Five Cool Tips from a Blog Mentoring Clinic

By Norma Nill
Guest Columnist

I signed up for Laura Christianson’s Blog Mentoring Clinic at the 2014 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference because I was falling behind in maintaining three blogs yet wanted share them with more people.

Laura opened the clinic by asking, “Why blog?”

Cool Tip #1

A blog is the number one way to build trust.

I didn’t know that. But I knew I wanted to reach readers, get to know them, and build relationships.

Laura challenged us to ask, “How can my blog help my readers? What problems do they have that my blog could help them solve?”

Cool Tip #2

Blogging is about the reader, not the writer.

The concept became obvious as I visited the blogs Laura recommended to us. But what did I have to offer readers? She insisted we all had skills and experiences that are unique.

We learned about searchable keywords such as names, book titles, scripture references, and how to do things. When I realized that I never look up what I already know, fireworks went off in my brain. Perhaps I did have ideas that readers would value.

Cool Tip #3

Writing a promise statement to your target reader helps crystallize your purpose.

Laura urged us to profile our ideal reader. Next, she told us to write a promise statement based on our answer to a question: “What is the one thing that captures my uniqueness, passion, big idea, and/or what God is calling me to do, and meets the needs of my reader?”

My statement:

I promise to publish blog posts about books and what they do for me, learning how to write fiction (including my mistakes,) how the Bible helps me, life as a recovering dieter, and stuff that makes me laugh—blog posts for you, Dear Reader, that will help you to discover hope.

Cool Tip #4

A directory of blog posts by month and year doesn’t mean a thing to readers, but a directory of descriptive titles and categories invites them to click on their interests.

Nill_archives by date outlined

Laura met one-on-one with each person in the clinic. She listened and gave feedback as I brainstormed possible solutions for managing my three, seemly disparate, blogs.

Sadly, I talked myself into giving up all but one of my blogs. But Laura wouldn’t let the discussion go. Instead, she kept bringing me back to my core values. When I let suggestions germinate, phrases that linked my core values emerged as Categories, and voilà—my new, consolidated blog was born. Within each Category, I made a list for myself of ways to help readers.

Cool Tip #5

Use a Blogging Calendar to collect ideas for blog posts, map them to dates, write overviews, and keep track of what remains to be done, such as verify facts or find photos.

I decided to post once a week. The Blogging Calendar helps me plan posts for every Tuesday (five in some months), focuses my writing, and removes the uncertainty because I can check the status of my posts at a quick glance. Don’t know how I ever managed without my Blogging Calendar. Wait a sec—I didn’t. But managing is easy now.

Improve Your Blogging Skills

Laura will facilitate the Head Start pre-conference track, “Take Your Blogging & Social Networking to the Next Level,” from March 25-27, 2015, at the Mount Hermon (CA) Christian Writers Conference. Register at the conference website: http://writers.mounthermon.org/program/head-start.

Click this image to download your free checklist that includes EVERYTHING you need to do prior to publishing a blog post! Or simply text PREPUB to 44222!

Click this image to download your free checklist that includes EVERYTHING you need to do prior to publishing a blog post! Or simply text PREPUB to 44222!

Norma NillAbout the Author

Norma Nill is a missionary nurse-systems analyst-turned creative writer who has been blogging since 2010.

She’s currently revising her first novel and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, with whom she raised three children, travels by train, and plays in a community band.

Visit http://normanill.com/.

  • Katherine Jones

    I especially like #3–and what a terrific example. Thanks for sharing!

  • Katherine Jones

    I especially like #3–and what a terrific example. Thanks for sharing!

  • Monicas Bookish Life

    This is really interesting. I’m still new to blogging, so all these tips are helpful. Still trying to master #5! Thanks for sharing this information!

  • Monicas Bookish Life

    This is really interesting. I’m still new to blogging, so all these tips are helpful. Still trying to master #5! Thanks for sharing this information!

  • Monica, Thanks for your comment. I love the way Norma organized the tips.

  • Monica, Thanks for your comment. I love the way Norma organized the tips.

  • Johnnie Alexander

    Thanks for the great post and examples. I’m going to work on #3, too. Thanks so much!

  • Johnnie Alexander

    Thanks for the great post and examples. I’m going to work on #3, too. Thanks so much!

  • Judy

    Good post! Thanks for inviting Norma to guest blog.

  • Judy

    Good post! Thanks for inviting Norma to guest blog.

  • Isn’t she great? If she wasn’t already busy writing her own blog, I’d hire her in a second to blog for Blogging Bistro!

  • Thanks for chiming in, Johnnie — and for sharing the one you’ll be tackling next. Good to hear from you!

  • Isn’t she great? If she wasn’t already busy writing her own blog, I’d hire her in a second to blog for Blogging Bistro!

  • Thanks for chiming in, Johnnie — and for sharing the one you’ll be tackling next. Good to hear from you!

  • Johnnie Alexander

    Thanks, Laura. Seems like such a long time since our paths have crossed. Hope to see you at a conference someday somewhere!

  • Johnnie Alexander

    Thanks, Laura. Seems like such a long time since our paths have crossed. Hope to see you at a conference someday somewhere!

  • Hoo yeah. I’m working my way into better blogging and your sharing the tips and the real-life examples is helpful. They all make sense. #4 is something I can start doing today. #3 sounds like work—good work, but still. Thank you.

  • Hoo yeah. I’m working my way into better blogging and your sharing the tips and the real-life examples is helpful. They all make sense. #4 is something I can start doing today. #3 sounds like work—good work, but still. Thank you.

  • Bryn: #4 — using topical categories — is a tip I constantly recommend to people. Most blog systems automatically archive posts by month, so you have to go through a little extra work to remove the standard monthly archive and display the category archive. But it makes so much more sense to let your readers know the types of articles you cover on your blog, instead of forcing them to guess.

  • Bryn: #4 — using topical categories — is a tip I constantly recommend to people. Most blog systems automatically archive posts by month, so you have to go through a little extra work to remove the standard monthly archive and display the category archive. But it makes so much more sense to let your readers know the types of articles you cover on your blog, instead of forcing them to guess.

  • #2 is interesting. I write for myself. I may need to consider the reader too.

  • #2 is interesting. I write for myself. I may need to consider the reader too.

  • There is some merit for writing for onesself, if you’re doing it as a journal or to practice your writing. But when you put your writing out on a public forum such as a blog (for anyone in the world to access), you have to shift your mindset to one of writing for others. I’m glad you found point #2 helpful, as it’s perhaps the most critical one any blogger should attempt to master.

  • There is some merit for writing for onesself, if you’re doing it as a journal or to practice your writing. But when you put your writing out on a public forum such as a blog (for anyone in the world to access), you have to shift your mindset to one of writing for others. I’m glad you found point #2 helpful, as it’s perhaps the most critical one any blogger should attempt to master.

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