Here’s something you might not know about blogging.
If I write headlines like these:
- What Kim Kardashian Can Teach You About Tomatoes
- 20 Ways to Grow 1,000 Pounds of Vegetables In 10 Minutes A Day
- Why Overpaying For Seeds Is Costing You More Than Just Money
…there is a huge chance you will click on the headline to see what the post is all about.
And who could blame you – I mean we’d all assume Kim Kardashian prefers Sweet Millions but maybe she’s a Stupice girl. It would fit, right?
Now, if I write Kardashian-free headlines like these:
- Breezes Blow On
- Garden Walks In Spring
- Time And Again The Seasons Change
…then it probably doesn’t matter how fantastic the post is because the vast majority of you will not read it. You’ll be too busy wondering if Kim’s Lemon Boy recommendation was for a tomato or a trendy LA cocktail.
What, Me Formula?
People sometimes ask me how to be a good gardener, and the answer is always some variation of “pay attention to your plants and garden a lot.”
Recently, for reasons I find flatteringly inexplicable, a few people have asked me for tips on blogging. It turns out my advice is basically the same: “pay attention to what resonates with your readers, and write a lot.”
When I first learned there was a formula to creating headlines that grabbed people’s attention and made them want to read on, the writer purist in me was very offended. “But if my content is solid, why should I need a car-saleman-style headline?!” I huffed, indignantly.
Then I started paying attention to the headlines that made me want to read posts on other blogs. How enlightening! How humbling!
If I thought for a moment that because I was in the blogger club or knew the headline formula trick I would be immune to the call of Kim Kardashian and her ripe tomatoes, a few days honestly examining my own reading tendencies proved me wrong.
Five Thoughts on Blogging
At this point I imagine the majority of the people still reading are themselves bloggers, and that’s ok. Non-bloggers have likely clicked away, and who could blame them? They’ll come back when I publish that Kardashian-Tomato post I’ve been working on.
If you’re still with me, blogger or not, you might enjoy a peak into the working-side philosophy of this blog. If you are newer to blogging than I am (and I am very new myself), perhaps these lessons I’ve learned will help as you craft your own writing.
1. If I am a good blogger, it is because I actively seek out people who know more about blogging than I do, learn from them aggressively and then work my ass off to implement what I’ve learned.
I have learned – and continue to learn – obscene amounts from Copyblogger. The e-book Simple Blogging from has helped me spend less time to run a better blog (though I will admit it still takes more hours every day than I really have). I recommend both these resources.
2. A reader is very busy; respect that. What you write has to be of value to them it you want them to spend their time reading. It is not enough to talk about the minutia of your life; readers have their own minutia to preoccupy them. Some value must be added to that minutia in order to justify the readers time. (See #3 for what constitutes added value.)
3. A post should be crafted to either educate, entertain, inspire or comfort your audience, and should ideally do more than one of these things. My audience (that’s you!) responds to humor regarding the everyday struggles we all encounter in the garden and in life and how-to posts from which they can learn. You particularly like posts that show you how to do things faster or better, or in a cleaver way that saves money. And most of you like it when I swear, a little.
When a blogger adds information, entertainment, inspiration or comfort (“There are more freaks like me! Yay!”) to their daily minutia, they create a post which is both valuable to the reader and unique to the blogger’s experience. That’s what I try to do with every post.
4. Readers come to a blog expecting a certain type of content. The day I showed up at a career-advice blog and saw a photo of the blogger’s bare ass was the day I unsubscribed.
A blogger should stick to content that makes sense for their blog. I write about gardening and urban homesteading with a splash of cooking, motherhood and food politics. No one comes to my blog expecting software reviews or tips on buying a new car.
That said, I suspect a blogger can successfully write about almost anything as long as they can connect it back to the main theme of their blog. (For example, I am hoping to slide this post on blogging philosophy under the gardening radar by sprinkling in lots of tomato references – is it working?)
5. Always write with your own authentic voice. (This one is really, really important!) There is no topic you can possibly write about that hasn’t already been covered. Gardening, cooking, preserving, etc.: it’s all been done before. But, almost every topic can be discussed in a new and fresh way if you bring your unique voice and perspective to it.
Update: I liked that e-book Simple Blogging so much I became an affiliate. So if you end up buying it through the link above I make a few bucks. More info here.