It’s been just under a year since I started blogging regularly again after stopping in 2012. I’ve learnt a lot, but I also realise I’m just scratching the surface. The big thing of course is the promotion side of things. I feel confident in the stuff I put out and obviously I think it’s good, but if you can’t get it in front of people then none of that matters. But I’m learning. So for anyone who is just starting out, I thought I’d write this just to offer some help that might make it that little bit easier.
It’s not easy.
This is the very first thing you need to understand. It’s hard fricking work! I had ideas that I would write something cool and that all my friends would share it and then it would go viral and BAM, I’m a top blogger. Not the case. Firstly, it takes up a lot of your time. If you want to write quality stuff you’re going to need to plan it out and then set aside the time to actually write it. If there are pictures involved then this makes it even more time-consuming because the right photo choice could be the difference between someone clicking on your blog or ignoring it. Then once you’ve got the content written, you have to spend time promoting it which is the real grind. The point is, it’s not a quick process. You know your shit is awesome, but you need other people to read it otherwise you may as well be writing a private diary. This is hard because despite what you may think, people don’t share that much stuff. Even your friends won’t really help you out that much unless you hassle them. Which brings me to my next point…
Find some people who are happy to share your stuff.
You might hope that everyone you know will share your blog, but that is just not the case. If you write a blog like mine and it is a bit more edgy sometimes, then that may explain why they don’t. Or maybe they don’t think it’s very good. Or maybe they just are a bit oblivious to the need to share it. There could be any number of reasons. But you are going to need people who share it in order to get the word out, especially when you’re starting out. So you’re going to need to ask/hassle some friends to share your blog on a regular basis. I’m lucky because I do have some awesome people who share almost everything I put out and to those people I am literally so so grateful because I know I’d be getting nowhere near the success I am without them. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends, because while most won’t bother, a few will and those few will be so important to building a successful blogging platform.
Decide on what matters to you.
At some point your going to have to decide what is important to you; success or writing about what you like. You might be lucky and what you want to write is what people want to read, but a lot of the time the two might be at odds. Not by a massive margin, but enough that you need to compromise a bit. Personally I believe in writing stuff that ‘s true to yourself and creating content that you really believe in. Forget what other people think and write stuff that really shows people what you think. However, there is of course success to think about. So you may feel like you want to write about stuff that is on the pulse of society in order to get more reads. That’s fine to. You just need to know what your aim is when you start your blog, otherwise you will get stuck in some kind of half way house. Decide now; either write for yourself and hope people vibe with it, or write for other people and hope you can get enough of yourself in there.
Relating to the last point, make sure that once you find your voice, you stick with it. You don’t want to get an audience’s attention just to lose it again because you change your direction. There is nothing wrong with your blog evolving, but make sure it’s an organic evolution. Also, you have to make sure you are consistent with your scheduling. If you post a certain type of post every sunday, then your audience will begin to expect it and this is a good thing. But if you then miss one, then you can damage that routine. Likewise, if twice a week is your routine, then make sure you stick to it.
Up your social media game.
When it comes to promotion, social media is your best friend. Initially, Facebook is where most of your reads will come from because your friends are more inclined to be curious about what you’ve got to say, but Twitter is also a valuable tool and has much more long-term potential (for a more in-depth look at how Twitter and Facebook can be used to promote your blog check out THIS article I wrote for The DS Blog). Social media is how you get the word out, so don’t just use it, learn how to maximise it. When is your audience online? What days generate the most traffic? A lot of it is trial and error, but one thing you can’t do is ignore it. Pinterest, Forums, even YouTube; basically you need to be familiar with anything that has a community that can enhance your profile. Which reminds me…
Embrace the online community.
You can’t do this on your own. You’re going to need help. Luckily there is an entire community of bloggers that you can engage with to try to enhance your own prospects. Wider than that, you literally have the whole world at your finger tips so you need to make sure you get yourself out there. Take part in blogger chat’s on Twitter (there is a good one every monday between 7-8 using the #BDIB), make sure you leave comments on other blogs (not just ‘a good read’ but something that shows you engaged with the material), reach out to other blogger on Twitter, try to guest post or collaborate. The point is that you need to fully immerse yourself in the blogging world if you are going to build your blog into something more than just a hobby. And finally…
It takes time. You’re not going to crack it straight away, but that’s okay. Just try to keep the content to a high standard and make the effort to promote yourself and your work. The success will come if the blog is good. Setting yourself goals is fine, but make sure they are realistic. For example, my first aim was to get a post that had 250 views. Once I had done that, I wanted a post with 500. Then it was 1000. Likewise, when it comes to total views a day, don’t obsess over it. Aim for something realistic like trying to get 50 views a day. Then go to 100. Small steps, and all the while you will be learning and getting better.
So that’s just some of what I’ve learnt. I’m sure there’s more, and I’m just as sure that by this time next year I’ll know a lot more again.
It’s a long journey, and one I feel like I’m only just starting myself. But we’ll get there. It might take a while, but then that’s half the fun.
Peace and much love.