As the year winds down, as they say, out with the old and in with the new. This certainly applies to the Cat Writers’ Association as we move forward with a fresh and updated looking website that includes a blog. For many of us writers, a blog was nothing but a four letter word and not an entity to be taken seriously. Fast forward to today and nothing could be further from the truth. Blogs are a bona-fide mainstay method of communication that can be used in an engaging, informative, entertaining, or educational way to promote the health, happiness, and well-being of cats.
Blogs come in a range of writing styles – from cats writing as themselves in their own kitty language to serious blogs written by esteemed authors, veterinarians, and the like. The tendency towards loose structured content and the prevalent misuse of the English language in blogs is a topic in and of itself, but suffice it to say, if you do decide you want to join the minions of bloggers out there, it is serious business and requires time and dedication to make it work.
Much as we would like instant accolades for all the blood, sweat, and tears we put into a blog post, the reality is that unless you are willing to extend yourself, your primary readership will be a couple of family members, a few friends, and lots and lots of crickets. Frustrating and disillusioning to say the least. But all is not lost – with some basic guidelines and perseverance, you can write and maintain a popular and successful blog:
- The content needs to be compelling with a strong and grammatically correct headline. There are only so many ways to talk about spay/neuter, for example, so try to think of a new angle to entice people to read your article.
- Understand that it is not all about you. Don’t expect people to comment on your blog without taking the time to comment on theirs if they have one. Blogging is a social venue and proper etiquette deems it a two way street. Share posts that are relevant to your own readers on sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Reciprocation goes a long way towards future success.
- Blogging is not a one-time writing assignment. It is a recurring commitment – depending on your schedule and type of blog, it could be anywhere from once a day to a couple times a week. Your readers will become accustomed to your schedule and to help keep them on track, it is a good idea to provide an email sign up for them so they can be notified of new posts.
- Use pictures. They can instantly can make a blog post more compelling and people are more inclined to share posts with pictures on Facebook and other social venues.
- Search Engine Optimization. It’s as simple as it sounds – when you write your post, make sure to include key words relevant to the topic in both the title and the content so that if someone is searching for information on how get rid of fleas, for example, your post will come up in their search and direct them to your blog if that’s what you wrote about.
- Blogs don’t just have to be about writing. Sharing videos in a post can often tell a story or offer solutions to a problem much more effectively than words and they are very popular with readers.
- Be creative and fun – we meet a lot of sponsors at the Cat Writers’ Conference and they love to have us blog about their products. As long as it does not interfere with any personal ethics you have on the product, see if you can offer a giveaway or host a contest – it is a great way to drive traffic and the sponsors appreciate the support.
- Take advantage of what you already do. If you are a published author or a contributing writer for a magazine or newspaper, don’t be shy about letting your readers know you have a blog. If they are already fans of yours, chances are high that they would happily follow you in a blog.
- Be yourself. There is nothing worse than a blog that doesn’t have a genuine voice and you will lose readers if they don’t believe in you. Good writing is a gift, skill, and talent. Use your blog to keep those skills sharp – your readers will keep coming back that way.
- Be the expert in your field – if your niche is cat behavior, then write the best posts you can about cat behavior. As members of the Cat Writers’ Association, blogging gives us an incredible opportunity to inform and educate large sectors of the population that we could have never reached years ago.
Bottom line – whatever type of blogger you are or decide to be, be proud of what you do and do it with the same integrity you would any writing assignment. We have the power to change the cat world as we know it with our blogs and if you build it, they will come…