I was asked today by a business associate, and friend for some pre-blogging advice. So rather than e-mail back an answer, I thought I’d share my thoughts here by way of a blog post.
Let me start by saying that I don’t consider myself a blogging expert, in fact, I consistently find how little I know each day, in how much more there is left for me to still find out.
That said I have learned some lessons over the years that I believe are pretty solid advice for anyone starting out, so here goes:
1. # You’re not as interesting as you think you are
Strange place to start you might think? But yes realising you’re not as interesting to the rest of us as you might wish to be can be somewhat of a difficult adjustment.
Blogging has a habit of bringing you to terms with it pretty quickly. In other words, expecting that truck loads of people are going to read your first few posts is a tad unrealistic.
The lesson: Plan for a much longer haul.
2. # You still have something valuable to say
OK, so maybe you’re not an instant Seth Godin but you do still have something valuable to say. There are plenty of people that will want to listen; you will just give them some time to find you.
Everyone has a voice and an opinion that’s interesting; it just takes some time to know how to get what’s in your head down on blogging’s virtual paper.
The more you do it, the better and braver you become, and the more people that will pay attention.
The lesson: Remember to keep the faith!
3. # Really define your audience
One of the shortest ways to find your audience online is to first decide who they are. Spend lots of time defining your audience, start by asking yourself, what content would they find most interesting?
If your objective is new business and new customers, go out and ask your existing customers and some customers that you’d like to have ‘what do you need most?’
The lesson: The more you know, the better you’ll write and the more successful your blog will become.
4. # Don’t skimp! Design a great first impression
I’ve read and listened to many of the best of the best over the years, and one consistent takeaway is the importance of design. Good design doesn’t have to cost the world.
Social Media Examiner for instance cost around five thousand dollars at the start, and it’s now a multi million dollar business.
Unfortunately, design is often also the place that new bloggers cut corners, and so one of the main reasons for me, why many also fail. The key point here is that first impressions count big time online.
New visitors to your website or blog will make a really quick decision to stay or go.
The lesson: If your design let’s you down, well… you know the answer.
5. # Content is King, networking is Queen
We all heard that content is King, but that’s really only half the story. If you want to build a kingdom online, networking is your Queen.
- That means commenting on other blogs.
- That means sharing other articles
- It means guest posting.
Essentially it’s about being really really nice to everyone else, and then being prepared to wait on the return.
The lesson: You may be a big shot in business, however, in the world of blogging you start off carrying the kit bags.
6. # Headings, pictures and formatting walk the talk
People read books and scan websites. To keep the online reader interested.
- You need to capture their attention (Headline)
- Give them something nice to look at (pictures)
- Make your posts easily or partly digestible (sub-headings and formatting)
Online folks have zillions of choices, and will often not need to read the entire article to get value from it.
The lesson: Always make your content online friendly.
7. # Know the difference between promotion and causing offence
There is a bit of a myth with the purists that promotion is bad, that is not the case. In fact, self promotion is a huge part of making it online. Those that are brilliant online promote, and they do it quicker, faster and better than the rest of us.
The difference is that, they don’t offend in the meantime.
If you tell me that your post is great, I’m going to wonder why you needed to . That’s not promotion, that’s stupidity. If on the other hand, I’m looking for an answer to a question, and your content can help me find out, you just became a little more valuable in my eyes.
The lesson: Online, don’t ever push, pull in relevant people instead.
8. # Make it easily sharable
People love to share and social media is the greatest tool ever invented for sharing information.
- If you manage to capture my attention, if you manage to get me to read your content, Congratulations!
- If you managed to give me value and I’d love to share your article with my BIG communities of people online, Congratulations!
If however you managed to do all this and then don’t give me an option to share, seriously?
The lesson: Make your content sharable by giving the options to share.
9. # Consistency and time equal returns
Rome wasn’t built in a day and every successful business and blog you can mention, also took time before it was successful. Unfortunately, many bloggers give up before they can be successful.
Your blog can and will deliver readers, traffic, and ultimately new opportunities and customers for you and your business, but to get there will require a consistent strategy and adequate time.
Don’t start unless you have both.
The lesson: Blogging success will probably take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think.
10. # Closely pay attention and learn from the stats
Measurement is fundamental to success online. You will have successes and you will make mistakes, but if you don’t pay attention, you’ll fail to recognise the difference between the two. You can learn lots from both, and your analytics will tell you what you need to know.
Pay attention to the content that flies, pay attention to the content that bombs and aim to consistently seek out ways to replace latter with the first.
Use social media to find the news, stories, people and trends in your industry. Pay attention to them. Take hold off and manage all the opportunities that are there for you to learn online.
This will continually optimise the speed and potential of your success.
The lesson: The figures don’t lie, study them wisely for they contain all your blogging truths.
11. # ? Now, it’s your turn!
what advice would you give to my friend before she begins her blogging journey?
Thanks for reading,