A lot of people wonder how they can create a Breakout Blog that will help build platform and connect them to their audience. This series on Blogging Tips looks at ways to maximize blog performance to reach these goals.
WHAT TO BLOG ABOUT?
A hollow, soul-sucking question for bloggers, isn’t it? Creativity is in the crapper and yet a post is due. Or it feels like the well of ideas is dry and all possible topics have been blogged to death. At this point, many of us regret starting a blog in the first place.
But here’s the deal: this isn’t the question that needs to be asked.
During a point like this, our focus should be simple: WHO is my audience? Who am I targeting when I post and why? Knowing the answer to this (especially when you start a blog) will save a lot of headaches later, I promise.
Most writer-bloggers have an audience that fits into one or more of 3 categories:
- People who share the same interests and hobbies
- Other writers passionate about writing, books & the writing path
- The audience they hope will buy their book one day.
So why is knowing who our audience is SO IMPORTANT?
Because the sturdiest path to a successful blog is content that MEETS YOUR AUDIENCE’S NEEDS. If you don’t know who your audience really is, then you can’t have a full grasp on what they want and how you the blogger can give it to them.
Blogging is all about adding value. People come to your blog for something–it’s your job to know what and provide it. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask what you would like to see. What type of content gives the most value & insight? What will keep you coming back for more?
Once you start thinking about what your audience needs most, ideas will begin to form, filling that well we talked about earlier. Think creatively–what serves their need that is not being done by other blogs? How can you offer insightful content to them in a fresh way?
Some people think there is nothing new to write about. That there’s no way to bring about engaging content that someone else hasn’t already done or who can do better. This is simply not true! Your viewpoint is unique, and therefore valuable. Don’t be afraid to try something new, or approach topics from a different angle. Bloggers are only limited by their imagination, and as writers, that means you have no limits at all. 🙂
Like this tip? Click on the ‘Blogging Tip’ label below for more thoughts on blogging!
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Lisa Gail Green says
Sorry I’m late on this one! I’ve had a CRAZY week. 😛 But this is SOO TRUE! I had this issue when I started and it wasn’t until I really started thinking about this that my followers and comments took off. You can run contests and interviews and blogfests until you’re blue in the *bleep* (couldn’t go for the cliche there sorry) but you won’t REALLY get an audience until you give ’em what they want!
Toyin O. says
Great tips, thanks for sharing.
Kelly Hashway says
Great post! Knowing your audience is very important. Plus I think it really helps you in other areas of marketing yourself and your books. Actually, let me take that a step further. It applies to your writing. You must know your audience when you write. Blogging is no different.
Martha Ramirez says
Awesome tips. Thanks Angela!
Angela Ackerman says
Bryce, you are too kind–thank you for the visit 🙂
SP, see, I think you do what you do so well–you write content that appeals to the fans and the writers. It’s hard to do this and still keep it fresh, yet you do week after week!
Marsha, I imagine that random stuff is also like a window ino who you are and what you like, and people like to get to know the face behind the blog. This is something I need to do more instead of relying on Twitter/FB & Google+ so much for that.
Clarissa, as I mentioned in an email, I think your direction of doing book reviews could help to pull that Mystery crowd in. You have a great blog, so I know you’ll do well.
Susan, I’m glad this one helps. I am no authority when it comes to blogging, but these are things that I have observed, so it the tips help others, great! 🙂
Leslie, thanks for the visit!
Erin, I totally agree–blogging does help us write better, and learn to articulate ourselves in a more condensed manner. I think breaking things up to meet the needs of more than one channel of audience is a good thing. I think there are always ways to make a post written for one audience also add relevance to others, so think about how to do that. Stina’s blog, ‘Seeing Creative’ is a good example of that–she often does photography posts that she ties into writing as well, and it works brilliantly!
April, glad this helped–thanks for the comments and good luck with your blog!
The Golden Eagle, I think that what I said to Marsha and Erin applies to you as well. People like that layered feel to a blog and knowing who is really behind it. It’s all about being yourself.
Natalie, it really does help with the focus. And if you notice a topic really appeals to that audience, it’s a good place to return for additional posts. 🙂
Carrie, thanks for the visit!
Julie, you are too good to us–thanks for the kind words. I’m glad what we do here works for so many. And if there’s anything to be learned by it, then it would be that we started with a unique idea and did something that was not out there. And we knew zip about blogging to boot. The fact that we’ve figured a few things out should show everyone that they can easily do the same!
Aldrea (what a beautiful name!), I’m glad to hear you’re having success with your blog–that’s awesome. It sounds like your paying attention to your instict, which is the most important tool a writer has. 🙂
Jeff, thanks for the comment! 🙂
Laura, I think you are a blog that is one to watch. Your posts are articulate and well crafted, and your topics are always timely. We do face the challenge that we cannot readily access our target audience, but you have branded yourself (in my opinion) as someone who knows writing well and isn’t afraid to talk about the tough topics out there. That holds weight with writers in our industry and you give back in so many ways, I know that it will pay off!
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments. You guys rock!
Laura Pauling says
Great post, Angela. I’m still mulling over all my thoughts on what to blog about. I do see the rationale in reaching our future readers. But as kidlit writers that’s about impossible b/c most teens and esp. kids don’t spend their time reading blogs. Which means we have to focus on teachers or librarians (like you do so well) or parents. And I’m not starting a mommy blog! 😉
I’ll post my thoughts on it eventually but they’re still forming. 🙂
Jeff King says
Nice info… thx.
Aldrea Alien says
I’ve barely been blogging for a five months, so at the moment, I’m taking it slow and updating haphazardly.
I started with just reviews of whatever it is I’ve just read. Then I put down when I’d reached a particular word count milestone (methinks, my next will be the finish line) or, lately, when I self published a book.
Maybe I’ll eventually post other things, but right now … I’m good.
Julie Musil says
The Bookshelf Muse is a perfect example! You know your audience, and we know where to come for great information 😀
As a matter of fact, I’m linking here in tomorrow’s post. Yep, you two are awesome.
Carrie Butler says
“Creativity is in the crapper and yet a post is due.” Hah! Too true. 😉
Thanks for the great points!
Natalie Aguirre says
Great post. It does help to know your audience and what useful info you want to provide. I think if you have some idea of what you want to provide like you do on your blog, it helps keep the focus on what to write about and helps readers to keep coming back.
The Golden Eagle says
My audience varies; a majority of the people who follow me are writers, but I also know there are readers who have blogs on a range of other topics. Sometimes I worry about losing readers, but I try to balance it by focusing on writing most of the time and posting on other subjects now and then as well. It’s what I started out doing.
Becca Puglisi says
Great advice, Angela. If you’re being true to yourself and keeping your audience in mind, what you blog about is going to resonate.
Great post and so true! Once I started finally focusing my posts on MOSTLY writerly stuff…I got a few more followers! Thanks for the reminder to keep it focused on my readers!
Erin Brambilla says
I think it is a little tough to come up with blogging subjects, especially as a new-ish blogger (I think I started in March? Possibly February).
For now I look at blogging as a way to get better at writing. It gets me into the habit of keeping a writing schedule. I’m doing parenting/mom type entries on Mondays, writer-type stuff on Wednesdays, and Fridays are for randomness.
Sometimes I wonder if that is the best approach, since writers seem to love posts about writing and writing advice. But since I am new to all of this and still learning HOW to write, I don’t really think I qualify in that department yet :).
Thanks for a thoughtful post. I do agree if you are passionate about something, it’ll show through in your blog and that’s the whole point.
Leslie Rose says
Thanks for the refocus! Audience first.
Susan Kaye Quinn says
I think you were reading my mind today! As I sat in the black hole of internet non-connectivity, I was giving a lot of thought to how to increase the value of my blog to my readers! Thanks for the great post!
Clarissa Draper says
I ask myself this question a lot. Right now my readers are mostly writers but I want to make more readers of mysteries to check out my blog. So, I try to plan my posts accordingly.
Marsha Sigman says
I think I keep a pretty good balance between writery stuff and completely random crap.
It works for me.lol
SP Sipal says
Great post. It’s interesting for me to think about my audience because I have two very distinct groups visiting my blog. One are writers, who do the most commenting. But in numbers, I get far more people clicking to find out about Harry Potter fandom stuff, like Pottermore. They just hardly every comment. So, sometimes I feel split between how to serve these two diverse (and yet related) groups. I try to do varying posts that cater to each.
Bryce Daniels says
I really like the last paragraph, Angela. Sums it up AND helps alleviate my concerns all in one nice package. It’s easy to see why you have so many followers. Thanks for this advice.
Angela Ackerman says
Andrea, Ava & Barbara, one of the ways I learn better writing is by reading about topics from other writers. One person can focus on a topic or idea that creates a huge aha! moment for me. If everyone was afraid of sharing their unique ideas, we would all miss out, I think.
Chasing empty pavements, glad this helped. Blogging is something that I think gets easier as you go along, and much like writing, we have to move past the ‘are we good enough to succeed at this’ train of thought. I read a lot of blogs and I love all the different ideas and thought provoking viewpoints available. I’ve tripped on so many unique ideas and ways blogs define themselves by creating a slant that sets them apart. There is no right or wrong way to blog, but the most successful keep a keen eye on the needs of their audience and then offer what fits that need best.
Bish, and this is what my last post was all about–be yourself! People will come–we all have to trust in this. 🙂
Traci, I think I know which blog post you’re referring to (I gave my thoughts on the post in the comment section here if your interested: http://jamigold.com/2011/06/how-do-you-choose-blog-topics/ ).
I think people should post what they are passionate about–really, this is what creates longevity in the blogging world. So if you’re passionate about writing, go for it! The relationships and support you gain by going this route is gold. I have met so many fantastic people doing what I do. I would not have gotten this far without them. 🙂
I do think tho that Kristen’s advice on trying to think about how to widen an audience as much as possible by slanting your blog topics is sound. Even for writing blogs, there are ways to appeal to others. In my case, teachers and librarians (among others) are two huge gatekeepers for anyone writing kidlit. My blog content is something that reaches out to this audience as well as the writing community. 🙂
Thanks everyone for the great comments! If there’s ever a blogging topic you’d like me to feature in these tips, just let me know! 🙂
Barbara Watson says
Very helpful! Thank you! The part about our viewpoint being unique is especially thought-provoking.
Excellent advise. I enjoyed reading this post.
Bella Vida by Letty
Have a great day.
Bish Denham says
I find if I stay true to myself and what inspires me, that ideas for blogs keep coming and people keep returning.
I find knowing your audience is hard in the beginning. I try and gear toward readers on Tuesdays and writers on Thursdays. I know the advice elsewhere is not to blog about writing but I figure, guess what, SHE does. After all, she’s advising us what to do and not do when it comes to our own work. Anyway, I try the best I can to deliver a good blog and why should I short change myself or someone else? Great post!!
Ava Jae says
What a great post! You’re so right about knowing your audience–that’s half the battle right there.
Sometimes people worry that they can blog about things that have been written about repeatedly in the past (at least, I know I used to worry about it), but you really covered that too with your last paragraph there. Hitting the same topic with your take on it is absolutely valuable and interesting.
Thanks for the great tip!
chasing empty pavements says
Thanks for the tips! I struggled with this when I first started blogging and well, to be honest I still do! But what you say makes complete sense and I think it’s a great way to look at blogging!
Andrea Mack says
Thanks for the thought-provoking article, Angela! As writers, it’s part of what we do to be creative and come up with ideas. But it is hard sometimes.
That said, even when I read about familiar topic on someone else’s blog, I usually think about it in a new way, just because that person has written from their own unique perspective.