One question that I have received from a few readers who blog is:
"HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY BLOG?"
The thing with that question, though, is that I can’t visit every blog to offer advice for improving your blog. And even if I could, I wouldn’t. Because I don’t see my job as that of being a blog critic of anyone else’s blog than my own.
But what I can—and will—do is share some of the key things that I’ve done with my own blog that I think have been vital to making my blog as successful as it has become:
Write ahead. This is one of the things that I think has kept my blog going for as long as it has (two years and counting!). When I first started, I spent the first month writing posts—before I ever even launched the blog. That gave me a nice accumulation of posts ready to go in my draft folder, and I’ve kept up that practice to this very day. Because, if you’re anything like me, inspiration will strike all at once and I can spend an entire evening writing out post after post. But then, a week later, I haven’t had any ideas worth pursuing and haven’t written a word since. But because I have a folder full of ideas, I can always have something fresh on my blog, even if it’s something I wrote a day ago, a week ago or even a month ago.
Post content frequently. I’ve made it an effort to post at least every other day. Because I work and write ahead, this is a frequency that I can keep up with. But even if you can’t post that often, it’s important to keep some kind of rhythm that readers can come to expect, which will encourage them to bookmark your site and keep coming back.
Take time to respond to comments and emails. So much of blogging is measured by how many comments you receive. If people are going to take the time to leave me a comment, I think it’s only deserving that I take the time to respond back. I don’t respond to every single one (especially short ones that are a simple “Thanks,” even though I do greatly appreciate those). But if someone asks a question or adds something new to the conversation, I think it’s simple courtesy to respond to them (via another comment or email, if you have it). Plus, doing so not only can give them a sense of being “heard’ but also encourage them to come back and leave comments in the future.
Include photographs with your posts. When I was in journalism school, one of the things we learned was that, in writing, a picture really is worth a thousand words: People are far more likely to read a news article that has an image attached than one that’s just a headline and a string of words. On the internet, that is even moreso, which is why I make an effort to search out captivating pictures to accompany my writing, to encourage folks to go on and read the entire piece. When you do include images that are not your own, make sure you credit them with a link back to the source. I like to use WeHeartIt.com to find a lot of the images that I haven't personally photographed.
Don’t be afraid to tweak your blog and try something new. By nature I’m a perfectionist, so I’m constantly tweaking things, even here at my blog. If there’s something that bothers me, I’ll research and play with different solutions until I find something that works. Sometimes that means that I spend an entire night figuring out how to integrate social media buttons into my posts and then give up because I don’t find anything that I like well enough. (Which has totally been the case, as of late.) But sometimes that means that I spend an extra hour trying out different fonts for my sidebar headers and then, finally, I find one that I love. I usually implement these little changes and updates as I go, rather than waiting to do a complete reveal with lots of changes all at once. I’ve found that little changes over a long period of time add up to a lot of impact.
Pray for inspiration. There have been times where I’ve experienced a substantial drought of ideas and felt like I have absolutely nothing to say. Last March, when my husband and I moved into a new apartment, I had zilch when it came to my blog. That resulted in 7 total posts for the entire month, whereas I typically publish at least twice that. I had drained my reserve of drafts and was more consumed with unpacking than posting. So instead of giving up on the blog, I started praying for inspiration about blog posts. Because I believe that God cares about the big things in our lives (salvation, spouses, safety) but also the little things (like what I’m going to feature on my blog). So I prayed and continue to pray about what to write on my blog, and I don’t think I’ve had a dry spell like that ever since. Don’t ever think for one second that God doesn’t care about your blog. He cares about you, and so he consequently cares about what you care about, too.
This post is part of my Better Blogging series, where I respond to some of the most common questions that I receive about blogging. Feel free to read all of the posts in this series here.
Answering Your Questions: Blog Design
Answering Your Questions: Blog Layout