Create a Call to Action for Your Blog

Last week, I wrote about how to personalize your blog, and this week, I'm going to help you grow your readership. As writers, it's important that we connect with our readers, and a blog is the perfect way to do it. But how do we get them to come back? In particular, how do we give them what they want?

This weekend, I took some time tailoring my blog to my viewers. I replaced the "I's" with "You's" and even wrote a start here page, to give my new readers more of a direction. Then I hopped over the "Meet Jenny" page and added a bit of a more personal touch as well a call to action.

What exactly is a call to action? It's a challenge to your reader to make a specific move. Want them to sign up for your newsletter? Give them a reason. Want them to read another of your blog posts? Embed a link. Okay. Let's break down how to create a call to action:

Create a Call to Action for Your Blog Posts

There are three essential components to a good blog post. 1) It presents good content. 2) It links to other posts, from your blog and others. 3) It leaves the reader with something to go on. For me, I've been incorporating "Discussion Time" in each of my blog posts, to encourage comments.

Let's take this post on How to Set Goals and Keep Them, for example. After I shared my techniques, I left readers with the question, "How do you keep goals? What’s one writing goal you’d like to accomplish this year?" In order to engage with your audience at a post level, you have to loop them into the conversation. 

Create a Call to Action for Your Blog Pages

Pages on your blog are touchstones for your readers.Imagine you're a first time reader on your blog. You read a post and you like it, so you want to learn more about the blog itself. Pages are your opportunity to tell your readers what you are all about, and keep them coming back for more. 

On my "Start Here" page, I begin by telling readers how to use the blog, even breaking it down by category. I show my most popular posts, and then I encourage them to connect with me. I make sure to give three different ways for my readers to stay in touch. It's important to have options. So they can either join my team, follow me on social media or comment.

Create a Call to Action for Your Blog Home

Want the truth? It's hard to get readers coming back. Think of how many times a day you skim other bloggers' websites, and never go back to it. So how do we do this? There are a million ways, of course, and I'm still figuring them out myself. But so far for me, I keep readers coming back by being genuine, providing the best information that I can and putting in the time.

My biggest call to action on my blog home page is in the form of my social media plugs and my newsletter signup. Using the SumoMe plugin, I've added an "interrupting" newsletter suggestion. Then, I added an Instagram plugin, so that you can see my photos right there in the sidebar. The rest of my social media buttons can be found there too.

Discussion Time: Did you create a call to action for your blog? What strategies have you used to encourage readers to revisit your website?

Like what you see? Don't forget to sign up for #TeamTATM in the sidebar! (See what I did there? Call to action!)

Why You Should Write a Blog Post Series

This is post #12 in a fifteen post series, entitled “15 Days to Writerly Awesome in 2015,” posting on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday of January.

As we come close to the end of January (wait, what?), it's time to do a little reflecting. In the beginning of the year, I started a 15 blog post series for writers, jumpstarting the year of what I like to call "Writerly Awesome." It was my first blog series, and already, I feel like a new and improved blogger.

If you want to write a blog post series, the first step is figuring out what it is you want to talk about. Elephants? Felt pens? How to start a traveling circus? I chose to talk about writerly awesomeness as a way to lay the building blocks for the new year. And now, wh:

More Content = More Practice

In November, I celebrated a year of blogging. My sister, Monica of Bravo for Paleo, has been my biggest influence in this endeavor, guiding me through the crazy complicated world of SEO and keywords. By choosing to write 15 posts in one month — when I typically only write 4 — I challenged myself to improve as both a blog writer and a promoter. Here's what I learned:

  1. Clearer Titles Work Better. Instead of titling my post, "How to Write a First Draft," which is a little vague and generic, I evolved to writing more striking titles like, "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to be Your Own Critic." See? The second title is much clearer than the first, allowing my readers to fully understand what this post entails.
  2. Images Matter. I take my own photos with a DSLR camera, but I am by no means an expert. With more posts, I've been able to play around with pairing fonts, picking colors and font size. Tip: the more pictures you take, the more comfortable you'll become.
  3. Ask Questions. One of my favorite things about this blog is the audience engagement. I love hearing your questions and your suggestions, and this series has helped me to tailor my questions to you. "Discussion Time" is a way to get the conversation started.

Audience Appeal

With this blog series, I've tripled my page views from the last month. Yes, you heard that right. Now, I'm aware that there are several attributing factors besides this series, such as holiday time and my inclusion on the 100 Best Writing Blogs of 2015.

Still, the numbers speak for themselves. I've had more returning readers than ever this month, and the statistics show that they're visiting more than one post each visit.

Accountability Sells

Okay, I admit: I missed about three posts in this series. Why? Time restraint, poor planning, the excuse list goes on and on. Granted, I'm making them up this week, but still. Accountability is the key factor when it comes to blogging. Show up for your friends when you say you're going to, no matter what. (Take my word for it.) Accountability = trust = loyalty. Memorize this formula. Your accountability gains their trust, which in turn, gains their loyalty.

Discussion Time: I'd love your feedback! How has this blog post series helped you? What kinds of posts would you like to see in the future?

A Year of Blogging with Blots & Plots

Happy birthday, Blots & Plots! Last week, I celebrated a year of blogging. I would have invited you. Really, I would have. But I didn't have your address and my apartment is kind of small, and also you were busy. So let's just celebrate today, shall we? Good idea. You're the smartest.

In a year of blogging, I feel like we've accomplished a lot. I started this blog with one novel, and wound up writing a completely different one. We started a newsletter. We reached 2,000 followers on Twitter, and then everybody got presents for it. I went to a writing conference and a blogging conference, and made some really amazing friends. Let's do something fun, okay? Here are four of my blogging mistakes, and how I fixed them:

Posting Inconsistently

When I first started this blog, I was working a crazy job with crazy hours. But that's not an excuse, is it? I'd go weeks at a time without a post. Until my sister, Bravo for Paleo blogger, told me that no one would take me seriously this way. So I got on a fairly strict routine of Monday blog posts, with one post a week. I thought about myself as a blog-reader. What would I want? If I love a blog, then I will revisit it weekly, checking in for the next post. If I have to wait, then soon enough, I'll find another blog to love. Solution: Don't leave your readers hanging. They'll leave you quicker than I can finish this sentence.

Ignoring SEO

To be fair, when I first started blogging, I had no idea what SEO was. I still am not 100% sure. Keywords and meta descriptions and all of that craziness. Again, my sister helped me out with this one. She's an SEO queen. I installed the SEO by Yoast plugin, and started seeing the little green circle light up whenever I was using SEO correctly. In case you're not sure what SEO is or how you can use it effectively, read this post here. Amy Lynn Andrews does an incredible job of explaining it. Solution: Install the SEO by Yoast plugin. Think like a Google-er. Write keywords that you would use yourself. 

Forgetting to Brand Myself

If anyone has followed me on Twitter, you'll know that I've struggled with blog designers. I've gone through two so far that haven't followed through, and now, I finally took matters into my hands. Oooh la la, Blots & Plots is so fancy now. Your blog has to be accessible. Your blog needs to be easy to read. Don't forget that you're dealing with a world of people who are clicking, clicking, clicking their lives away. If you don't spell out how to use your site or make it easy for your readers, they'll run away screaming. I'm still working on this bullet. New theme? Check. Now, an about me and resources tab are on their way. Small steps = big changes. Solution: Make your blog easy to read, design-friendly and personal. Hire a designer or obtain a customizable theme that's user-friendly. 

Being too Me-Focused

Thinking about my audience is difficult, sometimes. I'm not a food blog where people can go for recipes. I'm not a fashion blog where people can go to find new wardrobe ideas. I'm a writer… with a blog. I'm here to trip my way through writing a novel. I'm here to admit when I fail, and hopefully, share some ideas about how to avoid my mistakes. But this blog is not just about me and my book. This blog is about you. This blog is a place where we can come together in literary matrimony, and talk about all of our issues. It's a community. Maybe you're a writer. Maybe you're a book person. Maybe you just like cupcakes. In any case, I'd like to make sure that Blots & Plots is you-focused. Otherwise, why would you be here? Solution: Let's make a poll. What do you want to see on Blots & Plots in the upcoming year? How can I make this blog work for you? 

Thank you. This has been an incredible year of laughs and stumbles. I wish you some of the blots, and all of the plots! 

How Writers Can Use Pinterest

How Writers Can Use Pinterest
How Writers Can Use Pinterest

Who doesn't love Pinterest? Want to know more on how writers can use Pinterest? You've come to the right place! 

There’s a difference between distraction and inspiration. It’s a very thin line that exists between them, and I'm pretty sure that line is called Pinterest. When I spend hours on Pinterest, looking at home décor and thinking, “Oh, if only I had the money!” or at stick thin models thinking, “OMG all I need in this world is a turban headband and an oversized sweater,” that’s distraction. Sometimes though, I make Pinterest work to my advantage.

I’ve got a secret board that I call, “Book Board,” which is extremely original, I know. That’s where I’ll put everything that really inspires me, like settings, what I think my characters might look like and pictures that I feel could feed into my story somehow. Pictures evoke emotion, plain and simple.

When I used to scribble story ideas when I was younger, I’d get wrapped up in Google Images, trying to search out exactly what I wanted everything to look like. Characters. Their cars. Their makeup. I'd spend hours. That’s distraction. Now, I only refer to Pinterest when I really need a jumpstart to the writing. Use it for good, my friends.

There are so many reasons why Pinterest can be a writer's best friend! Here are my top 5:

1. Writing Tips. 

There are some great articles out there for writers, and Pinterest is a great way to find them. Need editing tips? Here's one I found. How's about organizing? Check this out. The awesomeness is endless. If you want help, you can follow my writing tip board here.

2. Book Lists.

Looking for your next book? Or maybe some book reviews? If you're like me, you may like pretty pictures. And Pinterest has some awesome book cover art, like this one here. You could even do something really neat and make a board for all the books you've read that year! And the ideas just keep on coming.

3. Quotes.

Who doesn't love quotes? I have to say I'm pretty proud of my quote board, and I'm always adding to it. It's a great way to keep you inspired, and to get some advice from the greats. You can even make your own quotable pins over at Recite This!

4. Writing Prompts.

Sometimes you really need a kickstart to get into writing, and prompts are a helpful way to do that. Pinterest is always keeping writers up to date with original prompts. Here's a perfect board to follow.

5. Inspiration Board.

Again, we're back to the book board idea. I keep mine private, but there are plenty of writers with boards upon boards just for world building! It's awesome! Here's an example.

Are you on Pinterest yet? Let's be friends! Follow me here. How are you using Pinterest as a writer/reader? Comment below!