13 Simple Tips for a Better Blog

I was talking with a client who has a book releasing in about a year, and she was concerned about how to begin building her blog and increasing the traffic. At the moment she doesn’t have a great deal of time to devote to it, since she is still writing her book. We brainstormed and I gave her several tips off the top of my head — simple things she could immediately begin to change about  her blog, that wouldn’t change her blog traffic immediately, but over time would have a positive effect. Here are the things we discussed.

1. Focus first on improving the content of your blog rather than any fancy strategies for increasing traffic. The better your content, the more your blog readership will naturally grow.

2. Make sure every post contains a single main idea. It can be supported by related ideas, but do not ramble. One idea.

3. Keep your posts brief. As little as 300 words can make a good blog post. Try not to go over 500 words, occasionally 600 but don’t do longer posts too often.

4. Make use of bold fonts and subheads for emphasis whenever possible (without overdoing it and becoming annoying). Your goal is to create a user-friendly reading experience. Your reader must be able to scan your post for important thoughts and key words to determine whether they want to pay more attention and read carefully.

5. Use bullet points or numbered lists when it makes sense; this is just another way to create a simple and positive reading experience.

6. Incorporate humor whenever possible. Don’t take yourself too seriously! Show readers that you’re a real person; make sure your posts have personality.

7. Be controversial. Many people shy away from it — writing things with which people are sure to disagree can be scary! But controversy draws people out of their shell and encourages dialogue, and often can increase the level of reader engagement on your blog. It can also get you more “shares” and more traffic.

8. Use at least one image in every post. I recommend you acquire them legitimately through stock photo websites. I use iStockPhoto and 123RF.

9. Intentionally spur conversation in your comment section, by asking a question or encouraging your readers to share their opinion or their story. If you don’t do this, you’d be surprised how few people will take the time to comment.

10. Make it easy for readers to comment. Don’t make them sign in or jump through other hoops. Most of the time, they’ll  just skip it.

11. Think carefully about your post titles. I often come up with very cute titles, but scrap them in favor of something more boring but likely to draw in readers from a Google search. If you can word your post title in a way that exactly matches how people might search on Google, you’re likely to draw in more readers.

12. When using Twitter and Facebook to promote your blog, never say “New post!” or “Visit my blog!” Always offer the reader something valuable. This might be “Today’s blog post teaches 13 simple steps for improving your blog.” Or it could be a quote from your post. Or you could post your blog question on Twitter and Facebook, and send readers to your blog to chime in with their thoughts.

13. Always keep a running idea file. Make it easily accessible and jot down EVERY possible post idea you have. I keep one on my computer which is also accessible on my phone so I can write down ideas on-the-go. Once you’ve created an idea file and get in the habit of using it, you will find yourself looking at the world differently. Suddenly every experience is a possible blog idea! This can be your most valuable tool in increasing the attractiveness of your content.

All of these ideas are meant to help you create the most satisfying reading experience on your blog. You want readers to love visiting your blog, and look forward to coming back.

What strategies have YOU used to improve your blog? What good blog tips have you heard lately that you are willing to share?

P.s. I broke one of my rules today; this post is 694 words!


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Kristina Smith on December 3, 2014 at 12:53 AM

    These are really some great tips as well as a great writing help for new bloggers and I would say that personal reasons for blogging is important so you don’t feel bad when your family and friends show no interest in following you.

  2. Zetablue Marketing on September 25, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    […] 13 Tips for a Better Blog […]

  3. […] 13 Simple Tips for a Better Blog by Rachelle Gardner […]

  4. Bhanu on June 21, 2013 at 6:06 AM

    Thanks! 🙂 Helpful! The idea file is a great idea, now I think of it!

  5. […] Rachel Gardner has 13 Simple Tips for a Better Blog. I don’t know about #7. I don’t think you have to be controversial to have a good blog. […]

  6. […] Lamb says not to be controversial. Derek Halpern recommends using controversy to draw traffic. Rachelle Gardner says a little controversy is a good thing. How controversial do I want to be? Is it ethical to […]

  7. Jake Kail on November 16, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Thanks Rachelle, this is great. I am planning on ways to improve my blog for the new year and this is helpful!

    Any thoughts on how often to blog? I have been doing about one post per week, but sometimes its a little longer between posts. I am thinking of doing 2-4 posts per week, all on the same theme.



  8. Some Sources of Insperation on November 9, 2012 at 2:02 AM

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  10. Andrea on September 24, 2012 at 11:46 AM


  11. Andrea on September 24, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Thank you so much, Rachelle. You cannot imagine how much I learned from your posting today. I’m looking to start a blog and publish a book at the same time. You can imagine how overwhelming I feel now!
    Your piece was tremendously helpful

  12. Firdauz San on September 19, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    hello there,(im not good in english, i hope you understand what im going to ask)well im a new comers in blogger. So i just want to ask about your opinion and some suggestion about the title of the blog. by the way, i like very much about your tips given for making the blog more interesting. i just want to know is there any purpose the blog title that we gonna put it or we just make it as our own words?

  13. On Squirrels, Guacamole, and Controversy on September 14, 2012 at 5:52 AM

    […] Lamb says not to be controversial. Derek Halpern recommends using controversy to draw traffic. Rachelle Gardner says a little controversy is a good thing. How controversial do I want to be? Is it ethical to […]

  14. Sandy Penny on September 10, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    The blog post is at http://writeandmarket.blogspot.com/. Sorry forgot that in the above comment.

  15. Sandy Penny on September 10, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    I loved your article, and it inspired me to add some tips of my own to my write and market blog. I shared your first three tips with a link to this post on creating a great blog. Check it out and see what you think.

  16. Lynda Schmeichel on September 7, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Like most of your other readers (I believe), I am an aspiring writer, so I have been helped very much by your good advice on your blog & try not to miss a single post.
    On my own blog, I try to answer every commenter, even if it’s just a simple thank you. I am often moved by people’s comments & where I can I engage them in conversation.
    I have a “Blog Ideas” folder on my email page, so if I see something interesting or humorous I can save it here.
    Please keep up the good work, I appreciate your posts!

  17. […] How to Make Your Blog Posts Better by Rachel Gardner is an informative post with 13 tips about blogging.  I know it was originally posted on August 20th but I just came across it this week. http://rachellegardner.flywheelsites.com/2012/08/simple-tips-for-a-better-blog/ […]

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  19. Will DeRooy on August 30, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Apparently I’m well on my way to a great blog! (But I already knew that!) Thanks for the links in #8!

  20. […] 13 Tips for a Better Blog […]

  21. […] 13 Simple Tips for a Better Blog — Rachelle Gardner […]

  22. Janette Dolores on August 30, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    Wonderful tips, Rachelle! Keeping a running idea file has made blogging that much more manageable for me. I keep my main running idea file on my PC at home. When I’m on the go, I use my cell phone’s voice recorder to record longer ideas that occur to me, and my cell phones notes function to jot down shorter ones. When I get home, I input those thoughts into my PC’s running idea file.

    FYI, I made this particular blogging tips post the subject of my blog post today! I appreciate your advice and encouraging voice.

    Be well,

  23. Elizabeth on August 27, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    Great tips. I’m still growing my blog–most people comment on Facebook or LiveJournal, but at least I know my friends and family are reading.

    My most helpful (to me) discovery was changing my scheduling from “post every Monday and Wednesday” to “spend half an hour on blog posts every Monday at 6 am.” Until I made that switch in thinking, I rarely got around to posting. Now it’s a habit.

  24. Kathy Rouser on August 27, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    You may have broken your own rule, Rachelle, but you
    as usual gave good advice worth taking the time
    to read and you kept to the point!

  25. Building a Better Blog | Writingfeemail's Blog on August 25, 2012 at 12:24 AM

    […] I’ve experimented with wisdom from webinars, editors, agents and other successful writers.  Rachelle Gardner is a literary agent with a blog that offers sound advice – at least it appears to be […]

  26. […] author who wanted to begin building her blog without sweating hours over it. She listed these 13 helpful pointers that can benefit bloggers […]

  27. Glynis Jolly on August 24, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    I especially needed to read #12. I usually just let the ‘add to’ app do its thing when I post at social media sites.

    Most of my posts are 600 to 800 words long. Time to look at being concise again.

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  31. […] post first appeared August 20, 2012 on Rachelle Gardner’s blog. Reposted by kind […]

  32. Susan Preston on August 23, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Great ideas, simply put for a beginning blogger with little time.

    Thank you

  33. Laurie Buchanan on August 22, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    I keep it brief, use my own photographs, make a point of using the “we” approach (not the “you” approach), and I respond to every single comment.

  34. …your own opinion | Jody Lynne on August 22, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    […] 13 Simple Tips for a Better Blog […]

  35. Jaime Wright Sundsmo on August 21, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Great advice! Especially the running idea log … I always get ideas at 2 AM and forget them by morning. LOL

  36. Christine Macdonald on August 21, 2012 at 3:29 AM

    I just recently started incorporating questions at the end of my posts. It really does help with comment traffic.

    I try to keep it simple, but always real.

    Also, I like to sit on a post for 24 hours before posting, so I can read it with new eyes, and fine tune (a.k.a. trim the fat).

    Great post, thank you!

  37. Kathryn McClatchy on August 21, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    I have a few topic that I am interested in blogging about. Someone suggested setting up Google Alerts to search out those topics. It gives me daily updates about news and what others are writing about relative to those topics. It really helps me come up with ideas to write about.

    Also, I write when the mood strikes in a MSWord file, and then edit later. When I am satisfied with it, I copy and paste it to the blog, with a scheduled post date/time. That way, I post every five days whether or not I am home, working on my blog, or even paying attention to it. I always try to keep two or three posts ready to go in case I get sick or something comes up that I can’t post. This makes my post consistent, and I don’t feel pressured to write just because I need to post something.

    Thanks Rachelle and all that shared good tips as a reply.

  38. Natasha on August 21, 2012 at 12:35 AM

    These are all great tips, thank you!

    Here are some additions that have helped me:

    1) Put Google Analytics on your blog and learn to love the data. 🙂 I analyze my data constantly – sources of traffic, time on site, referral patterns, social media patterns, days since last visit, etc. This has been hugely important for my blog growth – analyzing the data and responding accordingly with content strategy.

    2) Someone else mentioned this and I totally agree: Be personal, but not too personal. Unless people truly are reading your blog to learn about you personally, they are much more interested in the insight you can provide for their lives. Personal anecdotes have been very helpful to support my posts, but I am very careful to not make my blog a personal blog about my life.

    3) Get your readers to attach to your blog before they leave – either as an email subscriber or a Facebook fan/Twitter follower. Once you have most of your readers as Facebook fans, you are in a great position to leverage Facebook tools to bring people back again and again. (And once you have a fan base in Facebook, my last addition would be to learn all the ins and outs about using it to reach them. Learn all you can, for example, about Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm!)

  39. Peter DeHaan on August 20, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Thanks for these tips, Rachelle. I already do most of them, but my traffic’s not what I want, so I’ll being working implementing the remaining ones.

    (By the way, I seldom read posts that are over a couple hundred words — unless they’re really good and easy to read. And I always read yours.)

  40. Bonnie Doran on August 20, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    Thanks for the post. It’s nice to know I’m doing a few things right. Using a relevant post title is something I need to do. Punny has been more my style.

  41. Kristin Laughtin on August 20, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    A lack of ideas for interesting content and excessive length are my biggest challenges, though the two seem like they should be exclusive. I often feel like I arrive too late on the scene to offer much original on whatever news is shaking up reading/writing/publishing, and when I do think of a good idea, I can’t be brief! Perhaps I should try breaking those posts up, if all else fails.

    One more thing to add: consistency is key. I don’t know if that’s what has caused this or if I’ve just been improving a little bit at blogging, but I have seen my traffic increase since I started blogging on a less sporadic basis. Comment counts are high, but it appears a few more people are reading the blog than before.

    And it’s definitely to important to connect with and participate on others’ blogs! Most blogs I’ve discovered have been the result of an interesting comment, and I can recommend the names of a lot of new commenters on my own from the comments section of other blogs, so they’re probably finding mine the same way. (It’s just tough to comment on lots of things when you’re focusing on writing! But even a few a day is a good start.)

  42. Patricia on August 20, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    I think focusing on good content and staying away from the spammers is the best way to grow the blog. I’ve had to learn how to identify the friendly people out there who want to take advantage of our hard work!

    Thanks for the detailed direction and breaking your own rule!

  43. sally apokedak on August 20, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    One good way to increase traffic to your blog is to visit other people’s blogs and to link to other people in your posts. I have met some of my favorite bloggers in the comments sections of blogs I read regularly. Since we have similar interests, it makes sense.

    It’s time consuming to link to and comment on other blogs but if you’re not a famous agent or author, it probably helps a little to reach out to others, instead of just waiting for them to find you. And sometimes real friendships grow. I’m friends in real life with several people I first met in the comments section of my blog or in the comments section of their blogs.

    When you leave comments at their blogs, you aren’t just connecting with them. You’re connecting with all their readers.

    • Jennifer Major on August 20, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      No kidding!! I just clicked my way through all kinds of goodies on you blog.


      • sally apokedak on August 20, 2012 at 10:46 PM

        Hey, thanks, Jennifer. I’m getting a little paranoid, though, because you said you clicked through some goodies. No one entered to win the Kindle Fire or Google Nexus, today, so if you tried that, it didn’t go through.

        • sally apokedak on August 20, 2012 at 10:58 PM

          Oh, never mind. I just realized I’d linked to several blogs in the last couple of posts. THOSE goodies. Yes, they were goodies. 🙂

  44. Samantha Bennett on August 20, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Love the idea of focusing on content. I can get so caught up in doing more, more, more, instead of polishing what’s there.

  45. Jennifer Major @Jjumping on August 20, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    These tips are great, especially #2.

    I wonder if I should add more to my blog. For me, my blog is an extension of my life, with the truly awful bits left out to protect the guilty. As I approach a season of querying, I want to add some zing, but I don’t want to put something on the blog that isn’t *me”.

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on August 20, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      Just from a reader’s viewpoint, Jennifer, I’d say your blog is great. What makes it great is that you are you. Your personality comes through on the blog and I think that’s important. You have shared a bit about your journey to research the book and people who have read that, I think, will want to read the book. It you wanted to change from a journal-type format, perhaps you could write reflections or share information related to what you’ve learned about the Native Americans, especially the Navajo.
      Beth mentioned the importance of passion, and it’s a subject I know you have passion about. Just a suggestion.

      • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on August 20, 2012 at 4:24 PM

        That “reflections” idea, Christine, is great! I do have quite alot to tell about the trip, especially setting foot on hallowed ground. To actually stand where a treay was signed and a people were set free is an experience that goes beond words. Walking the dry, infertile ground and seeing the beautiful but useless Pecos River brought tears to my eyes. People died where I stood.

        See, you got me going!!

        “Passion” is right.

    • sally apokedak on August 20, 2012 at 10:56 PM

      I love your blog because I love your sense of humor.

      The only suggestion I would give you right off is to move the “subscribe by email” button up to the top of the sidebar. I couldn’t find it and I wasn’t checking lately because I thought you weren’t blogging on your trip. Now I go over and see a bunch of photos.

      • Jennifer Major on August 20, 2012 at 10:59 PM

        I’ll go do that right now!! Thanks Sally, feel free to give any more ideas as you see them.

  46. Dale S. Rogers on August 20, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    Thanks for the helpful ideas, Rachelle.
    I’m going to put some into practice. One
    I just started is connecting my blog to
    my Facebook page. I can already see a

  47. Lisa on August 20, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Patience. Not so easy, but it has been vital to not losing my mind with blogging and especially social media. It takes prayer, time, and thought. Connecting with people sometimes takes reaching out to them multiple times. I try to keep my readers forefront in the lens of everything I do.

    I often write personal notes of thanks to them for committing to journey with me. Their thoughts and encouragement are priceless and so wise. I hope if I become published someday that my encouragement and dedication to them will earn their respect to want to read my words.

    Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. I just wrote today about my frustration with rejections and trying to establish a social media following. I realized I’m striving for automatic perfection, which is just impossible. God is sufficient to meet all our needs, in the correct timing.

  48. Christie on August 20, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    What a great post! These are really helpful tips. I try to keep a running file of blog ideas too. And I couldn’t agree more about the brief blog length. I occasionally use my blog to try out new writing styles such as freeform poetry. I am also using my blog to debut some of the ideas presented in my book on progressive religion.

    One thing I struggle with is providing tips and advice since I have a hard time coming to terms with the idea that I am in any position to dish out advice.

    Blogging has definitely brought some wonderfully supportive people into my life and I find that reading other blogs can be invaluable for inspiration and mentoring.

  49. Darcy Flynn on August 20, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    HI Rachelle,

    I’m a debut author and am new to blogging. One of the things I was thinking about doing was to have my readers help me to accomplish an important task or goal. Something major, that might take weeks or even months for me to accomplish. They would act as my online advisors and cheerleaders!

    What do you think? 🙂

  50. Susi Robinson Rutz on August 20, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Thanks so much for these tips, Rachelle. Incorporating humor and being controversial on my blog will be the most challenging for me. My melancholy-choleric temperament can cause me to come across as a know-it-all do-gooder. At your suggestion, I’m going to try showing more vulnerability and sharing the silliness of life, even if I only dip my toes at first to test those waters.

  51. Meadow Rue Merrill on August 20, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    These tips are great. I’ve been blogging once a week for about four months and am just beginning to hear from new readers. Getting them to actually post though is really tough! Do you think posting once a week is enough?

  52. Melinda Viergever Inman on August 20, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    I’m trying to build my file of ideas right now, so there’s not so much pressure to produce content each week. I don’t post daily, like you do; but I post at least once a week. With all the other writing I do, it’s enough for now. I saw an earlier response about sticking to one particular day. I also found that it varied when people actually read the posts, no matter what day I put them up. Summertime seems to fluctuate more than during the school year, too. So, I now post weekly, but not necessarily on the same day.

  53. Cynthia Washburn on August 20, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    These are great suggestions and I’m pleased to see that I do follow some of them already. One I would like to add is: Blog regularly. Pick a schedule and stick to it. Be realistic but I think less than once a week would mean people forget to check in.

    Oh, one more pet peeve of mine: If you have a blog roll, check it out from time to time. I went through one recently on another agent’s site and found that several had not posted for over four months, two had moved, one had said goodbye, and one was only accessible by password. I can’t think the blogger was aware of that.

  54. Meghan Carver on August 20, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    One more thing — photos are a definite help. A picture is worth a thousand words and all that. But with copyright infringement being such a hot issue, I’ve found that taking my own is just as easy. Plus, my readers enjoy seeing a little bit into my “real life.” Thanks, Rachelle, for a great post!

  55. Walt M on August 20, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    My wife made comments 1 and 2 about my blog about two weeks ago, so I started doing that. I’m thinking about mentioning this blog post to her, but I’d like to avoid the “I told you so” that would follow. 🙂

  56. Meghan Carver on August 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Life is a blog post! I have so many ideas jotted down that I’m not sure when I’ll get them all on the blog. 🙂

    Also, a controversial subject definitely drives traffic — but be prepared for snarky comments! I posted about submission (of wives to their husbands) a couple months ago and had to delete a couple of comments but also found my blog traffic increased significantly.

  57. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on August 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    One thing I’ve considered doing is adding a section from my in-progress novel (whose working title is Dead Men Rising)to each blog post. It would serve several purposes –

    1) I might get some feedback from the bright folk who read my blog

    2) I would have some pressure to keep the writing process moving

    3) Hopefully, anyone reading it would enjoy it and have something to which to look forward each day.

    Good idea?

    Stupid idea?

    Introduce the hamster to duct tape?

    • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on August 20, 2012 at 2:59 PM

      Good idea.

      Who are the wise people?

    • marion on August 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM

      I’ve heard that you shouldn’t post unpublished work.
      If it’s bad, people will think you can’t write.
      If it’s good, someone might steal your ideas.

      • marion on August 20, 2012 at 6:53 PM

        You can ask me for feedback on WIP, if you like.

  58. Diane Yuhas on August 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    I’m considering a more consistent topic for my blog, but fear that I’ll become bored with it. So far I’ve been pretty flighty about the subject of each post- finding my voice and all that- and my readership is very small as a result. What advice have you?

    • Diane Yuhas on August 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      What I really meant in terms of advice is, would you consider writing a post on this subject?

  59. Deborah Schubbe (Debi Oneille) on August 20, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    Since writers use blogs to attract readers, I’ve often wondered why many of their blogs boast numerous articles solely about writing, which would be interesting to other writers (unless they’ve already read ten similar articles), but not necessarily to readers who are not writers.
    If a writer needs to attract readers who may eventually read his or her upcoming novel once it comes out, how will an article about writing tight attract a young-adult audience, the target for writers of YA fiction?
    Some teens, including my beta readers, would be bored sick reading articles on commas versus semicolons, improving dialogue or other writing tips; because they like to read stories, not lessons. So how do we craft our blogs to attract the YA audience we’ll need once our novel comes out?

    I’ve been told over and over to blog only about writing, writing, writing; but it seems to me, this advice would make more sense if I were writing a “how to” book on writing that I planned to publish soon, rather than middle-grade and YA fiction. Any ideas?

    • marion on August 20, 2012 at 6:37 PM

      Months ago, one of my few blog followers said I had too many posts about writing.
      He’s not a writer, he’s a photographer.
      Since he’s a loyal bloggee, I had to take this criticism seriously. And I think he was right.
      I’ll post about writing sometimes–mostly the process as I’m experience it. After all, writing is what I do.
      But the market is glutted with blogs about writing. It’s probably better to blog about something else, most days.

      • marion on August 20, 2012 at 6:38 PM

        Oops. Nearly midnight here. That’s my excuse.
        I meant: As I’m experiencing it.

  60. Joannah Miley on August 20, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Very helpful blog post. I am in the same boat as many authors; editing my novel and creating my platform at the same time. It’s difficult to strike the right balance, but I figure that starting somewhere is better than not starting! 🙂

    Thanks for this post!

  61. Elizabeth Kitchens on August 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    Great post! And it didn’t feel long!

  62. Tyrean on August 20, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    I’ve found that visiting other blogs is the best way to improve my own. It just seems to work that way.

  63. Joseph Iregbu on August 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    Often guilty of the ‘New Post’ bug! Thanks for sharing, very insightful.

  64. Joanna Aislinn on August 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    I work on consistency and including a wide variety of topics. My one requirement to guest bloggers is family friendly. And did I mention I’m always open to guest bloggers? Feel free to contact me 🙂

    Nice post, Rachelle. Thanks! 690-how many words? Think I might need to go back and count, lol.

  65. Beth Browne on August 20, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Your blog is just the best. Thanks for these great tips in such a readable form.

  66. Conny Manero on August 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Interesting blog and well worth following.
    I like the idea of blogging about controversial issues, but I’m a little worried that this might cost me readers rather than gaining them.

  67. Charise on August 20, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    I think these are great tips. My “idea” file is to start a draft of the post with that idea. Then it feels like I have a head start when it’s time to write the post.

    Any thoughts on frequency? I blog once (trying to get to two times) a week. I know others (like you) who blog much more frequently. But I know so many others who then slack off. I thought it might be better to stay consistent rather than overdo it and then retreat?

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on August 20, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Charise, this just my opinion but I think you have to decide what you can commit to. If you can write an excellent blog more than once a week and keep up with that pace, then go for it. However, it’s better to write a great blog once a week than it is to write mediocre blogs more often. As Rachelle pointed out, content is key, so focus on content rather than frequency. Graeme and Andrew mentioned that blog traffic doesn’t always follow the post date. I’ve found this on my blog as well. I post once a week, but traffic will spike about three days a week and new readers will look at the blog I’ve posted for that week (and sometimes they look at older posts too). I know for myself that I can’t blog more than once a week. So that’s what I do and my readership has been steadily increasing. So, in regards to frequency, go with what works best for your life and schedule and what will best benefit the blog content.


  68. Cherry Odelberg on August 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    My blog is where I have freedom to be me, to philosophize out loud over daily occurrences. Readers who like my blog will probably also like my novels; so blogging helps me identify my potential audience.

  69. Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on August 20, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Thank you, Rachelle, for these great tips. I was surprised to find that I am doing a number of them. My biggest sin (which will surprise no one whose noticed my comments on your blog) is that my posts tend to be too long, not always, but too often. It’s something I’m working on.

    One thing that I do in addition to use boldface type (sparingly) is to use color or highlights for a few important words or concepts.

    Thank you for the photo website. I would like to use pictures but haven’t done so very often for the reason you implied; I don’t want to download illegally. On occasion, I have created a of my own on Paint and downloaded that, but as I haven’t mastered the fine art of drawing on the computer, I’m rarely happy with the pictures. They just add a little color and whimsy.

  70. KarenM on August 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Thanks so much for all of your invaluable insight, everyone! I took the plunge over the weekend after the last great guest post and launched my first blog. These tips will definitely help me stay on track and hopefully build my following.

  71. ed cyzewski on August 20, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Solid, easy-to-follow advice Rachelle. Here’s what I would add personally from my own experience:

    – Keep it personal but not too personal. In other words, I need to share my own stories and struggles without sharing everything I’m doing with my family, friends, colleagues, etc.

    – I don’t necessarily try to seek out controversy, but I do try to have strong opinions. There’s a lot of gray there, but the more I let my personal likes and dislikes come out, the more people seem to respond.

    – Test out current or future book ideas on the blog. If I’m thinking of writing something for a magazine, I test a shorter version out on my blog. Recycle, recycle, recycle!

    I’ll also second your advice to keep things short!

  72. Cherry Odelberg on August 20, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Suddenly every experience is a possible blog idea!
    I couldn’t agree more!
    This is the essence of being a writer.

  73. Jeanne on August 20, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Great tips, Rachelle. When I start my blog, I plan to refer back to this post. The idea of controversy never dawned on me before today. I guess if I have a controversial post, I’d better know how to speak words of grace with those who disagree. I appreciate your wisdom here!

  74. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on August 20, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    And always remember your audience!

    Your blog is designed for a certain readership – it’s great to add demographics, but don’t neglect your original Tribe

  75. Tracy Greenlee on August 20, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Know the rules so you can break them effectively D.Lama

    Your blog post was informative, thank you.

    I feel, on my poetry blog, consistence is most effective.

  76. Lucille Zimmerman on August 20, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    I use those same title headlines Chad mentions. There’s a place in your blog, at the top, where you can change how the title would show up for search engines, so you can keep it simple, and yet still have a unique or silly title that readers see.

    Does that make sense?

  77. Mike Duran on August 20, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    7. Be controversial.

    The problem with many writers blogs, as I see it, is that they all sound the same: they politely regurgitate the same industry advice and conventional wisdom. It’s understandable. If a writer is trying to get their foot in the publishing door or build / expand a platform, we don’t want to offend potential agents, publishers, and readers. The result: We end up with blog fluff. Of course, being controversial for the sake of controversy is a problem. But tip-toeing around it all the time does not make for compelling reads.

    Rachelle, the last time I posted here, I received plenty of disagreement. In fact, a high profile journalist ended up writing a specific post rebutting my thesis! It’s just the response I wanted. Kinda like preaching: It’s better that people want to stone you after the sermon, than that they slept through it.

    • Cherry Odelberg on August 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      Ha! Mike, I thought of your blog the instant I read the advice to be controversial.

    • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on August 20, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      Controversy? Mike Duran? Nooooo.

      I dare you to write about Toddlers and Tiaras. Or the Prosperity Gospel. Or both.

  78. Chad Allen on August 20, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    I love Copyblogger’s stuff on writing great headlines: http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/

    Great post, Rachelle!

  79. Nita Leland on August 20, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    I’ve been taking a hiatus from blogging and trying to figure out how to get back into it and improve it. Thanks for the useful tips. This is a big help.

  80. Stacey Thureen on August 20, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Great post – thank you! Another great website for stock photos is http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

  81. Julie Garmon on August 20, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    I keep a camera with me at all times. I try to stay at 300 words or less. I blog every Wednesday, which probably breaks a blogging rule, but I put my heart into every single post. 🙂

    Love this one, Rachelle! Thank you.

    • Cherry Odelberg on August 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      “I keep a camera with me at all times.”
      That is great advice – so do I.

  82. Summer on August 20, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Great post thanks! I just recently realized the importance of the titles in relation to Internet searches. Maybe I’ll go back and change some of my titles from earlier posts.
    I tried to install disqus but had some problems with it. Is there any user-friendly comment interaction widget you recommend?

  83. Krista Phillips on August 20, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    Great tips!! I’m already *trying* to do many of them, and work be working on the rest. I’m bad with post lengths… mostly because I don’t really count the numbers and then when the post comes up on like, “holy cow that was longer than I thought!”

    I’m currently working on the theme of my blog and figuring it out… I let Annabelle hijack my blog for a very long time, which was actually really GOOD for my blog traffic (bittersweet as it was… I would much rather have had a cruddy, no-one-looks-at blog then have the reason I did!), but just trying to figure out what my blog will look like going forward and how to keep the readers I have and start “growing” again.

  84. Julie Sunne on August 20, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    Thank you for these great tips, Rachelle. I already do some and am moving toward incorporating many others.

  85. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on August 20, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    The biggest improvement in my blog came when I put aside the pretensions of who I thought people would want to meet, and just wrote whatever came to heart.

    I don’t have a lot of advice to offer, or a lot of free beer in the form of hot topical humor.

    Ladies, I can’t give you ten steps to Make Him Commit. My wife had me hooked from Day One, and her friends thought she SHOULD be committed. Close enough?

    Guys, I can’t tell you how to Enjoy Life Without Strings, because you’re the puppet, God’s the puppeteer, and if you gut the strings you wind up in a boring heap with your knees around your head.

    I just let the hamster freestyle his wheel, skipping and pirouetting his way to the day’s new post. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it sucks.

    But tomorrow is always another day.

    • P. J. Casselman on August 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      A lot of the codified advice I see on blogs would be better on paper so the outhouse could keep fresh stock. I prefer you write from the heart. Some of your most provocative work might be that which you consider rubbish.

      Yesterday my hamster woke up a premier ballet dancer. Today, it spins the wheel with it’s right paw while yawning with left. I’m surprised I remember how type.

    • Cherry Odelberg on August 20, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      I like your kind of advice.

  86. Cindy Huff on August 20, 2012 at 7:34 AM

    These 13 tips are pretty universal for those blogs with a lot of traffic. I really wish more bloggers would follow them. I don’t have time to read a rant that goes on for sometimes 1000 words. Especially if in the end there was no point.

    I’m sure everyone who reads your blog knows this but just in case I’ll add it. Your blog is not your diary. If you want to get your name out there don’t write any old thing that happened that day. Don’t rant negatively about every little thing. And be sure that you have your facts right. Sharing on hot topics is great just be sure you don’t come off as a whiner. Rather present yourself as a sharp editorial commentator.
    Which takes us back to main point illustrated in this blog. Great Content!

  87. Nancy Kimball on August 20, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    This is a great post. Number one is so true. When I re-launched my blog this summer after finally understanding my value proposition, the results were amazing. Except for keeping the posts short, which by nature of my new format is impossible, all these things are right on the money. Especially taking away that “prove your not a robot” feature that made it hard for people to comment.

    My tip: Know who you’re competing against for time spent. There were just too many great blogs already out there geared toward writers. When I went after readers instead in the new format, my value proposition is doing the rest and blogging is fun again and the most successful it’s ever been.

    Best of all, I’m building a nice, strong platform for when it’s time to feature my own fiction heroes.

    • Jeanne on August 20, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Nancy, it’s fun to read what you have learned in your blogging experience. As a newer writer, would you mind explaining to me what “value proposition” is? 🙂 Thanks.

      • Nancy Kimball on August 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        From good old Wiki – A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced.

        For the purpose of blogging, this was covered well in a recent post here about competing with Facebook. My value proposition on my blog for the authors who participate is exposure and for the followers, discovering if the hero of the featured novel makes that book a “must-read” or not by looking at the hero in-depth.

        • Jeanne on August 20, 2012 at 1:20 PM

          Thanks, that makes sense. 🙂

    • Cherry Odelberg on August 20, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      You lost me at “prove YOUR not a robot.”

      • Nancy Kimball on August 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM

        Yes, it’s a running joke among my critique circles that my partners need to review my blog comments before I’m allowed to post them. That you’re/your gets me still after three years, especially before dawn.

        Some blogs require you to retype characters displayed in an image before your comment is accepted. I found over time this safeguard became more of a barrier and did away with it on my blog.

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on August 20, 2012 at 11:09 AM


      Thank you for getting rid of the “prove your not a robot” button. I hate them. There have been times when I’ve had to try three times to type the nearly unreadable words in order to post my comment. I won’t go past three tries. It’s just not worth the frustration.

      • Nancy Kimball on August 20, 2012 at 12:02 PM

        I also hate them. The button was not fully responsible for taking my average comments from zero to two to fifteen to twenty (not including my own) but I know it helped and in five months I have yet to get a “robot” or spam post in the comments. Most of my followers would work pretty hard for the giveaways but I don’t want them to have to.

  88. Evie McLaughlin on August 20, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    As soon as I see a Rachelle notification come into my email I’m excited because I know I’m going to learn something helpful. Today is no different 🙂 I started a blog which was intended to be about the experience of fitting in writing around a job and family. I write just before sunrise and so that’s what I called my blog. But partly through lack of time and partly not being quite sure what my point was, I’ve left it be for now. Your point about having to be interested in the blogs other people write is very important. Also your tip not to post those incessant ‘read my new post’ posts on twitter is true as I find that irritating. When I come back to my blog, I’ll be using your 13 tips. Meantime, I’ve found that my Rewrite No 8 which I thought was going to be a final tidy up, has turned into another substantial, with the blending in of a whole other layer! Thank you for every blog you post Rachelle 🙂

  89. Diana Trautwein on August 20, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    This is the best list I’ve seen yet on this topic. Before my retirement at the end of 2010, I used my blog almost exclusively for posting prayers I’d used in worship while on a pastoral staff. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn more about actually writing 3 or 4 times a week, having something to say that people might actually read. It’s a slow, steady learning process and these are truly helpful pieces of advice. I will begin incorporating some of them ASAP. Thank you!

  90. Diana Trautwein on August 20, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    This is the best list I’ve seen yet on this topic. Before my retirement at the end of 2010, I used my blog almost exclusively for posting prayers I’d used in worship while on a pastoral staff. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn more about actually writing 3 or 4 times a week, having something to say that people might actually read. It’s a slow, steady learning process and these are truly helpful pieces of advice. I will begin incorporating some of them ASAP. Thank you!

  91. Graeme Ing on August 20, 2012 at 3:16 AM

    Great post. Timely too, since I am starting to concentrate on making my blog more compelling. It isn’t easy but your tips are going to help.

    I know that one of the cardinal rules is supposed to be post weekly on the same day. I started doing this a while ago but still found traffic spikes on non posting days, so I stopped worrying about a specific day. After all, who knows when a mention elsewhere is going to bring in traffic. Anyone have thoughts about this?

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on August 20, 2012 at 8:23 AM

      Personally, I’ve found that the ‘rules’ to increase traffic through scheduling is like reading the entrails of a dead sheep to tell you who you should marry. (Might be more fun than some dates, though…)

      Most people don’t know their OWN blogs’ schedules, much less yours.

      Post what you want, at your own schedule (within reason, not ‘yearly’!), and don’t worry about it. Trust your content.

  92. Camille Eide on August 20, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    I’ll have to ditto Beth. I get more interest/response when the topic generates a spark of real emotion in me. (At least I think that’s what Beth meant by “care about”…)

    So far, all I have done to improve is pay attention to what content gets the most response and keep this in mind. Since I blog about personal experiences that illustrate God’s grace, the content getting the most response is the kind in which I’ve been not only honest, but vulnerable. Grace is deeply personal, so I need get (& stay) personal. 🙂

    After 6 months in a committed blog relationship, I’m getting more of an idea of what kind of content is most interesting and to whom. And I originally meant to keep the word count around 500wds, but I have gone way over a few times. I will be more diligent about that, thanks for the reminder.

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on August 20, 2012 at 8:29 AM

      I wouldn’t worry about the word count. Say what you need to say, in the words that come into your heart.

      God’s Grace doesn’t need the ‘word count’ button.

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on August 20, 2012 at 11:03 AM

      Camille, your bold print sentence is important: “a committed six-month blog relationship,” There is so much in that one phrase that is important: that it’s a relationship, that the blogger needs to be consistent (I’m still working on that) and that it takes time.


  93. P. J. Casselman on August 20, 2012 at 2:27 AM

    I need to blog more consistently to create a following. At this juncture in life with family illnesses and church projects, it’s all I can do to write in my book each day and check out others’ blogs.

    Perhaps one key to building an audience is be a good audience member. Those who interact with me on my blog are the first I read.
    Also, have a follow button that’s easy to find. I’ll look for it for 8.7 seconds. If it’s hidden, so will be your future words.

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on August 20, 2012 at 8:30 AM

      I’ll second that. You get when you give.

      And then you find that you get the opportunity to give even more.

      Just as The Man intended.

      • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on August 20, 2012 at 11:00 AM

        I totally agree, P.J., about being “a good audience member,” which goes back to what I ranted about above: connect with people rather than try to increase numbers.

        Blessings on your family. I am praying for them and you.

  94. marion on August 20, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    Getting used to Flickr.
    A wonderful resource for my photos.
    Though I wish they’d let me send photos to a draft and not to a published post.
    And I wish sets of photos could be manipulated more on the blog page.
    But at least, if I post a photo, I have some security on it. And people can click on the link for other photos in the set.

  95. Gabrielle Meyer on August 20, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    I find being consistent is key. Once you find your voice, use it. Let your readers know what they’re getting each time they visit. Reach out to other bloggers on a regular basis and grow in authentic relationships. Don’t view them as a means to generating readers – learn from them and offer up your own unique perspective. Then, offer to host them on your blog. Authors are always looking for good quality blogs to promote their books (and they bring with them a whole new set of followers). Be a gracious host and go out of your way to spread the word for them. Be encouraging and helpful – but don’t be afraid to be yourself! After all, no one is as good at it as you are.

    • P. J. Casselman on August 20, 2012 at 2:29 AM

      Good advice, Gabriel, and words you actually follow. 🙂

    • Jeanne on August 20, 2012 at 9:44 AM

      Great thoughts, Gabrielle!

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on August 20, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      Gabrielle, I think both you and Jill have brought up a key point. Connect with people; don’t use them as a means to accomplish your goals. I think if a blogger focuses on the blog, cares about it and its readers, he / she will be more successful than a writer who blogs just to sell a book. A writer who connects with other bloggers with genuine respect and friendliness will gain much more (knowledge, friendship and intangibles) than one who contacts another blogger as a means to accomplish a goal. I see so many people on Twitter who flood the site with “friend me on FB,” “like my FB page,” “Follow this link to read my blog,” “Buy my book HERE.” But these people never send tweets that respond to people or even invite conversation. Everything is “me, me, me,” never, “So, how are you?” I don’t know how this hits other people, but for me, I’m completely turned off by it. Now if someone writes, “What do you think of…?” (as Rachelle mentioned in # 12), that’s a link I’ll follow and a blog I’ll read.

    • Joe Pote on August 20, 2012 at 1:26 PM

      “…but don’t be afraid to be yourself! After all, no one is as good at it as you are.”

      I love this, Gabrielle!

      I think this concept has been one of the main things I’ve learned in a year of blogging…and am still learning…

      I don’t have to worry too much about being professional or coming across as an expert. Nor do I need to worry about expressing potentially controversial viewpoints.

      Much better to be myself, let people get to know me, and write about topics on which I have a unique and passionate perspective.

  96. Jill Farris on August 20, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    You should care about your readers! If you’re building your blog to eventually sell your book, it will come through and you won’t be authentic. If you care about your readers and have a message to share with them, they’ll get it…they’ll know.

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on August 20, 2012 at 10:44 AM

      Excellent point, Jill!

    • Else on August 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      Jill, that’s an excellent point.

      I started a blog about a year before my most recent book was published. I don’t suppose the blog has moved more than a couple dozen copies of my books to date. But it’s brought some wonderful people into my life.


  97. Beth K. Vogt on August 20, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    You broke your rule, but the fact that you numbered everything so nicely made for easy reading!
    It’s important to blog about something you care about. If you’re bored, your readers are going to be bored. And if everyone else is blogging about it — than what are you going to say that is going to make your blog stand out? (Hey, that rule applies to writing a book too, doesn’t it? But I digress …)
    I retired one blog because it just didn’t catch on with readers. Reality was, a lot of other people were blogging on the same topic. So, I stopped blogging until I found a topic I was passionate about — and people were interested in — before I started blogging again.

    • P. J. Casselman on August 20, 2012 at 2:17 AM

      You have a easy to read, informative and fun blog, Beth. I’m glad you restarted, because it works well.

      • Beth K. Vogt on August 20, 2012 at 9:54 AM

        Thanks, P.J. It only took time … and a good bout of insomnia for me to settle on the “In Others’ Words” Idea.
        A “good” bout of insomnia?

        • Dabney Hedegard on August 20, 2012 at 6:42 PM

          I’m beginning to love my insomnia for that specific reason. I get more done in the middle of the night when no one can ask for juice.

          I’d agree with P.J. Great blog.


          • Beth K. Vogt on August 20, 2012 at 7:31 PM

            Sometimes insomnia is our friend …
            Thanks for the encouragement, Dabney. Planning on reading your oh-so-intriguing post later tonight!