Low Statistics? Behind the Scenes Tweaks For Top Results

Welcome to Just Write, a blog for newbies and fun bloggers, writers and photographers, where you do not have to be Patrick Problogger to have a great blog. Grab your favorite beverage and let’s figure things out together.

Blogging workplace

Two years into blogging my stats nose-dived.

What happened? My work schedule interfered with my recreational blogging. I took long breaks between posts. Sounds like a good excuse, huh?

WordPress sent out my yearly statistics with a few pitying words of encouragement, telling me that I had “staying power.”

They were right. I’m still here.

Want to know how I survived?

staying power

First of all, blogging was my hobby, not my job.  Are you selling something? Is blogging your livelihood?

If so DO NOT take an extended leave of absence from your blog. PERIOD. Absence is a sure-fire Blog-Kill. If you are inconsistent about posting, step away from your blog, close it down and go earn a living some other way.

PROFESSIONAL BLOGGERS STOP READING HERE!

But what about amateur bloggers, how should they respond to dismal statistics?

Statistics meme

Most bloggers have another life. They blog for fun. They blog because of the interactions between their readers. However, even recreational bloggers sometimes get depressed and wonder why their statistics gutter and few people come to visit.

If this happens, cheer up! You can fix it!

Problogger, Darren Rowse, in his podcast tells all bloggers, professional and recreational, that establishing relationships among bloggers builds statistics over the life of the blog. Like with any relationship, if you take a blogging break, it’s best to let readers know why and how long you will be gone.

But what if you have never had great statistics? Bummer! What do you do?

Blogger Leo Babauta stated, “I’m often asked, “What’s the most important thing I should be spending my time on as a blogger?”

And my answer is always: Create amazing content.”

WordPress assumed that poor content and bad choices of topics caused my failing statistics. Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger, agrees. “The key is creating compelling content that’s worth linking to and sharing, then finding a way to get the word out.”

Like professional bloggers, recreational bloggers need to write something valuable to others.

Four Ways to Tweak Your Content

This first tip is from the mouth of the WordPress statistics machine.

1. Write about what you know.  A few years ago, I worked on a state project to align the Common Core Language Arts Standards with history-social science. I was an expert. My assigned part of the document was “How to Write in the History-Social Science Classroom.” The original several hundred page document, modified beyond my recognition, is probably on the California Department of Education website.

When I started my first blog, I published my original section of the document. That article draws more views year after year than any other post.  WP told me I have staying power and I should try writing similar articles to successful “ones I’ve written in the past.”

I’ll tell you about what happened with that post in just a second.

2.  Write about what you don’t know.

WHAAAAAAAAAA?

Even though WP told me to write more of what I know, most of my readers preferred reading about what I DIDN’T KNOW!

It appears that readers liked to join the learning process. Blogging was my next most popular topic. As I learned, I posted. Educational researchers assert that writing cements student learning.

It turns out that my readers liked that. Why? They read because the post engaged them, as well as the writer, in the learning process.

Often the reader knew more than the I, the writer AKA “new learner,” and they had a valid reason for responding.  Readers engaged because they experienced the same struggles and overcame them. They enjoyed my mistake humor. Whatever the reason, readers engaged on my “for-fun blog” on a real level, and became my friends. My blog did not have TONS of readers, but YEAH, it had staying power because THEY had something to say!

3.  Analyze your stats.  The truth is that I had no idea why people favored one post over another. From the stats, I learned how readers found my blog. In the case of my most popular article, a university professor assigned that article to her students. They came to my blog because they HAD TO read the article. They never communicated with me.

So what if I had great stats with that article? It did not serve the purpose of my site, which was to establish relationships and see if I could write. I dug deeper.

As I examined my stats, my blog more focused on writing, blogging in particular, because those were the readers I enjoyed and who stuck with me.

learning

4. Finally, fix your headlines. Your content may be fine, but how do you know if your headline works? Get ready for this!

This is the coolest gizmo since Pac-Man. I LOVE this site. It’s like playing a game,”What’s Your Best Headline?” Paste in your title. Wait for it…. SCORE! Click here to try it for yourself. It’s so fun!

This post started out with the title, “Three Tips To Achieve WordPress Staying Power.” Score 54. Boring.

So I worked on it until I got the title I’m using. Score 76. Anything around a 70 makes me pretty happy. Even the score 76 is still only a B+ because there are no uncommon words. The creator of this site, CoSchedule also has a free list of power words to help build your headline. Nevermind that they are a site for probloggers who want to market their content. It’s just fun to use the Headline Analyzer, and it’s free!

In case you do not want to always come back to my website to find this wonderful toy. Here is the address again. Bookmark it! http://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer

In my opinion, Smartblogger has a better word list. When I inserted one of Smartblogger’s suggested power words into my title and checked it on the magic analyzer tool – BAM instant BIG SCORE!  The Smartblogger words are categorized by emotion as well. Here is the link to bookmark. https://smartblogger.com/power-words/.

I downloaded their pdf and saved it in Google Docs.

How do you like my title?

Happy-New-Year-Images-To-Share-On-Facebook

Kalev3
Kalev likes it, but she likes everything I do.

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

The media transforms the great silence of things into its opposite. Formerly constituting a secret, the real now talks constantly. News reports, information, statistics, and surveys are everywhere. Michel De Certeau

After analyzing the data, if you have a content problem like I did, try this. To pick a good topic: write what you know, write what you don’t know, but are learning, and analyze your stats. Finally, fix your headline.

For more great articles about writing and blogging, sign up for my newsletter and free book, So You Think You Can Blog?

Writing Challenge

Share your post with us here at Just Write.

  • Try one of these tweaks  to improve your content.
  • Write the post on your blog, then share the link to it in the Just Write comment section.
  • If you wish, share the backstory. What was your thinking about the tip and the post as you wrote it? How did the post do statistically?
  • We will check out your posts.
  • Please check out each other’s posts as well. You never know which new friend might be lurking in ours or someone else’s comment section.

Happy blogging!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare

Spare… What was your first thought? Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Much of the Central Valley of California drew its population from Dust Bowl migrants in the 1930s. These Okies and Arkies stayed and now many of them thrive harvesting crops like hay and alfalfa. The amount of food produced Elderwood, a community of about 120 people and thousands of acres of crops, groves, orchards, and cattle ranches, feed us and give us plenty to spare.

Central CA agriculture hay100
Even a grown woman looks small next to the plenty of this harvest.

After a season of record-setting rainfall, the cattle will have enough feed to spare.

Central CA agriculture hay101

Neat stacks ready for storage will soon be picked up and transported to a more permanent location.

High class hay
High-class hay

The stacker did not waste a spare moment moving these mountains of golden bales. Watch how it is done!

Loading finished, this hay bale machine loader, unloads at Hay Mountain and returns to fetch a new load before dark. He has about an hour to spare.

Central CA agriculture hay109

For more pictures and thoughts on the word spare click here.

How Does an Irish Author with Five Children Publish a Book?

Irish Author, Fiona Hogan Celebrates Her First Book

We will learn today what Irish author Fiona went through to write and publish her book, The Lights Went Out And Other Stories.

Welcome to Always Write, a blog for newbies and fun bloggers, writers, and photographers, where you do not have to be Patrick Problogger to have a great blog.

Irish author
Fiona Cooke Hogan

Marsha Ingrao: Today I’d like to introduce Fiona Hogan, an Irish author, one of my new blogging friends from the Intentional Blogging Course I’m taking. Fiona suffers from social media craziness and is a member of in excess of twenty author, blogging, tweeting and general writing groups not to mention the writers’ pages I have liked.  She is sociable and loves sharing and absorbing all your writing knowledge. Fiona keeps busy as a mother of five and a writer trying to publish her work both through self-publishing and the traditional route. I’ve put her new book, The Lights Went Out And Other Stories, at the top of my reading list.

Welcome to California, Fiona. Let’s talk about your writing experiences. What is the one thing that you do, that you feel has been the biggest contribution to your success, so far?

Fiona Hogan: I would have to say reading; I have always had a great hunger for books. Ever since I was able to read I have escaped through literature.  Books take me to places I never want to leave, introduce me to characters I carry around with me. It’s  always a  joy to discover an author who excites me and then to know that I have access to their entire collection.

Great books inspire me. Writers like the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Paul Auster and Susanna Clarke make me want to be a better writer. It was a natural thing for me to want to write and I have been composing stories and writing poetry ever since I can remember.

I write stories I would like to read myself. But mostly I write because if I don’t I am miserable. It took me a while to make that correlation.

Marsha Ingrao: Writers do seem to have that misery of not writing in common, don’t they? You keep awfully busy with five kids, a cat, and social media, and yet you find time to write. What concerns or obstacles have you overcome in your career?

Fiona Hogan: Three years ago I injured my leg, an Achilles tendon rupture (painful as hell and it happened on the dance floor whilst letting my hair down at my school’s 25th reunion – doubly painful!) Anyhow, I suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands.  So I outlined and wrote my first novel – “Martha’s Cottage”, this was a defining moment for me. Whatever happened next I had written a book! I sent a few chapters off to a couple of agents and when the rejection emails came I put it away for three years until I was able to face it again. It’s fair to say I took it hard.

But I was continuously writing, all through those years, I was building up my collection of short stories. I love a good short story or novella and I picked through my notebooks and hardback jotters until I had twenty-two stories that I was more than pleased with.  But I was wary of putting my work out there.  In truth, the biggest obstacle to overcome in my writing career was – myself.  I always lacked the confidence, the belief in my writing, regardless what others had said to the contrary.

I was holding myself back from the next step.  It was time to take action and get over myself! Due to the fact that I had tried the traditional route with my novel,  I decided that I would try self-publication.  So last October I published my first book of short stories – “The Lights Went Out and Other Stories” a collection of humorous, poignant, eerie and romantic fiction.  Martha’s Cottage is being edited before publication in the next month or so. There is a third novel, an untitled horror, and I am a third of the way through it. I also am working on a chapbook of poetry. It seems there is no stopping me.  All I needed was a push.

Marsha Ingrao: I ordered, The Lights Went Out, and I’m looking forward to reading it. I’ll have to read Martha’s Cottage because Martha is both my mother’s and great-grandmother’s name. Since I lisp many people call me that too. I noticed one of the stories on your Facebook page.  What is one opportunity that you attribute to blogging or publishing your work?

Fiona Hogan: Blogging is a great inspiration for me; it’s a way for me to share my thoughts, my poetry, and excerpts from my work. I love to share and tweet the work of other bloggers and really appreciate it when they do the same for me. It’s a great way to get your work out there and if people follow the book links that’s great too. But mostly it’s about connecting with the world and sharing my thoughts and writing and any tips or advice I can. There are many great blogging groups online and it’s easy to get support and advice on any subject you can think of.

Marsha Ingrao: Groups build community among writers and are a great help, and you mentioned that you are involved in about twenty groups. Wow!  What one person or resource helped you the most as a new blogger?

Fiona Hogan: I have made a lot of writer friends in the many writing groups I am a member of and when I put my book up on Amazon first there were a few in particular who advised me to change my original blogger site to WordPress. I had to learn a lot of information in a very short time in order to get my blog up and running.  I learned about self-hosting through SiteGround who helped with any teething problems I had and I figured out a lot of the technical stuff on YouTube (you really can learn how to do anything on YouTube, an amazing tool). I had been a member of a writing group called My 500 Words run by Jeff Goins. In fact, it was my first Facebook writing group and it’s such a supportive network of writers. Jeff also runs a group affiliated with 500 called Intentional Blogging and I joined in on a blogging challenge which helped with setting up landing pages and email lists etc. This is a great group for advice, comments, and sharing, with many splinter groups which are really good for individuals looking for guest writers or to guest themselves.  

One thing I have learned is that support is everything, along with the annoying but essential promotion of your book, networking and connecting with other writers is a must. I am always surprised at how helpful and generous other writers can be with advice and sales and even book reviews. I  review a lot of other author’s work. I know how important reviews are for writers especially fledgling indie authors like myself.

Marsha Ingrao: I think My 500 Words was my first group, too. A good friend, Tonia Hurst, invited me. Then I did Jeff Goins course, Intentional Blogger. No wonder we are on the same page, so to speak. It has been so much fun to get to know you better, looking at your Irish blog, and Facebook. I look forward to connecting for many more years and watching our friendship grow. You can also connect with Fiona on Pinterest and Twitter.

If you enjoyed this interview,  you can connect with Fiona on her blog, Unusual Fiction and Random Musings, if you enjoy a bit of everything from poetry to jogging. Thanks again, Fiona, for taking your time to do this interview.

If you would like to interview on Always Write, Click Here to find out how.

Related Books

The Lights Went Out And Other Stories

Fiona’s Response Post

Surprising Results from An Inspiring Interview

How to Unblock Writing with Photos

Come on WordPress

Inspire me!

Right now is the first time I am drawing a blank in the creativity department.

The well is dry.

The rag is wrung.

The floor is mopped.

Come on  guys, help me out?  – Sixeighty Writing – Author

Every blogger wants to leave a legacy, a piece of themselves. Is it easy?

No! Have you ever had Sixeighty Writer’s experience – Blank Screen Syndrome?

Thoughts clog up and constipate even Patrick and Pamela Problogger’s brains when they first face the white screen, the blogger’s kiss of death.

GOOD NEWS! Unless the screen is caused by a computer malfunction, there are quick fixes to turn that blank screen into your online legacy.

Cure Brain Cramps with Pictures

“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.” Destin Sparks

Many bloggers jumpstart their brains with pictures. Phones, iPads or small digital cameras dominate social gatherings as small as a blogger’s unaccompanied trip to Burger King. The proverbial thousand word picture, found in the drawer, box, computer files, on Google, at the antique store, or in a carousel of old slides, can spark your writing. This article suggests  ways to use photos to support two genres of writing, Memoirs and Poetry.

Take a hint from the Probloggers. Let photos eliminate the white screen of death on your “New Post” page.

Writing Memoirs

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Remember your last family gathering? The women rummaged through Grandma’s boxes of loose photos, grabbed a photo and started laughing and telling the back stories? Soon the men investigated, and joined the fun.

People blog to tell their personal perspectives, not to repost the latest news.

My brother and I took a 2,000-mile train trip back to our home state of Indiana for his sixtieth birthday. He brought a huge suitcase packed with seven or eight old family albums. After touring all day, at night, we laughed and puzzled over old photos. The photo albums, animated by our stories about them, entertained us for hours.

But where do you start to write those posts? What story do you tell?

EASY – let the pictures tell their own stories.

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” Eudora Welty

 

Uphill Both Ways

As a blogger, I started reading J. T. Weaver’s blog because the pictures reminded me of my childhood in the 50s and 60s.  He turned his blog into a book, Uphill Both Ways. During an interview on my personal blog, he shared how he did it.

“At first, I just began writing a story.  … Then I found the picture album my parents had made for me and wrote a story about one of those pictures.  I honestly was just fooling around with it.  As I was writing, Karen and my college roommate John were both reviewing each piece. … They thought these stories were better than I did.  At one point John said that he thought he was looking into my soul, and because he knew me so well, he was a little uncomfortable with it.  … When I published (the) letter (to his children), the blogging community took notice and my readership exploded.”

Stories fly around the coffee table photo albums. Pick them up when you need an idea.

  1. Do not worry about telling stories in order.
  2. Tell your favorite stories. Let your passion and enthusiasm shine out.
  3. Name names, even if you have to change them up to protect the innocent.
  4. Grab the details behind the scenes.

Try This!

Next time you go home turn on your smart phone and record the voices and laughter. Capture the conversation about the picture. When you get back to your computer, you have a collaborative story just jumping onto the page.

  1. You can record with your phone or computer.
  2. If you need to edit your audio file, download a free program called Audacity.
  3. Edit out “umms” and dead time. Audacity also has numerical markers to make each word easy to find.
  4. To transcribe your mini podcast, try Speechlogger, a free online program. It does not catch every word, but it can save you some time.
  5. You can pay between $.75 – $1.00 a minute for transcription services.

The audio or video compliments Patrick’s personal blog effectively capturing the moment.

Follow the Patrick and Pamela Probloggers’ great advice! Narrate and share your photos to build your online presence.

Summary

Bloggers leave legacies. They write memoirs, create poetry, stories, travelogues, tell their experiences. Pictures prime the pump and build a blogger’s public persona post by post.

More writing tips

Want more? Sign up for my newsletter and free book.

To encourage all bloggers
To encourage all bloggers

Contact me by email at marshajustwrites@gmail.com. Twitter @marsha.ingrao Facebook Just Write

 

Who Wants to be a Professional Blogger?

Steve Woods and I began work on Because of Blogging last week. As we progress we will have questions we need to ask to focus the book.

Blogging in Sunny CA

The first and most important question:

Do you want to become a professional blogger to earn money with your blog or do you prefer blogging for the sake of blogging? Why or why not?

You can respond in the comment section. If you want a more private venue, please respond to Marshajustwrites@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Connect with me at Just Write on Facebook or Twitter, or LinkedIn.