Giving Great Blog

~ By Robena Grant

I realized I was intimidated by what I imagined the ChickLit Writers blog to be when first invited to be a guest blogger. I visualized a younger set of writers who were into high fashion—and probably high heels—maybe even multi-published. Yikes! All things I am not. I reserve the high heels for those “going out to dinner” dates where I climb out of a car, walk a few steps, sit down, retrace my steps, and then go home and kick the killers off. Then I thought about the authors who I know personally. They might write about those things, fashion and shoes, but they’re stories have so much more depth.

Maybe, just maybe, you’d indulge an old lady in sandals.

Based on that epiphany, I chose to write about jump-starting the brain when writing a short article, like a blog post. Thanks so much for inviting me.

I’ve been interested in how one drives readers to their blog. There is an information overload on the internet; so many blogs to visit. Who really has the time for all that reading? And how does an author make their blog stand out? I’m new to blogging. When I get readers who comment I cherish them, and so I analyzed some of my more successful posts. What was the subject? What were the comments? Were they detailed and engaging, or fly by night comments? Had I given my readers a reason to return?

When I write a blog post, I think in terms of threes: an opening, middle, and end, and then three things I can repeat to drive home my message. I keep the post short. Six hundred words are my sweet spot.  I think in terms of entertaining my readers, but not trying to be funny. Seriously, my sense of humor is offbeat. I try to find a title that I hope is catchy, that will be easily picked up and pique the interest of readers on social media sites, RSS readers, and search engine results pages.  Then I make the opening sentence something that will draw the reader in further. (I hope.)

I ask myself a few creative questions about my post, like, what is the point?

Do I need a point, or can it just be fun? Do I need more research? Does it fit the tone and subject matter of the blog I’m writing for? Have I engaged my audience and invited them to participate?  There is so much to consider, but it should always be fun. Otherwise why do it, right? I write my blog posts in one free-flowing session, and then let them simmer before adding final touches. They’re worded to be read as “today’s post,” but in truth they could have been written weeks before, and several could have been waiting in the wings for a month. With WordPress I can choose the date and time of my post and it will be loaded automatically. I love that feature.

I am a writer, but for the most part I don’t write about writing. I write about life. How do I find my topics? They come from everywhere and from the strangest places: waiting in line at the bank, driving, going to the market, something I read about in a newspaper, or heard on TV. When I find questions that excite me, I know I have a topic to discuss. Then I have to delve deeper. By creating more levels to my articles, I hope they will become richer, more intriguing. And if I can, I include a photo, or some clip art. And I make sure that I post an announcement on my social media pages the day my blog goes live. I only blog once a week so as not to overwhelm my readers, so I have to give that gentle reminder. ; )

What about you? Do you have a successful blog? Any tips you’d like to share? Do you like to blog, or are you tapped out? Is blogging a thing of the past, or is it making a comeback?

Robena Grant is a member of RWA, LARA (the Los Angeles chapter), and the Palm Springs Writers Guild. She has finished three linked romantic suspense stories and the last story is a finalist in the Romantic Suspense category of the 2012 RWA® Golden Heart® contest. She has just completed a contemporary romance with a European flavor, and is working on one with a British flavor. And she never wears bunny slippers when she writes…her slippers are leopard print. www.robenagrant.com

27 thoughts on “Giving Great Blog”

  1. Hi Deborah, yes you have a really successful blog. I saw how you were featured by WD as the blog of the week. Awesome news!
    Some days all I seem to do is blog or comment on other people’s blogs. I think I’m goign to dedicate one full day to that just to clear the decks. ; )

  2. Hi Robena!
    Sorry I’m late…but I was blogging 🙂 I started blogging after my first book came out from Llewellyn (who basically told me I HAD to have an online presence) back in 2007. I’m still having fun with it, and attracting new readers all the time, so hopefully I am saying something interesting. Although it could be the cute kitty pictures. (The Betties really helped too, no question.)

    My blog post can really vary in length, subject, and all the rest. Sometimes they’re to promo something (a class, a book, whatever), but a lot of time they’re just life, philosophy, or me talking adoringly about someone else’s writing 🙂

  3. Anne, I’m glad you dropped by. I secretly try for 500 but it always ends up around 600. I’m chatty like that.
    Jeff, I really did like the blog and will return. Congratulations on the book coming out. That’s awesome! And yes, don’t give up on FFOH…they need the hound for balance.
    Bev, yes you do have a successful blog. I try to stay away from the heavy topics but love to read blogs where others deal with touchy subjects. I’m just not that brave. Still haven’t figured out the auto post to FB and Google+ but have a print out here…somewhere. Maybe I should get to that this week. : )

  4. Greetings, my talented and wonderful LARA sister Robena. mwah!

    I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now. I think I’m fairly successful, though there’s probably more I could do (if not more hours to do it in.) My following has built consistently, and I have also taken steps to prettify it from time to time (again, prolly more I could do).

    My blog’s kind of all over the place – sometimes about writing, politics, blogging, techie tips, or book reviews, but I try to make my Wednesday posts something funny. Normally I post 1-2 times per week, and my blog is set up to auto-post to my FB fan page and Twitter, so that saves me the extra step. Right now I am participating in a wildly popular blogfest, the A-Z, and have chosen a theme that seems to be pretty popular – my 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time/Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs. Mostly funny posts. The visiting back and commenting is killer, but it does build traffic and fans among people who might not normally visit a romance writer’s blog.

  5. I bet I’ve got you beat on age, Robena. LOL
    I was born when Truman was U.S. President.

    Robbie’s family name was Burns and her ancestors may well have come from Scotland.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.
    Since I have a book being released this month — my 7th novel, but the first to be published — I’ll soon be working on a web page and will probably launch a solo blog. Still plan to keep participating in Four Foxes One Hound, of course.

  6. I loved your blog – and I have to say I TRY so hard to keep it to less than 600 words when I blog, but sometimes my “story-tellingness” gets in the way. I guess it’s something I need to work on 🙂

  7. Dee J. Thanks for coming by. I know how busy you are. And yes, balance I think this writing thing has to be about balance to write the stories, promote, market, be the friendly author, take care of home and loved ones…I’m tired just writing that. ; )

  8. Ooooh, Jeff, was it me, was it me, was it me? Ha ha. Seriously, if you went to school in Australia and you are old, old, old…then it had to be me. There are not a lot of us around outside of Scotland.

    I adore the title of your blog and will check it out. I know what you mean about the shared space and the schedule, while it would be helpful timewise, it would take longer to build your personal audience. I adore my readers. I think of all of them as friends.

  9. the girl I had a crush on for nearly 4 full years — 5th – 8th grade — was named Robena … though everyone called her Robbie.
    But to the blogs.
    I’m a member of a group blog, Four Foxes One Hound, which has been running for about 14 months now. We have a schedule of topics for each week and most of us (more-or-less) find something to say about the sched. topic. This year we also have ‘free space’ weeks each quarter as well as one ‘writing prompt’ week each quarter.
    I guess it’s nice to have the structure of a schedule, but I also like to be able to say what’s on my mind occasionally.

  10. Robena,
    Great post. I’ve discovered there needs to be balance in a blog tour. (I’m still trying to figure it out.) I keep saying I’m going to start my own blog, but have yet to do it. I like short and sweet too. Now to practice what I preach!

  11. Maria…but you are so much better at Twitter and FB. : )I have so much to learn over there.
    Yes, Robin it is time consuming and that’s why I normally blog once a week. This week I did my own and two guest blogs. I’m getting a taste of what it would be like if I was actually published and got to do a blog tour. ; )

  12. Hi Roben! I often find blogging hard ~ I’m spent from writing and working, and I feel like I don’t have anything interesting left to say. There are some amazing blogs out there with witty and fun writing that just grab you. And I agree, short is good. I love visiting your blog because your posts are also so thoughtful and you put into words what many of us are feeling. 🙂

    There should be a Blogging for Dummies (maybe there already is?) ~ a book that breaks things down into 52 weeks and gives us a blog topic for each week. I’d be so up with that.

  13. Great post. I know that I need to get into blogs, and websites, and such, but simply haven’t found the time or energy. I love your points about posts and how you get your ideas. Thank you for sharing ’em.

  14. I enjoy your blog, Nan, for the voice. I instantly relate to that and you could speak on any topic under the sun, and I’d enjoy it. Blogs can be time consuming. I don’t know how published authors do blog tours because that shrieks of exhausting to me. But we all have to do what we have to do to get discovered, don’t we? And then when we get discovered we have to maintain that status. This writing thing is a tough gig. : )

  15. I do have a blog and I love blogging, but when I’m overwhelmed with work, as I am now, it’s hard to do it. I tried to blog every day when I first started and realized quickly how unrealistic that was, so a couple of times a week is the most I can handle. I try to keep my topic to my life, but not too personal, and to my writing. Mostly, I write whatever comes into my head triggered by something that’s happened or that I’ve read or seen or heard about. I have a few regulars and I love that! I love, love comments, it makes me feel connected.

  16. Gina B, just start. You’ll have fun. I think I had about three regulars and then Lani Diane Rich and her hubby did a blog roll on http://www.BettyVerse.com
    I picked up a few more readers from that and then, to my surprise, it expanded even more.

    Charlene. I’m happy to be an associate. Ex LAPD officer, Kathy Bennett, http://www.kathybennett.com is a fun blog where she posts an author interview with a twist. Charlene is being interrogated today. Check it out. : )

  17. Hi Robena – I love shorter, to the point blogs. I like to see white space between paragraphs. I read fast, due to time constraints and so I practice what I preach for the most part. My blogs are usually about whatever strikes my fancy. A TV show, writing, What I did that day, something that relates to my stories, but I always try to tie it to the book I’m promoting in some way!

    You are now one of my “associates” so be careful around Kathy Bennett. She’ll be watching you!!

  18. Hi Robena!

    Thank you so much for this wonderful and inspiring post. I’m interested in blogging but haven’t been quite sure where to begin. You’ve posed some fabulous and thought-provoking questions and ideas, and I’m going to save this for when the time comes for me to jump in and start blogging!

  19. Ooops. I’ve been playing on other blogs and now can’t respond individually, but here goes: Nancy, I love your photos. I think it’s important to be yourself and to write about what pleases you most. The readers will come for that honesty.
    Kathy: yes, I like to mix it up. A couple of weeks of chatting. An author interview or hot seat.
    Lynne: Yes. I’m like you. My eyes start to roll if I write over 600 words and then read them back. Ha ha.

  20. I agree that short and sweet is important. 500-600 (if you include an excerpt) If I get an anxious feeling while I’m reading someone’s blog, because it is a lesson in history, plus a long excerpt of their latest book – I give up and move on.

    The biggest thing for me is that the author of the blog be curteous to her commenters by replying to each of them. I think that’s really important.

  21. Hi Robena!

    I’m a schizophrenic blogger. I like to blog about police-related topics because that’s my background and I think it’s important to try to educate people when I can. However, I also like to be relatable to my readers, so I also blog about life events or random items that have caught my attention.

    I have people who faithfully comment each week, but I also have many lurkers. I’d love to learn how to get those lurkers to comment.

    I think your blog and mine have some similar qualities. I know I sure enjoy reading it each week!

  22. Hi,
    Keep it short. Over 600 words and you start to lose your reader. Like you, I try to find a theme, and come full circle from beginning to end. I love blogging and I hope my readers enjoy what I write about.

  23. I love your blog, Judy. And thanks for being a visitor to mine. I never thought about driving people to my blog until I’d read a couple of interesting articles on the topic. I think of my blog as part of me. Like my home. I want to chat and drink cups of tea. : )

  24. Hi Robena,
    I tend to think of a topic and just run with it. I do very little planning. I have been surprised how much enjoyment I get from taking pictures and talking about my plants and flowers. I expect that my blog will change and develop as i get into it more, I still feel like a novice. My issue is that I find it difficult to comment on many blogs because of all the security. My blog is wordpress, but I find all of the Blogger blogs too difficult to comment on. I feel bad because I often want to say “Hey I loved what you wrote.”

  25. I have a blog. Not sure how sucessful it is but I’m enjoying it. I’ve been thinking about the subject of driving people to my blog lately. I haven’t really done any one thing about it, though.
    Another thing that fascinates me is all the people who lurk. I might have 10 comments and know by my stats that 100 people viewed me on one day alone. What did they think?
    I’m not quite as organized in my blogging as you are. Something hits me. I write about it, nuff said. I blog twice a week and I’ve only been stumped for topics once or twice in a year and change.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.