A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Blog Post About Blogging

Yesterday I was at my niece’s wedding, so first let me express my congratulations to the happy couple. I’m so glad I was there to celebrate with you. Second, because I missed it, I want to give a shout out to Kirby Larson. Her new book, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL released yesterday. I bought my copy today and will post my review next Wednesday. There's still time to post a blurb for my blurb contest and to win a copy of THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL or MY UNFAIR GODMOTHER or CAYMAN SUMMER.

Now to the blog post at hand, which, ironically, is a blog post on blogging. I was lucky enough during the LDStorymaker’s conference to attend a class taught by one of the queens of book blogging, Elana Johnson. Elana's blog has 1986 followers. She also blogs at The League of Extraordinary Writers (884 followers), and is one of the organizers of WriteOnCon. Her debut novel, POSSESSION, comes out June 7th.

I went to Elana's class because I enjoyed blogging, but I didn’t feel like I was having much success at it. After listening to Elana I realized I've been going about it the wrong way.

What I didn’t understand was that BLOGGERS ARE A COMMUNITY. You can’t use the Field of Dreams attitude about blogging--"if you build it they will come." You have to build it, make your blogs interesting and entertaining, and then you have to PARTICIPATE in the blogsphere. (Duh, why didn’t I think of that?)

For over a year I have been blogging in my little box, wondering why I don’t have many followers, basically; I built it, why aren’t they coming?

This is what I learned from Elana’s class:

1. Consistency: Your followers need to know what to expect, so pick a day (or two or three or five or seven) every week and then make sure your blog is up when your followers expect it to be. If a blog by yourself is too much, blog with other people.

2. Participate in the Blogging Community: Check out your follower’s blogs, post comments, enter contests. Follow a blog the way you would want to be followed. Not only will you gain followers, you’ll gain supporters, friends, and glean industry information.

For me I think this was my biggest mistake. I resisted the idea that I was an author blogging for authors, then I realized, other authors support each other, they buy books, they read books, they talk books to their friends. Since I started writing I have read more and people ask me all the time for book recommendations, especially for their teens. Besides, how better to learn the industry than from other people involved in it?

3. Be Yourself. Your blog is a tool to get your name out there, so use your real name, share your quirks, your likes and dislikes (without whining or ranting), your dreams and goals, let your readers get to know you.

4. BUT...Don’t make your blog a commercial. People go to media (like TV), for entertainment and information, not to read a two page commercial about themselves. It’s okay to talk about what you are doing, but if your blog is just about you and your books, (or whatever you’re trying to sell,) no one will be interested in what you have to say.

5. Other Ideas to get your blog out there: Participate in blogfests (which Elana is not a fan of, so call them blogging experiments instead). Guest post on other people’s blogs, have other people guest post on your blog.

6. Make it easy to read, follow, and comment on your blog.

· Keep it short, use short paragraphs, make sure there is white space so the look isn't overwhelming.

· Use a big font and a light background with dark writing.

· Adjust settings so you readers don’t have to jump through hoops to leave a comment. I allow anonymous comments and then monitor comments via e-mail myself. I’ve gotten spam once, and no inappropriate comments.

· Watch how fast your blog page loads no one wants to sit around waiting for it to come up.

7. Have fun with your blog, your readers can tell if this isn’t fun for you. If you absolutely hate blogging, don’t blog.

Thank you Elana for a wonderful class! If you want to learn more about blogging, queries, or anything else publishing related, check out Elana's blogs, and look for Elan's book POSSESSION out next month.

Do you have any advice about blogging? Is there anything that drives you crazy about blogs or blogging?


  1. I heard that con was a blast. Thanks for sharing some of what you learned. :)

  2. Great advice! What I found really hindered my blog was the titles I'd choose. I wouldn't give it a second thought, and just say something that would be addressed at some point in the post, as vague as it could be. And that's a problem when some followers might just go through the list and see what titles captivate them! So I'm trying to be more straight-forward with my blog post titles, and I think that's helped! :)

  3. The conference was wonderful Karen. Kathryn, that's good advice too. My titles always seem to be too long!

  4. Hi! First of all, I would also like to congratulate your niece! next, I wanted to thank you for your lovely post and for sharing the tips you learned from Elana - It is truly helpful and considerate of you to post it. thanks!

  5. It's true that blogging is a community. I look at my side bar as though I'm reading the newspaper headlines. I want to know what's going on with the people I know.

    And all the other advise is golden too. More thoughts? Be a follower, don't just expect everyone else to be yours.

    Thanks for the great post!

  6. Thanks, Jen! This post came at the right time since I just started my own blog. Your insight is invaluable.

  7. I can't take the credit, Blessy. It was all Elana.

  8. I'm patting myself on the back for having successfully, albeit entirely accidentally, done a few of the items on Elana's list. Thanks for the great post!

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