3 Things I Wish Other Bloggers Did

As a WordPress blogger for about three years, I’ve been around the block with discovering blogs, making connections, and all that jazz. Over the years, I’ve noticed some things not all bloggers do–but I wish they did! Blogging advice posts tend to be popular because they’re informative and fun. I hope this post pushes you to assess your own site/habits/etc. and is also enjoyable to read. πŸ™‚

Use better titles

This one earns the #1 spot because it frustrates me the most. Why? It’s unnecessarily self-defeating. What does that mean? Using vague titles makes your post less enticing. I feel conflicted on sharing a great post with a not-so-great title because, no matter the quality of the content, most people won’t be intrigued to click on it.

When I write a rough draft, I put a nonspecific word/phrase as a placeholder for the title based on what I intend to write. Once I’ve finished the rough draft and returned later to edit, I have a better grasp on what specifically the post covers, so I can tweak the headline. With my more rambling posts especially, the end result is not always what I envisioned at the start; I just go with the flow and type what I want in the moment. Thus, I need to readjust the title once the post takes shape.

For instance, one of my recent rambling posts was titled, “Striking Balances Without Becoming Paralyzed (Coronavirus & Black Lives Matter).” I initially wrote “Striking Balances” as the title because, though I wasn’t sure where I would end up, I started writing with the general feeling of being caught between a lot of strong viewpoints and hostility. After writing and later editing the post, I supplemented the placeholder title with more info. I know too many bloggers who would’ve just left it as is! πŸ˜‰ But when comparing those titles, you see how one captures the overall point/vibe of the post more effectively than the other.

Clean up your site: literally & metaphorically

Literally

I prefer reading blog posts in the WordPress Reader where they all look the same. This is partially due to our brains’ general favoritism for familiarity…but another big reason is that many bloggers have eye-sores for websites. Dark text on a dark background, light text on a light background, microscopically-sized text, a cluttered mess of different fonts/colors/images…ugh. Just pull up your own site and really reflect–is this aesthetically pleasing and easy to read? Also, I’m not a huge fan of widgets (basically, little plug-ins you add to your site, usually featured on the left or right side of every page). Though the concept and selection of them is great theoretically, a lot of people feel compelled to use as many as they can. More than a handful is excessive, in my opinion, and can even make your site load slowly.

Metaphorically

When I use the phrase “cleaning up your site,” I also refer to its mechanics, namely menu options and social media links. A lot of (usually novice) bloggers choose a theme (website template) that automatically adds social media links to their site. It’s annoying to visit a website, see the social media links, think to myself, hey, I’d like to see what they post on IG, click the link for their IG, and get deposited at instagram.com because the links are still on their default setting. Please, figure out if you have social media links on your site, and either fill out the links with your info or delete them. I have a blog post on this topic if you’ve no idea how to do that: Blogging Tips on Pages, Menus, & Social Media Links (with Screenshots & Step-By-Step Instructions).

Menus should be very straight-forward. My site has a primary menu (Home, About, Blog, My Disability Story, and coming soon, My Testimony) and a drop-down menu of categories (Christian, Classic Works, Blogging Tips & Tricks, etc.). I could go into all my Christian posts and further divide them into sub-categories, but I don’t have the time or willpower at the moment. Anyways, I don’t like websites with non-intuitive, not-user-friendly menus.

For instance, I might visit a Christian blogger’s website and see these options across the main menu–Bible Studies, Prayer, Scripture of the Month, Living the Faith. I have so many questions. Why isn’t there a “Home” link to get back to the homepage? Why isn’t there a “Blog” link so I can just scroll through their posts chronologically? Shouldn’t “Scripture of the Month” be filed under “Bible Studies,” or could they change the menu option to “Bible Related” then file both “Scripture of the Month” and “Bible Studies” under that?

First off, be sure that basic options like “Home” and “Blog” are available in the main menu. BTW, I think an “About” page is also essential so people know who/what they’re even reading. A “Contact” page could also be deemed essential, but I list my email address on the “About” page, so I don’t have one. Either way, put your contact info somewhere easy to find. Secondly, classify your content in ways that make logical sense.

Interact more

I have over 1,200 followers. Three years ago, I would’ve been jealous of me. But now that I’ve reached this pinnacle, it’s less gratifying than you might think. At least 75% of my followers have never and will never like or comment on one of my posts. Why?! Is WordPress really so overrun with bots and spam accounts? Who are all these people who click “follow” and never engage? I don’t get it. I just cling tightly to the blogging connections I’ve made over the years because I know how hard they are to establish and maintain. I throw in “and maintain” because I’ve watched many great bloggers fall to the wayside over time.

Bonus observation: here’s something that rubs me the wrong way–bloggers who say they don’t have time to read blogs yet post multiple times a week. If the priority is just “writing” rather than “being part of a reading and writing community,” you may as well privately journal instead of blog. Obviously, people can do whatever they want…that’s just my two cents. πŸ˜‰ Maybe some people have so many fans that they don’t have to reciprocate, but every popular blogger I know is active in the community.


So, there you have it–a few things I wish my fellow bloggers would do. At the root, it all goes back to making it easier for me to support, promote, or get to know you!

Thanks for reading! What do you wish other bloggers would do? Let me know in the comments.

Revisiting Old Blogging Articles: Great vs. Questionable Advice

Of my six most “liked” blog posts EVER (displayed on my website’s homepage), three fall in the “Blogging Tips & Tricks” series. A lot of people are seeking the secrets to blogging success! As I spent several tedious hours last week recategorizing some posts, I revisited my old blogging advice articles. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on them. Most of my tips stand the tests of time and experience, but with some of them…well, hindsight is 20/20. πŸ˜‰ (Ironic given the calendar year)

[I won’t go through every tip from every post, but I will include my best and worst tips. As it turns out, I’ve shared the best tips more than once in slightly different ways, hence the “X/Y/Z” format of the headings under “Great Advice.”]

Great Advice

Provide worthwhile content/WWIR (What would I read?)

The blogs I’ve seen skyrocket are those that consistently provide touching devotionals, funny life stories, insightful/educational content, or anything that teaches me something, entertains me, warms my heart, makes me ponder, etc. Though I prefer a more intentional approach on my own blog (edited text, highlighted and italicized sentences, headings, etc.), professionalism is just icing on the cake. Many wonderful bloggers lean towards a casual approach. The question that matters above all else: do you have something interesting to say? [Sidenote: While perfect grammar is not a requirement for blogging success, exceptionally poor grammar can be a distraction.]

When looking for direction on what to blog about, it helps to reflect on the acronym “WWIR?” What would I think was helpful or fun or intriguing if someone else posted about it? …I should write about that myself!

Incorporate your personality/Don’t put yourself in a box

What motivates readers to come back again and again, perhaps even more than worthwhile content? Your lovely, unique self! It’s such a drag to read blog posts that are dry and impersonal. I want to feel a connection with you when I read your posts, whether you’re sweet as pie, humorously cynical, or anything in between. πŸ™‚

My advising you not to put yourself in a box flies right in the face of this common blogging tip: “Find a niche.” Rules were made to be broken, right? On Retrospective Lily, you will find everything from faith lessons to societal diatribes to life updates. As far as I see it, blogging in and of itself is a niche. So, if you want to stick with one subject, go right ahead–but don’t feel like you must do that in order to build a readership.

There is one commonality between all my blog posts: they were written by me! (I hope) pieces of my personality shine through all my posts, regardless of the topic. The same should apply for you and your blog, whatever your focus(es) is/are.

Reach Out/Engage with the community/Network with other bloggers

As you can see from the three different phrasings of this tip, I constantly include it in blogging advice articles! If you don’t reach out and follow other blogs + read and comment on other posts regularly, your blog will either never take off or slowly die (depending whether you just started or have been blogging for a while). Seriously, reciprocation is THAT important. Most blog readers have their own blogs. Therefore, you need to spread some love to get love back.

Three effective ways to find posts you like and connect with bloggers:

  1. Look up certain tags. For instance, if you love books, look at the hashtags “books, “fiction,” and “reading.”
  2. Use the WordPress search bar (similar to tags–just search a subject that interests you).
  3. Comment hop (my personal favorite and a tip from an old post). Look in the comment sections of blogs you like. Those users will likely have similar interests, and you know they’re active if they engage with other blogs.

Questionable Advice

KISS (Keep It Short, Stupid!)

Maybe this is actually good advice, but I’m not good at following it, haha. I do honestly try to be succinct, but it’s a rare occasion when a Retrospective Lily post falls under 500 words. While it’s important to stay focused and not ramble excessively (one reason I edit), I don’t think long blog posts are automatically a bad thing. My goal is always to stay under 1,000 words, but even that is sometimes difficult!

A point about blog comments under “Reach Out”

As I referenced above, “Reach Out” relates to engaging the community, which is right on track. However, I mention in the original post that it’s great to leave a blog comment, even if it’s just, “Great post!” Don’t listen to March 2018 Lily! Vague comments that don’t address the post’s content come off as spammy. In fact, I wonder if I’m dealing with a person or a bot when I receive vague comments. May 2020 Lily’s advice: if you’re going to leave a comment, say something that contributes to the topic and/or makes it clear you are an actual human being who read the post. For the record, going beyond just “liking” posts and leaving meaningful comments is something you should do as often as possible to build strong connections with people.


I was kinda hoping this would be juicier, but apparently, I know what I’m talking about! πŸ˜‰ I stand by almost every tip I’ve ever given. Now, I need to get my ducks in a row for more blogging posts. I have some ideas…

  • Features of the Gutenberg editor I hate
  • Features of the Gutenberg editor you may not know about
  • Trying to use the Classic editor with old posts after using the Gutenburg editor for over a year; why the Gutenburg editor is easier when you get used to it
  • Ways I’m a bad blogger
  • Update on how I keep up with fellow bloggers
  • Blogging advice
  • Basic steps when starting a WP site

Thanks for reading! Did you find something in this post helpful? What is your #1 blogging tip? Got a suggestion of a blogging article I should write (and do you like any of my suggestions)? Let me know in the comments.

Cleaning Out Defunct Blogs & Tips to Blog Successfully/Keep Going

Hi, friends. I’ve been cleaning out blogs from my followed sites, which got me contemplating why people quit blogging. In this post, I’ll muse a bit on those reasons and follow up with tips to help you succeed/keep going with blogging.

I generally keep up with bloggers by lapping my list of followed sites alphabetized A-Z, knocking out 1-2 letters each day. Every couple weeks, I check out bloggers who have followed me lately to see if I want to follow back. I don’t know if I will ever have a cut-off point where I won’t follow any more blogs because I could miss out on some real gems.

I knew I needed to commence with some spring cleaning when I had followed over 500 blogs. So I scrolled through the list and started unfollowing people.

Why Do People Stop Blogging?

I was amazed to see how many people hadn’t posted in four months, eight months, a year. I asked myself why this was the case and came up with a list of potential reasons–

  1. They no longer have time.
  2. They can’t think of things to write about anymore.
  3. They are discouraged by a poor engagement level.
  4. The work required isn’t worth it/It isn’t fun anymore.

#1-3 are fixable. #4 is broader, and it may or may not be fixable.

Tips to Keep Going/Succeed

Below I am providing some tips that can help with the issues I listed. I wrote “keep going/succeed” in the header because everyone’s definition of success differs; for some, having a few loyal readers equates to success, while others will feel their blog isn’t successful unless their readership continuously grows; some don’t care about their readership as much as enjoying the writing aspect; some measure their blog’s success financially (book sales, affiliate link purchases). So, whatever your metric of success is, I hope these tips (which are numbered according to the above list) help you keep going.

[Obinna at Shards of Bards wrote a similar post called An Open Letter to Bloggers Who Feel Like Giving Up that partially inspired this one. Follow him for quality posts + insightful comments on your posts.]

Prioritize What Matters to You (#1)

Whether the subject is completing some chores or reading the Bible or anything else that requires self-discipline, I’m wary of the “I don’t have time” excuse. Yes, some people genuinely have almost no spare time between work, school, their families, and/or volunteering/extracurriculars. But I happen to follow several SuperMoms who find time to blog once or twice a month…

More often than not, “I don’t have time” translates to “It’s not a priority to me.” It’s fine if that’s how you feel about blogging, but either way, you should take responsibility for your time management and prioritize what matters to you. And if something simply isn’t a priority to you, just own it!

Don’t Put Yourself in a Box (#2)

Life constantly teems with inspiration, and writing ideas should flow abundantly…so why don’t they? I have found that this struggle often arises from bloggers putting arbitrary limitations on themselves (I have to write about these certain subjects, I have to write in this certain way, etc.). Stop doing that and think outside the box! You can do whatever you want in YOUR corner of the interwebs.

Here are a few tips for coming up with content when your brain feels empty

  • Come up with a series; you can fall back on a series post when you have no other ideas. (Some of mine include Classics, Blogging Tips & Tricks, My Disability Experience, Disability Chat, Dueling Poems, Story Behind, etc.)
  • Tell us about yourself; Favorite show, movie, book, band, etc.? Ten random facts about you? Pets? Places you’ve visited? An issue you deal with or experience you went through? What you’ve been up to lately (this kind is always popular when I do it)? When in doubt, remember the saying “Write what you know.
  • Read books, articles, etc. or watch documentaries, videos, etc. about the topics that interest you so you will have more to say about those topics.

Also, if you type a phrase like “blogging ideas” in the WordPress search bar, you will be bombarded with posts that give suggestions.

Provide Worthwhile Content (#3)

Worthwhile content does not have to be intellectual; the “ten random facts about you” post can be worthwhile. But your blog post needs to do something for the reader–make them smile/laugh, teach them something new, help them get to know you, inspire them, etc.

If you haphazardly throw some things together and publish it with little thought, you will probably struggle to build a following because, whether this is true or not, you are sending out the vibe that you don’t take seriously your readers or your own blog. [Sidenote: some people really don’t take their blog or their readership too seriously and just want to have fun, and that’s perfectly fine.]

Engage With the Community (#3)

I sound like a broken record because I bring this up in almost every “Blogging Tips & Tricks” post…so I will keep this one brief. Bottom line: you get what you give.

Reflect on Why You Want to Quit (#4)

In the list I made earlier, #4 was the broadest category. If you feel like blogging isn’t “worth it” anymore, reflect on the specific reasons you feel that way. For many, the root of the issue is one of the first three reasons–poor time management, lack of post ideas, poor engagement level–all of which can be fixed.

However, some things aren’t fixable.

The issue of just not wanting to blog anymore may not have a concrete solution. It might be time to throw in the towel if you–

  • don’t enjoy creating posts and don’t enjoy engaging with the community either
  • still feel “meh” about blogging even if you hypothetically had a large following and lots of post ideas
  • are unhappy with your site yet aren’t willing to exert effort to improve your site (take time to produce better posts, engage more with bloggers and/or promote on social media)

Thanks for reading! What are some reasons you would quit or that you think motivates others to quit? What advice do you have to grow a readership, make blogging fun, or encourage those on the verge of quitting? Let me know in the comments.

P.S. Logo Update

My intelligent, kind, and supportive blogging buddy, Steven at Perfect Chaos, pointed out that logos should err on the side of simplicity so you can shrink them down or enlarge them if need be. Hence, despite its overwhelming popularity, I didn’t pick the flower wreath logo. [I instead chose the purple background mandala.] When I made the flower wreath smaller, it became a blurry mess! Since everyone including me loved the flower wreath, I made a photo with it for my homepage so it could revel in full-sized glory. β™₯