Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blog Bleh

For the past several months, I've been experiencing "Blog Bleh". By that, I mean I haven't been happy with my blog. Oh, I love promoting other authors, and I've liked some of my personal entries, but for some reason, I haven't been satisfied with the content I've been providing. I feel scatter-brained and un-focused, which has sapped my drive. Blogging has become a chore...something I feel I have to do, rather than something I look forward to. And I think it shows in the posts.

I look at other blogs and see the dozens of comments posted on every blog entry. I wonder why some bloggers consistently receive 20+ comments on every blog post and I get maybe 3 or 4. It's not a matter of competitiveness. I really just want to connect with my readers in the same way they seem to. Recently, I've been studying these blogs and their authors to understand what draws readers and compels them to leave comments. Three things I've noticed are:

1. Focused material. Jody Hedlund does a fabulous job of consistently providing wonderful content for writers and authors. She is an excellent teacher, not to mention an award-winning novelist, and her advice is always spot-on. She takes topics of interest to writers and puts a spin on them, or presents them in a new way. I've also noticed she offers a lot of numbered lists, like 5 ways to do something, or 6 tips on something else, or 3 pieces of advice for such and such. This creates easy-to-understand and easy-to-implement tools that help us improve as writers. It's obvious that this type of teaching resonates with visitors, as Jody's blog followers currently tops 1,600!

2. Getting personal. If you know the name Terri Tiffany, you probably know she has an incredibly tender and sincere heart. Terri shares her testimonies, her struggles, her fears. Readers relate to her because she's real. She's not an award-winning novelist (yet), but she has several writing credits to her name, including many stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies. Terri talks about her writing, but she rarely offers tips and advice. Rather, she shares her own personal experience and often asks a question at the end of her blog entry, inviting readers to share their experiences, too. When Terri jumped back into blogging after taking a looong hiatus, her readers were right there to welcome her back with open arms. She has almost 500 blog followers and dozens of regular comments on every entry.

3. Interaction. The thing that perhaps draws readers in the most is regular interaction. Responding to comments, hopping over to other blogs and leaving comments of our own. I'll admit this is something I could improve on. We've all heard the phrase, "if you want a friend, you need to be a friend." The same thing is true in blogging. "If you want blog friends, you need to be a blog friend." People want to feel as though you're invested in them and truly care about getting to know them. For me, I think it's a matter of being too distracted with "stuff" I need to get done that I don't make the time to connect like I should. I do get around in the blogosphere. People may know my name. But I need to work harder at making a more personal connection.

I am currently seeking God on the direction to take regarding my blog. I'd love to provide freelancing content, but I could do that over on, where I'm the National Christian Writing Examiner. I'd love to continue promoting Christian fiction, but I could be doing that over on, where I am also the Grand Rapids Christian Fiction Examiner. I'm thinking that duplicating content is not a wise way to manage my time.

So what do I blog about? I certainly don't want every post to be about self-promotion, although I'm not above a shameless plug now and then. I'm feeling more drawn towards blogging about my personal stuff and how it ties into writing. Maybe including a scripture reflection. Perhaps I could blog about topics within my book. Mind over Madi deals with insecurity, childhood hurts, family, and going through this crazy little thing we call life. It also includes humor, which is an excellent way to sometimes deal with the crazy little issues of this life. Lots of potential there.

I will be praying about this in the next week or so and hope to come up with something concrete by December 31st. I'd love to start out the new year a little more organized and focused in the area of blogging. Maybe even have particular themes for particular days.

For now, I have a couple of questions for you.

What do you do to connect with blog visitors? And what type of content would you most like to read on my blog?


Julie Arduini said...

I feel like the little blog that could. This year I'm seeing an increase in all areas but still not the numbers of those like Terri, whose blog I love. I participate in Marriage Mondays, and make sure most of my content is about surrender. Everything I personally write is transparent with the hope someone would be encouraged by my sharing. I try to ask questions at the end. I'm also receiving steady requests from new writers wishing to guest post, and I'm honoring those. I feel like my blog is finding its voice. It's my baby, and I love going back to it when my other writing hits a wall.

I love your blog and look forward to 2012!

Connie Almony said...

Great post. I've been trying to figure this out myself. My blog is focused on helping people see themselves as gifted in the Body of Christ, regardless of how they may be different. I've been trying to get more focused and ask questions at the end lately, just like you mention. I'll be praying you find the direction you need for your blog. What I'd really like is if there were a way a commenter could receive emails of replies to their comments. Not sure blogger has this ability. Maybe it does, but I haven't found it yet. God Bless and Merry Christmas.

Joanne Sher said...

I would LOVE to know how to get those comments. I NEED to be better about responding IN the comments, I know. I know the posts I generally get the most comments on are those linked with a decent-sized meme (like patty's A2z from last year). I'm SLIGHTLY changing my blog next year too.Posting about it next week.

Jessica R. Patch said...

cbalmony! A friend just told me how to get comments on my email so I can reply individually!
Go to settings.
Click comments.
Scroll all the way down to: Comment Notification Email

Put YOUR email address in. Voila! When anyone comments it comes to your email address and now you can connect on a more personal level!

Lynda,I've enjoyed your blog, even though I'm fairly new to it. I love reading blogs that are personal, funny and uplifting. I try to keep that in my blogs. I've found I have the most comments on Wednesdays when I post a devotion, but sometimes on Fridays when I post a personal goofy story of some kind. You'd think Mondays would be big with book reviews/authors, but it's not my best day. :)

Lynda Lee Schab said...

Thanks, ladies!

Jessica...I have also realized that book reviews/author interviews/promotional posts do not generate a lot of response. Not sure why that is, but it may be possible that blogosphere is so saturated with this type of stuff. Not that I would ever stop promoting and helping to spread the word about books and authors, but maybe people don't feel quite as inclined to reply to posts that provide information they've seen on other blogs, etc.

Definitely trying to get focused in the coming year. And not only focused, but disciplined. With a book deadline looming, I'll really have no choice!

Prayers for much success to you guys, with your blogs and everything else you tackle in 2012!

Pam said...

when I started my blog last year, my main idea was encouragement. I tried not to bring God into each post, hoping to reach a broad base, but then... God seems to be honing me in more and more to the inspirational. And these last several months, stats show me going from maybe 10 hits a day to in the 70's. One woman from the Philippines told me she can't get enough of the 'encouraging words' and even that she sees my blog as "daily bread." I was blown away by that and how God can use our simple words so powerfully. I've just been trying to write stories from my life sort of like Chicken Soup... hoping to lift others to see light in their own lives. Sharing about people who have touched my life like "God's living letters" or in this season, stories of past Christmases from childhood to now, and the light He's brought me in them. Some fun, some more poignant...but that seems to be resonating... I think your idea about sharing from your heart encouraging pieces about themes in Madi sounds good... people are hungering for encouraging and uplifting words... true life evidence of God moving simply in our daily lives, bringing hope etc... And you can certainly do that with a humorous touch too... :)

Lynda Lee Schab said...

That is so awesome, Pam. Sounds like you certainly found your niche. And how cool is it to know your words are someone's "daily bread?" Wow!

I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. :-)

Diane said...

I think we all hit the bleh's occasionally. Hope your Christmas is blessed!!! :O)

Pam said...

Thanks, Lynda. Yes, awesome...but also kinda unbelievable to me. Makes me see how God can take something small and use it even when we think it is ordinary...That is something I always pray for when I write.