Monday, February 24, 2020

Building a Blog with Content

I've read quite a few articles about how to develop a readership for a blog. Some have focused on procedures, such as labeling the properties of photos so links will result when searching for particular photo subjects. Some articles have focused on strategies, such as including key words in titles and opening paragraphs. All the articles, though, have mentioned and circled back to the importance of content. If articles aren't interesting, timely, and written well, eventually readers will drift away.

I've been connected loosely or closely with about a dozen periodical publications over the years, both print and online. For some I was a contributing writer, for some an editor, and for a few online blogs the writer and administrator. With all of those varied experiences in the regular publication of content--newspapers, literary journals, school publications, and blogs--success always circled back to good content, providing what the reader wanted to read.

Even this blog, Tom Kepler Writing, containing subject matter pretty much determined by whatever activity I'm involved with at the moment, is successful because of its content. Having written here for over ten years, I've accumulated a "backlist" of articles that still attract readers so that my monthly page views maintain a fairly good number--at least for a small, private blog. I've referred earlier to the "backlist" phenomenon in my article celebrating ten years of publishing this blog.

My more recent blog about tiny trailer camping, Green Goddess Glamping, has been more successful, I think, even though I've been posting articles for less than two years. There are two reasons to which I attribute this success. One is that I've learned a lot from my previous writing and blogging experience, especially how to structure and promote the blog. The second is that the greater focus of the blog (on tiny trailer camping) has helped me attract readers.

The articles still have to be interesting, timely, and well-written, though. I continue to write using a strategy I've read about in the past--to vary the content of the blog's articles in a rotating pattern of informative, personal, and feature stories relating to tiny trailer camping. An example of the changing content can be seen in the three links below from a year ago--or even by the titles of the articles.

Of course, it isn't always easy to maintain that cycle of content. During the winter, I'm not out camping so much. Sometimes my feature stories run thin because people are too busy to respond. And as for "how-to" articles, there are only so many times I'm willing to write an article about portable toilets. (Although, interestingly enough, my portable toilet articles are among my most viewed!)

I do try and mostly achieve a publishing schedule of two articles a week, sometimes easily done and sometimes a challenge. This self-imposed two-per-week goal has had some interesting consequences for me. One is that as a retired school teacher, it's provided a personal focus in my varied responsibilities during retirement. The publishing schedule has established a certain rigor to my writing, and I like that. I like knowing I have a deadline coming up.

Another interesting consequence of my regular posting of articles to meet my two-a-week goal is that my creativity is stimulated. Two a week is not a burden, but does create enough time pressure that I have to keep alert for story opportunities, especially in keeping with the rotation of subject content. Both the need to be creative and the stimulation of my creativity has led to unexpected articles and unexpected contact with other trailer owners and campers. For instance, I've written eight articles aggregated under the Art and Craft Activities label for Green Goddess Glamping, stories about fine artists, a blacksmith, a photographer, and a computer artist who also camp, to name a few. I've also published five articles on Camp Cooking, which include an article on campfire cooking and an article on Dutch oven cooking.

My publishing goal of two articles each week with varied subject material has increased my creativity in finding interesting subjects to write about. After that, it's my responsibility to research and write readable articles about my article topics. It's been a fun experience this last year and a half. As an added bonus, maintaining my camping blog has also re-enlivened this blog. The more writing I do, the more I have to write about writing and publishing! I believe, following my experience of the last ten years, I will eventually use the camping blog's content to produce some camping books--or perhaps manuals and travelogues would be more specific.

I also feel that my current writing, just having ideas and words flow, will eventually lead to my diving back into fiction again. I've recently written two flash fiction rough drafts. I'd like to publish a fantasy short story collection, with the stories set in the Stone Dragon universe. I feel that egg hatching. It's a good feeling, and I have to thank my blog writing for providing some continuity, some connection--thoughts in the mind, fingers on the keyboard, and something to share with my readers.

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