The dos and don’ts of blogging

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Saturday 18th June 2011

There’s no question about it. When it comes to blogging, writer Emily Carlisle really knows her stuff.

So when I clocked that she was running a workshop on social media for writers at this year’s Witney Book Festival I hopped in the car and was round there like a shot.

I learned so much about blogging in the space of 90 minutes that I couldn’t wait to put Emily’s tips into action. The rest of the audience, who included an accountant keen to launch her own blog, authors, marketing consultants and journalists, were equally enthused. “I’m going straight home to get started,” one of them told me in the car park.

The key component of a cracking blog, says Emily, is “great content.” This could range from amusing anecdotes and “a day in the life” posts to reviews, interviews, vlogs, excerpts from a novel in progress, background research and hobbies. Your blog can be specialist, generalist or a mix of the two (or “having your cake and eating it,” as Emily describes it.) But, whatever you choose to write about, it must be a good read.

It’s absolutely crucial to post regular updates. Emily reckons bloggers should post two or three times a week – both to keep readers’ interest and to attract the attention of search engines. Blogs should be “short and snappy” (between 500 and 800 words is perfect), the design should make the blog “pleasant to read,” the text should be broken up by an image or two and posts should feature internal links to relevant previous items.

Other advice from Emily (which I’m following to the letter from now on) includes putting links to your most popular posts high up on your blog, tagging the themes you regularly write about (mine are books, France and teenagers) and resisting the temptation to choose wacky titles. As she wisely points out: “Use clear words. If you’re blogging about the best walks in the Cotswolds, then call it that. It’ll be far more likely to be picked up by search engines.”

When it comes to the conundrum of how to build up a readership, Emily says Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth are excellent ways to tell people what you’re doing. She reiterates, however, that 90 per cent of your tweets should be social and ten per cent “business.” Followers soon get fed up and drift away if all you ever do on Twitter is blow your own trumpet. Other tips are add a link to your blog in your email signature, mention it on your business card and consider joining specialist forums where people can click through to your blog.

If you’d like to find out more about the social media workshops Emily runs, go to She also writes a laugh-out-loud blog on parenting called – or as she describes it: ”If you’ve ever put the children to bed early just so you can open the wine, this is for you.”

PS: I’ve just bought this fabulous poster (pictured above) from Pedlars. It’s called HAVE THE VERY BEST TIME and is part of a series of limited editions from final year Chelsea College of Art students. Mine’s by Jowey Roden – – and I love it!

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