A vast majority of bloggers give up within first year of blogging – its true. And it is such a shame.
But it doesn’t have to be.
If you have a simple plan and a goal in mind, despite some ups and downs, and few – alright many – hiccups along the way, you will come out alive.
This is how I did it.
Subscribe to Other Blogs
Ok, ideally you should be doing this even before you start blogging.
Subscribe to as many blogs of interest as you can. Read their content, see what kind of posts the authors are writing. Look at the headlines, which ones grab you? See their style and mechanics of writing. This is the best way to educate yourself right from the get go.
Comment on their posts, share them on twitter, Facebook or whatever social bookmarking site you are active on. This will help to form genuine connections – naturally.
Make a swipe file where you keep all your favourite blog posts. This is the best thing you can do for yourself: you would never run out of ideas and you have tons of material to link to if you need to reference anything.
As your list grows, you can sort it by topic.
Pick a Niche
Unless you are writing your online journal, you would like some eyeballs for your content.
The best way of achieving that goal is to write on a topic of interest. This topic can be as wide as you want it to be or more specialised. This topic can change or morph into something else over time.
It is worth putting some thought into this. But you can still blog as you ponder this issue. When you are new, you don’t have many readers and that’s one time when it can prove to be a blessing.
Experiment till you are happy with what you write about. Provide focused value.
Post When You Can
Let me dispel the biggest myth of blogging. You need to post every single day – no you don’t!
Remember why you started blogging in the first place – because you enjoy writing and sharing your thoughts. If you force yourself to produce content for the sake of doing it, you will suck every bit of passion and love out of it. On top of it, the material would be nothing to write home about.
You don’t need a blogging schedule, says James Chartrand of Men with Pens. So does Derek Halphern of Social Triggers, or the Blog Tyrant or many other successful bloggers – judging by their posting style and frequency.
Always aim for quality rather than quantity. In this world of information overload, you would be doing your readers a favour.
Take One Step at a Time
When you start, the whole blogging thing can seem extremely overwhelming – there is so much to learn about.
Design, branding, content, videos, social media, SEO, link building, traffic generation and possibly monetization.
Let’s take the example of Social Media for instance. If you are not well versed in this regard, where do you start? Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, Stumble Upon, Google+ and now Pinterest. Just thinking of all of this (and more, many many more) can do your head in.
The best advice came my way from Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn. She advises to master one medium at a time. So simple, yet so many times we don’t do it.
*FOCUS* on one social network and use it to specifically promote your brand direct people to your online hub.
This would also make a lot of sense to other introverts.
Twitter is my favourite – I find it to be the easiest and friendliest.
Write with passion and communicate your enthusiasm for your subject.
There is nothing more boring than the posts that have been clearly written half heartedly. And it does more damage, the reader may simply decide that your blog is not worh following and never comes back.
Develop your own unique style as you experiment.
As you learn new things, share with your readers. It is usually more interesting to learn from someone who is going through the process.
Content is Still King But …
Understand that your blog rests on three pillars: content, design and marketing.
- You have to actively (with a capital A) let people know about your blog and how to find it.
- You have to make the best first impression on people visiting your blog for the first time.
- You have to offer content jam packed with value.
The content is just a part of the equation, you have other matters to look into, such as your site theme and usability and your sources of traffic.
The good news is, you have to worry about your ‘looks’ once. You can even outsource this job somewhere along the way if needed.
Traffic will come from a mix of marketing efforts and the strength of your content. You can either become obsessed with SEO optimization, key words or link building or you can spend your time creating the ‘insanely useful’ content that gets shared and bring you traffic organically.
Also, don’t forget guest posting to form connections with other bloggers and attract some high quality links to your site.
Everyone gets better when they put in a certain amount of work and effort into their projects – you will too. The quality of your posts will be hundred times better than when you started.
Even if you were an excellent writer to begin with, you will learn techniques to make it worthy of being published on a A-list blog.
Other weaknesses? Address these issues as you go along your blogging journey.
Build your Brand Slowly
Your brand is a mix of your strengths, goals, passions, values, and your personality.
Tell you readers what you stand for and deliver consistently. This will take a while to figure out so don’t rush it.
Decide what you want people to say about your blog and then do everything to convey that message - consistently and across all media.
As you write more, you will discover getting bored by certain topics. Some areas will suddenly become more interesting. Don’t let this hinder your progress. Make necessary changes as you see fit.
Don’t allow your blog to become stagnant. Most successful blogs grow alongside their owners.
Celebrate Your Victories
Big or small – every bit helps. You get a tweet? Great! Don’t forget to reply and thank the person.
Facebook likes? Fantastic
A comment? Always reply to your comments and show how much it means to you. (Plus you get some much needed social proof!)
You cannot build a community if you don’t nurture your audience. Let them know they are highly valued.
More subscribers? Now you can begin your dance of joy!
Be persistent and don’t give up!
How did you survive your first year? Share your best tip in the comments below.
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