How to write a successful blog post

Excellent advice. This blog has been nominated for the WordPress award “Freshly pressed” and I think this post is an excellent example of why. Great tips!

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Many of us write well. Many of us also engage with really important or popular issues in our blog posts. Yet, some bloggers turn out more successful than others. How does that happen? What’s the big secret?

The most fundamental answer to this question about the big secret of writing a successful blog post is that there isn’t one. Readers know good content when they see it. They will not read anything that does not add value in some way (unless it’s your mother reading, of course!). So writers need to focus on quality first before anything else.

Yet, I’ve seen many great blogs that fail to engage the reader even with good content. “How does that happen?” I’ve asked myself many a time and have come up with the following cautionary points meant for good writers.

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For authors: plotting tips

You might have a great idea and fantastic characters, but there has to be a plot in there or all you get is a series of events.

I’m a new author and, though I’d like to think that I can write semi-decently, I have trouble with my plots. I usually have an idea for a book, I know how to start and I know what the crisis will be. It’s the middle that tends to…well, sag. Between happy status quo and crisis, what happens?

Well, I found a great post to help me with my plotting issues. First, it explains what a plot should look like in very simple language (I like simple). It splits up the plot into 10 steps that every book should have and they’re very clear. I read it and a light just went off. If I had this as a skeleton for my ideas, I’d be so set! So, I thought I’d share it. Here’s the link:http://www.novel-writing-help.com/how-to-plot-a-novel.html

But my issue is the saggy middle…well, it so happens that’s what this new post on the same blog is about. And, apparently, it’s an issue for new writers (ahem). The author is Harvey Chapman and he explains (again really clearly) how to avoid that saggy, dull middle. Turns out, what you need are mini-plots that connect. He explains it much better, though. Here’s the link: http://www.novel-writing-help.com/plotting-the-novel.html.

But, if these didn’t do it for you, I found some others that might!

The one I liked the most is this one by Annie Neugebauer. She has a Novel Plotting Worksheet that has prompts and you just answer the questions and, voila!, you have a plot! http://annieneugebauer.com/the-organized-writer-2/novel-plotting-worksheets/

Simon Haynes has a great concept with his version (and he even has diagrams!). http://www.spacejock.com.au/PlottingANovel.html

Then I also found these two in less steps than my original 10.

http://thisblogisaploy.blogspot.ca/2011/09/how-i-plot-novel-in-5-steps.html By Rachel Aaron, how to plot in 5 steps.

http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/plot-outline.html. By Glen C. Strathy. He uses 8 easy steps to get the job done.

I’ll add these to the Resources page!

The importance of Tags: for bloggers

I used to think tags just came on clothes…ah, the innocence. Tags are an important part of  blogging. A very important part. Apparently, the search engines out there use tags to send traffic to blogs. Sooo, if you want to have people come to your blog, you want to tag your posts very carefully. In fact, you want to tag your post under the topics people are most interested in.

WordPress can help. It has a Tag cloud with all the most popular tags in different sizes. The larger they are, the more popular they are (I honestly didn’t know that at first. No laughing).

If you want more traffic, you can go to the cloud and ‘tag’ your post under one of the largest categories. Be warned, if you have a post on baking chocolate chip cookies and you tagged it under ‘Top Stories Travel’ just to get traffic, that same traffic might get ticked that you’re misleading them and your idea might backfire.

If you want more traffic, you can also use more tags but there’s a catch here too. WordPress will penalize you…more on this later.

Now, you might be wondering how on earth does a newbie blogger like myself come to know this great info? Well, I can’t take any credit for any of this. Nope. I’m standing on the shoulders of giants (or one giant as it happens). This all comes from a great post by Gene’O in his great blog: Sourcerer. He has a post with the link to the WordPress Tag Cloud, a clear explanation on the number of tags you’re allowed and great tips for bloggers who have no idea (like me!). Here’s the link: http://sourcererblog.wordpress.com/tags-are-your-friends/

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Night-time writing

My best ideas often come at night. Right when I should be dozing off, ready for dream-land, I close my eyes…and finally see how my heroine is going to face her fears or I finally know where the climax of my book will be or I finally get what drives my villain.

I’ve tried ignoring them thinking I’ll remember them in the morning. Nope. The paths connecting the issue with the solution, so clear as I dozed off, were impossible to remember in the clarity of the morning. No amount of coffee could resuscitate my memory either.

I’ve ignored them thinking they weren’t that important or good…only to curse for days while my waking mind tried to recreate them. It took me weeks to finally remember.

As I write this I’m reminded of the story of Scheherazade and the muses who whispered stories for her to entertain the sultan but did so only at night. While I’m no Scheherazade, able to magically capture the attention of my audience until daylight, I certainly don’t want to snub my nose at inspiration. I do get ideas in the daytime–certainly I get them at the most inconvenient times, like while driving or while at a work meeting–but the best ones often occur to me at night.

I have no idea why enlightenment comes just as I’m about to lose consciousness. Maybe because the mind is relaxed and open to Karma? Who knows and really, who cares. It’s like the inside of my laptop, I have no idea how it works, I’m just glad it does.

Still, years and years of this happening and I never once thought to put a notebook by my bedside. Not once. I have one now thanks to my husband who, hearing me moaning about a lost idea, put one there. I remember I thanked him while secretly convinced I wasn’t going to need it…

Until that night.

(credit:iloveretro.tumblr.com)

(credit:iloveretro.tumblr.com)