Blogging: Tend Your Vineyard

Blogging Tips

I’ve been blogging for more than a decade. That seems hard to believe, but it is true. During that time I’ve cycled through a number of trends and “pro” advice, and one thing about internet writing that is ALWAYS true is that it will constantly change.

So how do we find “evergreenContent that keeps having value over time” advice?

Quality

Like any business certain things don’t change very much and one of those is quality. Quality lasts, and that is true of writing and photos.

This is a variation on the oft-repeated “Content is King”.  Besure you putting up content, because the online reader is voracious. I used to joke that that blog always wanted to be fed more content, “Feed me!”, but it isn’t a joke, so pace yourself. And post the best, constantly improving, content. that you can.

Consistency

This was my hardest lesson; and the most important.

You must develop consistency as a blogger.

It doesn’t have to be every day, or even week, but it must be regular and something your readers can count on.

Since it was always my biggest challenge in life to be regular about anything… I have suffered most in building my blog from shortcomings in this department. So here are some motivators for you:

  • Being a consistent writer will improve your writing.
  • It will help build your loyal “tribe” of fans.
  • It will keep the search engines happy with your blog, if you continually add content that is original and of good quality.
  • It will help you to develop good business work habits.

Writing with consistency helps you develop a rhythm that also creates something of a flow and is a generator of inspiration.

 

Pick Up The Pace

Aim for two posts a week if you can. I have several different blogs, and some of them only recently have congealed into their topic focus. They started as experiments or I had some loose idea of what I wanted to write, but now they are gelling into a true fix on subject and intent.

Now that I know what I want to focus writing about, I am posting. Choosing a subject that is large enough, but that I’m interested in, has helped to give me motivation to write.

Take this blog for example, it began as a revival of one single page that I had originally developed long ago in my first website. I remembered how I needed to compile my most helpful tips and links in making my website at that time. All the things that I was learning, although I was a newbie, could be helpful for other newbies!

Now that blogging has changed so much and the learning curve is steeper before we see results, I know these articles will serve a need.

Writing more often has become one of my main goals for these newly minted blogs.

Tend Your Own Vineyard

I spent a lot of time writing on free sites, most recently writing for Squidoo, and now Hubpages.

There were several reasons for this:

  • Squidoo ( now defunct) was promoted as a way to increase links to my website.
  • It was fun with an active community of new acquaintances. It taught me a great deal about marketing.
  • It earned me money.
  • Hubpages continues in the vein of earning money online, but all sources nowadays are diminishing.

Tending ones own vineyard is advice from the Bible. It means taking care of what you own and can harvest from. Everyone wants you to jump onto their wagon and work in their field of dreams. We do that for the kinds of reasons that I listed, but we ought to, first, grow and maintain our own blog.

Write for your own domain and sites, first. Be very judicious about the time you invest in others blogs and sites.

Why?

  • They own it, run it, and make decisions about it without you. Your interests come very low on the totem pole.
  • They can change it, close it ( witness Squidoo, and Geocities before that) and there is little you can do, but be ready to change gears.
  • You may lose work.
  • You will keep increasing your time and effort investment.

And those are not even all the possible “cons” in the equation.

So while I like to keep my hand in writing for such places, and they do pay me (which is often reinvested in these self-hosted blogs), my best advice is to mainly work on your own blog. Build it, improve it, keep consistently adding articles and creating a masterpiece of work.

 

In Sum

You know the drill by now:

Write.

Produce quality and keep adding to quantity.

Be a consistent writer and post regular articles.

Add to this (very important today):

Participation and growth of your social media.

You don’t have to be in everything, but you should be growing a presence in the communities that bring value to your blogs. Google Plus 1, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Pinterest (this one is huge for me), Instagram, and many others including their byways that help to collate the many social media avenues (Rebelmouse is one).

Write for yourself, your own domain and sites, first, and in a regular way.

Go ahead and participate as a content writer elsewhere, but remember your priorities.

Tend Your Vineyard

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How To Write A (Good) Blog Post

Deconstruct a good blogpost:

  • Catchy Headline
  • Clear Photo (at least one, preferably Pinterest-worthy)
  • Strong introduction
  • Easy to scan information: headings and bullet lists help
  • Good word flow in well written content

These 5 points are the basics of a good blogpost.

No matter how much you write , one of these areas of the blogpost can always improve. I believe we should always strive to better our product, no matter what form it takes. I’m an information junkie and love to read great posts, and I’m always trying to improve by learning how to put together great advice from experts and make it my own.

1. That first one, the catchy headline, always challenges me. I’ve read Copyblogger’s advice and even participated in his mentoring program to try to learn more.

2. Photos were always a challenge, but with my iPhone and Camera+, as well as Instagram, I am starting to improve the process. I made nice  enough photos with my Sony digital camera and photo editing, but it was a very time and effort consuming process. Now it is easier.

3. Remember basic rules of writing a good essay? Those apply to the first paragraph, the introduction. Make it controversial, or make it something generally agreed upon, then introduce your topic and what the reader can hope to find in your post.

4. This has to do with the format of the page.  Break it up into easy to digest pieces, divide with heading, hand out bulleted lists. I am still working on this.

My run-on sentence mindset likes to forget the formatting.

Don’t make that mistake.

5. Read through your content before posting. Make sure you have enough of the written word to give the necessary information and that your thought process is easy to follow.

Rearrange paragraphs and sentences if necessary. Keep learning to write better. Lots of advice is available.

The Next Most Important Points For Good Blogposts

  • Check Your Spelling
  • Check the Grammar and Punctuation
  • Edit Your Writing
  • Use White Space, Reduce Clutter

After you have written a post, it is time to edit, revise, spellcheck, and improve sentence structure making sure the punctuation is properly used to best advantage.

I do play fast and loose with this at times, but I used to go over my work repeatedly correcting mistakes, and still do when I have the time. It is far better to look twice before pushing the publish button.

People have given me helpful info on times that I have overlooked proper spelling or written in an obscure manner. I wish I had more input! If you have a friend or colleague who will help you edit, treasure that person.

Perhaps you would improve with the use of an editor app or program. I have used Scrivener and Evernote, although I’m slow to learn how to coordinate everything.  A successful blogger I know uses Scrivener and other helps, and I am trying to follow his lead in becoming more effective.

These are the important points to remember when creating a blogpost that is memorable, social media worthy, and useful to your readers.

In sum, although there may be an infinite number of tweaks and improvements we may make, these are the core components of good blogposts.

Make your blogpost interesting, entertaining, and/or useful

One Last Thing

I have been seeking to improve my blogs and one thing that keeps coming up:

Include a Call to Action

This is a “marketing term”, but it has become a widespread inclusion in the summary of a post. The idea is that the reader gets involved with either being asked to comment, “like”, or sign up for the newsletter (don’t have one? More on that in the future.)

I have started to do this. So, please sign up for my garden newsletter… it is more than gardening.

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Camera + App Makes My Blog Pictures Pop

Flower Photo f
Flower Photo for the Garden Blog

I still use a regular digital camera, but the iPhone has made it so much easier to add photos to my blogs. It wasn’t too long after trying out Instagram that I wanted some quick and easy filters and effects on my iPhone photos for the blog.

Along comes advice to try out Camera+, a robust photo editing app for your phone. It makes it easy to add frames, filter effects and numerous tweaks to the original photo. I find it simple to use and learn.

I am actually ready to start upgrading to premium filters and frames; which says lots for the app, since I am notoriously cheap frugal .

Right now I am experimenting to find the styles and effects that I like the best, but one feature that is a real time saver is the way it adds captions to the frames.

To see some of the latest results view the new garden journal blogpost  summing up  the garden in July.

This app is not expensive, and I think you should try it out. It has lots of ways to give Instagram-like frames and looks and many of its own, along with many editing tools to give variety and good looks to your phone photos. Easy to save and share, too.

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Podcasting Or Making Youtube Videos?

I started making garden video, even though this is probably a harder learning curve for me than taking photos has been. Both endeavors require some investment in equipment and both seem to be important additions to your blog writing.

This post is to share some of my research.

First of all, even though I tried out podcasting briefly some years ago, but didn’t pursue it. The thing is, if you make video you can also convert that to a podcast, so the sound equipment you buy is important for both.

My First Efforts

Right now, all my videos are either iPhone videos that are imported and edited in iMovie (yes, I work on a Mac), or camera videos which are edited and converted in the same software. Oh yes, some of the first ones were recorded directly from the laptop. Lugging the laptop out to the garden, either walking around with it or setting it on an out door table.

What was the drawback of those early videos? That should be plural: there were many drawbacks, primarily in sound, but also in video quality.

I started looking online for help to improve my video results. Plus I need to move and speak more quickly or smoothly

 

There are scads of “How to make Video” videos! But I quickly latched onto some tutorials that I liked much better than others.

One person I learned from is James Wedmore. When I say that- I don’t  mean I’ve had time to implement what he teaches, but that he packs so much information inside his tutorials that I have many leads on what to change and how to change it for better videos.

If you would like to see my garden videos or simply track my progress in making video, subscribe to my youtube channel.

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Customizing Themes: Loving Fonts

The new way to customize themes is increasingly centered inside a plugin. That is what I am using with the theme that comes with the present WordPress, Twenty Fourteen .  I decided to try out a child theme for it.

The child theme is called ‘Sequel’, and relies upon a couple plugins. After the child theme is chosen and the plugins are installed, it is a matter of cycling through a large number of choices that will then customize the look to conform more to what you desire.

I liked the look just fine before I started changing it, but wanted to try out this child theme and see how plugins create changes.  Among the things that I didn’t have access to previously is the Googlefonts .  I love fonts, and have the hardest time deciding which one is best for a site, but eventually my “trial and error” method will conclude with a basic look.

I tried  out at least six that I like equally well, and have a general wish for the font to convey the fact that this is a personal site with tidbits of information. Nothing heavy and imposing or too stiff, as though we are taking ourselves too seriously here.

The capacity for using different fonts adds unique character to a site.

We just want to have fun blogging and setting it up. We like to get quick troubleshooting for common problems. that is what I am writing about here, because that is what I most appreciate.

Does your theme have Googlefonts included for customizing?  Do you like the choices or would you rather have the typography taken care of and brand your site in other ways?

If you want to try it out, the “Styles” plugin is available in the WP repository. Styles

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