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Blogging is serious business. Authors, business people, artists ... everyone is blogging these days, hoping to have their voice heard among millions of others. I have been mulling a question over for some time now: How does one not only attract followers, but actually ENGAGE them as well.
You may have asked yourself this question. High number counts on one's 'follow' list are all well and good, but if nobody is actually stopping to interact - let alone read what you have to say, the exercise becomes one of futility.
Here is what I have noticed. Blogs that I consider successful (those that attract interaction and comments) usually have the following similarities:

1. They contain interesting content.
    These are engaging posts - posts that I actually want to read, not just skim. There is an endless supply of self promotion out there (I'm as guilty as anyone!) and let's be honest here, its why many of us are in this blogging game to begin with. But people just get bored with seeing promotional link after promotional link. Then there are those that contain too much personal fluff with no substance. (Save that for facebook!) The blogs with the highest interactive following are those that consistently have something interesting to say. A great example of this is Jody Hedlund's blog. She has tons of followers because her posts are rarely self serving and always full of useful, interesting stuff.

2. Speaking of consistency . . .
    Successful bloggers take their blogging seriously. Posting consistently - even if it is just once or twice a week is better than going the feast or famine route. As a follower, I get overwhelmed with multiple posts by one person on any given day and just don't bother reading them. On the other hand, there are blogs that I enjoy that have disappeared, leaving me wondering, 'What happened?" There's no point gaining a following to just drop them. Once again, Jody is an exemplary model of consistent blogging. Another favorite of mine is 'Pimp My Novel'. Eric is consistent and funny, too!

3. Stay on topic!
    Oops! I really admire those bloggers that have carved out a niche for themselves. Know your target audience and then speak to them. I tend to be a little scattered with all my varying interests, but I'm hoping my solution of categorizing each day will help with that. As an amazing example of just how effective this is, let me tell you about a brand new blog called 'Style Independent'. Now for all you writers out there, this is actually a fashion blog, but the point is the same. After just one week, blog owner Lydia Hibbing managed to gain over 100 followers. (She's got a lot more than that now.) Why? Because she is super focused on her target readers. (Perhaps the fact that she is also an awesome fashion stylist might have something to do with it ...) In any case, you get my point.

Now that I've mentioned my grand scheme, let me fill you in on just what you can expect from my blog'Expression Express'. You will notice I have listed my 'Blogging Schedule' at the top right of this page. It goes like this:

MONDAY - Reads Reviews and Interviews -
     I still want to share book reviews and author interviews that I think are of interest. Followers who are most interested in finding good reading material can stop by on Monday for the week's pick.

TUESDAY - The Writing Life -
    Writing tips, scheduling, blogging . . . I plan to discuss anything and everything that has to do with the writing process or the challenges of being an author.

WEDNESDAY - The Issue -
     I am really looking forward to this one. I've got some great discussions planned already. Here I hope to open up some debate on topics that could be controversial - issues within the book industry, social issues, pop culture, church related topics ... join me Wednesday and hang on!

THURSDAY - Arts and Inspiration -
     As you may know, my love for the Arts permeates everything I do - from my job as a teacher, to my recreational pursuits, to my life as a Christian. The visual arts, theatre, music, and inspiration in general will be the focus of the day on Thursday.

FRIDAY - Just Promoting -
     As a relative 'newbie' to the publishing world, I have appreciated the help of others who were willing to promote on my behalf. Because of this, I am committed to helping other authors as much as I can through book launches, giveaways, or other promotional features. However, I was beginning to feel like my blog was being taken over with promotion. Friday's 'Just Promoting' feature will hopefully be a way to handle the wealth of exciting launches etc. without sacrificing content.

SATURDAY - 'Week' Links -
     By far one of the biggest changes will be Saturday's post. When I went back through all my previous posts and re-categorized them to fit in with my new set-up, I was astonished to see how many were actually just short links to other sites where I was being featured or interviewed. Of course, I am so grateful for all the wonderful exposure, but I'm not so naive to think that this makes for an engaging post. Naturally, I will be linking to all of these wonderful places as they happen each day using my other social networking sites, but in an effort to tidy up the blog and reserve it for more concrete content, my plan is to post all the links for the week on Saturday.

So . . . what do you think? I'd love some feedback on this grand re-vamping, and I'd also love to hear how you are making your blog more reader friendly. Let's have a discussion right here, or visit my blog and see for yourself. Link to 'Expression Express'

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