Whew, that’s a long post title!
And looking back over my blogging journey, I’ve written a LOT of posts. This is post 2,500.
My first post went live on October 5, 2004 when my blog was called Relevantblog and I was Relevantgirl. I initiated it on the soil of southern France. Here’s a paragraph from that inaugural post:
“My greatest frustration of late is grappling with words. I am a wordsmith of sorts. When I am behind my keyboard, words pour onto the page, sometimes so furiously that I can’t contain them. But here, all I can say is, ‘I have three children. It’s a pretty day. I am tired.’ I suppose I have become a French Hemingway! Yet, to be in a place where my vocabulary mimics a two-year-old’s is disconcerting.”
I’m stateside now, and I’ve written 2499 posts since then. And I’ve learned a lot. So to celebrate post 2500, I want to share with you 25 Best Blog Practices that’ll Rock Your Blog. Ready?
- Be you. People want to know you, not your persona, not your public face. (Click to tweet this.) They want to know you mess things up, that you struggle, that you are not a robot. They want YOUR voice, not the voice you want to be. Finding your blogging voice takes time. I think I finally settled in about year four, where I felt that my written words echoed the way I spoke. Remember, you are the only you. Don’t muddy the waters by being someone else.
- Be teachable. In order to grow as a blogger, you have to study and learn about what works. Recently I learned about this blog (the Sales Lion) that’s been a boon to me. I’m learning teach more in my posts. I also appreciate the Allume Conference where I learned from folks like Money Saving Mom and Problogger.
- Be curious. Ask a question at the end of every post. This stirs conversation and interaction. Michael Hyatt does a great job of this.
- Be helpful. Some of my best-loved posts are based on me helping solve a reader’s problem. For instance, I firmly, truly believe you can zero out your inbox. I’m so convinced, I wrote a post about it.
- Be discerning. Look around your world. See what’s a problem. Then write about it. One of my most trafficked posts has to do with spiritually abusive churches. This wasn’t something I’d experienced on a grand scale, but I’d known enough folks who had been through it, that I wrote a post.
- Be relevant. Tying your blog post to a current event is often a great way to bring traffic to your site. But be cautious. Only do that if you have a strong opinion in the matter. Don’t just bandwagon for bandwagon’s sake. People can spot that. (Click to tweet this.)
- Be listy. Posts that have lists (particularly when you place that list in the title) do very well. One of my most read posts was “10 Ways to Know if You’re Called to Write.”
- Be generous. Highlight other bloggers’ great content. Sarah Bessey does a great job of this on her weekly link up posts. Link generously to others. Be a friend to other bloggers. Solicit guest posts. (I used to open up my site to guest posts, but now I hand pick them).
- Be tribal. Before you write a post, ask this question, “Will this post bless my tribe?” (Click to tweet this.) For a great book on this idea of tribes, read Tribes by Seth Godin.
- Be consistent. Whether you blog five times a week or one or 2 times a month, be consistent in your habit so your readers know when to hear from you. This is simply loving your reader well by delivering on your promise to them. (Click to tweet this.)
- Be clear. If you can’t write about something specifically, maybe it’s not time to blog about it. It’s better to be honest and clear than to be jaded and skirting an issue. I regret posting something several years ago (of course it’s been since taken down), where I alluded to an offense. Better to either spell it out or not write at all (and often not writing is the best course of action, where you simply pick up that thing called a telephone and call the person you’re frustrated with.)
- Be honest. The world isn’t wooed by half truth. Say it straight (and do so kindly). (Click to tweet this.) This is part of the writer’s bravery we all need. Anne Lamott wrote this in her writing memoir Bird by Bird, “Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.”
- Be opinionated. It’s okay to have an opinion. And it’s okay if your opinion differs from others. Don’t be afraid. Don’t write scared. Share your opinion freely, but also do so with kindness. This post went kind of crazy, and it was definitely representative of my opinion. “I’m Sick of Hearing about Your Smoking Hot Wife.”
- Be story-oriented. Most people engage when they read a story. Be willing to share your own story. My story isn’t always pretty and simple, particularly when I’m dealing with the way past past. This post is actually a video of me reading a letter of forgiveness to boys who molested me. The story touched readers (thankfully.)
- Be reader-centered. It’s not about you. Even when you’re telling stories about yourself. It’s about helping your reader live a better, more joyful, more purposeful life. Keep that in mind when you post. Author Media blog does a great job of this. They know their audience (writers) and they consistently deliver author-centric content, full of helpful tips about marketing.
- Be kind. Set the tone of your blog to be welcoming, like you’re standing at your front door and inviting someone to come in. Be cheerful, alert, and attentive. And even when folks disagree with you, be gracious in your comments. You are responsible for the tone. You might even want to create a comments policy like Rachel Held Evans, that if folks are snarky and mean, they’ll get moderated.
- Be roadblockless. If you have comments enabled on your site, don’t be so freaked by spammers (instead install Askimet) that you create roadblocks toward posting. NO NO NO Captcha with oddly shaped words or numbers. No second page to go to in order to post. And I would advise against moderating comments. If you have a good spam filter, you won’t need to. I’ve found Disqus to be a really great interactive comments tool.
- Be conversational. No one likes to read a blog post that sounds like a too-important professor wrote it. Pretend you’re sitting across from your audience, tea in hand. Then type. (Click to tweet this.) My friend Bridget does a stellar job at this.
- Be angry. It’s okay to get mad at stuff or situations or even people. I’d grown weary of some pastors/ministries interpreting the Bible with a it’s-all-about-me vibe, so I wrote, “Egogesis: Interpreting Scripture with only You in Mind.”
- Be hopeful. No one likes a Debbie or Donny Downer where you woe-is-me yourself through your blog, lamenting and hollering all the time. Great blogs offer hope. They make you want to live another day with joy. (Click to tweet this.) A great example of this is The Flower Patch Farm Girl and Today’s Letters. Both do a great job of pointing us toward hope and aspiration.
- Be an example. My publishing mentor once told me to share my own foibles and hoist others’ triumphs. I believe this is an amazing way to write. Be real in your own faults, and show others being awesome. Marie Forleo does an excellent job of pointing to her guests’ greatness.
- Be an expert. Agent Rachelle Gardner generously shares her publishing expertise on her blog (she’s amazing.) Agent Steve Laube does the same. We love them for it. Don’t shrink away from your expertise. Here’s a great book to get you started thinking in that direction: The Millionaire Messenger by Brandon Burchard.
- Be well titled. I’m still not an expert at this. In fact, I believe it’s my weakest area as a blogger. This book helped me get better: Advertising Headlines that will Make You Rich.
- Be linkable. Write the kind of content that other people will link to. This goes back to always thinking about creating value for your reader. If you provide something valuable, they will tell their friends about it on Twitter and Facebook and Google + and Linked in. Be sure you provide a VERY easy way for folks to share a link to your content. (Click to tweet this.) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to tweet something, only to search in vain for a twitter handle or a tweet button, and then give up. You might also want to use Click to Tweet, which gives folks a very easy way to tweet your content. I’ve also written a post about how you can write the kind of content that gets shared here.
- Be confident. Hebrews 10:35 says, “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” You are the expert in your niche. You don’t need to shrink back. Your words have worth because you are wildly loved by the Creator of the Universe. Exude that confidence. Rest in your calling.
So those are the twenty-five things I’ve learned after writing 2,500 posts over nine years. I pray they bless your blog and make it ROCK.