|Image by Danny Getz via Flickr/Creative Commons|
A few months ago I discovered the virtual blogger meetup known as Blog Brunch.
Blog Brunch is "a collaborative network powered by bloggers wanting to share, dream and learn with other creatives in the blogging community." Blog Brunch hosts Twitter chats on various blogging topics the first Saturday of each month.
This month's chat, held yesterday, was about finding your blog's voice and couldn't have come at a better time for me as I strive to do exactly that this month during the #bloglikecrazy challenge.
Ironically, even though I participated in the chat because I have so many questions about the future of my blog, during the chat I realized I already had many of the answers I was seeking.
For example, during the chat I began to think about and shared with others the importance of having a clear vision for your blog. This vision will help you stay focused, can help you develop an editorial calendar and regular features, can keep you from being preoccupied with traffic and page views, and can even help you when trying to select the right guest bloggers for your site. I'm going to work on drafting a mission statement this week.
But even after you've figured out a focus for your blog, you may still have trouble finding your voice. Here are some great tips from other bloggers I picked up yesterday:
Don't be afraid to show your personality. Write as if your reader is a pal having coffee with you, one blogger suggested.
One thing so many of us agreed on was the importance of blogging about your passion. If you're just writing on a topic simply because it's popular, it shows.
If you want to know what's working and what's not, just ask. Several bloggers recommend doing reader surveys. And don't rely simply on comments to gauge if your content is resonating with readers. Pay attention to what they share on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets as well.
And speaking of readers, it's important to truly engage them. "I make sure that I end every post with a question or two," said @alliepal. "I don't blog to hear myself talk -- I'd rather hear from readers."
It's important to engage other bloggers, too. Leave comments on the blogs that you read. Don't be a "phantom reader" one blogger said.
If you're looking for ways to improve your content and writing skills remember good writers are also avid readers. Read other blogs, books, magazines, and more for inspiration. You may want to try free writing workshops too, @mspinkandblue suggests.
Work on expanding your vocabulary. Not everything can be "AMAZING!" And remember that sites like Grammar Girl are your friends.
While reading blogs and other online publications can be helpful, if you've fallen into a rut you may need to unplug. "Nothing gets unique content rolling like being away from your computer and living in the real world," @thecuisinerd said.
Others agreed and talked about how writing about local events can really boost traffic. I can say that some of my best content and most popular posts were those written after attending inspiring events, such as the post I wrote after attending a panel discussion on the future of journalism.
Other traffic tips included using titles that are similar to a Google search, which @stacyandcharlie recommended. And @mspinkandblue offered this great tip regarding post length and SEO: "Shoot for at least 250 words to get Google's attention."
That said, be sure not to get too focused on traffic. "Try not looking at your stats or ad sales for a month. See if that changes the way you blog," said @passionfruitads. Obsessing over numbers, @passionfruitads said, is like "looking in the mirror all night and forgetting to go out and have fun!"
Crossposted at the See Jane Write blog.