Blogging isn’t easy, simple, or a single shot to financial freedom. It’s not anything like you’ve been trained to believe and buy into. The gurus can scam you all they like but you’ll eventually get to a point that you’ll understand. Either that or you’ll just take my word for it and avoid years getting wasted away launching half-hearted blogging adventures.
Avoid buying into the hype. If it were so easy, everyone would do it. Sweat, blood, and tears go into blogging that make it worth the effort. But what sweat? What exactly do you have to do? Here’s what you should be doing every single, for years to come:
Reading for your very life
You can’t blog if you don’t read. Reading books, magazines, and your niche specific sources is the single biggest investment into blogging that you’ll ever make. While reading like your life depends on it is also one of the secrets that some of the greatest politicians, entrepreneurs, and other successful people rely on, we’ll ignore that for the moment.
Reading gives you vocabulary. It introduces to different styles of writing. More often than not, your mind begins to form patterns that help you to write stronger and better. Further, reading what others write not only expands your knowledge but also helps you explore your own inner voice. JJ Wong of Inspirationboost.com took the trouble to list out how exactly reading helps.
Blogging requires strong, opinionated writing justified by experience, deduction, insights, attitude, and of course, facts. Without reading, you’ll never be able to blog – be it for yourself, your business, or others.
Writing away into eternity
Writers could take long sabbaticals and head off to exotic tropics to get their mojo back – a break has the potential to revive their mind, give them inspiration, and help their brains get back to writing better. Blogging, however, isn’t like writing a novel. Blogging is more like publishing a magazine, which includes working well into unearthly hours, tight deadlines, collaboration, and planning.
Further, you can’t spit out anything that doesn’t make sense. You can’t rewrite, regurgitate, and sew three other articles into one. According to Ashley Robinson, it’s one of those 12 reasons you won’t make it as a blogger.
Your writing tasks don’t end there: writing also involves email copy you send out to subscribers (you are building your list, aren’t you?), reaching out to other guest bloggers for your blogger outreach programs, leaving comments on other blogs, and responding to comments on your own posts.
Your writing will also include your contributions on forums, groups, and other communities. You’ll also end up writing articles not only your own blog but also ones to go on your peers’ and friends’ blogs as “guest” posts!
All of that writing, by the way, has to consistent. Consistency, according to Neil Patel of QuickSprout.com, is one of the keys to your growth.
Researching to the core of the blog
There’s also the aspect of “being in the know.” Bloggers just have to know, for which they have to use the right tools!
Who visits your blog? Where are your readers from? What are the geographical areas that your reader base represents? If you are selling digital products or memberships, who are your customers? Do you know your shopping cart abandonment rate? Use Google Analytics to gather data on this. If you have WordPress as your CMS, use the Jetpack plugin for insights on traffic, social sharing, subscription and other data.
Are you targeting an authority site or reputed blog to share your thougths over there? What do you actually know about a site itself? While you can easily find out metrics related to your own site, it’s a tad difficult to dig out those of sites you don’t own. Don’t despair – you can use Wmtips.com to fetch Whois info, Alexa, Compete, Technorati and other third-party stats. You can also head over to Who Is Hosting This to uncover hosting information or even compare reviews of hosting providers.
When you are interacting with others, contacting other bloggers, leaving comments, and responding to comments on your blog, pause to think – who are these people to whom you are talking? Not everyone has an “about” page on their website so how do you find out? Drill down to any and every social media or Web 2.0 network they use – you’re bound to get some information from their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Disqus profiles.
For most others, reading and digging is optional. Not for bloggers.
Marketing like a true hustler
You started a blog, made an editorial calendar, and started blogging away. You’ll begin to get marginal visits and trickling traffic to your blog and that’s a good start.
Marginal won’t do for you though. You’ll need more visits, and much more relevant traffic. So, you’ll now have to sit and make a marketing plan. More importantly, you’ll have to actually lift the boulders and sweat it out. Marketing a blog isn’t easy, but it’s not difficult either:
- Start by trying to optimize your own blog posts for SEO. Don’t go overboard and don’t obsess on keywords and keyword density. The days of writing for search engines are long gone.
- Focus on extremely valuable content – the kind that your readers would have paid for – and this will automatically generate links for you (also helps with SEO).
- Launch yourself on social media. If you do nothing else but write posts and be social, you’ll still be doing well enough. On social networks, listen first. Then seek to connect, share, and dispense advice. Solve others’ problems and get into the mode of generosity by choosing to swing the limelight on others. As Spin Sucks advises, hustle your social network, but do it with grace.
No marketing. No blogging success.
Working on the bells and whistles
If you find it overwhelming already, it’s not over yet. You’ll have to work on the design, administration kinks, graphics, and a hundred other things that’ll go into making your blog shine. You’ll have to take care of links that eventually break, people who try to steal your content, reply to readers and subscribers who ask you a question, etc. If you are doing it right on social media, you’ll have to respond to followers and fans on your network immediately and whole-heartedly.
Apart from the regular blog management, you might have contractors who work with you on content development, design, coding, and support – you’d have to learn to delegate tasks and manage them too.
Repeating like you are a machine
None of the steps above are one-off. In effect, that would mean that you’d have keep at all of this every single day, for years.
Yes, you’ll have days when you cannot bring yourself to write. You could face a big black hole when it comes to ideas for blog posts. Your social networks could look like a plague-infected, deserted village and you’ll probably not attract any comments for the first couple of years you get into blogging.
It’ll depress you, suck the soul out of your life, and make you completely miserable. But, it’s worth doing it for the sake of doing it.
How do you blog? What tasks are including in your blogging routine? Have you seen miserable days during blogging? Please share your blogging journey with me!
Tracy Vides is a content strategist who likes to keep her finger on the pulse of the latest small business products, services, and apps. Hit her up on Google+ for a chat. She’s @TracyVides on Twitter.