Dear blog…will themes make my readers happy?

I was recently reading a blog post entitled, Give a Dry Blog New Life–The Power of Themes, by Kristen Lamb, about the need for author blogs (wanna-be and successful writers who blog about writing) to use themes to create a great blog. For example, Kristen blogs about craft on Monday, Twitter on Tuesday, Social Media on Wednesday and anything goes on Friday. Well, I am always interested in ideas on creating a great blog so I read on.

Kristen wrote that a great blog isn’t about content, it’s about creating connections. Bloggers connect through engaging topics that generate discussions and eventually all that discussion forges a community. And voila, une hugely successful blog!

I can’t argue with her logic. That sounds pretty reasonable. As I come up to my one-year anniversary of this blog in August, this prompted me to ask myself; am I achieving my goals? Are they the same as when I started? What do I want to get out of my blog?

I think my original idea was to use my blog as a creative outlet while drafting my first book simultaneously building my brand (and interest) as an author. I also wanted to write about my adventures in life, things I love, things that drive me nuts, and the little nuggets of wisdom I have learned and continue to learn….in the hopes of inspiring. In the end, I figured if you write…they will come read.

My stats tell me that I am currently at 90 posts, 199 comments (although some mine) and my blog “hits” are at 4,067 (again, who knows how many of those are my own?) So in a year in, is that reasonable success? I honestly don’t know.

I want to have a successful blog. But what does that mean…to me? Is it tons of comments, tons of followers, off-the-charts stats, lots of people linking to my posts? Readership and comments are definitely a part of the equation although if you asked me for numbers, I wouldn’t know exactly what they are.

But I think it goes deeper than that; a successful blog to me is one that I feel good about; that I know and feel like I write about topics that people find interesting, inspiring, infuriating, engaging…that connect with readers. I want people to come back over and over again because they can’t wait to see what I’ll write next. I want to build a successful blog that connects with others, that speaks to them, that resonates. And I want to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when I look over my blog.

When I review my blog content to date, it’s a bit of a mash-up of this and that. It feels a bit scattered brain. It’s a lot about my personal life, a bit on lessons learned in life, and a variety of general topics. There’s no definite rhyme or reason although I did try with categories. It seems to be more of a personal journal, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But how would readers interpret it? Does it engage and connect with them? And what would make them come back again and again; to hear an update on my dog? I am not so sure.

Ouch – whatever shall I do?

Kristen says that we should offer our readers a predictable schedule of content by applying a theme that helps bundle all kinds of topics together and offer the reader a sense of what to expect, yet at the same time afford the author tremendous flexibility. She says the trick to blogging for the long-haul is content that is refined, yet interesting and she suggests that themes will help me keep my content consistent yet fresh.

She wrote that themes shouldn’t corner me when it comes to topics. They should enable me to take in the world and package it in a way that informs, entertains or inspires. And she recommends that with each theme, I should brainstorm at least a hundred possible topics. If I can’t hit a hundred, I should try another theme.

Hmmmm???? Maybe that’s the missing ingredient? I know as of late, I’ve definitely struggled with consistency and feel a little like I am still searching for my blog “voice”. I guess I thought I’d have that hammered out by now. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have entirely although it’s coming slowly but in the meantime, I think my readership may be suffering because of it.

Maybe, after nearly a year of blogging, the questions I should ask myself are; what do I love to write about? What do I find “easy” to write about? What posts do I have a blast drafting? What posts seem to generate comments? What posts get the most hits, long after they are posted? What are readers telling me by what the visit and comment on?

Personally, I love writing about things that have changed my life and/or inspired me; things that wake me up and give me the “wow” factor whether it’s thoughts, feelings, realizations, experiences or books, blogs, quotes or movies; and things that really piss me off or frustrate me to no end…rants! And I love to sprinkle dashes of sarcasm or humor to either.

So with all that wonderful knowledge, how do I translate that into a theme or two that offers readers the structure they need while enabling me to be interesting and witty? I get the ideology but I am not sure I see exactly how to put it into practice….yet!

Never fear, help is near! Kristen actually teaches a workshop called “Blogging to Build Your Brand and Your Fan Base” where she has writers go through exercises to get a sense of their unique creative style; she helps them create a log-line that helps set the tone of the blog; and then works with them to mine their passions and interests for content to help them shape and plan their author blogs.

Fahhhbulous!! It’s $40 and runs through July. DANG!! I was thinking of signing up for it but with the dog’s surgery and pending “time intensive” physio (as described by the vet), I am not sure I will have the time to commit! Grrrr…priorities Natalie!  

Perhaps I’ll give implementation a whirl on my own with a focus on bringing my continually refining vision into reality; a successful, consistent, fresh blog featuring kick-ass content that keeps readers coming back for more!

What do you think makes a successful blog? Ever use themes or log-lines? What works for you for keeping it fresh and interesting?

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