I’m the mother of teenaged girls, which means that I’m an endless source of amusement to They-Who-Know-Everything. Just in the past month, I’ve caused the seventeen-year-old to drop to the floor in hysterics over something I said with all seriousness:
- There was the day I told her I was thinking about buying a pickup truck.
- The day I asked her if the South Korean version of anime was better than the Japanese one (To be fair, I was doing research on a character for my murder mystery).
- And, just the other day, when I told her I was going to start a blog.
When she finally stopped guffawing long enough to wipe the tears from her eyes, I asked her what was so funny. She said, “C’mon, Mom, you can’t even tweet!”
Sad, but true. My first foray into just-in-time social media was a disaster of epic proportions. But, that’s another post.
Still, my daughter’s entertainment, at my expense, sounded the warning bells. What if I do it wrong? What if I say something stupid? What if, oh golly, PurpleHamsterDude (name changed to protect, well, me) finds my blog and, gulp, comments on a post? Immediate assistance was required.
A week of Googling left me somewhat discouraged. I concluded the blogosphere is divided in half – all the blogs about writing blogs, and then everything else. At least, that’s how it felt. The books I initially found on Amazon seemed, for the most part, dated. I was desperate for a resource that would teach me about this blogging stuff without making me look like an idiot in front of my seventeen-year-old.
Then, I changed my search criteria on Amazon and found Robin Houghton’s book, Blogging For Writers.
The book itself looks like a well-designed blog. In full-color, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Houghton organized her content into easily digestible, stand-alone categories, only one or two pages each. To illustrate each golden nugget of advice, she included screenshots, links to outstanding blogs, and quotes from some of the more widely-read bloggers. She covers the two most popular blogging platforms, WordPress and Blogger, and her how-to’s are easy to follow with clearly labeled screenshots.
I laid Houghton’s book alongside two other blogging bibles I’d picked up. One of the books didn’t have a single image or screenshot. The other boasted a total of thirteen URLs to other blogs. The other books were painfully inadequate in comparison to Blogging for Writers. After a career spent reading technical computer books, diving into Houghton’s volume was a sheer delight–I wish more writers of how-to books would just start with Robin’s book before writing down a single word.
For example, the first topic in her chapter on content is “What Makes a Brilliant Blog Post?”. Houghton includes a one-page narrative on blog content, an infographic on the “Anatomy of a Blog Post”, and URLs/screenshots to three very successful bloggers who artfully illustrate her points.
I read Blogging for Writers in a single afternoon, marking it with a couple dozen Post-Its for things to do to my site. It hasn’t even made it to my bookshelf yet–it’s been on my desk next to the laptop ever since.
The Post-its®️ – some of my favorite topics from this book.
P. 86 – 12 Blog Post Types That Work – an easy-to-follow menu for writing content.
P. 99 – How to Be Found In Searches. – SEO for the newbie.
P. 102 – Blogging and Email – alternative methods for delivering content to your readers.
P. 110 – Connecting with Twitter – easy steps for linking your blog to active social media engines.