The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers

I have been writing this blog for one year and nine months. Wow. That’s hard to believe. It seems like I just started it, anxiously, feeling very vulnerable, with my first post about getting lost on a trip to take some old hens to the butcher in the little town of Brainard, Nebraska. Nearly every day during the early morning hours while the voraciously needy precious children and husband and cats and dogs and chickens and gerbils and goose are still sleeping, I’ve clicked onto my website and done something: either I’ve loaded photos, or worked on a post, or shared a post, or answered comments, or loaded photos, or updated plugins or checked on links. I’ve also read a lot of other blogs, and I’ve learned from the experience.

During this time span, I’ve seen many blogs come and go. Of course I want my blog to be successful, so I study the workings of successful blogs. When I post in a blogging group, I am required to read a couple of blogs in return for others reading my blog.

Sometimes this required reading is a pleasure, and sometimes it’s not, depending on the blog. To be brutally honest.

I mentioned gerbils. These are our baby gerbils. They are fairly quiet, as a matter of fact.

I mentioned gerbils. These are our baby gerbils. They are fairly quiet, as a matter of fact, compared to all the other creatures I live with.

Usually I write about gardening and teaching children and cooking and baking and little Mack and my preternaturally gorgeous grandchildren and garden pests and, of course, chicken matters, large and small, but today I’m going to deviate from these writing topics. I’m going to write about blogging.

I’ve thought about writing this post for months. Months, Gentle Reader. I think I have a bit to share. But a little voice (my shoulder angel, probably) suggests that it’s just my opinion, that my opinion is worth about, um, 2¢ (if that) and that everybody else has their own opinion, also, so–so–so what?

Another little voice (a dissenting shoulder angel) says that there are other bloggers who might benefit, after all, from my observations, vapid and nonsensical though they may be.

Did your dissenting shoulder angel really use the word “vapid,” Amy, you might ask? Absolutely. Vapid. Shoulder angels, after all, are not immune to desiring good vocabularies, just because they are teeny-tiny.

And yet another voice points out that my blog is pretty ridiculous, at that. I mean, really. Who names their blog after something disgusting like a vomiting chicken, after all? And why, for pete’s sake? And what’s the fascination with baby gerbils and baby chicks all about, after all? And whatnot? Why on earth would anybody use such an antiquated words like “whatnot” and “doggonit,” and so forth?

That second voice (the one who uses the word “vapid”) says that there might be other bloggers who might be just starting out who might appreciate even 2¢ (if that) worth of insight. If you can call it that. So. Without further ado. Now that I’ve got all the self-deprecating stuff out of the way and you know that this is all just my opinion, we’ll proceed. And I’m going to hope that some of this is helpful to you. Or at the very least, a handy way to kill a few minutes, say, if you’re waiting for your dinner to cook. Or your train to arrive. Or whatnot.

At the end of this post, I’ll share with you my personal favorite blogs--the ones that I return to again and again. The ones that–when I see that there’s a new post, I click on it immediately if at all possible, for whatever reason. And also an invitation to share your favorite blogs with me in the comments.

I’m also going to drop in some photos, just because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want to, and because I don’t like reading big blocks of text with no pretty pictures, so I’m not going to inflict that on you. I love my Gentle Readers. I do. *smooch*

These are some of the blooms that I took to our farmer's market last week.

These are some of the blooms that I took to our farmer’s market last week.

Here are some stats, too, just because. I enjoy stats a bit too much, I know. I think I should ignore them, Andrew (my cute bearded blogging guru, and son) tells me that I should ignore them, but blogging stats, for me, are like the naughty child in the same room: they are hard to ignore. They make a lot of noise that calls my attention. I know that I should turn away from them, but for some reason I just can’t. Anyway.

Here they are:

  • I’ve written 341 posts. This is #342.
  • This is my top-viewed post, and it has been viewed over 12,000 times. Apparently cabbage moths are a big menace, world-wide, all year round, too.
  • My blog has had nearly 118,000 page views.
  • I have followers from nearly every country now, and most of them are from the U.S.

So what’s the difference between a blog that I really want to read every time there’s a new post, and a blog that I’d prefer to not read ever again, not even in a million years? There are just so many blogs out there now. There’s not time (little Mack is awake) to read many of them (now I hear Amalia moving about) before the responsibilities of my day (yup, I hear roosters crowing now) pull me away from my blogging work (the ‘phone is ringing now, can somebody grab it while I finish up here–?). So there is tons of competition in the blogosphere. Tons. There’s tons of competition in the real world, too (“Somebody’s at the door, Mom!”) so there’s no time to waste here. Somehow I connect with some blogs, and don’t with others. What’s the difference?

My friend Jamie asks me for help when she's shorthanded at her farmer's market flower booth. This is some of what we get to play with!

My friend Jamie asks me for help when she’s shorthanded at her farmer’s market flower booth. This is some of the beautiful flowers that we get to play with!

So I’ve done a heapa thinkin’ on this matter, and here’s what I’ve come up with. Without further ado, here’s my list: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers,” (with apologies to Stephen R. Covey for borrowing his superb book title).

1. A highly effective blogger connects with readers and fellow bloggers alike, and treats them with kindness and generosity.

I have made dear friends that I’ve only become acquainted with through blogging, who live all over the world! I remember how delighted I was, when I was a little girl and my dad would make contact with his ham radio with somebody in England or New Zealand. Now I have friends from all over the world, other bloggers and readers alike. If I have made a personal connection with a blogger, I’m much more likely to want to read what they have to say. No connection? I may still want to read the blog, but I’m not as motivated to do so.

2. A highly effective blogger is a good storyteller, writer, and proofreader.

I learned this early in my parenting days: Sometimes a kid won’t want to hear a lecture, but he’s always ready for a story. I love to read a good story or an appropriate anecdote, even if I’m reading a “how-to” post. It just makes the person writing the blog seem more real. And I am interested in what real people have to say, not what some committee or staff has put together. And poor writing skills or bad grammar (knowing the difference between “its” and “it’s,” for example, or “there” and “their,” and so on) or poor punctuation skills or even just careless typos are a real turn-off for a grammar nerd like me. I won’t click on a blog again, no matter how great the content, if there are lots of typos or misspellings. Life is too short for such assaults. That said–even the most careful writer (i.e., moi) will make an occasional mistake in this area, especially if they are trying to churn out 31 blog posts in 31 days (cough). 

But a highly effective blogger will proofread carefully and catch all the nasties and put them right, before pushing “publish.”

3. A highly effective blogger makes things look pretty. I love to look at a well-designed blog page, with beautiful original photos and convivial typefaces and clean lines. If there are too many elements in the page vying for my attention, I get a bit rattled. I am easily overwhelmed, visually. I am easily overwhelmed, period, actually. My environs are a bit busy and chaotic and cluttered, so I like things clean and neat and easy on my eyes, when I settle down to read at the ‘pooter.

Even if the content is good, I’ll not stay long on a website, for example, with a dark background and white letters. It’s just too hard on my eyes. Or if the colors chosen in the website design are the highest chroma (think neon colors) and there are lots of them, for example, it makes it too noisy, visually, for me, and I just want to get away. Quickly!

This blog has beautiful photography. It’s not so hard, these days, to buy a decent camera and learn how to use it. It’s not like when you had to spend all that time in the darkroom, for example. I blush when I see a really awful photo on a blog, because I know that with a bit of attention, it could have been better. This blog has such a clean look and such luscious photography, that I want to just stay here all day. This one, too. I just like the looks of it. Pretty, to me, is so important. And the world–it is so pretty–it’s easy to find plenty of pretty things to photograph.

And what's prettier than a brand new chicken family? Nothing, that's what. :)

And what’s prettier than a brand new chicken family? Nothing, that’s what. 🙂

4. A highly effective blogger consistently churns out new and interesting content. I don’t know how Jill does it, but she is constantly surprising me with the “how-to” posts that she comes up with. I want to read every word that Ben Hewitt writes, not only because he’s an exceptional writer, but because he just has some pretty interesting things to say. And he says his interesting things in such an effective, amusing way, using words like “dadgum” and “heck,” which resonates with me. And “whatnot.” These kinds of posts are interesting and informative, too. 🙂 If you need to learn about guineas, which–I would expect–most folks do.

5. A highly effective blogger has great tech support and takes care of blog “glitches” immediately. It’s a bit frustrating to click on a link in a blog and it not take you where it promises you that it will take you. This is the hard part for me–I’m not technologically astute enough to fix the little broken things that inevitably will happen on a blog, but thankfully I do have excellent tech support (my son Timothy). Every blogger will need good tech support at one time or another. Or, practically daily, some weeks (groan).

6. A highly effective blogger knows his way around social media and the etiquette of using such. I don’t think it’s possible to master and use all the social media that’s available, but bloggers who know what they are doing seem to be able to build their online presence using something: Facebook, or twitter, or linkedin, or Pinterest, or something. There’s not enough time in the day (at least, not in my day) to be involved with all of these, but since online sharing is so important (unless you are only interested in having your mom and your best friend read your blog), bloggers need to be good at it. And did I mention that they are great at sharing? Many times, I’ve commented to a fellow blogger, on an interesting blog feature, only to have them send me a note explaining it, and sharing a link so I can get it for myself. Pretty awesome.

7. A highly effective blogger understands that her blog is not her best friend, sitting across the table in a cozy coffee shop, for example. It makes me squirm when a blogger crosses that line of “oversharing.” It’s easy to do. Everybody has perplexing problems that pop up in their lives. Everybody. Sitting alone in a room with your computer, it might be tempting to just spill it all out to your readers–who, after all, care about your opinion–including photos (groan), disappointments, frustrating physical problems, relationship issues, etc. For a time, I read a blog that had the wittiest writing style–the person who wrote it was just flat-out funny. But then she started in on a series of politically-based (and a bit angry) blogs and I clicked out. Literally. And I haven’t been back. Maybe you’re different in what you like to read, but that’s not what I want to spend my time reading.

This seems like an appropriate spot for a photo of a smoke bomb. Don'tcha think?

This seems like an appropriate spot for a photo of a smoke bomb. Don’tcha think?

So there is my list of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers, for what it’s worth. It wasn’t too painful, was it? I would imagine that if I’m still writing in this space a year from now, I’ll have more to add. Some points might even seem silly to me then, but that’s that and that’s then. This is today. And I need to get out and pull weeds now.

Here are my favorite blogs, in no particular order. They are the blogs that when I see them in my email box, I just have to check them out:

I think it goes without saying (therefore, I will say it) 😉 that blogging is a relatively new enterprise, and the rules are still being written, and changed, and re-written. And thrown out the proverbial window. And actually, there are no rules! It is a fluid and changing venue. That’s partly what makes it so much fun! I hope my observations about blogging have been interesting–maybe even helpful–to you. You don’t have to agree with them, natch’, but here they are.

Do you have favorite blogs that you follow consistently? While you read this, did other “habits” of bloggers that you follow occur to you? I’d love it if you wrote me a comment below.

And have a great day, you! Thank you again for reading this space!

You’re da best. *hugs*

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20 thoughts on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers

  1. The Great Gordino

    You’ve covered some great points here, and they are points which are consistent in your posts.

    I think the main one I would add is to enjoy the subject matter. It’s almost impossible to be consistent with a blog if you don’t enjoy the subject, because writing the content becomes a chore, and that willl come across to readers. It is possible, but it’s so much easier to write about something you enjoy, and you should also have fun with the writing – that helps to make someone’s blog stick in the mind of a reader, in the flood of others.

    cheers, Gordon

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Terrific point, Gordo. I totally agree! Although sometimes I find that even a subject that I’m not really “into” will get more and more interesting as I work on a post. Thanks so much for your input.

  2. Scott

    All great tips. We take it one step further and make sure there is nearly as much photo content as written, as that is what people want to see.

  3. Andrea

    Great post, really enjoyed reading it. Fab pictures too! I haven’t got many photographs on my site; it’s definitely something I’m going to think about. We’re in the process of revamping it as we speak, so perhaps your post comes at a perfect time for me. I agree, although I’ve only been blogging on and off for 6 months now, if it’s difficult to read, I navigate away, no matter how interesting the content. As for lots of grammar mistakes, nothing is a bigger turn-off for me. I hadn’t considered the photographic aspect before, but having clicked on the site links you mentioned in the copy I can certainly see what you mean. Even if I didn’t have a particular interest in the topic, their sites were still engaging. Thanks for sharing this post…the dissenting angel had it right! Cheers. Andrea

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thanks for much Andrea. I’m glad you enjoyed it. (phew) I was out on a limb that I wasn’t very comfortable with, because I don’t consider myself an expert. I’m an expert (self-proclaimed) on cooking and baking and raising chickens, but not on blogging. I’m glad it was helpful!

  4. Diane Boyko Achatz

    Another nicely crafted post, Amy. Your posts make me feel all warm and fuzzy, and if nothing else comes from the July Ultimate Blog Challenge, I will at least have found you to follow.

    I am constantly trying to pare my email “received” list, but I love seeing the notice from the Vomiting Chicken. Thank you 🙂

    Diane

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Diane,
      What a nice thing to say. Thank you! I’m glad I haven’t been pared! (Thanks for sparing the pare. hehe)

  5. Sophie Bowns

    I just squeaked at the cuteness of your baby gerbils.
    I thought you’d been blogging longer than that, your posts are really professional.
    You’ve had a phenomenal amount of page views!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Sophie . . . you should see them in person. They are adorable!! Their eyes are open now and they move very quickly! Thank you for your nice comments. I enjoy your blog, too. 🙂

  6. Alana(@RamblinGarden)

    It took me a while to get around to commenting. First, I had to visit your recommended blogs, pin several pictures, and ponder how someone could write one day about baked eggs and, another day, produce a tutorial on festival hair. And, I am in awe of you working in seven effective habits, baby gerbils and cute chickens into one post. When we enter your blog, we enter your house. That’s why you have all those pageviews. Thank you for mentioning my blog, too. That was the icing on the cake (made with coconut oil, of course).

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Alana,
      I would be so happy to have the actual you in my actual house. That would just put the icing on MY cake. I sense that we are kindred spirits. Do you ever travel away from the East Coast? I love your blog and your “voice” resonates with me.

  7. Gwendolen

    Loved your thoughts. I am in the process of revamping a blog started years ago and abandoned due to time and feeling of listlessness about my passion for gardening that waned due to invasion plants, bad planning and time conflicts. I have made it a priority to give myself back that passion and have Gwendolen’s Garden (the actual one, not the blog) looking the best in a decade. Now to learn how to bring the blog along…

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Gwendolen, I think you’re right to work for success in your “real life” before plowing back into your blog. Good luck!

  8. Nathana

    Good reminders! I have so much room to grow and improve. I need to carry my camera around with me more because my cell phone pictures are convenient, but often grainy! I agree that connection is one of the biggest blessings of blogging. Your blog is one of those that I follow consistently. I also love Heavenly Homemakers, Small Things (Ginny Sheller’s blog about knitting, family, and homesteading), and Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience. I know that even though I edit, I’ve had some pretty embarrassing errors! Sigh. Also, I am still trying to find my voice and style as a writer. Storytelling is much more engaging, so I am trying to lean into that more. When I started I think I was a bit didactic and had a slightly different purpose. But it didn’t allow me to be the writer I wanted to be. So this year I am trying to find my voice. It tends to vary a bit from post to post, which probably isn’t a good thing.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      The best way to find your “voice,” Nathana? IMHO, it is just to WRITE. Write and write and write, and eventually you’ll feel more relaxed about that. I enjoy reading everything you write, for what it’s worth!

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