My Twisted Writer Brain…

Thoughts on a Saturday Sidebar

I decided to start a new branch for My Twisted Writer Brain and that is Saturday Sidebars. Yes, I’m going to step away from the norm and highlight needed text to assist with the understanding.

Anyone who’s ever watched a legal drama recognizes the term “sidebar” but it’s also a literary term in regards to bringing something to the forefront of a piece of text. **Yawn** Sounds boring but it allows the reader to see what needs to be seen.

The Saturday Sidebar will be all about blogging and writing. It may involve a wee tap on the shoulder that says Hey…did you know? or perhaps you should... It’s about assisting you (while reminding myself) to get a point across to the reader. This Saturday Sidebar goes along with a recent blog I did called Five Reasons to Start a Blog.

So today for my first Saturday Sidebar I want to talk about the start-up of your blog. I know we’ve talked about blogging before but here are some things that you may want to highlight.

Your Blog Name: It can be very difficult and time-consuming to find just the right blog name that reflects on who you are and what your message is. Tell your readers about the journey to begin. Why did you choose that name? What does it mean?

Who Are You: It never hurts to remind readers about who you are and what you’re all about. Don’t share super personal information unless that’s what you intend. Keep it friendly, succinct, and welcoming without revealing your private life details. Often the intro blogs get lost in the archives after a year or two and new readers have joined since then so a short blog to explain or reintroduce yourself doesn’t have to be monumental but just casual and a help to refocus if necessary. 

Call to Action: On every blog, you write you want to invite people to subscribe. Have a friendly closure that you use each time to thank visitors. Invite them to comment, like, share and subscribe.

Schedule: Once you’ve decided on the name and focus of your blog, begin writing and titling several blogs (maybe ten to start) that allow the readership to get to know who you are. Decide how often you want to post and then schedule them to publish. Consistency is key so the reader doesn’t forget about you. Once a week works to start.

Here’s a sidebar to the sidebar: RE: before scheduling the blogs make sure they’re as good as you can make them. Either use a proofreader or run them through Grammarly or Pro-Writer Aide to ensure the writing is as professional as you can make it. I use the free version of both programs. It’s good to make sure those dang commas are in the right spot. Don’t rely on the programs for all your grammar and structure issues but they can act as an adequate guide.

Don’t Over Schedule: If readers have subscribed to your blog they don’t want to be inundated every hour with another blog…and yes, some bloggers do that. Choose a schedule that works for you and your reader.

Don’t Over Write: People are busy. They want something quick and thought-provoking. Intersperse longer blogs with short or microblogs. Don’t do long laborious paragraphs–break things up to make it easier to read. Think of things that you like to read? Keep it Short, Sweet, and Simple. 

Link To Your Other Social Media. Don’t forget about sharing your blog to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter–and any other social media platforms you utilize. If you’re doing Twitter and Istagram make sure to use #hashtags to direct the post to where it needs to go. Do your homework.

Never Run Out of Material: The nice thing about having a blog is that you’ve developed it for yourself and it’s a reflection of you. If you feel like you’re running out of things to say then go back to who YOU are. Do a blog to reflect on what you’re writing about or what you did the day before. Readers understand that things change. If you can, reflect on timely matters that make you relatable–look around you and see what’s happening in the world or community. But don’t try to be who you’re not–it doesn’t work.

Do Make the Blog Attractive: once you get used to the writing then you can start to add stock pictures. A good source is as the photography is high resolution and use is free. Don’t add too many. Try and strike a nice balance between text and photos. It gives the eyes and brain a break.

Always Acknowledge your Readers: If someone comments on your blog be sure to respond and engage. This shows everyone you’re aware of the readership and what’s happening. And, while you’re at it, comment on other people’s blogs and maybe they’ll do the same for you.

Have Fun: Don’t fool yourself, having a good blog and garnering a following is hard work. It’s up to you to keep it current and credible but it should also be fun. Enjoy what you write about and don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit. Maybe throw in some personal pictures, a poem, an interview, a micro-blog, or maybe (once in a blue moon) a bit of a woe is me lament or rant…that’s ok too.

And–Finally–Keep A Notebook: Whether a physical coiled notebook (which I love, love, love) or the notebook on your phone–just always be ready to jot down the brilliance of a new blog idea that slaps you as you’re falling asleep, in the grocery store, or in the middle of a blockbuster movie…jot down the title (a brilliant title always comes to me and if I don’t write it down I’m convinced the new one isn’t quite as good) and the gist or tips you want to make. That notebook could save your sanity.

Well, that’s the first Saturday Sidebar. Hope you enjoyed it. Let me know.

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