Chip MacGregor

February 2, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: 5 Rules of Blogging Well


Amanda 2 CropAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

As promised, this week we're continuing our Platform Monster discussion by talking about blogging.

Blogging is the easiest way for any author to get their feet wet when it comes to online promotions. It has a free-form approach, meaning you can be as long-winded as you like, and it’s fairly simple to navigate, with free blogging services available from, and more. They even come with tutorials. It’s a win-win.

But blogging doesn’t come without its share of hurdles.

There are approximately 150+ million blogs. That’s 150+ million peopl screaming for attention. For your blog to rise out of this noisy mess, it needs to be good. It needs to be really good. And for it to result in a salable platform, well…let’s just say it needs to be near perfect.

So let’s start with the basics and build from there.


Blogging 101

The reason there are 150+ million blogs is because everyone has something to say…or at least they think they do. Of those 150+ million blogs, 149.9 million are written poorly. And the basic rule of writing is that you don’t get anywhere with a poorly-written blog, manuscript or what-have-you, right?

So let’s take a look at some of the most ignored, broken and abused rules of a well-crafted blog post.

Five (of the many) Rules of Blogging:

1.      Stick to the goal – Before you begin, give your blog a goal (this is a good rule of thumb for ALL of your social media sites).

Do you want to promote yourself as an author/speaker/expert? Do you want to promote your book? Do you want to connect with fans? Do you want to offer an online experience that ties in with your book? These are important questions, and without answering them, your blog will turn into a mush of information.

For example, we’ve all come to know and love Chip’s blog. He provides valuable information on the industry and is a huge help to writers.

But what would happen if Chip suddenly started blogging about the Oregon Ducks? He certainly loves them enough to do so, and we all know he isn’t shy about his affections. So what if every other post was a recap of their season? And then what if on the weekends, he shifted gears with his blog and talked all about dancing? (Yes, Chip dances). What would happen then?

I’ll tell you what would happen…he’d start to lose readers. Sure, he’d gain a few who are interested in the Ducks and dancing, but all of you who come here for publishing insight would soon find other places to go. The bottom line is that he wouldn’t be hitting his target market anymore. He’d instead be hitting a niche market interested in publishing, the Oregon Ducks and dancing. Not exactly a best-seller-sized readership.

When your blog lacks a clear, singular goal, you will either lose readers or gain readers who aren’t going to contribute to your success in publishing. Simple as that.

2.      Treat each post like a story…have a beginning, middle and end – It’s a common mistake for bloggers to cram multiple themes/points/declarations in each blog post. What you end up with is smorgasbord of personal opinion and experiences, and the reader is left to wade through it all and extract what they want.

This is why each blog post, no matter the topic, should be treated like a book. It should have a beginning, in which it teases the reader or introduces the topic; a middle, in which it provides additional information; and an ending, in which it hits it all home and brings it together.

A good example of this is here on my personal blog. It’s a humor post, but notice how the opening line presents the subject matter in a way that is both intriguing and funny. The next few paragraphs offer supportive information, building on the subject matter without fully disclosing what the heck I’m talking about. Then, the final paragraph brings it all home for an ending that (I’m hoping) is both enlightening and laugh-out-loud funny.

(Note: My blog is NOT a professional blog. It’s simply something that I do for me, so it doesn’t follow many of these guidelines).

3.      Keep it casual – There’s this tendency to treat blogging as you would an essay. Proper grammar, no contractions, complete sentences. But that’s the very mindset that will kill your blog. Think of it more as a conversation with friends. Throw grammar rules to the wind and leave properly-formatted sentences to your high school English teacher.

Trust me. You’ll get a lot more readers this way.

4.      Don’t forget voice! – Your author voice is one of the most effective weapons you have in making your blog a success, yet you’d be surprised at how many authors don’t incorporate it into their blogging. Think of it this way: your blog is an advertisement for your books. And what better way to prove you’re a great writer than to have a strong, compelling blogging voice?

5.      Avoid the “daily diary” syndrome – This is probably the biggest problem for those 149.9 million bloggers, and it can be summed up in one sentence: No one cares what you had for dinner.

There’s this tendency to treat a blog like a journal where you archive your day’s events. But the truth is, no one cares that you went to the grocery store after picking up Travis from football practice. And no one cares that you found ground beef on sale for $2 a pound.

If you’re blogging about your personal life (this goes back to rule #1), avoid the tendency to rehash all of the events of your day. Pick ONE event and form a blog post around that. Give it a beginning, middle and end, and your blog will leave readers wanting more.

I hate to be pointing you to my personal blog, since it’s not a shining example of perfection, but if you look at that post again, you’ll see that I wrote it the day before my best friend’s wedding. I had a million topics to choose from. I could have written about her dress, or the decor, or the strange guy I had to walk down the aisle with. I could have written about how I barely got off work in time to be there or how I was wearing shoes with million-inch heels. But instead of cramming all that juicy (and sometimes entertaining) information into a neverending post, I selected one thing. One thing that I felt encapsulated the experience. And truth be told…that blog post almost landed me a major marketing job at a college here in Fort Wayne.


Once you’ve mastered blog writing, then you can focus on the components that will draw readers to your blog…which will be next week’s topic. (I had intended to fit it all in one, but I’m not sure you’d want to read a 2,000 word blog post).

So that’s it…five of the hundreds of rules for a great blog post. What rules do you rely on? What rules have you been breaking?

Share :


  • Rodney Hunt says:

    Great reminders. It caused me to reexamine my strategy when it comes to blog posts. I tried to incorporate these in my latest post – Serenity Now – 5 Ways to Experience Peace in Your Day

  • Kerry McAvoy says:

    Great suggestions!  I see I am following most of your five points in my blog writing, but I struggle to attract readers. I will be looking forward to reading your tips in that area. I appreciate your advice to relax about small grammatical errors. That concern has caused me considerable stress. Your comment that you have found two errors in your current post made me smile. Thanks for sharing your humanness with us. 

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Thanks for reading! Yes, the fact that I left the second “e” off of “people” in the 5th paragraph bothers me every time I see it. A silly mistake, yet it hasn’t yet discredited my post 🙂

  • I am enjoying your posts. I started following a couple of weeks back and am getting some great tips. I think that 1,2, and 4 were my favorites out of this post. As for 5, a daily journal can have some benefits if you are showing a progession through a situation or event – but always go back to the idea of a beginning, middle and end for each day!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Thanks for following my posts! Yes, I agree that if you’re going to do a daily journal type post, you have to structure it well. You also need to make sure the content is of interest to your readership.

  • Meghan Carver says:

    Great suggestions! And I’ve definitely found that blogging regularly can, at the very least, keep writing muscles exercised. My dilemma, though, is with the goal or theme of the blog. Blogs that have very specific themes seem to develop readers faster, but what theme should a fiction writer have? Some “experts” have said that the fiction writer should blog about themselves because the reader of a novel wants to know the writer. That certainly seems to work for writers like Robin Lee Hatcher and Angela Hunt who both have great blogs. But, that doesn’t exactly draw a lot of visitors to a blog when you aren’t published yet. It seems to be a sort of Catch-22: you need a wide reader base of your blog to sell books, but you have difficulties drawing a wide reader base to your blog until you’ve sold a book. I’ve been making great efforts at being clever/witty/choose-your-adjective as well as connecting to other’s blogs, and my visitor number is growing, but do you have any more specific suggestions about growing a blog as a fiction writer?

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Some really good questions here…next week we’ll be talking about specific things you can do to grow your readership, but I think I’m going to add a third post in this blogging mini series and discuss blogging as a fiction writer. Stay tuned!

  • Henyad says:

    All good points. But the best one is to not let grammar stend in your way. I just love it. That’s one of the main reasons why I rarely blog. Always afraid I might not sound smart enough, or that my comma is in the wrong place.
    Great post!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I think I’ve found 2 typos already in the blog post above…but I’m leaving them! I think  most people cut writers a lot of slack when it comes to blogging. I know I do!

  • Ramona Richards says:

    Yep, great advice (I’ll be tweeting it later), and EXACTLY why I’ve shut down my blog.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

       Oh no! haha…well here’s to hoping you find a social media outlet that works for you, Ramona! I’m sure you’ve got LOTS of great things to say…have you thought about doing a blog or twitter account all about thoughts from the other side of the desk? I’m sure it’s been done before, but since you’re an author AND an editor, it might work for you.

      Thanks SO much for Tweeting this post!

  • Kourtney Heintz says:

    Wonderful insight!  I think I might break rule #1. I set a very broad goal for my blog–to share my experience as an unpubbed writer trying to get pubbed. Fellow writers seem to like my conference related posts and my writing posts, but the once a week personal anecdote about my adventures with Grandma seems to appeal to a bigger audience. 

    *Cringe* I’m pretty sure I also broke #5 while I was traveling in Asia, but I wanted the blog to capture my experiences and reactions. 

    But going forward, I promise to embrace #5. 🙂 

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      You might want to consider starting a separate blog that can act as your personal journal. You can point people to it from your main blog every time you have a new post and they can choose whether they want to visit or not…just a thought!

  • I loved this and tweeted it–esp. the part about being casual, like you’re talking w/friends. I totally get that, girlFRIEND! Hee.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Thanks SO much for Tweeting it, Heather! I see you write viking fiction? me too!!

    • Yup, I’ve written a paranormal fiction novel (too short at 50,000 words) and a historical fiction novel…trying to lock in an agent, but I”m getting closer. Just started tweeting, so I have to find all the “writerly” tweets to follow!

  • Great post, Amanda. I think for me, it’s been challenging figuring out what to write about. Since I’m an aspiring novelist, I thought at first I had to write just about that, but I’m realizing that my target audience is also interested in things having to do with faith and life in general. Now I’m trying to write posts that can appeal to fellow writers, fellow believers, and fellow life-lovers! 🙂 It’s been fun getting to know my writer voice, too. 😛

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Blogging is a great way to nail down your voice…and it’s great that it’s also helped you identify your reader!

  • Ruth Douthitt says:

    Great tips!! I started blogging in 2004 about politics and started a Bible study blog. Life got in the way for awhile, so I started blogging again just this year!  I learned from reading other blogs to keep it simple, to the point, and relevant. One thing I have learned is to interview authors. It is a fun way to get your blog out there and help promote a fellow writer. Hopefully, they will reciprocate the favor!

  • karenrobbins says:

    I’ve been blogging since 2004. My wise son said if I was to be a writer, I needed to be a blogger. My blog has evolved over the years to be travel-themed since we do travel so much. How does that fit into my writing? Settings and characters enrich novels and my readers will see that reflected in my books. Along the way, God has used my travel experiences to enrich my spiritual life. Many of those lessons are incorporated into my blog and my speaking. Through connecting with FB, Twitter, and travel forums, I draw people to my blog and thus my writing style and hopefully to want my books. Rule #1 keep to my theme. Rule #2 Keep it short Rule #3 Offer something of value (usually links to places we’ve been and how tos). Rule # 4 Keep it uplifting. Rule #5 keep to a regular schedule so I don’t loose readers. Don’t always keep all the rules but it does help to have them. Looking forward to more insights from you, Amanda. Thanks!

  • MattB says:

    I have two big rules on mine, and they’re not too far stretched from the ones posted here.  First of all, make sure everything has a point.  Not always a deeper meaning or solution to the world’s problems, but definitely the solution to A problem.  And number 2, never take myself too seriously.  If I was the end-all, be-all, know-all… I wouldn’t be in my current state in life… In all honesty I’d probably be a hermit hiding on a mountain somewhere trying to avoid all of the obnoxious questions people would want to ask me.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

       Excellent tips, Matt. Primarily for someone trying to pose as an “expert” on a topic.

  • These are some great points to be heeded by writers and bloggers alike. There are few blogs out that stumble into these pitfalls. I mean not mine, of course… but some blogs do…

  • Ashley Mays says:

    Thanks, Amanda! This is exactly the sort of advice I’ve been looking for over the past few weeks as I’m trying to improve my blog.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.