Catchy title, no? 😉
I’ve gone back and forth on posting this many times because I don’t want to come across like I know it all, because clearly, I don’t. I hardly feel qualified to be dishing advice about how to make a blog “good” because mine is very much a work in progress (just like me!), but I get lots of emails and comments asking for my best tips for growing and maintaining a blog. Ask and I shall deliver. Please do keep in mind, these are just MY ideas and are in no way the be all and end all. They are just things I have learned along the way through my own experiences and through attending blogging conferences.
1.) Be Authentic.
The most important part about having a “good” blog is to be yourself, hands down. Develop your own voice and stick with it, and while it’s natural for your voice and style to evolve over time, always be true to who you are and don’t try to be like anyone else. I try to be very “real” here and instead of portraying myself as perfect, I talk about it when I struggle so people can relate and I’m being true to myself rather than portraying an idealistic image that isn’t me! If you’re not being genuine, it will come through very clearly in your writing.
2.) Figure out what makes you unique and capitalize on it.
There are TONS of healthy living blogs out there, so in order to make your blog stand out and not be just another one in the mix, figure out what makes you unique and make the most of it. I think the top things that make my blog unique are:
- I’ve truly been a foodie all my life and have learned to transfer this love towards healthier food.
- I am not naturally athletic at all and have had to overcome lots of hurdles to complete two half marathons and many other races.
- I’ve dropped almost 90 pounds through Weight Watchers and have taken a whole foods approach to the program.
- I learned that I have a knack for being creative in the kitchen on a whim, and have gotten pretty good at documenting my recipes step by step.
- I live with a chef from the south and have figured out how to keep losing weight despite the obvious issue there.
3.) Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
When I first started blogging, I was posting 3x a day and they were very boring and not very substantive. I saw a lot of other big bloggers doing it, so I thought I should too. (See Tip #1). The trouble was, I didn’t have much to say besides showing pictures of my food, and the posts felt very forced. I wasn’t really ENJOYING blogging, and that’s what this is about after all.
After last year’s Healthy Living Summit, I realized I needed to make my blog my own and that 3x a day wasn’t right for me, so I went down to 2, and that was still too much. Over the last several months, I’ve been doing 1 post a day Monday – Friday that I usually pre-write the night before to post at 8:30am the next day. This means my readers know what to expect from me and when, and I’ve seen a big increase in readership since I’ve taken this new approach, even though it’s not what “everyone” is doing. This doesn’t mean you have to even post every day or at the same time every day, but be relatively consistent so your readers know what to expect. That said, I probably wouldn’t post too much less than once a week because you do want to have new and fresh content pretty regularly.
4.) Read and reread your blog posts before publishing.
Is it interesting? Would YOU want to read it if someone else was writing it? Sure, you should be your #1 fan, but let’s be real. If the answer is no, don’t post it. Also, use spell check, grammar check, and see what text you can cut down. Less is more. You don’t want someone coming to your blog and getting turned off from a typo in the first sentence when you’re actually a good writer. Little mistakes like that can make a big difference in your readership!
5.) Plan ahead
If you truly want to have a successful blog, it takes a bit more work than you might think at the beginning. Even my blog, which is quite small in comparison to a lot of the larger ones, requires a LOT of time. Not just with writing the posts, but in responding to emails (which I’m working on getting better at!), responding to comments, taking and editing photos, reading and commenting on other blogs, thinking about topics, etc. It adds up! I’d say I end up spending anywhere between 20 and 40 hours a week on my blog, so planning ahead is necessary so it can fit in with all my other obligations. I have a draft in my email inbox where I keep a list of blog post ideas (this one has been lingering on that list for quite a while!) in case I am having trouble thinking of a topic.
6.) Shift Your Focus.
When I first started blogging, I would load and reload the stats page constantly to see how many hits I could get a day. I would let the number of hits have a much larger impact on my day and mood than it should have. Then one day I realized – I was focusing on the complete wrong thing. Instead of using my time to pick through my stats with a fine tooth comb, I shifted that time towards planning posts, thinking of good topics to cover, refining my writing style, and developing my voice as a blogger. Once I made this shift and stopped caring so much about the numbers, I saw a substantial increase in the numbers. Go figure.
Another big reward that came when I started focusing on the content of my blog rather than the stats I was getting was when I noticed a big jump in participation on my blog in the comments section from readers who are NOT bloggers. Creating a sense of community has always been my ultimate goal here, so having people come here because they can relate to my writing and care enough to leave a note, send an email, or just be here to check out what I’m rambling about today is so fulfilling and reminds me WHY I started Beth’s Journey in the first place.