word processing software, and then paste it into your blog so you will retain a copy even if it is lost or stolen.)
- Search Engines: And how many besides me didn’t even understand how readers find each blog site? Maybe I’m alone in this, since you all found my site without any effort on my part! Just to be safe, my techie bud at Godaddy explained yesterday the reason a few of you (10 out of 2000) have experienced Internet Explorer (IE) running off the page. It appears Microsoft 2010 does not support IE and now runs on Microsoft Edge. So, you can either use Edge, Safari, Google Chrome, etc., but IE has been laid to rest (at least by Microsoft), God bless its useful yet antiquated service.
- RSS (Rich Site Summary) allows feed readers to access your site. It is a way for them to sign up or subscribe to your blog, so that all new blogs come directly to them without repeated searches. However, there is a better way, I believe, to connect …
- Social Media: Yes, folks, join me by using Facebook and Twitter – so easy, and I bet most of you already use these community connection tools.
WRITING SKILLS: Great blogs have some basic things in common:
- Spelling is without a doubt the most important element; “if in doubt, look it up.”
- Punctuation is vital in your sentence structure to give guidance to the reader. A comma left out or an exclamation point injected at the right moment can give a completely different meaning to the sentence.
- Paragraphs help the writer give flow to his/her thoughts. They also help the reader know when the subject is shifting, either slightly or altogether.
- Brevity is important. When you write, use the least amount of words possible to do justice to the meaning of each sentence.
- Proofing is tantamount to writing a good article. As you re-read it, you will no doubt find something to tweak; something to cut and paste within a different paragraph; something to enrich the overall message. Like carpenters (measure twice, cut once), use the rule and proof twice, publish once.
Emotion is an important part of the creative writing style. Think of all the emotions possible, and make sure you touch the reader with at least one emotion; which, of course, can be different for each article.
Color & Design touch another sense, that which we see. If it is pleasant to the eye, it welcomes the reader; conversely, if it is chaotic and has no sense of flow and balance, it may drive the reader away from your site.
Imagery is an essential to good writing. You must choose words to paint a verbal picture that is so vivid the reader cannot turn away.
Photos & Videos are also essential to grab the reader’s attention. As long as it relates to your topic, it will help initiate the reader’s interest in your article.
I realize the word value is a relative term – some consider it only in monetary terms, while others consider it in more technical, philosophical, moral, or spiritual terms. Whatever your purpose for publishing your blog, I hope the above material helps you in reaching your goals!
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I would love to have you as a regular visitor to this site, and am officially naming all of you who subscribe to SusanButlerLive – “THE LIVE TRIBE” – Let’s encourage the world together!