The Bodacious Blogger’s Essential Ingredients

I’ve never been great at following recipes, perhaps because my first works of fiction were faux cakes and pizzas baked in my magical kitchen. (Okay, the sandbox.) My recipe ineptness has its perks, though. First, it’s made coming up with my own concoctions practically necessary. (I’m happy to report that they no longer taste like air or sand.) Second, it prepared me for writing, on the page and in the blogosphere.

Like baking a cake, there is no one “right” way or “perfect” recipe to achieve blogging success. But there are useful guidelines…

Essential Ingredients for Blogging Bodacious-ness

1. Authenticity. We hear this word a lot in regards to blogging, for good reason. Writing about issues and topics we care about, in our own voice makes for captivating posts. Our blogs should be natural extensions—or reflections—of us and what our brands represent. In other words, bake your own “cake” from scratch, using your own ingredients (your thoughts, beliefs, knowledge…). Readers can tell if we use a mix or swap the bakery label for our own. ;)

2. Readability. Ever looked at a recipe and felt so daunted by the tiny print, long lists of unpronounceable ingredients or lack of photos? I personally believe that posts should be as long as they need to be. Breaking up longer paragraphs with spaces, bullet points or photos, and using clear fonts and non-distracting themes can help ensure a comfy reading experience.

3. Takeaways. Imagine going to a cooking demo and leaving with an empty, ravenous belly. Might be okay if the chef was highly entertaining, but if not, your low blood sugar and emotional upset would probably prevent you from visiting again. Blogging works similarly. Giving our readers some sort of takeaway, be it entertainment, inspiration or how-to tips, functions like welcome and thank you gifts, bundled into one.

4. Supportiveness. When I was a kid, I loved going door-to-door selling everything from candy and cookies to 1-child plays. But I was weird. And have grown up since then. Not only is pushiness counter-productive for writers, but ineffective. (Thank goodness!) Supporting others creates connectedness and community. Visit others’ blogs. Follow those you find intriguing. Post thoughtful comments when a post strikes you, and share links you enjoy. (Not convinced? Read social media guru Kristen Lamb’s post, 10 Ways to Increase Your Likability Quotient.)

5. Effective Titles. Would you have read this post if I titled it, Random Stuff? “With 500,000 new blog posts published per day on WordPress.com sites alone, we can’t afford to use vague or boring titles if we want our blog to stand out in tweets or in someone’s Google reader,” Marcy Kennedy, one of my favorite bloggers, wisely said. For more of her insight, read Four Little-Known Factors that Could Destroy Your Blog’s Chances of Success.

Bloggers Who Take the Cake
The proof is in the pudding, right??? The following bloggers bodacious supreme, in my opinion. They have their ingredients and style down pat, never cease to inspire, entertain or teach, and continually bring joy to my cyber-villa. I’ve awarded each blogger one of my cake concoctions.

Natalie Hartford takes the Pink Rainbow-licious Cake for bedazzling the blogosphere with her unique enthusiasm, color and pizazz. She’s as sweet as her blog is PINK! She spilled some of her fab blogging secrets here: Keeping Your Blogging Mojo Alive and Burning.

Tameri Etherton takes the Berry Yummy Oatmeal cake. She’s wholesome, fun and nurturing, with no need for added sweetener. Because Tameri loves happy endings, her natural cake has sweet surprises inside.

Louise Behiel takes the Sassy Salmon Cakes. Louise never fails to educate and inspire. Her gluten-free cakes are fortifying, like her posts, and delicious, much like her friendship and support. She recently shared 8 Steps to an Emotionally Rich Family, and drew a brilliant comparison between old-fashioned radios and kids.

Kourtney Heinz takes the Flourless Chocolate Cake for her rich writing skills and ability to savor every bit. No room for extra fluff in this writing woman’s life! You’ll see what I mean when you read her captivating post, Looking at Who You Were. Loved loved loved it.

Amber West takes the Fortune Cookie Cupcake for her entertaining, inspirational and grin-inducing posts. Her Friday Inspiration series is loaded with insight, and she’s consistently one of the first to lend a helping hand.

Susie Lindau takes the Crazy Cake. Whether Susie is giving us glimpses of her “wild ride,” throwing blog bashes or sporting flash fiction, her blog is a crazy-cool treat. Oh, and she’s also a mass murderer

Roni Loren takes the Hot Fodue Cake. Her novel, Crash Into You, caused more perspiration than the stairclimber I read it on. If you know what I mean. It’s one of my favorite reads of 2012, and her writing/blogging posts are some of the best. As for the “cake” portion of this recipe, that’s up to YOU. ;)

Nigel Blackwell takes the Blappleberry Pie Cake for his ability to blend education, entertainment and wit. His post, A Non-Controversial Sockumentary, is one of the most entertaining post I’ve ever read.

Jennifer L. Oliver and M.G. Miller take the (Practically) Instant Chocolate Cake, for Jennifer’s fine author interviews—her latest of which featured M.G. and his spectacular book, Bayou Jesus. Read it. Once you start, you won’t want to waste time slaving over baked goods. This whole grain cake takes minutes in the microwave. And it’s delish.

Debra Kristi, Coleen Patrick, Fabio Bueno and Ellie Ann Soderstrom take Health-Nut Choco-Copia Cake for their versatile mix of upbeat, inspiring posts on everything from mythology and HILARIOUS mistaken song lyrics, to family pets and sustainable agriculture. You can’t go wrong with these sweet tweeps. Ya just can’t.

So there you have it. My baker’s dozen. (Told you we bloggers can break rules. ;)) What blogging ingredients do you find most important? What kind of cake might your blog be?

****If you’re interested in preparing one of the cakes above, hop over to my Facebook author page and place your vote!****

Leave a comment

91 Comments

  1. Awww, thanks August, you’re the best. You were missed, but I’m sorry to say you would have been disappointed at DFWCon. Yep, plain black socks (blame it on my incompetent organization skills). They were new, but I restrained myself from pointing that out – at least as an introductory remark to people I met. It was a great conference and the WANA table was always the loudest!

    Your post is timely, too. I came away from the conference wondering what I should do to improve, and this is good advice.

    And Coleen’s misheard lyrics is classic :)

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • If black socks are like a gal’s little black dress, you made an excellent choice! So glad you had a blast at the conference. I was with you all in spirit, which explains that noise—sheesh! ;) Wish I could have been a fly on that wall…

      Reply
  2. EllieAnn

     /  May 21, 2012

    Once again, you’re right on the money! I love your advice on blogging and think you represent the quintessential awesome blogger perfectly. If you were a cake, you’d be a chocolate cherry sheetcake with fudgebutter frosting!

    Reply
  3. Wow! I am going to copy and paste your description of my blog and frame it!
    You make some great points. My blog post view are very dependent on the titles. What an amazing group of bloggers! Thanks so much for including me. You made my whole week and it’s only Monday!

    Reply
  4. Great list on having an authentic blog. I personally think voice is a big key, especially with the longer, more informative posts. That’s what draws readers into the information. And great baker’s dozen – some blogs I haven’t read. Will definitely check them out:)

    Reply
    • I’m with you on voice, Stacy. Even socks can be intriguing with great writing and voice, as Nigel showed us. Just wait until I pull my thriller cakes out… ;)

      Reply
  5. Great advice as always August. Look forward to checking out your recommendations. Best wishes.

    Reply
  6. lol…what a great way to pig out on all this great food without eating a single calorie! Thank you for sharing!!

    Reply
  7. I’m with Susie – I’m framing your description of my blog. Thanks for including me with such an entertaining and supportive group. I’ve found a couple of new blogs to follow (waves to Nigel and Kourtney) which look great. You are definitely awesomesauce Miss August.

    Reply
    • Just for that, I’ll have to come up with an awesomesauce recipe. ;) Enjoy Nigel’s and Kourtney’s blogs. They really are a treat!

      Reply
  8. Great list of tips and great list of bloggers too! This post really takes the cake! :-)

    Reply
  9. Hmmm (I must say yummm) very healthy recipe from a health advocate!
    How much weight you give to an appropriate image to go with the content? After all picture’s worth 1000 words!

    Reply
  10. August, thanks so much for the delicious and decadent flourless chocolate cake award. :) I am very honored! I’m going to have to add all these blogs to my reader. :)

    Reply
    • My pleasure, Kourtney. Your cake is in the lead, and one of my all time favorites. (Like your blog. ;)) Hope you enjoy the links!

      Reply
  11. I love this post because it is about my two favorite things: Food and Writing.

    I think you’re totally right, and have found Writer’s Digest blogs, Copyblogger’s blog (copyblogger.com), and Sanford Smith’s blog (pushingsocial.com) to be helpful for blogging/business-building/writing advice. Penelope Trunk isn’t for everybody, but she was one of the first people I read on blogging.

    Also, good interview with Marc Schuster the other day. He is a gem. :-)

    Reply
  12. August, being both a baker and a blogger, I love this post! Not sure what confection my blog could be likened to, but I’m currently having a love affair with Cob’s Bread scones. No doubt I’ll be posting a workout for working them off later in the week!
    Thanks for all the great links; blog posts about blogging are always a treat!

    Reply
  13. Coleen Patrick

     /  May 21, 2012

    August you are awesome! I happily and gratefully take the Health-Nut Choco-Copia Cake. Thank you! I think your blog is a 7 layered beauty of a cake–each layer unique, but perfectly suited with the rest. Sweet inspiration! :)

    Reply
  14. You’re the BG, so you would know! :)

    Reply
  15. Loved this. In fact, I love most anything that has to do with baked goods. :)

    Reply
  16. Thanks for the shout-out! Your list is awesome, and I was just grinning reading through the way you described some of my favorite bloggers. I couldn’t have said it better.

    Reply
  17. mgmillerbooks

     /  May 21, 2012

    You’re the best. And your analogies rock. Not to mention make me hungry. Again.

    Reply
  18. You are absolutely the sweetest person I’ve ever known! All of your cakes are amazing (thank you so much for the inclusion!), but it’s your advice that always gets me right in the solar plexus. You have a way of breaking down subjects into delicious little nuggets of information. Each more satisfying than the last. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Aw… How come I’m giving out cakes, yet getting the best presents?!? Thanks so much, Tameri. I can’t tell you what your support and words mean to me. Even cake-speak fails me. ;)

      Reply
  19. Okay, I’m changing my vote now that I’ve seen the pictures. I want all of the recipes except the salmon cake. :)

    Reply
  20. If my blog were to fit a cake category it would be an Upside Down Cake! Thanks for another great informative blog.

    Reply
  21. Very good analogies. Now I’m hungry.

    Excellent mash-up, August. I found some new sites to visit.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Reply
  22. Ooh, I get to be hot fondue cake? Score! :) Thanks so much for the shout out. And I love this list. A double “Yes, this.” on the titles thing. That drives me nuts. How do you expect me to click if I have no idea what your post is about?

    Reply
  23. Love this post, August. I’m going to comment only on the WANA 1011 cakesters because I watched/read their efforts from the beginning. Louise Behiel’s blog caught fire when she began offering insights from her day job as a therapist. She OWNS the content and has helped so many via her wisdom and experience. Susie’s posts about adventures like heli-skiing have had me on the edge of my seat, but she’s also unafraid to film herself dancing, I like to think she represents our braver, unself-conscious selves. Whew! Didn’t Jennifer Oliver’s voice gained power when she launched the author interviews?! It’s been a privilege to see those writers flourish–and now you’ve given me a lot more bloggers to follow and posts to read. Thanks..

    Reply
    • Love your insight, Patricia. It’s such a treat to observe and take part in bloggers’ growth. I’ve quivered in my seat a few times reading Susie’s posts, and holy cow. Did you know that Jennifer is a grandmother? She looks about 25. :) Hope you enjoy the links!

      Reply
  24. First of all, thank you for the blogging advice! It’s the perfect companion for Marcy’s post. They both should be mandatory reading for bloggers.
    I’m humbled and happy to be included amongst such wonderful people. I’m already a fan of everybody in your list, so I know I’m in great company!
    I’m not much of a baker, so I’ll skip the recipes for now :-)
    (Note: every time somebody mentions Nigel’s post about socks, I can’t suppress a smile)

    Reply
  25. Oh, I know Tameri! I know Tameri. (Jumps up and down until voice from behind says, “Sir, step away from the Berry Yummy Oatmeal cake.”)

    Thanks August, it was sweet of you to hook us up with another greatr post… and so many wonderful “recipes.” Must go try them out :)

    Reply
    • Isn’t she the BEST? :) Hope you enjoy the links!

      Reply
    • You two make my heart smile. Seriously Mark, I read this on my phone yesterday and walked around grinning like a goofball all day. What’s really cool is that we really do know each other outside of the internet! Hope to see you again soon, my friend. :)

      Reply
  26. Love this post — and as I am finding I do, I agree with you . . .now, I want something sweet, really bad – oh, dang you now! :-D
    I’ll bookmark this so I can visit these people . . .

    Reply
  27. These look yummy! I’m almost scared to bake one of these – in particular if I had to blog pictures of another disaster. LOL
    Thanks a lot for another great blog post!!

    Reply
    • If a cake comes out wonky-looking, cover it with whipped topping and berries. Vwa-la! A decadent volcano. (Not that I’ve done that, or anything… ;))

      Reply
      • Of course you didn’t! ;-)
        I made a cake once that broke in the middle when I wanted to get it out of its form… It was pretty precisely split in half upper and lower half… I “glued” it with chocolate frosting and nobody realized a thing. LOL

  28. Fantabulous post with amazing tips and tricks and I am super pumped and blown away to be cast in with such a incredible group of bloggers. What a fahhhbulous shout out. Wowzers! I love it and can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate it and your support. Stupendous! :-)

    Reply
  29. Karen McFarland

     /  May 21, 2012

    Great Mash-Up August! And what a yummy bakers dozen of posts to choose from. They’re all sounding pretty good to me! Since I don’t bake, I really don’t know what I would compare my posts to. I just hope they’re edible! LOL! :)

    Reply
  30. For some reason, I have a craving for cake…. :) What a great, original way to describe these bloggers and bring them to your readers’ attention. You’ve got the blogging essentials down pat!

    Reply
  31. Hi,
    Loved the tips, and some blogs that I have not heard of either, I will have to check some out later. :D
    Thank You for visiting and your comment on my blog.

    Reply
  32. lynnkelleyauthor

     /  May 21, 2012

    Awesome advice, August! (Hmm, that sounds like a title for a weekly newspaper column!) I love the cakes you came up with and the shout outs to these amazing bloggers. I follow some of them and I’ll have to get to know the others. I find that coming up with a catchy title is challenging, but it does make a difference if we can think of a good one that will hook ‘em in! I guess my advice would be to not be afraid to take risks (unless it’s going on a rant that no one wants to hear), but being willing to put our hearts on the line and learn from whether it works or fails. I find that trying something new adds a little spice to my blog cake. Oh, and lots of nuts. My blog cake is very, very nutty! :)

    Reply
  33. I want to bake you something awesome! But I’m a terrible baker. I always burn the rice! Can I buy you your favorite piece of fruit and give you a wonderful warm day? Oh, and a comfy blanket upon which to enjoy aforementioned fruit. And no bugs! How’s dat? Because you are awesome sauce!

    Reply
  34. Yummy baker’s dozen, August. Thanks for all of the awesomely delicious links. As usual, you offer essential advice dusted with sweetness!

    Reply
  35. Super awesome yummy goodness coming from you! Thank you, sweetheart! I appreciate all the fantastic advice, links, and gosh darn – being included! Wow!

    Reply
  36. Ah, this is a wonderful post, August. Based on your recommendation (and because I do adore chocolate cake–and writers who savor all the details) I visited Kourtney’s blog and am very glad I did–great insight.

    Let’s see: supporting fellow bloggers is huge. I played team sports so this one is a natural, even for an introvert like me. Readability is also a key. I hate to admit it, but presentation matters, both in cakes and in writing. I like big fonts, easy-on-the-eyes graphics, etc.

    And, I like deep, non-fluff writers. I also like writers who teach me something each time. What type am I? Flourless chocolate or fortune cookie cupcake.

    Have a lovely day!

    Reply
  37. LOL, AUgust, now you got me craving cake! Ha ha! And great tips for blogging too!
    I have no idea what cake my blog would be but it would definitely have some chocolate in it, that’s for sure! :D

    Reply
  38. Reetta Raitanen

     /  May 22, 2012

    Yum, now my sweet tooth is aching. Delicious pictures and great advice. Planning the takeaways is important since when a blog gives the reader something they value, they’re more likely to come back. And hopefully sign up for your feed. My takeaway from this post was discovering a few new bloggers :) Thank you.

    Reply
  39. What a fabulous list! I know about half of them so I’m off to check out the rest :)

    I feel like I haven’t been reciprocating enough lately. The business has been all-consuming but that’s no excuse. How do you manage all the blogs you follow and make sure you get to them on a weekly basis?

    Reply
  40. I’m having a bit of a crazy week, but had to pop in and say “thanks” for having me on such a great list of bloggers!

    Also, I really want the Fortune Cookie Cupcake recipe! Sounds like a delicious mystery. :)

    Reply
  41. Oh I love it! I will have to check out all the other posts you linked to for more info. and organizing. What a cute unique way of celebrating these writers! You are too fun, August!

    Reply
  42. You had me at cake!

    Reply
  43. theproverbialwife

     /  May 23, 2012

    What a yummy post and kudos to such inspiring bloggers!

    Reply
  44. Good advice here, but I loved reading about the FOOD best. You made me hungry for something sweet and fattening. Shame on you. :D

    Reply
  45. I absolutely LOVE your blog and this post! Thank you so much for the helpful tips. I know I am in violation of many of them. I found your site through Raani York’s blog and am now following you! I have shared you with my social networks and I look forward to reading your other posts and receiving your new ones in my reader. Needless to say, you have a new fan! I would love for you to visit my site as I am a newbie and could use as much constructive feedback as I can get!
    Much love and abundant blessings,
    Kimmy
    http://www.withoutalabel.me
    (I place my site here because it is not linked to my WordPress account. The one that is linked is one that I just became a guest author for =))
    P.S. Feel free to let me know any other way I can help your blog out and I will do so because I adore what you are doing. If my blog was a cake it would probably be one that came out of an easy bake oven (lol).

    Reply
  46. Sounds like a great recipe to me!

    Reply
  47. Great tips, August, and great blogroll at the end. Well done, my friend.

    Reply
  48. Great tips! The food pics are heavenly :)

    Reply
  49. A fine recipe indeed!

    Reply
  50. inspired, rich and succinct… almost like a creme brulee, which i know isn’t a cake, but is tasty. crispy on the outside and luscious on the inside. i am sharing this on my fb wall. my original blog title “Grass Oil” is odd, i will admit, but then i added my name and i feel a little better about it. but, i’m me and well, if i’m not true to me (your first point) then there’s no sense in trying to be someone else… as mr. wilde said, “be yourself, everyone else is taken.” i’ll take my chances.

    Reply
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