The Poop Hits the Fan: Parenting Bloggers’ Top Tips (For Way More Than Writing About Parenting)
Our parenting roundtable panelists aren’t just great parenting bloggers, they’re great bloggers, period. Today, we close out the series by turning their collective wisdom into 11-and-a-half tips that will make any blog blossom, from finding your voice to writing an effective “About” page to posting frequency:
1. Keep your priorities straight.
Don’t let your blog about parenting get in the way of being a parent. It’s easy to get sucked into checking your stats every five minutes, but every minute you’re doing that you’re not spending time with your kids. I’d much rather regret the amount of writing I didn’t produce than the time I missed with my family. Let your parenting drive your content, and not the other way around. John, Twinfamy.
2. Find your voice.
It’s pretty easy to pick up when someone is projecting or trying too hard. The voice inside your head is a great guide. Unless that voice puts you to sleep . . . then maybe blogging isn’t for you. Ann Marie, Dear #$&%! Baby.
The great thing about blogs is that the stakes are low. There’s almost no cost to start up, and in the beginning, no one’s even going to know your blog is there. It’s only as you get better that people will start to find you, so don’t be afraid to try different things and see what works. An audience will find you when you’re ready to be found. Jerry, Mommy Man.
3. Be truthful.
You’re putting yourself and your life out for the world to read; don’t try to hide your pitfalls or mistakes. Those things make you relatable and help readers connect. Ann Marie, Dear #$&%! Baby.
If you can find a way to be comfortable with it, use real(ish) names. (I know not everyone agrees with me on this.) It’s just easier to picture that hilarious story about your son James if you call him “Jem” and not “Diaper Dude.” Besides, now that you’re blogging you’re stuck doing it forever. Eventually, Dude is going to be Diaperless. Jeni, Joy and Woe.
4. Do it for your kids.
Even if you think a post is going to be “boring,” write it: it’s your life and you and your kids will treasure the fact that you took the time to write about their childhoods. These are your family’s stories and they are precious, even if it seems like you’re writing about all the same milestones as everyone else. Emily, The Waiting.
5. Embrace regularity…
Try to update your blog at regular intervals. Blogging about your family shouldn’t become a chore, but the real reward of doing it comes when you look at your archive and realize that you’ve recorded a lot of stuff that you may have already forgotten about. I was in a complete stupor for the first weeks of my daughter’s life, but I did make time to jot down notes. It wasn’t easy to find that time, but I am so grateful that I did. Emily, The Waiting.
6. …but aim for quality over quantity.
It’s important to post regularly, but don’t post just for the sake of posting. I know many people try to post daily, but it’s not for me — parenting is such an all-consuming responsibility. Many of your readers are probably parents, too, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to read ANYTHING daily. Plus, you’re not going to be brilliant every day, and trying to be is a fantastic way to burn out. John, Twinfamy.
Few lives are genuinely funny or tragic enough to generate daily content (and editing is good for the soul). If you’re having trouble publishing consistently, think about trying a recurring feature. I do the The Daily Post photo challenge every week, and the writing challenge at least once a month. I also do “phone dumpths” (bimonthly galleries of pics of kids and flowers and food and other random stuff that ends up on my phone) and a few other regular things to keep the content flowing. Jeni, Joy and Woe.
7. Edit, edit, edit.
Rarely is a first draft perfect, and you’re lying to yourself if you think otherwise. Revising can make a mediocre post fantastic. Give a draft some time to simmer. Take a first pass and put it away for a bit, even if only for an hour or two, so you can look at it again with fresh eyes; I guarantee you’ll see improvement. Two of my favorite posts took me weeks of revising before I got them the way I envisioned them, and I’m so glad I stuck with them instead of getting too eager and posting them prematurely. John, Twinfamy.
8. Find a clever title.
It’s the first thing that’ll get you attention. If you can be funny, unique, and/or provocative with your title, you’re much more likely to get attention. Jerry, Mommy Man.
9. Create an “About” page.
Nothing frustrates me more than when I visit someone’s blog and they don’t have a page explaining who they are, how old their kids are, and what their blog is all about. I don’t know where to start reading, and I can’t follow the posts because I don’t know who I’m reading about. If you have an “About” page — and it doesn’t have to be very long — new readers can jump in at any point. Jerry, Mommy Man.
10. Get to know other bloggers.
I started following a handful of expectant bloggers when I was pregnant, and now that our kids are out in the open I feel like they’re my old internet friends. Get acquainted with bloggers who are at different points in their lives as parents — the advice and perspective they give you is invaluable. Emily, The Waiting.
11. Don’t forget about you.
I write mostly about family life, but it’s not exclusively about the kids. Tell the storyteller’s story. As a reader, I love these. It’s like when you’re watching a nature documentary and you finally figure out who the narrator is. Something clicks. Jeni, Joy and Woe.
11.5. Try to keep your posts under 2,000 words.
Seriously. Acey, Dadgitated.
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