“I don’t like writing, but I love having written” - Tolstoy
I’m not embarrassed to admit it, blogging has never been my forte. Actually I could think of a million things I’d rather do than park myself in front of a computer, hoist myself up on some metaphorical high horse, and try to write about a topic I fancy myself an expert on. Don’t get me wrong, I respect those who can do so effortlessly, and there are a gazillion perfectly crafted blogs out there that I’ve found both compelling and highly informative; I just can’t write them. If I’ve lost you already I rest my case, but for those who are still with me, fantastic, we must share something in common!
So why on earth am I writing this blog you ask? Well partly because I’m an SEO Specialist and know that blogging is a crucial element to any successful digital marketing campaign. Secondly, I’m just stubborn and I don’t want to admit defeat with only two blogs under my belt. All of that said, with a hefty dose of caffeine and all the gumption I can muster, I’m ready to go toe to toe with the blank screen sitting in front of me and provide any newbies out there with some quick tips that can help you get started on your blogging journey.
Brand Yourself Intentionally
Whether you’re the CEO of a small company looking to build your brand, or someone simply interested in sharing your personal experiences; there is something for everyone in the world of blogging. With that said, you will be hard pressed to find a niche that isn’t already saturated, so making sure you stand out by leveraging your unique personality and brand is paramount. If you don’t find your sweet spot right away, don’t worry, this process can take time so don’t give up and let that keep you from plowing ahead.
Consider Your Audience
Depending on your target audience, the tone of your blogs can and should change, so it’s important to ask yourself some simple questions before moving forward. Who are you writing it for? What are you hoping to achieve? Is it to inform, spark debate, boost awareness of a certain product your company offers, or build a community? If you see a topic you’re interested in writing about, you should ask yourself if you can approach it from a different angle and provide additional value on the topic. As long as you focus on quality content and make sure you’re meeting your audience’s expectations you should be off to a great start.
Pick Your Topics Carefully
One of the challenges many bloggers face when sitting down to write a post is where to start. For those new to the blogging world it’s smart to start with topics that you are passionate about. After all, it’s much easier to write about something you’re interested in rather than something you know little about, so spare yourself (and your readers) and blog about topics of interest that your core audience would also find beneficial and worthy of sharing.
Organization is key to overall success and blogging is no exception. It’s a good idea to keep a running list of well researched topics at-hand. Creating a journal of topics that you are passionate about and believe others would find beneficial can be a helpful habit if this is something you struggle with. Be ready to jot your ideas down when the moment strikes - you’d be surprised how many random occasions have brought some fantastic topics to mind, so whether you’re out for coffee with friends or on a morning run, be ready and don’t let those great ideas slip away!
Keep It Simple
Now that you’ve identified your brand, your overall objective, audience, and topic, it’s time to unleash the blogging beast from within! Not so fast though, the content platform that you decide to use can be just as important as the actual post itself. Unless you’re a seasoned SEO professional or have a background in programming or web design it’s probably best that you choose an easy-to-use application such as Wordpress, which is intuitive to work in and totally free. Plus, if your blog takes off and you want a more robust tool, you can simply switch to Wordpress’ paid platform. Another great Wordpress feature for those who aren’t familiar with SEO basics, is the Yoast plugin which ensures your content is properly optimized for search engines. This is really important because when done correctly it will increase your visibility in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and in turn, drive more traffic to your post.
Make it Pretty but Simple
We all know the importance of good content, but without an appealing overall look and feel who’s going to want to read it? You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a really great looking blog; just following some simple guidelines can go a long way. Consider things like the size of your text and be sure it’s easy to read, don’t clutter your page and only keep widgets that offer value. Your imagery is also a really important element and many themes will allow you to very easily install your own header which is a great way to customize the look of your blog.
Promote & Share
With a trillion blogs out there, getting yours noticed isn’t an easy task, but there are a few things you can do to give yourself an advantage. Leverage social media to interact with your target audience and post accordingly on social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon or Digg. Joining relevant forums and discussions can also be a great way to get your blog promoted.
Measure Your Success
At this point you’ve invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears in crafting a stellar blog, now you need to determine whether that effort is paying off. The most basic metric for measuring a blog’s success is how many unique visits it receives. Understanding this metric can help you determine if the content you’ve written is compelling and being promoted effectively. You should also measure how much of your traffic is coming from new versus returning visits. A high number of returning visits is a good sign your content is appealing, while a high percentage of new visits could be a good indication that your promotional efforts are paying off. Lastly, another essential measure of your blogging success is how your readers interact with your post once they’ve landed on it. Check out things like number of comments your post receives or how it’s being shared on various social media channels. Don’t forget to keep checking your blog’s comment section as well, this is a great place to foster relationships and review feedback about how your blog is resonating with it’s readers.
To Sum It Up
While not an exhaustive list by any means, I’m hoping by providing some quick easy guidelines to follow you can be on your way to crafting a great blog. Coming from someone who feels trepidation at the mere mention of the word “blog”, I understand how hard it can be to get started. The key to feeling confident and producing an engaging blog is simply preparing yourself as well as you possibly can. You may not feel confident right away, but with a well organized list (or pile) of the aforementioned, you’ll have all of the tools you need to get started. Good luck and happy blogging!