Blogging is one of the Internet trends that has gained major traction whether in industry, business or in personal ventures. And it’s only getting bigger and better.
But where do you even start? On the surface, it seems a completely easy thing to do. You see bloggers publishing posts daily or weekly, publicising them on their social media platforms and enjoying the views, comments and re-blogs and think, “It must be so easy! I could do it too!”
Well, yes and no.
Blogging is a creative process, just like singing, dancing or drawing. It’s an art. And any art needs a support system. A singer needs a good voice, a dancer needs a good routine and an artist needs a good imagination. But what does a blogger need?
This is the first in a series of posts under the Blogging for Dummies that will guide you through the world of blogging and also expose some vital information that is usually ignored by bloggers. Whether you want to start your own blog, or you’d like to learn what blogging is all about, then read on. (The comments section is open for any remarks.)
1. HAVE A PURPOSE
The pertinent question here is: WHY?
A blog requires its own identity, this is what a niche stands for. There are so many niches to explore, and this depends on what you really love talking about. It’s pretty much an obsession of yours.
Blogging about a topic you hate is counter-productive, a waste of time and energy as well as pointless.
Here are some niches to check out: (don’t constrain yourself to these though)
- Law, Religion, Current Affairs, Travel, etc
2. FIND AND MASTER YOUR NICHE
You’d want to blog about something that keeps you aching to write more. Something that excites you, and that will capture the reader’s attention.
Once you get your niche, be a master in it. When starting off as a blogger in an industry with so many professionals in it, you’re bound to be frustrated because your content will not be appreciated (trust me, most bloggers will attest to the “small fish in a big pond” syndrome)
Don’t compare yourself with other bloggers because they also have their challenges which aren’t similar to yours. Find inspiration in them for starters. There’s no need to place so much pressure on yourself. Take every small victory as a victory, not as a step closer to being like another blogger.
Your network is your net-worth.
The more people that know what you blog about, the more public credibility you get. In short, people trust you and what you blog about.
Of course, this isn’t easy at the beginning. The only people who may read your posts are your family members, a few of your close friends and yourself (A LOT). As much as this is encouraging, imagine the kind of exposure you would generate if you networked with other bloggers.
These are people who are in the same creative cluster as you. They share in your successes, and they most definitely know about the challenges you go through.
You might feel stressed and hurt that your engagement levels in your blog don’t go beyond your friends and family, but growth is gradual and requires patience.
No one starts successfully without grinding results.
Remember: It takes commitment. It takes practice. It takes patience.
4. BE CONSISTENT
Adopt a routine to your blogging — and stick to it.
Consistent blogging not only keeps your readers engaged but it has the desirable effect of keeping a blogger on his/her toes. On this note, I really struggled to come up with a routine during my initial blogging trials (trials because I ended up locking shop on that blog). And yes, it happens before you really dig your heels into a routine.
This could be daily (for the very ambitious), weekly or even monthly. Once your readers know that you publish weekly, they will look forward to reading your posts and you will discipline yourself to provide content weekly.
Consistency gives you credibility.
In addition to posting days, dedicate a few days for doing research on your topics, others for tweaking your blog (changing themes, replying to comments, scheduling your posts) and others for drafting your posts.
Don’t rush into drafting and publishing your posts on the same day. Have some time to critique your work and check for mistakes before publishing it.
The last thing on a blogger’s mind is to produce content that is loosely based on nothingness.
Research is important for blogs where information is vital and people actually hinge on what you read. Personally I don’t vibe with blogs that provide bland content just for the sake of releasing content, or the blogs that churn out propaganda and fake news.
People will keep on reading blogs because the content is enthralling and is also precise. They appreciate a well-written, well-researched piece of work.
(However, as a side note, I’ve noticed that blogs that offer polarizing content tend to click with people and get a lot of views. These sort of bloggers gravitate towards controversy which is what drives their blogs. They argue that controversy will never end, therefore their blogs will remain evergreen. I’m not one to judge, but I would much prefer a blog that not only provides information but one that inspires. One with a greater mission than to spread controversy.)
One fact remains true:
Content is king.
6. TRACK YOUR GROWTH
It’s not enough that your influence as a blogger is growing. Even though it’s a good thing to see that your blogs are reaching more and more people, it’s also great that you track the growth.
Well, most blogs have analytics tools. WordPress offers statistics on each blog post, including views, likes, comments and shares. Although these stats may be low during your initial stages of blogging, they will grow — or just plateau, depending on your publicizing techniques.
But the most important criteria in tracking the growth of your blog lies in:
- How well are you publicizing your blog?
- Are you impacting people with your blog?
- What is the feedback you’re getting?
- Are there issues being raised by your readers on your blog?
I believe blogging is not just about making money, getting loads of views and having a huge archives section. Prioritise. Get people to feel inspired to take action, whether it’s calming their anxieties, talking about their favourite topics or sparking new frienships.
Find other bloggers in your niche and engage with them.
Engagement means reading their blogs. They may have extra information that you don’t know or haven’t captured in your own blog. If not either, read to support a fellow creative and their niche.
Comment on their blogs. Share your feedback with them and let them know that you went through their work. Don’t troll!
Entrepreneur Delights did a survey on why people comment on blogs. Use it to figure out why people comment on blog posts and whether you fall in any category.
Share their work. Nothing is as gladdening as knowing that someone else loved your work and shared it out to others. Apart from the social sharing, you could also link their blog on yours (also called back-links)if you’re speaking on an issue that they are directly involved.You will be publicizing their work and chances are that they might just return the favor.
Guest blogging. A common method that most bloggers are getting fond of. Guest blogging is inviting another blogger on your blog to host their own ideas. It is a free method and a win-win for both the host and the guest. It creates a rapport between you and your guest which is all you want when working with people.
8. CREATE A BRAND
All the popular bloggers, local and international, have a brand which they are recognised by.
A brand is not a logo, a name, a registration number or a social media profile.
A brand is what you stand for as a blogger.
If you stand for justice, then standing for justice becomes what you’re known for. Thus it becomes your brand. If you stand for delicacies and believe people should eat right to live right, then proper dieting becomes your brand. If you stand for mental health, then you become an advocate for proper mental health and it becomes your brand.
How do you create a brand?
- Be vocal about what you believe in.
- Strut your stuff. In short, be the master.
- Practice what you stand for.
- Grow your connections
This, in particular, should be a long-term goal for any serious blogger. Having a brand that you identify with grows your exposure and credibility.
11. BE BRAVE
Blogging is not for the faint-hearted.
It’s not easy to share your opinion with others, withholding the fear that they may not agree with you. Of course, not everyone will agree with you. On the other hand, you cannot be against everyone’s side.
It also entails braveness in exploring areas that people fear talking about or merely discussing. Writing about women empowerment in some countries is considered almost treasonable. A blogger shouldn’t fear treading those areas to enlighten and offer some wisdom as well.
Braveness entails confronting the comments you get on your blogs. Yes, you should embrace positive criticism. But when some comments go beyond personal picket-fences, it is time you just block your mind from them. These hurtful comments hurt you without your knowledge. They drain your energy and you feel psychologically tired.
There will be haters and mediocre people, and there’ll be you — trying to prove them wrong.
12. STAY FOCUSED
Are you the type of person who doesn’t commit? The kind of person who will rarely keep going after a few months, years of blogging?
I plan on blogging for a very long time. I know there are times I will have to put it aside, but I will not relegate it. If it’s a passion, it will stick.There’s no need to plan and organize your schedule, network with your friends, be original and build your brand without being focused. It’s like building castles in the air.
Trust me, you could quickly get bored from always writing and coming up with new ideas becomes an uphill task. After all, there are so many things you could do with yourself apart from blogging. Furthermore, a reader can realize quickly when a blogger is not focused on providing concrete content.
If it’s a passion, it will stick
Be focused and let your passion drive you. This goes to every creative process— dance, art, music — they all need focus. That is, if you want to succeed and not be a mere formality.
If you liked this post, share it out and drop your remarks in the comments section. More blogging tips coming your way!