How to Be a Successful Blogger: Follow These Two Major Tips

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You created a blog — now what?

I teach a lot about the importance of social media and platform and networking.

I talk about values of self-marketing and using tools such as a blog to meet people and make connections.

But then sometimes, a conference attendee will raise their hand and stop me, saying, “That’s all well and good, but how do we get people to actually read our blog?”

The question is so basic that it can be glossed over when I’m teaching, so I want to address it here in this post — and share a few social media tips that will assist you moving forward.

Although my specialty is publishing and I typically teach writers and novelists, these tips can help you in any area of blogging. All you need is an active Twitter account and a little creativity.

Offer a clear incentive to click

So you just hit “publish” on a recent blog post and want to spread the word. A simple thing you can do to promote your post is use your own social media channels — namely Twitter, and also possibly Facebook.

If your own social media channels are still small or new, then you won’t be spreading the word to too many people, but that’s OK. Your network will grow over time, and your Twitter and Facebook mentions of your own posts will gather more shares over time.

The goal is to mention to your network that you just created a blog post. They’ll then click through to absorb the material, and maybe even leave a comment or interact.

If you create a great post that can help people, feel free to share it multiple times — once a week for several weeks, for example. Especially on Twitter, where people tweet a lot, there is no rule or law that says you can’t share good information multiple times.

Incentives and clarity: that’s what it’s all about. Give people clear incentives to read your blog posts.

This means 1) Realize that people will not do anything unless they understand what’s in it for them, so give them an incentive to click through; and 2) Make it perfectly clear what waits for them on the other side of that hyperlink, so they don’t pass up a click-through simply because they’re puzzled about what you’ve posted.

Quick note from Chuck: I am now taking on clients as a freelance editor. If your query or synopsis or manuscript needs a look from a professional, please consider my editing services. Thanks!

In practice: Offering a clear incentive on Twitter

Let’s examine examples from my own life.

Recently, I spent a lot of time researching literary agents who were actively seeking children’s books and novels with diverse characters. Compiling the post took me days of work and a lot of emails. It was a special post that I wanted to share.

Let’s examine three different ways I could share it through my own social media networks:

Examine tweet possibility 1:

1

In my opinion, status updates like “Check out my latest blog post” or “New blog post is up” are the worst. They’re lazy, and don’t offer a new connection any reason to click. They’re lazy, and show someone who wants to exert no effort in gaining new followers.

Grade: F

Let’s try again with tweet possibility 2:

2

At least with this second tweet, you understand a little about what the blog post covers. But still, the tweet is scant and doesn’t provide absolute clarity on what lies on the other side of the click.

And did you notice the grammatical mistake? Those extra words are a sign I was rushing through the composition of the tweet, and not sculpting it carefully. Poor proofreading reeks of unprofessionalism, and will turn off prospective followers.

Grade: C

Let’s try again with tweet possibility 3:

3

The tweet is optimized from top to bottom to gain the most shares and attention. Look at what it does well:

  • It provides absolute clarity by explaining exactly what the blog article is about.
  • It includes simple tricks to add sexiness, like a numbered list in the title and a capitalized “NOW” to show the post is important and timely.
  • I added Twitter handles for users who may enjoy spreading this information. You can also use hashtags to loop in new groups of people.
  • I added images. People love images with blog posts and social media status updates. Images bring a post to life.

Seventy-seven retweets for this tweet is great, especially considering I had already mentioned this post several times before on social media

Grade: A

Let’s look at another example. Notice the evolution in incentivizing, and how each version is superior to the last.  

Tweet possibility 1:

4

Tweet possibility 2:

5

Tweet possibility 3:

6

The third tweet works so well because it doesn’t just reach out to writers. It specifically reaches out to the types of writers this agent wants to meet.

The specifics here help the tweet, and if you happen to be a writer who is composing one of the types of book I mentioned, then this post is like a lightning bolt that says, “Click me, I have value, click me, I have value.”

Advanced strategy: Form a Twitter power crew

When you mention your blog posts on social media, what you really seek is reach and amplification through sharing.

If 2,000 people share your post and it goes viral, it reaches many readers and thus its amplification is great. Meanwhile, if you only have 50 followers on Twitter, and you tweet out news of your post, it may not get very far.

So why not work with others? Find other people and groups and form a Twitter power crew. You can all tweet each others’ posts and everyone’s amplification rises together.

You scratch the backs of others, and they return the favor.

Create valuable posts that will naturally get shared

Promoting your own work isn’t enough — you need others to share it, too. When a blog post gets shared on social media, you get more people to read the post, and turn some of those new readers into consistent followers who get to know you and your brand.

Ideally, your columns will spread organically from people you don’t know sharing your post. The best way to do this is to create a post that has value.

Most blogs never achieve success because the blogs provide no true value. A good blog post can make your life easier, inform you, entertain you, make you laugh, show you things or places you want to see, or cull information into a single source.

Creating a valuable blog is difficult. It takes a plan, time, and hard work. But if you spend the time to create something unique and valuable, then people will share it. Make posts for others, not for you. The example I use commonly is this:

If I took my three-year-old daughter to the park, would you care? In other words, would you read a blog post about how I took her to the park? No.

But what if I spent a month taking my daughter to some small, out-of-the-way parks, then composed a blog post called “The 5 Best Family-Friendly Parks in Cincinnati You Didn’t Know Exist (and Where to Park the Car).”

If you live by me and have kids you would take note of it — and it’s because all of a sudden the post has value for you, not me. The post took me time and energy to create, but it pays off when parents share the post with their friends.

It’s very simple. If you create something that’s just plain good, people will share it.

What tips would you add for connecting with potential blog readers through social media?

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Chuck Sambuchino is a staffer at Writer’s Digest Books, best-selling humor book author, and freelance query/synopsis editor. He is the editor of the Guide to Literary Agents and the au... .

Writer's Digest | @chucksambuchino

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Comments

  1. Chuck, this was great. The only thing I disagree with is adding Twitter handles at the end of people who might share. I think it’s okay to tag that way once in a while, but it’s very annoying to get tagged by the same person more than a few times. I think it does the opposite of encouraging that person to share. In my case, it makes me not even want to click on the post, especially if the person has never seemed to click on something of mine or interact with me in any other way. My point is, I think people should be very careful about tagging others in posts that do not actually mention that person.

    • I also don’t like random tagging. It reminds me of people tagging me randomly in inspirational quote photos. The only time I tag someone is if I mention them in the post.

      Thanks Chuck!

    • Chuck Sambuchino says:

      Very fair point. Hashtags are fair game, but tagging people gets tricky, and bloggers do need to know that. I almost never do it. One other time I did do it recently was when I composed a post called “13 Agents Seeking Southern Fiction.” I copied a few Twitter handles that were groups of Southern fiction writers. I felt like this was valuable, free info that their groups would like, and the Twitter handle reps tweeted me back thanking me for tagging them (probably because they knew it was valuable info for their followers). So it all depends. But your point is well said.

  2. Thanks for the information Chuck. I have a book coming out this year and have been wondering how best to reach people. I have not looked at Twitter because my kids said it was more for young people than older. Perhaps I need to explore it further.

    • I feel the same way. I published a book last year and although I have a Twitter account, I rarely/never use it. This post made me reconsider. I am interested in writing so much more but feel I need a following first.

  3. Not only is the wonderful advice for new bloggers, this is wonderful advice for seasoned bloggers as well. I liked that it covered not just blogging but also using social media to leverage your posts (and by extension, your brand). The examples you provided for what a good tweet looks like vs a not so great one were also very helpful. Thank you for sharing these little pearls of wisdom with all of your readers.

  4. Awesome post. The key to traffic is consistency, focus, and content. I know I need to work on all three 🙂

    I also like the idea of offering an incentive to click. “Here’s my new post…” doesn’t give a random twitter viewer any reason to click, and the examples in this post show what you should do instead.

  5. Thanks for this post. The graded examples are helpful and showing the benefits of really targeting your audience (and helping them out) and adding great images feels like both new information and also very common sense/practical.

  6. Excellent post! I will be applying your advices.

    thanks!

  7. I saw this on Twitter and wanted to read, so well done! I am new to blogging and trying to establish my personal story, to add validity to my convictions, since it is about a life style change for me. I also need to get more technically saavy, so getting my feet wet.

  8. You make some really good points here, like:
    A. Add a photo
    B. Be specific about the information in the tweet
    C. Consistency when blogging
    D. Make the blog about what the reader is interested in, or what info they need to have a better business, or lifestyle.
    E. Give value

  9. Love your examples, very helpful!

    Hashtags have worked well for me. There’s #MondayBlogs for bloggers, #writetips (among others) for writers, #amreading and #amwriting. These reach folks who don’t necessarily follow me, and might want to!

  10. Thanks for the post Chuck. You are always gracious about sharing your knowledge with others to help them in their writing endeavors.

  11. As usual, excellent info. Thank you, Chuck.

  12. Thanks a lot for this article and all points! I will stick to them 🙂 bless!!!

  13. Great post Chuck. Pairing up with others to promote blog really goes a long way. Thank you for sharing the tips. 🙂

  14. Great advice, and timely! I just launched my blog today.

  15. Very useful information. Thanks, Chuck.

  16. Thanks, Chuck. This is the best post about blogging I’ve read in a long time. Although I consider my blog to have good content with well written posts, I’m stuck. I haven’t been good at building it or taking the correct steps on Social Media. Help, I’m overwhelmed! Bless you for your knowledge and wisdom, Chuck.

  17. Really enjoyed the examples and grading – nicely done and informative.

  18. Thank you for article Chuck. I appreciate the tips to help grow an audience and getting people to read my blog. I’ve been reading a lot about creating a great blog and these tips will be very useful.

  19. This is a really helpful post, thanks for the tips. Showing three examples of language used to tweet the same post was a great visual for me.

  20. Chuk, this is awesome. One best blogging tips i ever read, the example was outstanding for getting ideas, and grading too. The idea is adding twitter. I think it’s ok to tag that way once in a time.

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