So many people start blogs thinking that blogging represents a quick dash from rags to riches.
Hands up – do you?
Squirm. I did.
The truth is though that successful blogs are those that are worked at constantly and consistently, often over years. They stand the course of time because they are run by committed people who are willing to learn and embrace new media and also engage in the opportunities that stem from it.
These people put big chunks of hours and overtime minutes into blogging, both blogging and learning about it – I kid you not. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Have you got it in you?
There are many things I’d wish I’d known when I’d begun, and things I wish I’d implemented right from the start . Blogging is addictive and if you are passionate about it you’ll probably find it will try to consume you, so to begin with pay heed.
Don’t try and exist on coffee all day, do get out and exercise, don’t become so distracted that you forget to buy necessary household items, and don’t spend all your social time on the internet.
Believe me, it’s easy to fall prey to things which in the end cause self-destruction rather than success.
Apart from staying clear of negatives, what positive steps should you be taking?
1. Make your readers feel something.
I wish I’d known that no one really cares about your writing or how well you write. “They only care about how your writing makes them feel,” says Adam Costa over at the Travel Blogging Academy.
You need to make your readers feel something as they’re reading your post. Will they be happy, sad, thoughtful, inspired or full of passion when they’ve read it – and importantly will it spur them to take action?
Action? Well, perhaps they’ll write a comment in the reply box, or be so moved that they’ll subscribe to your blog, or buy a product from you.
I wish I’d known that I should endeavour to,“Write content that will make people break down in tears,” as Jon Morrow told me during a conference call.
Eden Riley at Edenland does this so well.
2. Write from personal experience
I wish I’d known that it’s important to write from your own personal experience. To tell you the truth, right at the beginning I started off writing from the heart, and then got waylaid, thinking that I should be more like the print press – informative, newsy, impersonal. But now I know that the most successful blogs are those that are written from the heart. Don’t be afraid, just delve deep and do it.
Caz Makepeace at Mojito Mother achieves this perfectly without being soppy.
3. Focus on readers
I wish I’d known that the focus of my blog should be on my READERS. About their problems, their hopes, dreams and desires – not mine. Further on from that I wish I’d got it into my thick skull earlier on that I needed to help them, you know write posts from which they could actually learn something. Not posts that would entertain me (and possibly my mother).
And if I couldn’t do that, then I should have known I needed to be wildly entertaining – give them belly laughs.
Woogsworld does this so well.
4. Spend time creating relationships
I wish I’d known that I should think less about SEO and finding ways to optimise my site for Google, Alexa and domain authority. I wish I’d wasted less time trying to make sense of statistics trying to get a better ranking, and more time on creating relationships, engaging my audience and growing my subscriber list.
It’s hard to get traffic to your blog with SEO traffic and the general advice is that traffic is 90% about links and 10% everything else. So you need to get links, and the best way to do this is by Guest Posting on blogs which have both credibility and traffic.
Guest Blogging has been described by Jon Morrow as, “Like being the opening act for a famous rock band,” and not something which my freelance-journo self thought was just ‘giving away content for free.’
Just think – if you were opening for Lady Gaga, what might happen to your own record sales?
5. Make a profile of your ideal reader
I wish I’d known much earlier on just who my ideal reader is. Danny at Firepole Marketing, created a great check list that could help you identify him/her.
When you know who you are writing for it becomes so much easier. Isn’t it easier to write a letter or an email to Mum or your Best Friend, but much more difficult to write a round robin newsletter starting with, ‘Dear Friends’? You know, the personal aspect disappears from your voice, so too do the small intimate details that make something enticing to read.
6. Grow an email list
I wish I’d known how important an email list is and I wish I’d known how much people value their privacy. It’s hard to get subscribers to your blog, but creating a great giveaway, an information product that your ideal blog reader would love to get their hands on for free in return for being added to your newsletter or update list, is time and money well spent.
7. Own your domain and host your site
I did know, but maybe you don’t, that it’s important to own your own domain and get your blog hosted, if you want to be taken seriously and/or make a business out of it. It’s a bit harder, but it’s worth it. If you can, then head the WordPress.org way rather than WordPress.com or Blogger.
Annabel Candy at Successful Blogging can help you with technical help and blogging advice.
8. Learn about Twitter and Facebook pages
I wish I’d known that if I use the # tag on twitter, I could find other people to connect to in my niche.
I wish I’d read “7 Twitter Strategies for growing a great following” and known about Social Media Examiner.
I wish I’d set up a Facebook Page for my blog earlier on but most of all that I had been smart enough to keep all my social media accounts under my blog name, with one Avatar (pic of me) across the board. (It saves a lot of time later on).
For all things about blog marketing and social media, I wish I’d known about Kristi Hines at Kilolani.
9. Be open to opportunities
The top bloggers understand this. Very few people make money entirely from blogging. Most successful blogs which are run as businesses, are run by people who are open to everything – from writing eBooks, to making videos and podcasts, to speaking at conferences, to mentoring, writing for the print media and consulting.
PR Warrior, Trevor Young has written a free downloadable E-Book called The Micro Maven Manifesto about “How creative entrepreneurs are using the social web to build mini-business empires around their personal brands.” Read it and find out what it takes.
10. Connect, don’t compete
I wish I’d known that by connecting to other people in my niche, instead of avoiding them as competition that I would make valuable relationships and find people who would support and encourage me, rather than thinking that they would instead just try to out-run me.
And my bonus tip?
I wish I hadn’t started out looking at blogging as a race to be run, but rather as a journey to be enjoyed.
My goodness – what a lot I’ve done wrong along the way!
How about you?
Johanna Castro is a freelance writer and travel expert. Her Travel and Lifestyle blog “ZIGAZAG” encourages people to “Live for the Moment, Love Adventure and Do Something Awesome.” To learn more about How to be a Well Fed blogger download her free E-book. Jo’s written for 40+ print publications, has self published a children’s novel for charity, lived in 11 different countries, is married to a gorgeous geologist and has two well travelled, grown up children.
Thanks so much to everyone who played along with my Saturday blogging linky last week. Sharing your blogging knowledge with other bloggers and potential bloggers really is how this blogging world best goes round.
Remember if you want to join in and have blogged about blogging in the past week, just add your link below. Please fill in the box where it says “name” like this - STYLING YOU: A blog post. That way your blog gets a plug and if you include the title of your post, you’ll attract readers interested in the topic.