I recently received a request from a 14-year-old science blogger named Vedad for some tips on growing his blog, “Free Thinker”. My quick note in response turned into a full-length letter, so I thought I’d post it for others that may find it useful.
But not too often. Keep your name constantly refreshed in the blogosphere, but don’t overwhelm your followers by posting too much, too long, and too often, making it difficult and frustrating for them to keep up.
Writing takes practice. Your writing is a little awkward and choppy. It’s not nearly as bad as some, but it needs a little polishing help. (More on this later.)
Also, don’t write only for publication. Make any writing you do an exercise in quality, no matter what it is: journaling, practices, emails, comments, text messages… Even your shopping and to-do lists can be good practice if you try to make them fun and interesting to read!
Read oftener than that:
Read everything you can possibly find time for. Fiction. How-to’s on writing. Articles. Tip lists. Blogs. Reviews. Non-fiction. Anything.
And when you read, do it with an eye towards how it is written: sentence structure, organization, cadence, word choice, metaphor, images, sensory descriptions, et cetera.
Get help from others:
Find yourself some proofreaders, friend editors, and beta readers. And don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarification on a suggestion you don’t understand or don’t agree with.
Join a writing group. Suggestions from fellow writers, especially when you’re just starting out, can be invaluable.
Get advice from WordPress’s “Community Pool” forum.
Research and study how to grow your blog. (I believe WordPress has some online courses for beginners. And there are numerous books and websites devoted to it.)
Take writing classes.
Read articles and books on writing. (My favorites are “Keys to Great Writing” by Stephen Wilburs and “Elements of Style” by William Strunk, Jr, especially the one with additions by E.B. White, the author of “Winnie the Pooh”.)
Of course there is a plethora of online writing tips. Just start Googling and you’ll never run out of material to read. In addition to the elements I mentioned earlier (word choice, metaphor, etc.), try searching things like “Writing Tips”, “Improving Writing”, “Structure in Writing”, “English Grammar”, or “Style in Writing”.
Quality content is paramount:
In writing, quality is ALWAYS more important than quantity. It’s got to be interesting, timely, relevant, and well-written.
Along this same line, link often to yourself, to what you consider your best work. I did this above when I linked to my Writing and Blogging categories.
Be sure to follow several blogs and be active on them. Be generous with your “Likes”, but don’t just like everything that comes down the virtual pipeline. Be selective and only “Like” those things that you truly do appreciate. Better yet, leave comments explaining what you liked. How it made you feel or what it made you think. Comments that point out weakness can also be helpful, although keep in mind that sprinkling them with sugar helps the medicine go down.
Make your comments quality and substantive. Not just an afterthought or flippant. Not only will this be more beneficial to the author, but, like the old saw says, helping others will help yourself as well. Comments are a convenient way for other readers to get a quick introduction to new authors they may be interested in. It gives them a taste of your writing style and favorite topics, which helps them to know if you are someone they would like to get to know better. Hopefully they will and they’ll come visit your blog, so make them count.
And please… be polite! Don’t “Like” just to get likes, comment just to get comments, or “Follow” just to get follows. Be sincere. Be kind when making suggestions or pointing our shortcomings. Be respectful when disagreeing. Neither comment some totally unrelated point just to work in a link to your blog. To me this is downright rude. I don’t mind a relevant link here and there. In fact, I encourage it. Just make sure you don’t take advantage of your welcome, get pushy, or be “spammy”.
You also help others when you link to their blogs in your posts. Not only does it encourage them, but it also gives them additional exposure by introducing them to your followers.
There are a couple of ways to do this: 1) Include links to their posts that are relevant to your piece’s subject matter, and 2) include links to their work that inspired your content. This is what I do with my “Blog of the Hour” feature. (Did you notice the link to my own work I snuck in there again?)
You can also reblog posts that are particularly impacting to you, but be sure to include a couple of introductory comments about what you found so meaningful about it.
Above all, persevere:
Don’t get discouraged. Dont get upset when someone points out a weakness. Don’t get frustrated when it seems like no one is responding to your friendly overtures in comments or likes or follows. Just keep working hard, plodding away, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.
Be patient. Better yourself. Develop yourself as a person, and as a writer, and as a blogger.
And keep a good attitude: stay positive, forgiving, understanding, and kind.
Thanks for the honor of requesting some advice. It was humbling, but encouraging. I wish you all the best in your endeavor. I’ll be watching to see how you grow as a writer, and as a person.
James Clark, TNI
Thanks for reading, my friend!
If you liked it, please click on “Like”.
And also tell your friends. Or “share” it with them, even. If it’s not too much trouble.
If you didn’t like it, please tell me why.
Write it in the comments, or send me an email.
Also, if you haven’t already…
Please “Subscribe” with a click on that eponymous button. (That’s “Follow” to you fellow WordPressers).
Any of these quick and simple acts of kindness are phenomenally powerful and help me more than you can possibly imagine.
I also invite you to check out what I think of as my best work on “My BYOB List (My Personal Favorites)“.
Here are my top five favorites to get you started:
Nakomai’s Immortality (CAUTION: Rated PG)