In April I continued to look for information about blogging. I found this article: 16 Top Tips from Blogging Experts for Beginners. I’m not interested in ways to increase branding, marketing, building an email list, or SEO (search engine optimization). My focus is on writing for personal discovery, so I chose only a few of these tips to work on:
3. Write for yourself first.
8. Be consistent (that is, publish more than once a week).
10. Be true to your voice. “People don’t care to follow sites so much as they care to follow people.”
11. Give it time. “Plan to invest in blogging for a long time before you see a return.”
14. Be yourself. “Emotion and storytelling have been part of how we communicate with each other and inspire action for thousands of years.”
15. Keep it short. “You generally need about 300 words minimum to get indexed by search engines.” But the expert quoted here suggests presenting a single idea in a post and keeping the required reading time to a couple of minutes.
16. Make it worth referencing. “When writing a post, I get into a mindset to answer just this 1 question with a Yes: ‘Would anyone email this article to a friend?’”
I’m certainly hitting #8, since I publish every day. I’m also acing #11, since I’m putting in a whole year of blogging every day.
I also took #15 to heart. At the end of February I decided not to worry about post length in March, and I continued that approach throughout April. I didn’t aim for long posts but wrote as many words as I needed to cover the day’s topic. But I did concentrate on focusing my topics to keep each post to a single idea. I appreciated the permission #15 gave me to choose well-defined topics that didn’t require long development.
However, I also started writing longer posts that I often couldn’t finish for posting in a single day . I know one general way to handle this problem is to break the topic into two posts and publish Part 1 on one day and Part 2 on the next. But when I started using writing as a method of discovery, I needed to finish the entire piece, then edit and polish it before publishing. I couldn’t just write, then stop and publish what I’d written so far that day, and pick up again the next day where I’d left off.
Many days I found myself part way through a longer think piece and realized that I wasn’t going to finish. Then I’d have to scramble to find something short and sweet that I could whip up and publish to fulfill my challenge of writing a blog post a day. The challenge had made me trip over my own writing feet. The result was more lists and link round-ups than I’d like, but they fulfilled the challenge and allowed me to work the next day on finishing a longer, more complex post.
In April I also tried to take #3, #10, and #14 to heart by incorporating more personal storytelling into posts. (In fact, the use of personal stories is what produced those longer posts that I kept tripping over.) I continue to search for the elusive characteristic of voice. Breaking out of academia-speak is hard, and I’m glad I have eight more months to work at it.
Here are my statistics for last month:
Number of posts written: 30
Shortest post: 135
Longest post: 1,600
Total words written: 22,090
Average post length: 736
My total word count was down from March, but only by about 450 words, which I attribute to April having one less day (therefore one less post) than March. The average post length in April was about 20 fewer words than in March. The number of long posts (1,000 words or more) decreased by one. I find it informative that I ended up with such similar statistics in two months (March and April) when I stopped stressing out over word count.
Distribution of posts across my three blogs:
The total of posts here may not equal the number of posts written last month because I occasionally publish the same post on more than one blog. However, I have included each post only once in my total word count.
When I undertook this challenge, I thought I would publish the bulk of my work on Change of Perspective and Notes in the Margin, with fewer on Retreading for Retirement. However, that focus has changed radically as Retirement became the repository for my more personal writing. And since I’ve tried to include personal storytelling, I’ve ended up with many more personal posts than I had expected. This trend will probably continue.
Last month’s featured posts:
This post is the result of trying to write deeper.
Here I’ve told the story of my experience to explain and illustrate a psychological topic.
I’d love to see your comments.