Welcome, y’all! It’s time for a new series!
This series is all about blogging basics. Whether you’re new to blogging, are thinking about starting a blog, or have a question about an already existing site, this is the series for you!
I had no idea what I was doing when I started oh-so-many moons ago. I had created blogs before CookieBreak–one as part of my Photography degree which only spanned two weeks because that’s what the assignment was, and one which showed my photography but little else (certainly not my personality, but we’ll get to that later this series)–but I’d never created one that I really, genuinely wanted to succeed. I had so many questions, friends.
How often should I blog?
Will it kill my blog if I miss a day?
How long do my posts need to be?
How professional does it need to be?*
The short answer is that there’s no one right way to do things, but when isn’t that true with creative endeavours? Play around a little, experiment, and see what works well for you.
But I know even that is a daunting thing to tackle when you have no idea where to start, so let’s go into a little more detail.
* And what does that mean, anyway? Does it mean no cat gifs? Does it mean I can’t have cookies while I write? I needed answers!
Some sites might tell you that it doesn’t matter how often you post as long as you provide quality content. Other sites might say that the content of your posts isn’t anywhere near as important as how regular you post. Other sites will tell you that you need lots of pictures to keep your readers attention.
There’s a bit of truth to each of these. Posting regularly is important, but what you post is important, too. We’ll get more into the appearance of your blog and why it matters next week, but for now let’s keep it simple: no one will stick around if your posts are hard to look at, are riddled with spelling mistakes, and the whole post is one or two big blocks of text. Use a font that’s easy to read, proofread everything, keep your paragraphs short, and mix in a few pictures to break up the text and you’ll have a good basis going on.
Besides being easy to read and not burning your readers’ eyes, a quality blog post will have something your readers can take away. It might not matter so much when you update your readers on how many words you’ve written this month, but if you give advice in any form it’s a great idea to make that advice actionable! Ask yourself how you can help your readers, and then write about that.
An exception to this might be if you’re writing a book review blog, for example. Advice posts should be actionable or at least helpful, but opinion posts like reviews are helpful because you offer your opinion. Bookworms love talking to other people who’ve enjoyed the same books as them! In this example, it’s all about writing a quality review–but that’s a post for another day.
How can you make your posts actionable? In a post on character creation, I included a questionnaire to help you develop your characters. My NaNo prep posts had free downloadables to help you prepare. This post right here has example pictures to illustrate my last point and to help you understand what I’m talking about if you’re new to this.
‘Actionable’ doesn’t have to mean something your readers can download, though. Just a question or two that helps them answer their own can be a great help!
But how often should you blog? Well, honestly, that depends on how much you want to commit to. When I first started CookieBreak, I was blogging five days a week, Monday to Friday. That became too much quickly. Now I post Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday in one week, and Tuesday and Thursday in the other.* That’s going to change slightly next year as I add monthly progress updates and goals on two Fridays every month.
The main thing is to stick to whatever schedule you want to set yourself. If posting five times a week sounds a little overwhelming, do less. If you’re posting once a week right now but you feel like you could do more, up your blogging game a little.
I recommend you start slow if you’re not sure how much you can do. Start by posting once or twice, and add to it if you think you can.
The general rule is that the more you post the more exposure you will gain. While that makes perfect sense, don’t feel you need to take on more because some guides say you need to blog however many times a week or else it’s not enough. Post enough to keep it regular, but not so much you lose your passion for it.
If your blog starts to feel like a chore, that’s a sign you need to change something.
As with everything else in life, you do you. Your blog, your rules. Consistency and regularity are the keys here–not spamming people as often as possible even though you don’t have enough content to make every post interesting. Never post for the sake of posting.
*I’m essentially on a two-week rota. Who said blogging wasn’t work?
Posting once a day is usually plenty. I have a list of which blogs I catch up with and when. I’m also a busy girl. Many other bloggers do the same thing or something similar. People don’t have time to visit your blog, read your posts, and leave thoughtful comments three times a day, so if you absolutely need to post again, make sure it’s worth it.
Worthwhile exceptions might be big news, important announcements, or the internet gushing over your book on release day. For example, I’ve posted twice before because my cartographer got the finished map for my book back to me. That’s exciting news*, and this is a blog dedicated to my books, so I posted for a second time that day.
Another example: On the last Thursday of every month, I post two reviews. Most of the books I read are somewhere in the fiction genre, but every now and again I read a book on writing as well, so on those Thursdays the first review (at 9.30am) is a theory book on writing, and the second review (at 2.30pm) is a novel.
If you’ve got so much content you can post three times a day for a month, use that content and schedule the excess. That way, you won’t run out for a while and you won’t get stressed because you suddenly don’t know what to blog about.
* People love a good map!
To give you a better insight into my blogging routine, here’s my schedule:
Monday – Writing Prompts
Wednesday – WWW Wednesday
Thursday – Book Reviews
Tuesday – Posts on writing and blogging (like today!)
Thursday – Book Reviews*
Every now and again, when there’s something to report, I post on Fridays as well to share progress updates about my books. The weekly posts throughout November were an exception because it was NaNo and everyone goes a little mad during NaNo, am I right? *nervous laughing*
Next year, a couple of small changes will be made, but this is how I schedule things right now.
* I read a lot, okay?
When I say post regularly, I don’t mean post twice a week but on two different days every week depending on your mood. Be consistent with the days, and be consistent with the content, too. You’ll notice I only post book reviews on Thursdays, for example.
As your following grows and people keep coming back to your blog (high five!), your blog becomes a part of their routine, too. The people who follow my reviews know they happen on Thursdays, so they might be disappointed if I post about my progress one Thursday instead.
It will also make it easier for you to decide what to blog about. If you know every Thursday is Review Day, your content is sorted!
It’s easy to get carried away when you have loads of good ideas. So easy, in fact, that you might post three times a day because you know your content is great and you can’t wait to share it! But, as we’ve already discussed, posting too often is a thing. If your readers feel spammed, they’ll leave and that’s the opposite of what you want.
So, what’s a blogger to do?
Schedule all these awesome posts ahead, that’s what! At the beginning of November, I scheduled all remaining posts for this year (and the first week of January) so I was prepared and knew what to write when.
In WordPress, you can find the schedule tool in the top right of your post’s draft. It looks like this:
Scheduling your posts is simplicity itself, and doesn’t take long at all.
Just don’t get caught out when the clocks go forward or back. It’s annoying when you just wanted to read over your post one last time before it publishes, maybe add a picture, too, and then you realise it’s already published because the clocks went forward. Beware daylight saving times.
Next week (yes, next week! One last post before Christmas!) we’ll look into the appearance of your blog, and why bright pink on neon green isn’t a good font choice. If you have any questions about your blog’s look now, ask away and I’ll answer them in the post 🙂
How often do you blog? Has your routine changed since you first started, or are you thinking about starting but have more questions? Make a tea, open a pack of biscuits, and ask away! 🙂
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