Baby Steps to Blogging—Part 5—How Can I Get People to Read My Blog?

“How do I get people to read my blog?” Every blogger has asked this question.

In Baby Steps to Blogging—Part 1, we talked about choosing the subjects of our posts to fit the interests and needs of our audience. To do that, we have to know our audience. This can be confusing. Just how do you figure out who your audience is? What type of person is interested in the things you write about?

You have chosen to build your blog around the thing that interests you. Let’s say you like to cook. You like trying new recipes. You frequently make up your own recipes. You are often called upon to contribute to a church social or family get together. In fact, your friends often request that you bring ‘the special casserole’ that you are known for, or maybe it’s a dessert. (If my mom were to show up at a family event without a couple of pecan pies, disappointment would overshadow the entire event.)

If you write about cooking and frequently share recipes, what groups or types of people would be most interested in your expertise?

People who have just moved out on their own or gotten married often have little experience with cooking, but want to learn, will hound the internet for how-tos and recipes. An experienced cook may be looking for a new way to prepare an old dish. Or maybe a man who was recently widowed and doesn’t know the first thing about cooking for himself will search the internet for instructions.

Think about these people—your audience. What might these types of people search for? Group your answers into categories. Below are just a few that might work. I’m sure you can think of others. Three is a good number of categories to have. You may need a need to add a few more, but keep them down to what is absolutely essential.

One Dish Meals

Dinners for Two

Desserts

After you have chosen your categories, write posts that will fit one of them. List them in the appropriate category so search engines can find your post when someone types those words into google or whatever search bar they use.

As you write the post that fits the category, use key words or tags that will help the searcher land on your blog. Key ingredients in your recipes would be a good choice for tags. The method of cooking your recipe utilizes would be another—bake, fry, steam, grill, etc. Be consistent with tagging.

You can check the stats for your blog and see which tags or categories get the most attention. You might want to add more soups if that seems to be what gets the most views. If you find that recipes with chicken get a lot of attention, try to post those regularly.

I have used cooking as an example, but you can used the same principles with your own interests to decide what categories and tags to use for your posts. If you decide the categories you have chosen don’t work for you, you can always change them. It is your blog. It’s better to change to something that works than to continue down the wrong road.

Your Baby Steps assignment for this week is to read over your posts. Chose labels, tags or key words you have used in the post that someone might type into the search bar. Edit your posts to include these tags.

You need to do this so search engines will know what your post is about and lead people to it. It may take a while to learn which words are important enough to include in your tags. Before long, though, you will begin to see what is important and what is not.

For instance, salt may be important for your recipe, but is probably not a word that most people will search for unless they are looking for recipes without salt. If ‘no salt’ is your focus, certainly use no salt as a key word or tag.

You are making great progress! Please post any questions you have in the comment section. I will do my best to answer them. Have a great week, and remember to take one Baby Step at a time.

Baby Steps to Blogging—Part 4—Don’t Let Delays Discourage You

No matter how hard I try to write my post ahead of time, life finds a way to thwart my efforts. It’s not just late posts that cause me grief. No matter what my plan, how early I get out of bed, or leave for an appointment, I seem to be just a little late.

This has always been a source of embarrassment for me. I have obligated myself to post a new section to my Baby Steps to Blogging series each Thursday. I work on it throughout the week, with big plans to have it ready to post Thursday morning.

This goal has not once been met by me. In fact, most Thursdays, by the time my post is finished  and submitted, the date on it is not Thursdayat all–but Friday. Three a.m. is still Thursday night to me. It won’t be Friday until I go to bed and get up the next morning.

As I hit the publish button, whether it’s 3:00 a.m. or not, relief floods over me. I view the published page and look at the calendar of my posts, hoping it will say Thursday, but no… it shows Friday as the published day. Sigh. But then I think, “This is nothing new for me. It’s the story of my life.”

Each time, this thought goes through my head, “Give it up. Let the series end. You look silly. This is embarrassing!” But, each time, after nursing the discouragement for awhile, I answer those thoughts: “You cannot give up! You have a purpose and you are going to stick with it. Quitters never win. You are not a quitter. You are going to win!” So I suck it up and continue on, pledging to myself to do better next week.

 

Do you ever feel like quitting?

Have you stopped believing in yourself?

Have you come to the conclusion that it’s no use to try?

 

Yes, YES, and YES!!! I have done all three—more than once. In fact, I am more consistent in doing this than I am in blogging. Discouragement has a sleeping bag behind my couch and a towel in my bathroom.

I have two things to say about this:

WINNERS NEVER QUIT!

QUITTERS NEVER WIN!

When you find yourself thinking these derogatory thoughts, stop them where they start. You can do this! Remember the old cliche, “Better Late Than Never?” Some of my best work was done after I gave up, but somehow I coaxed myself into taking one small step—a baby step. In fact, that is what I did with this post.

All this week I had jury duty. Wednesday my fellow jurors and I spent eleven hours in the court room with just a few short breaks. We tried for three and a half hours to agree on a verdict. The vote was nine to three for a not guilty. Finally we progressed to eleven to one. It was so close– then it reverted back to nine to three. The case finally ended in a mistrial.

I am still exhausted from the long hours spent in the courtroom. Today I tried to play catchup, but there just weren’t enough hours. I was tempted to skip this post. When I looked at the clock and knew I’d never get it done before midnight, I would just write an apology for not posting Part 4 of the series along with a short explanation of why.

I took that baby step. Next I decided to at least give Part 4 a name so I could come back to it tomorrow and write it. Then, miraculously, one baby step at a time, I managed to write the post. I will publish it in a few minutes.

Yes, it is late. No,my post is not what I planned it to be. But I succeeded because I didn’t give up. I took one baby step at a time. This post, that I didn’t expect to be able to write tonight, is finished.

Seeing it finished is encouraging to me. I hope you can somehow find encouragement in it, too.

Don’t quit, but rather, take one baby step, then another, and another until you make it through the field of discouragement and on to meet your goal of success.

 

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you have been encouraged by this post. Don’t give up. Keep on writing.

Martha Jane Curtis, author of Baby Steps to Blogging.

 

Baby Steps to Blogging Part 3 — Keep on Writing!

Blogging IS NOT like riding a bicycle. If / when you fall, it does hurt! It isn’t easy to get back on and try again–at least it wasn’t for me. I had made up my mind that I could do this blog thing. I had the perfect subject–meaning I thought it was a great idea and clever, of course. I wrote the post and found a photo–it wasn’t perfect, but it would do.

IMG_0038After several hours of editing and tweaking, I hit the publish button. It was so exciting to be published!

I read that post over several times, then proceeded over to Learn WordPress.com to read the instructions for adding an About Me page to my blog. It wasn’t long until my About Me page was published. Not only had I started a blog, but with two pages, it was well on the road to becoming a website.

A few days later, I wrote another post. It was easy with my new found confidence. My 2nd post was finished, edited and ready to submit. Only… when I hit the publish button, my post disappeared. Refresh did not return it, neither did go back, or escape, nor messaging the wordpress help site. My brilliant work was gone forever! Hours of work were lost. Discouragement set in. I had fallen off. It hurt. I gave up.

Several times I went back to look at my abandoned blog. It was still there. One little post. One About Me page. No visitors. Not even graffiti–you know, ‘loser’, ‘quitter’…

It took three months for me to muster the courage to try again. During that time I learned some things:

1. Write your post on your computer’s word processing program. Save your work often. If you have deleted or changed something by mistake and try to close the program it will ask if you want to save changes. This is a warning that you may be about to delete something important. If you don’t remember changing making changes since you last saved your work, take the time to read the document over before closing. Don’t forget to save it when you are finished!

2. When you’re satisfied you are ready to publish the post to your blog, copy and paste it onto a ‘new blog’ on your site rather than writing it directly on the site. You are less likely to make mistakes this way.

3. If you highlight (make all the words have a blue background) something you have written / typed, do not hit backspace, enter, delete, or tab–accidentally or on purpose–unless you want to delete it. Yes, really! I finally realized this was how I lost my second post. The mistake that discouraged me from posting to my new blog for three entire months!

Three months of feeling like a loser, however, was not a total loss. It was during those three months I learned the importance of learning in baby steps. No two people are at the exact same level of knowledge. Some have been blogging for years. Others are just beginning. I am somewhere in between. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I want to share what I have learned with those who may need it. I share my struggles while they are still fresh in my mind.

There is no such thing as instant success. Don’t be discouraged. Rather, get up, brush off the dirt, and purpose to succeed.  Blog with confidence–one baby step at a time. Keep up the good work, you are doing great!

This post is part of a series titled Baby Steps to Blogging. I hope it will help you on your blogging journey. I encourage you to share your thoughts and questions in the comments section of this post. You are invited to come back next Thursday for Part 4 of Baby Steps to Blogging.

Choose to follow my blog by e-mail if you would like to be notified of new posts. Thank you for stopping in today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Steps to Blogging Part 2 — How to Begin a Blog

Baby Steps to Blogging Part 2 – How to Begin A Blog

In Part 1 of Baby Steps to Blogging, I talked about three steps to help you get on the right baby foot with your blog. Today I will start with an example—my own blog.

Platform. I chose WordPress.com as my primary blogging platform. WordPress has tutorials to help you get started. You can choose from over 150 free themes. Pick one you like and get started. You can always change it later.

I chose one I could add a picture header to. I used a photo I took while on a nature hike with Joe. I enlarged it and cut out the section I wanted for my header. I made several copies of it on my computer so if I ruined one, I would still have one to work with.

nice (4)

 

Note 1: When editing a photo, NEVER use your original, or your last copy. ALWAYS keep a file of originals to work from and make more copies as needed.

Note 2: It is not essential that you use a picture header. If this sounds like a giant step to you, leave it out until you are comfortable trying it—even if that is never.

Focus / Mission Statement. Make a list of the subjects you have written or want to write about. From my own list I discovered that I am passionate about sharing the importance of having a relationship with God with others. I want to share it with family, friends and the world. I am passionate about doing this through other things I love: writing, photography and teaching.

With this in mind, I wrote my mission statement:

Helping others find their passion by sharing my own.

I added this statement below the name of my website on my header photo.

Martha Jane Curtis

Because I am passionate about encouraging others to find their purpose and go about performing it, I have added this statement to my header:

Spread your wings and write

You can scroll to the top of this page and to see what it looks like put together. It took a lot of patience for me to get my header the way I wanted it. I am not good with a computer. I have just made up my mind not to let it get the best of me. I take breaks when I get frustrated, but I don’t give up.

If you aren’t ready to get this involved, you can simply use the name of your blog and include your mission statement. It isn’t that big a deal. There is nothing wrong with simple. In fact, simple is often better.

Begin Blogging. Finally the easy part—what you wanted to do all along. Write!

Let your readers get to know you. Tell them your passions, admit your failures. Let them know what you like and what you don’t (without being ugly about it, of course). They don’t want to know how perfect you are, but that you are a real person, just like them, or their aunt or grandma… Write stories about something funny or embarrassing that happened to you. Tell how you learned from your mistakes—or at least what you are trying to learn.

The post International Coffee Day, was about a mistake I made—one I should have learned from. You can click on the link to read it if you missed it. The very next day, I made the same mistake again! It was aggravating. I felt like a dunce.

Now, with all this in mind, make a list of all the things you can think of to write about. Jot down a few notes about each story. I like to put mine on note cards so I can flip through them when I need an idea.

Find a time to sit down for a couple of uninterrupted hours and write about one or more of those subjects. Try to do it a few days before you intend to post. Make a habit of doing this and you will always be ready with something to post. Take the time to read through it and make any needed corrections before posting.

Your goal should be to give visitors to your blog something worth reading. Whatever you write, make it interesting enough that they will want to come back for more. It never hurts to add a bit of humor, even if the joke is on you!

You are doing a great job! It is work to set up a blog. Don’t get discouraged. After all, if you had never began to blog, you wouldn’t have made it this far. Give yourself a break. Ask questions. Keep writing. Blog with confidence—in baby steps. Your story is waiting to be told.

 

This post is part of a series titled Baby Steps to Blogging. I hope it will help you on your blogging journey. I encourage you to share your thoughts and questions in the comments section of this post. You are invited to come back next Thursday for Part 3 of Baby Steps to Blogging.

Choose to follow me by e-mail if you would like to be notified of new posts to my blog.

Baby Steps to Blogging–Part 1

Introduction to Baby Steps to Blogging

Computers and the internet have been a daily part of my life for nearly twenty years. I use them to pay bills, connect with family and friends and to buy and sell on sites such as e-bay and Amazon. Despite my everyday use of them, I still struggle.

My first computer was a bit of a novelty. I played games and used it as a word processer—after I learned to control the mouse (don’t laugh). Seriously, that silly thing had a mind of its own!

It was some weeks, maybe months, before I realized the words in blue were links (what is a link, anyway?) that I could click to open another page with more information.

Fast forward to August of 2012–I began green blogging. The name I chose was more appropriate than I knew at the time: Journey Through Clutter Jungle. This was / is the name of a current work in progress. I plunged through several posts before the evil spirits of doubt and indecision blocked my path. Over a year later, I got the courage to try again. When I did, I somehow lost the best clutter post I had written into the vast unknown of cyber space. Attempts to re-write it resulted in a writing so inferior to the original, I just. gave. up.

Green blogging is a term I use to describe myself (and others like me) who attempt to do something we know nothing about. It seems the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know enough. Admitting this taught me to be happy marking my progress in baby steps.

Today I am beginning a series of posts titled Baby Steps to Blogging.

 

Dictionary.com defines blogging as a website containing a writer’s own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites. This gives us a basic idea of what a blog is supposed to do. So just where do we begin those baby steps?

 

The first step is to choose a blogging platform.  Everyone seems to have different definition of platform. Since we are taking this in baby steps let’s consider the platform to be the place you stand to present your message, or the online site you use to share your message.

There are many blogging platforms to choose from. I  have tried several, but narrowed it down to two that I like the best. Blogger.com is easy to use. Wordpress.com seems to get more attention from other bloggers. Either can easily be made to work as a website later on if you so desire. Look several over and choose the one you like the best.

 

The second step is to find your focus.

  1. What do you write about? Which of these topics reflect the message you want to share with your readers?
  2. Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?” Is there a connection between your passion and the topics you write about? The blend of these two is most likely what you want focus on as you blog.
  3. Use your writing skills to make up a sentence or short paragraph that describes this. Consider this your mission statement. Use it to help you focus on the message you want to share, lest your blog become like the Urban Definition of a Blog.

 

Begin Blogging. It’s OK to write about subjects not contained in your mission statement, but tie them into it whenever you can. Be yourself. Your readers will get to know you by what and how you write. Try to give them something worth reading. Pick a time to blog each week or month or whatever interval works best for you. Be consistent to post at that time. Start slow by Blogging in Baby Steps.

This post is part of a series titled Baby Steps to Blogging. I hope it will help you on your blogging journey. What have you chosen as your mission statement?  I encourage you to share it with me in the comments section. I want to invite you to come back next Thursday for Part 2 of Baby Steps to Blogging. Choose to follow me by e-mail if you would like to be notified of new posts to my blog.

Marthajanecurtis.com