Six easy steps to becoming an expert blogger

Nikki ParkinsonLife 52 Comments

When I talk to businesses about blogging and social media and how it can work for them to boost their bottom line, I remind these business owners that five years ago their only guaranteed option for getting their message out there was via paid advertising.

Paid advertising is still necessary for most businesses but these days it generally won’t work in isolation, particularly if you are selling more than a product or service … if you are selling a brand.

See, it doesn’t matter how big this global communication stuff has got, at the crux of it … what drives social media popularity is that we still want to connect with other people.

If you can achieve that connection, then you are streets ahead of the next person in terms of getting a sale, having people sign up to your cause, having them join your group or organisation … or having them simply come back to read your blog.

It’s all about using your blog to boost your profile, so that when people think about a certain niche of business, organisation or cause, they think of you. First.

If you are a personal blogger and wanting to stand out within your niche, then these same six easy steps still apply.

Thanks to Uberkate (www.uberkate.com.au) I now can shamelessly plug my blog every day ... just by wearing a necklace!

Thanks to Uberkate (www.uberkate.com.au) I now can shamelessly plug my blog every day … just by wearing a necklace!

Be organised

This will come easier to some than others. The level of organisation that you need to operate your blog in conjunction with your other work and family commitments will also differ from blogger to blogger.  I operate from a plan (that is flexible). I plan content for the month, then review that plan the week before to make sure the following week’s blog content offers a good mix of the topics on which I write.  I also like to set goals for the year, which I’ll do again before Christmas for 2012.

Tool:  WordPress plugin Editorial Calendar 

Be consistent

That plan you made? Yep, you have to actually implement it. On a regular basis. So you need to find the right amount of time that you can devote to blogging and social media so that you can retain that consistency. If that’s once a week for blogging, great. Ideally, I think to have long-term impact, you need to be blogging at least three times a week, publishing the same days every week. And you also need to be hanging out in social media networks every day – at the times of the day that get the most response from your readers.

Be an expert

You can position yourself as an expert in your niche from the moment you start blogging. It’s your knowledge about your niche that’s prompted you to share information with others via a blog and social media.

The more your position yourself as an expert, the more you’ll be seen by others as THE person or blog to go to for help or advice.

It’s important with this process to be available to answer readers’ questions on Twitter, Facebook, in blog comments or via email … wherever your readers ask the question, be there to answer it.  Yes, this adds work to your day and week but it also increases your credibility. What I always do if a question comes in (and they do almost daily) is keep those questions as possible blog posts. I figure if one person is asking, then there are probably others out there who would like to know the same thing.

Be PR ready

This is something I’ve had in place since starting my business and the same applies if you are blogging to build a profile.  I’m not talking PR-ready in terms of media kits for brands and PR companies, I’m taking PR material about you and your blog/business/organisation or cause.

Unless you can afford to out-source your brand’s PR, then having professional photos and a bio (short and long versions) on hand to email any media who might request them, will put you ahead of others and increase your chance of getting quotes or written about in other media – online or offline.

Here are some examples of the media coverage I’ve received this year. In so many, they’ve asked for my photo – if I didn’t have something suitable, I may not have been featured as prominently.

Don’t wait for media to contact you. Be proactive, if you have done something or achieved something that would be considered newsworthy then let media outlets know. Start with local ones in your area and work your way up from there.

Subscribe to Source Bottle. So many journalists are now using this when searching for people to feature in their stories. You’ll receive two emails a day and can quickly skim and see if any of the “call-outs” apply to your niche. If they do, send a response quickly. Often journos are on deadlines and if you stand out and are timely in your response, you have more of a chance of being featured.

It’s also a good idea to have an elevator pitch ready when anyone (media or PR company) phones you to ask about your blog. An elevator pitch is usually a sentence that sums you up and sets you apart from others in your niche.

Here’s mine: Styling You takes current fashion and beauty trends and translates them for women to embrace in the real world.

Be a networker

You can’t blog in isolation. You need to “market” your blog via social media networks. This doesn’t mean spending all day online but it does mean spending some time online.

The best way to start planning your networking time is to work out which social networks are sending more people to your blog. Google Analytics will tell you this.  For me Facebook and Twitter fight it out each month, so that’s where I spend most of my time.

I also take notice of what times of day more of my readers are most likely to be online. Evenings win hands down!

Offline networking is just as important. I network in my local area and I also attend networking events in Brisbane (nearest capital city) and travel once a month to either Sydney or Melbourne where most fashion and beauty launches and blogging events are held.

Be yourself

All of the above means nothing and will not make you an expert unless you are comfortable being yourself.

None of us are perfect but we all have something to offer. What is it that you can offer that will make others want to connect with you and trust in your ability?

What makes you the credible source of information or infotainment within your niche?

You do.

Do you have any tips that you’ve learned on your blogging journey that can help other bloggers become experts in their niches? 

* This post formed the basis of my chat in the Digital Parents Chat Cafe this week. You can read the full transcript which includes questions and answers here.

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Comments 52

  1. Hey Nikki,
    I have just discovered you blog and have really enjoyed looking around and checking stuff out.
    Thanks for these great tips on blogging.I started about 6 months ago, chiefly as an interest but struggle with consistency,so visits to my site are spasmodic to say the least.
    I’ve just installed the editorial calendar, so hope that helps. Thanks for the tips about it, didn’t even know there was such a creature.

    Cheers
    Joy

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  2. As a newbie to the blogging world it was my plan to encourage my husband to start his own blog about men’s fashion in sydney as this is his area of expertise, but I was curious to start my own also. After reading all your tips about blogging I now have something to plan for, thanks again for sharing all your knowledge and wisdom.

  3. I totally agree with comments from Kim re being new online and Twitter – it can be hard to get into the loop, many people ignore you. I often answer questions posed by other Bloggers but they rarely acknowledge.

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      Make sure you talk to me Teri – I talk back! I also talk back on my blog and on Twitter with @justbaustralia too. We’ve got a lovely online community on our Facebook page for Justb and you’ll find lots of other lovlies too.

  4. Great tips, thanks Nikki! I’ll be starting a post plan as soon as I get home tonight 🙂

    My issue is that I like to blog on a range of topics – inspiring moments, news stories, pop culture, media, editing and things that make me giggle. So it’s not a niche, but I feel that defines my brand as ‘the eclectic editor’ – I’m into a bit of this and a bit of that. Is that an issue when blogging?

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      Nothing wrong with the “eclectic editor” in my opinion – but it would help with a post plan to make sure over a week and a month that you roll out a good mix across the topics you like to cover. You want to keep that diversity up.

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  5. Wonderful advice Nikki. I always feel refreshed and energised after reading your posts! My favourite bloggers are the ones that are consistent – for example their Wednesday post may be something I look forward to every week to perk me up mid week, and if it’s not there as a reader I get disappointed. So I love those that post regularly.
    I’m fairly new to blogging, but my main tip relates to anything in the media – work out what YOU can offer that other people can’t. We’re all special in our own ways and a lot of people don’t realise that their talents are unique and precious.

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  6. Thanks Nikki…Ive been contemplating all of these things. I have a pretty small niche and Im trying to keep on track with what Im doing. Ive been doing a lot of writing for some online publications getting my message across a number of mediums..I guess my question is how do you assert yourself better as being the ‘go to’ person about your niche. (My niche is missing persons and loss…so useful for some times of year as well as linking it with media stories)
    Thanks – Sarah

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      Hi Sarah
      Thanks for your question – I think the answer is to keep doing what you’re doing. It’s already great that journalists contact you for quotes when they are doing stories but perhaps you could also be pro-active in sending out a media release in the lead up to the key times of the year when loss is felt the most. Newspapers would be looking for these types of stories now; magazines would already be sorted but something to think about mid-next year for the following Christmas. Continue blogging about your niche and doing the online and offline networking. There’s no magic button to push but I think you have a niche that people want to hear about so just keep plugging away.

      1. Thanks Nikki…Ill start working on a press release – i’ve pitched a few stories for key milestones (anniversaries etc) for next year and just waiting to hear back if they are OK – just need to manage my calendar for upcoming events. Take care – Sarah

  7. This is brilliant Nikki – and also a tribute to why you are so successful. Your tips are clear and concise and while we might not all be able to implement each of them to start with, it gives us a foundation to begin from with and something to aim for.

    Something that has stayed with me from the “Nudiveristy” blogging event last week (in which you were heavily referenced, blogging guru that you are!) is being able to define your blog in 15 words. I don’t even know where to begin but think its an invaluable piece of advice!

    And might I just say in closing, one of the nicest things about you and your slice of blogosphere is how approachable you are – love that you always take the time to reply and interact to all comments/tweets etc. Thank you for being so generous with your time x

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      Hi Donna, thanks so much for your lovely words. I reply to comments and tweets and on Facebook because that’s what makes this whole blogging game fun. Connecting and talking with people. I think if you’re not into that connecting bit then you’re not getting the most you can out of blogging.

  8. Hi Nikki

    Fantastic blog… your tips are succinct and pertinent to marketing through blogs and social media. I’ve found as a generalist psychologist, at the beginning of blogging one of the most difficult parts is discovering my niche … “the cause” that I can really run with that is authentic to my heart and that drives my blogs and direction of the marketing. There are so many things that I am interested in and passionate about! But in not narrowing down the message, it becomes diluted or lost.

    So I’ll add to the great tips you have already presented… Be specific about your message and your niche!!!

    Have a fantastic day
    Vanessa

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  9. LOVE these tips. Thanks for sharing Nikki. I am favouriting this post now so I can keep referring myself to it.

    How do you write so far ahead? Or is it more that you know what you will write come to that time? I am struggling to even have a week planned out.

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      Thanks Miss Pink. And rest assured, I don’t write that far ahead. Mostly I write the night before (unless going away). I just make sure I plan more than that – that gives me a framework to keep the content diverse and covering all my topics. I also change the plan if something happens or I want to write about something different that might be more relevant to that day.

  10. Nikki
    You are sooo right. If you don’t have your goals for next year on paper before you turn the calendar, you are behind.
    My family has a “ritual” each Christmas that we all write our coming year’s goals out…due before Dec 31.
    This goes on a prepared piece of cardboard and kept under the pillow (well that was the deal when the girls were younger).
    Twenty years on my eldest is now a double degree graduate in Arts (Japanese), and Business (Finance), a homeowner, spent more than half a year self-funded in Japan and 5 years work experience.
    She is now on her way to project manager status with the state’s power/utility company and leading her peers and helping them on their journey in life.
    Without a clear goal that is documented and referred to regularly throughout the year, we are aimless.
    Thanks for reminding us of the very, very important!

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  11. Hi Nikki,
    excellent tips, I think that I might try out that editorial calendar, it sounds like a good tool to help manage post schedules.

    Another really good tip would be to research other blogs that are related or have some common purpose, and engage in the comments and even, if the opportunity arises, guest post.

    A few years back I had a minimalist blog, and I struggled to find readers, but as soon as I started guest posting on other blogs I found that lots more people would read my blog and comment.

    David

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      Absolutely, David … I comment on a lot of blog every day (and follow about 200 plus in my Google Reader across a diverse range of niches). I look outside my niche as well as my readers don’t just read fashion and beauty blogs.

      I’ve definitely seen where guest posting has worked for others – it hasn’t worked as well for me.

  12. Thanks again Nikki for your advice, very timely in fact.
    All of your points are important, the one that always resonates and stands out with me, is to be your self. Everything flows so much more freely when you just let it be and don’t think too deeply.
    You’re a shining example of this, people love you for your own unique and personal way of bringing information to them.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge

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      Thanks Tracey … yes, I think you can over-think it. And I find if I do that, even on a single blog post … it will bomb. Often it’s the posts written from the heart or as a “download from your brain” that work the best.

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  13. Thanks so much to Nikki to getting me started on my blog. I have a head start due to your great advice! Still in VERY baby stages, but getting there after jsut a week up live. Look forward to catching up for a Xmas drink – now put THAT in your diary! xx

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  14. Love the Uberkate necklace! I love Source Bottle, I find myself forwarding emails to friends (who I know aren’t receiving it) because there’s something relevant to them. Though all my online adventures, making friends via networking has been the best reward of all!

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  15. OMG, Nikki – You are frighteningly super organised!
    Puts the rest of us to shame!

    The key take-home I get from this post, is that to be successful at blogging, it really takes effort and that blogging is just one part of the overall marketing puzzle.

    Thank you 🙂

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      Without a structured framework to this, I’d fall in a heap … but that’s just me and some people are less stressed working a less organised way.

      And yes, it does take effort and it’s part of a marketing puzzle – but in my opinion having a blog is fast becoming and essential piece to a business or organisation’s marketing puzzle.

  16. I totally agree with comments from Kim re being new online and Twitter – it can be hard to get into the loop, many people ignore you. I was particularly surprised by one, who actually blogs about being a ‘good’ blogger etc.

    Of course, there are some beautiful exceptions to this, such as you Nikki!

    And Kim – I will talk to you too 🙂

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  17. Absolutely Nikki all points are very valid. I think you also need to reassess what you are doing every so often to make sure you are in the right circles and getting a return on investment (not necessarily in money but connections).

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  18. Great tips here Nikki, I think consistency and being yourself are most important from this list. I only post once a week and even that’s enough to get your name, brand and ideas out there. As long as you keep it up longterm:

    It’s such a brilliant business proposition. You’re the living proof of that!

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  19. The thing I’m finding tough as a new blogger is breaking into the Twittersphere. I often answer questions posed by other Bloggers but they rarely acknowledge. Any suggestions? Is it just persistence?

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  20. Hi Nikki, I loved reading your post. My problem, from the way I see it, is that there are sooo many experts in this niche, everybody are networking and everybody are unique in this way or another. Which makes it a pretty rough niche to compete in. Any advice? Thanks!

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