Monday, August 12, 2019

Finding Community in Blogging

Whether blogging for fun or business, becoming an authority in your field, or educating others, one thing is clear...blogging is a way to find community.

Ever since I opened my Blogger account a decade ago to begin introducing the public to my memoir-in-progress, Again in a Heartbeat, I have loved blogging. A social medium, blogging has led to innumerable connections and meeting new people, some of whom are now friends and fellow authors I admire and whose blogs I look forward to reading.

Creating a popular blog was the subject of our August Women’s Writing Circle workshop
. The enthusiasm and interest in blogging―our conference room was packed―attests to a medium that allows the writer to reach an audience of her choosing, her own "container", so to speak, of creativity and purpose. This is publishing at its most enjoyable and attainable. You don’t have to be a polished writer, nor do you need to invest a lot of money, if your budget is tight. All that is required...a passion for your subject.

Once you start blogging, you draw others with like interests, passions and goals. The key is to create a compelling blog that your audience looks forward to reading.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years.

Make sure that your blog’s title speaks to the audience you hope to reach. I chose Women’s Writing Circle with the subhead―a place to share our stories. This fit nicely into my memoir journey, but also my interest in creative writing and publishing and offering a group empowering woman to find voice through writing.

Learn how to write a compelling headline that is eye-catching and goes to the heart of the body of your blog post. For example: On Writing Book Discussion Questions , one of my most popular posts over the years, educates and informs on that topic.

After you’ve selected your headline, go right into the body of your post with a compelling first paragraph. The first paragraph draws the reader into the topic and makes them want to keep reading.

Other things I’ve learned:

  • Keep your audience in mind.
  • Incorporate relevant links into your post.
  • Add labels that enhance SEO or search engine optimization. For example, writing in community is a label I often use, as well as Women's Writing Circle. It has paid off. Anyone who types in women’s writing circle on Google will first be directed to my site. 
  • Use attractive photographs that enhance the subject of your blog post. 

At the workshop, we talked about Blogger vs. WordPress. Reams have been written on these two platforms, the pros and cons of each, but in a nutshell: Blogger is a cheap platform with an intuitive, user-friendly design and your content is owned by Google; WordPress is more expensive and as one writer said, a bit of a “time suck” and labor intensive, while offering numerous plugins and other bells and whistles and you own the content.

During our workshop, which included writing our own blogs, I was impressed with the various projects and ideas our writers brought to the morning session: blogs on practical advice; marketing artwork; exploring the journey of doing things alone...a blog that allows students to find their voice through writing.

Writing our own blog posts

Clare Novak explaining how WordPress works
For me, blogging has been a gift. I've met new people with like-minded interests. It offers me the platform and incentive to blog a book by memorializing blog posts―those memoir moments and life story vignettes and lessons about the craft of writing―I am incorporating into A Woman Alone: Lessons from the Writing Life.

Blogging has assisted me in the craft of writing by forcing a deadline every Monday morning, although sometimes I don’t make it. But that’s okay. Blogging should be fun and not a drag, while keeping in mind that it requires an investment in time. I love the medium and the reach it gives my work, the community surrounding it, the commenters who take the time to stop by and offer insights, whether here or on Facebook. The guest bloggers who share their books and their stories. As one woman who came to our workshop said, “It is very stimulating for me to have community around developing my voice, setting the goal of publishing.”

Do you have a blog? Are you thinking of starting one? What do you enjoy about blogging? What are the challenges? Feel free to link to your blog in our comment section.


Marian Beaman said...

I started blogging on Wordpress in February 2013 and haven't looked back. I would never have been inspired to write my memoir, and, most importantly, gained the connections with you and others around the globe who encourage me. This week my 469th blog post (Topic: Kathy Pooler) will be posted.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Marian. Your have a lively blog chock full of commenters. That speaks volumes to your success.

kathleen pooler said...

I agree with Marian, Susan. I’ve been blogging since 2009–coming on my 10th Anniversary—and I’m not sure I would have been as inspired as I am to write two memoirs. Every time, I wonder if weekly blogging is too much, someone never fails to nudge me to keep going. Blogging has been a great way to build community and hone writing skills. Another great post. Thank you.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Hi Kathy. I love the concept of your blog which is sitting around the kitchen table and chatting about what we love ... writing. There are blogs and then there are blogs that promote community and camaraderie. Memoir Writer's Journey is the latter. Love reading your memoir vignettes and guest posts there. Thank you for being an integral part of the community of this blog over the years.