This is a continuation of a guide to setting up a new blog in January. This article intends to pierce the veil on the most critical element of blogging; whether you enjoy the task of blogging or not.
Do You Enjoy Blogging?
Where does this question sit in the scheme of things? Why Headboy, would you ask such a silly question?
The art of blogging might not be for you.
Notice I say art of blogging?!
Blogging is definitely an art.
It transcends more than just writing. You have to think about a lot more than just the writing.
A blog post always must include;
- A title that encourages visitors
- A decent feature image
- More images within the article
- An amount of blank space and a reduction in the traditional long stanzas of other media
- Eye catching breaks and headings
- Web Links outside and inside
- A gambit, something that you are trying to achieve by way of directly or indirectly covering a point within the article
- Social sharing options
Writing is difficult enough in itself. You have to find the optimum way to put your point across without losing the reader along the way.
Motivation and Enjoyment are Not Mutually Exclusive
In my recent series, my previous article covered the topic of motivation. Motivation for blogging is a theme that comes up. Actually enjoying blogging is a separate issue, the art of blogging is a different concept. In order to have motivation you first have to like what you are doing, but you don’t know that until you start.
Advice For First Time Bloggers
I believe that my fellow blogger Ahmad Imran from Reasontouse.com, would agree with me that actually starting on a self-hosted blog actually cuts down your learning arch considerably. Self-hosted websites have costs involved, and if you are not fully committed to that idea, or are incredibly budget sensitive, there are alternative starts you could consider.
That said, they are no substitute for doing it properly.
My advice would be either to start somewhere free where there are no costs to writing;
WordPress.com – My top recommendation
Medium.com – A good distraction free platform
Blogger.com – Owned by Google and quite basic
Tumblr.com – Excellent for media
Try and guest post before you have your own site;
Do this by writing a good article and submit it to an outlet where guest posts are permitted. If you don’t get lucky or the person you have submitted to doesn’t like your re-writes, submit the improved article to another outlet until you get some joy. In the mean time, write more articles and analyse those articles that you like.
None of these choices are what I’d class as an “easy” option. You have to commit time to arrive at what you can class as a success.
Another alternative would be;
Get used to writing on forums and/or contributing to other blogs through social media, the comments section and through emails. You can test out an idea before it ever becomes the moving force behind a blog. Testing the water is a good thing, and it never hurts to be sociable.
Blogging is Something You Can Get Into After a While
It normally takes a bit of time to get the bug for blogging. I had the fortunate benefit of being off sick for a week when I launched my blog back in June 2013. Being sick was awful but being able to push out 6 posts in the first week was invaluable. Having a good place to start gets you in the rhythm.
If you get stuck, like I have done during 2017, blogging can be difficult to return to. For some people, returning to the blog at all is impossible. If you don’t return, you’ve wasted a lot of time.
Your First Articles Are Going To Be Terrible
Unless you are an English master, writing blog articles is going to be clunky at first. Even if you are good at writing, knowing how to assemble all of the components the way the audience wants them is difficult.
A lot of the time a blog post in your early days of development will leave you head scratching as to why it didn’t do well.
It’s not that you didn’t cover the points well. There is sometimes another reason somebody else did better. You haven’t got much chance of knowing exactly what unless you go looking for other people who have done better with similar articles.
A lot of the time the social element is what helped the article shine. The engagement score.
To do better with engagement you have to network a bit, build a following, and make sure your message gets seen.
Google has you on the bottom step when you start. Over time your position on those steps will climb, as long as you maintain movement.
Q: Does that mean that what I write in the start is technically a waste?
A: Yes. But you shouldn’t look at it in those cold terms. Everything you do is practice to hone you for better.
You can’t bottle lightning straight away. You need a strategy for that.
Be Prepared Not to See Gold For a Year or More
It can take that long and sometimes longer to grow large enough to be visible to the “right people”.
Don’t even think about the word ‘viral’ yet. You just aren’t that privileged.
Is blogging in a nutshell. Not only do you have to write your articles, you have to get them seen.
There are 3 ways to do this*;
- Social Media
- Mailing List
- Search Engine
Social Media is the active method of recruiting eyes to your words. It is basic advertising. Traditional advertising if you’d like.
Mailing Lists are the semi-passive method. You have to be active in encouraging people to join the mailing list but once they are on it, all you have to do is ensure you make the emails interesting enough to get your subscribers to return regularly for more critical information. Google likes this because people viewing your site from a website link in an email count as direct traffic. Direct traffic infers the term ‘useful’.
Where information is useful, Google ranks it higher.
Search Engines are entirely passive. People finding you on search engines improves over time. The best way to quickly affect this area of traffic is with money. Often that may not be the most effective way to go if you have a limited budget. There are subtle changes and tips and tricks you can learn but ultimately, it is a game show. You are better to concentrate on quality (which always shines through) and the quality of your relationships.
* There are some other ways such as link building, commenting on sites with links back, and being active in forums, but these methods aren’t as functional as they used to be.
Dealing With Comments
Most comments are normally nice. Some are not.
You will need a thick skin.
Some readers will just hate what you do. Some just are in it for a laugh.
They say, don’t feed the trolls. I say, don’t let the trolls get a foot in the door in the first place.
As much as you can beg for comments, they don’t come until you get a big enough audience. The percentage for comment makers is very low.
You want to respond to positive comments as soon as possible. If possible, try to see where these participators came from, and return the favour. It’s called reciprocity, and you’ll find a lot of warmth from the activity.
The largest majority of visitors to your site are what is classed as “consumers”. They don’t make passing comments, they are just there for the information. Consumers are still good for you but often they might need to see some form of social signal to perform more than just a cursory glance.
A Quick Word About “Shilling”
I would never recommend shilling. Shilling is applauding yourself through stealth. Making fake accounts to make it look like someone holds you in high regard. Paying a service to make you look like a stand up guy or gal. It’s not worth it.
You are better to find commentators through making friends. Reciprocity is often a very key way to build exposure.
We are all in this together.
Fun fact: Back in my early days of this blog, I had set upon the idea to create a mini business on Fiverr. This business was about purchasing my services as a commentator. Of course, it fell entirely flat on its face, but I wasn’t the only one who’d thought about that idea. There were many individuals selling services to augment comments. I found that in practice, it is better to have legitimate interaction, even if some posts go without comments.
Be Prepared to be Thrust Into a Market of Businesses
There are those that will be trying to sell the exact same cheddar you are selling.
There are those who will steal any cheddar designs from you, that are deemed to be ‘effective’.
You will enter with agenda.
The information you provide has to be needed.
You may see the term B2B (business 2 business) banded around, this might be something you have to understand more about. B2B is the more likely form of market you are pitching to, or networking with at the very least.
Blogging Success Can Be Delayed
Not everything you write is of interest straight away. It may take a while to grow a head of steam.
You may be very surprised which articles rise to the surface of popularity. You have to improve at reading and interpreting statistics generated by your efforts. There are just some outrider articles that do unusually well and you might not understand why.
Don’t be overwhelmed by terms like split testing and other higher level methods of analysis until you get to grips with the basics. It is okay to be a newbie. Make newbie mistakes, enjoy that green feeling. Don’t be shamed by bigwig bloggers
I would suggest that there is a certain degree of learning you have to perform that you cannot bypass. Accept failure in good cheer and try to learn from those mistakes wherever possible.
One Final Word
Don’t be Denim. If you plan to be another leech, another copycat, there are already plenty of those.
Do your own thing!
You need creativity to shine nowadays. Bland won’t cut it.
You will need to work on your marketing image.
If you can’t commit time to being awesome, don’t commit the time, period.
Blogging is a consuming activity. A time sink. If you don’t have the time, don’t do the crime.