Knowing what to blog about is a question I’ve been struggling with since I became a blogger. I had a blog for many years that was about my life, boat restoration, my tendency to be a freak magnet in public. This gave me tens of readers. Recently, I started blogging again to support the release of my novel, though I struggled with where to start.
Blogging is different for a fiction writer than it is for non-fiction. The authors of non-fiction can build their platform on their area of specialty and then blog about that to promote themselves as the expert in that field. Fiction writers, to put it bluntly, simply make up a story and tell it. And while we can argue that a fiction author can simply fashion blog posts out of short stories, this is unsustainable for blogging at a frequency that the market demands. Never mind the creative demands of trying to come up with an original short story once per week!
There are a few things to consider as you get started that can help you determine your area of focus and align your blog strategy.
What Is Your Goal For Your Blog?
The first thing I needed to do as a blogger is to determine the goal of my blog. As a fiction author, my product is my book, but I can’t just write blog posts about why people should buy my book. My product is also my writing as a whole. My ability to tell a story and engage the reader for a moment is really what I am trying to promote with my blog.
My first step was to take a look at the blogs by other authors in my genre. I bounced around on the internet and read blog entries from a variety of fictional authors. I found that so many of them talk about writing and I admit that my eyes glazed over reading those posts. I found a few good ones where the author posted a funny anecdote from their life, or about a trip they took. I read those and I felt like I’d made a connection with the writer. It was at that point I decided I wouldn’t write about writing unless I could find a way to make it interesting.
Then, I broadened my search to public figures I want to emulate. For example, Taylor Swift. She makes being a megastar look effortless. Sure, her songs are catchy, but somehow we are all interested in who she’s dating, what her home looks like, and what inspires her. We don’t get to hear about how she writes songs. We don’t get to hear about how she struggled to find the perfect rhyme. She’s never out there asking us to buy her music, but when she tells us why she was inspired to write it, we all are more interested in buying it, right? She is an expert in connecting with her listeners and making them feel like they know her. This is the goal for my blog—to connect with my readers and make them feel like they know me.
How Will You Meet and Exceed Your Goal?
If my goal was to let my readers get to know me, then I have to tell them things about myself. My next step was to make a list of things I would tell someone about myself when I sit next to them on a plane or meet them at a party. Who am I? My list included my day job, my hobbies, where I am from, where my family is from, my pets, etc. Then I expanded the list and brainstormed ideas for blog posts for every single item I listed.
I examined my list and crossed out any aspect of my life for which I couldn’t come up with three ideas for a blog post. The day job was the first to go. When I meet new people I never ask “So, what do you do for work?” Because I am at a party, or on a plane and I don’t want to talk about work. Learning about someone’s hobbies, for example, is always way more interesting. What I was left with was my book, of course, but also my dogs, scuba diving, sailing, my cooking failures, growing up in a Polish household in America, and so much more.
How to Get Organized
My list was a jumble scrawled into a notepad. Using the application Evernote, I typed in every blog post idea. I use Evernote because I can access it from anywhere—my computer, my phone. Whenever inspiration for a blog post strikes I either have one of those devices with me, and I can add it to my list before I forget it.
Sometimes it helps to jot down a few notes along with the idea. If I’m coming back to my list a while later, a blog post title doesn’t always spark my memory. Having a few notes of what I want to talk about definitely helps. Depending on how many topics you discuss, it might also be helpful to organize your ideas by theme. For example, I might organize my posts by writing, personal interests, and personal life stories.
How to Prioritize Blog Topics
How you prioritize your topics should depend on your goal. For me, I want people to get to know me better, so I’ll start with the most hard-hitting topics first. The stuff that makes me, me. From there, I’ll continue to branch out into more stories about my life, trying to build on what I’ve developed so I can establish a strong internal linking structure.
If ranking on SEO or increasing your audience is your goal, you’ll likely want to approach prioritization differently. Doing keyword research to identify the most significant opportunities with the least challenge is a great place to start in this case.
Once you have your prioritized list, it’s time to start writing! If you’re new to blogging, don’t fret too much on the first few posts. It’s natural to want to perfect everything you put out. But in reality, it’s not possible. Instead, give yourself a set amount of time for editing and revisions. Once you’re at 80%, go ahead and publish! You can always edit later. As you continue, it will get easier. Like any other craft, excellence comes with practice.
If you hit a wall, sometimes it can help to focus on visuals for a little bit. Hop over to Unsplash or Pexels and browse for images to accompany your writing — you might just find some inspiration along the way.
Planning and setting goals will help you succeed as a blogger. When you do the work upfront, you will save yourself time and energy in the long run.
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