I’ve been blogging for a few years now and still love doing it as much as ever. Of course, it gets very difficult at times – keeping up with a schedule, coming up with ideas, getting the word out about new blog posts, it all can take a toll on you.
Over the years writing for Socialable, I’ve learned a lot about blogging and have managed to grow my blog substantially.
Blogging has lots of advantages, and they can be different from anyone. The beauty of blogging is that anyone with an Internet connection and the ability to read and write, can do it. It’s that easy – and that goes to show why there are so many horrible blogs out there. By blogging, you can start building an online following, get more people to notice you, establish yourself as a knowledgeable person in your field, or as an expert, land a better job or even make money from it. Blogging can have some amazing advantages – but, to be honest, it also requires a lot of hard work, creativity and imagination.
What should you blog about?
Before you start your blog, you have to be clear on what you want to blog about. I am a huge believer in strong strategies. In blogging, just like in business, it’s important to stay two steps ahead.
First figure out what you want to blog about. What are you passionate about? What do you like reading about and know the most about? If you are not very sure, do what a writer would do before releasing his novel – write a few short test articles, preferably on different subjects. Which one did you enjoy writing and reading the most? Which one is the most interesting and thought-provoking in your opinion? And most importantly, do you think you would enjoy reading a particular article if it weren’t written by you?
How often should you blog?
The strategy phase continues here – before you start writing, I recommend having a plan in place where you are clear on how often you will be writing in your blog. Make sure you account for all your other activities, and your inspiration (or lack thereof) before you make your decision.
Of course, ideally, you would publish a blog post at least once a day. But while this is the perfect scenario, it’s better to write less often but make sure you deliver on time and that your writing is as interesting and engaging as ever. There’s no point in writing something new every day if you’re doing it just for the sake of it – that will usually show in your articles, and you will achieve the opposite of your desired effect.
However, one important aspect to remember here is that the more you blog, the more traffic you will get.
Coming up with titles for blog posts
This is an issue that I’ve often stumbled into – it’s incredibly frustrating when you can write a 1000 word article in an hour and it takes you just as much to come up with a decent title to accompany it. It’s not easy, and I’m the first to admit that coming up with titles is not my strongest suit. Often times, it’s good to stick with successful templates – they might be a bit cliché, but they are cliché for good reason – they work:
- “How to….” – some of the most successful titles (and articles) in my experience
- “10 best/sure fire/favorite/etc. ways to…” – numbers usually draw readers in as they promise a succinct read that provides lots of value.
Take a look at this other blog post that I’ve written before on how to come up with the best headlines for your articles.
How to come up with new blog post ideas
This is a very difficult aspect. At times, you are going to feel as if you’ve written about everything and there’s nothing else to write about. It will be easy to panic at these times, but don’t do it – I guarantee there always is an idea waiting around to be found and there are few easy ways to make sure you get to it sooner rather than later:
- Subscribe to different blogs and websites to get inspiration from what they are writing about. I’m not suggesting writing the same things as you see on other blogs, but rather to go through titles and skim through articles to get the juices flowing – by seeing certain words or combinations of words you might just get a great idea. My personal favorite tool for this is Feedly.
- Revisit your old posts and see which ones are outdated and could be re-written with new information. It might sound like cheating, but I really don’t believe it is. Most fields move fast and make incredible progress year after year – that means that an article that you’ve written a mere year before could be outdated and if you would re-write with the new information available, it would provide lots of value to your readers
- Find out what the readers want to read about. You can try asking them directly on social media what they would like, but you might not get as many answers as you want if you don’t have a big, engaged following. If it doesn’t work this way, I recommend going through your comments, and your competitors’ comments as well as on social media sites (especially LinkedIn groups) to get a feel for what people might want to read about. Some of them will also ask questions, that you can answer by writing a blog post.
- See what’s trending online. This is a great way to not only come up with new ideas, but also to drive more traffic to your website, by writing something that is “hot” at the moment. See what is trending on social media (Twitter for example) and on top news sites, such as HuffingtonPost.
How to promote your blog
If you thought keeping a blog is easy enough to do, that you probably haven’t started promoting it yet. Promoting a blog and individual articles can take up a lot of effort and even more time than writing articles does. Here are a few easy ways to promote your blog:
- Social media. If you want people reading your blog, then you have to get on social media. Start accounts on all the major social networks: Twitter,Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and even more if you have the time to manage them. Then make sure you have included the link to your blog in your about section on each of your profiles. Afterwards, every time you write a new blog post, share it on all of your social media accounts. Try to also encourage other users to share your posts with their followers and friends, so that you can increase your reach. I recommend using tools such as Buffer, who will share your blog posts for you and therefore save you time. Also, make sure to include social sharing buttons to each of your blog’s pages so that your readers can easily share your content with their friends and followers:
- Submit your blog to blog search sites and directories. There are several places where you can do this, such as Technorati, AllTop, 9rules and many others.
- Comment on other blogs. Visit blogs that are similar to yours and comment on their articles. Some of them will allow you to add a link to your latest guest post, which can help bring in more traffic.
- SEO. Getting on the first page of Google can almost guarantee you a nice, steady stream of traffic. However, SEO can be costly and will take a relatively long time to work.
- Guest Blogging. Once you’ve started your own blog, start approaching other similar blogs and see if they are interested in allowing you to guest blog. By guest blogging you get more links, you reach a new audience, and your blog’s link will be published in your bio. It will help you make a name for yourself, reach more people, and grow your traffic.
Do you have a blog? What advice do you have for blogging newbies? Please leave your comments below!