Jessica’s Short & Simple Guide To Successful Blogging

 

STEP ONE

FIGURE OUT WHAT A BLOG IS

What is a Blog?

Would you try and play cricket without first looking up the rules? No, because everyone knows cricket is the most confusing game ever (wicket, need I say more?). If you think the blogging life might be for you, or if it seems to be the thing everyone else is doing, take some time to learn what a blog is. Yes, I know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many business owners request blogs but don’t actually know what they are.

Need help learning about blogs? Check out my Blog FAQs.

 

STEP TWO

READ OTHER BLOGS BEFORE STARTING YOUR OWN

Let’s stick with the cricket analogy because I just like typing the word wicket (wicket, wicket, wicket). If you want to become a successful cricket player (the dream of every American child), it helps to watch the pros. Before starting your own blog it helps to read other popular blogs and see how it’s done.

Read blogs in your industry. Read blogs outside your industry. Ask your friends which blogs they like and read them. Read critically and try to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.

Not sure where to find good blogs? Check out my list of Ten Blogs That Work with accompanying explanations.

 

STEP THREE

FIGURE OUT YOUR GOAL

 

Easy Goal

Use your blog as a search engine optimization tool. Concentrate on writing coherent (Yes, complete sentences required even on the easy level) blog posts that emphasize relevant key words and keyword terms that link back to your business web pages. (Hint: Spiking your blog post with too many repeating key words and links will get you an angry SEO slap from Google. Write decent copy)

Medium Goal

Use your blog for SEO and for positioning yourself as an expert. This goal requires more than just basic coherency. While still concentrating on SEO key words and keyword terms, your blog posts should also focus on providing clear, informative and relevant information to your audience. Regurgitated crap that can be found on a free article website will not impress readers. To be an expert, you need to consistently provide high quality information that demonstrates that you know your stuff.

Hard Goal

Build an audience and turn your blog into a selling tool. Many first time business bloggers believe that blogs are primarily used as selling tools. Not so. To be a selling tool, a blog needs to bring in a regular audience, of which a small proportion may eventually convert into customers. In case you haven’t noticed, there are A LOT of blogs on the web. (The great and powerful Wikipedia just told me the number is over 150 million) How many do you read regularly? 20? 10? 3? 0? I rest my case.)

If you want to build an audience for your blog, you will need to woo readers by writing an entertaining, brilliant, relevant, and completely unique blog post. And then do that same thing again multiple times a months for years and possibly forever without repeating yourself. Easy right?

Very Hard Goal

Monetize your blog. There are multiple ways to monetize your blog (addressed briefly in my Blog FAQs), but in order for this to work, you need to build an audience. Wait, didn’t you just build an audience when you were achieving the hard goal above? Good for you. Now take that audience and times it by a gazillion (alright, maybe not a gazillion, but you need to increase it by a lot).

You see, blogs are free to read and even then the vast majority of people will not read yours. You can imagine how much more difficult it will be to make them shell out money for a product you sell on your blog or to make the monumental effort to click on an ad or affiliate link. People are L-A-Z-Y and making them do stuff is very, very hard.

Making money from your blog requires great content and big, motivated audiences. Good luck.

I think most business owners would be best served by trying to reach the medium goal. Posting educated and SEO-focused content on your blog should increase your search engine rankings over time and will also show potential customers who may be exploring your site that you know what you’re talking about.

 

STEP FOUR

DETERMINE YOUR NICHE

If your blog goal is simply to produce strong SEO or to prove that you are an expert in your field, than your niche is simply your business and all the terms that surround it. Step Four and the rest of the steps afterward mainly apply to those people who are looking to build a decent blog readership.

If you really want to try and make your blog something big, just shooting the breeze about your business or wandering to whatever topic strikes your fancy on any given day is a recipe for undercooked, soggy failure.

Find a powerful niche that has some relevance to you or your business. It helps if this niche is underserved (Use the magical Google to figure out if other bloggers are already blogging your niche). A niche is basically a very focused or unique subject. Sometimes a niche is a combination of two more general topics (Ex. clowns and speed dating – come on, that would be an awesome blog). Sometimes a niche is just using humor on something that isn’t traditionally humorous. The key is to dig deeper than the surface but not so deep that you lose every potential reader except yourself (clowns + speed dating + Albert Einstein; now that’s just ridiculous).

 

STEP FIVE

DON'T LOOK LIKE A DOOFUS

No one will take your blog seriously if it looks like a piece of crap, and it definitely shouldn’t look like a piece of crap, because popular blog sites like WordPress and Blogger make it EXTREMELY EASY to create polished and professional-looking blogs. Trust me, even I can do it. Both these sites offer a variety of simple templates that you can choose (most are free) and personalize.

There is no excuse for having an ugly blog. If you absolutely fear the Internet, or you want a blog built into your website, pay someone.

 

STEP SIX

WRITE STUFF THAT'S ACTUALLY INTERESTING

Everyone can write boring crap. That’s called your Facebook wall. Once you’ve discovered your blog niche and created your blog, it’s time to write stuff that other people who are not your mother will want to read. This is hard. I’m a writer and I still think it’s hard. The best advice I can give you is to keep reading other blogs you like and figure out what that writer is doing that makes you keep coming back.

 

STEP SEVEN

BE CONSISTENT

Consistency for blog successBloggers vary widely on how often they post, and there isn’t an established norm for guaranteed blog success (there are, however, best practices which I address briefly in my Blog FAQs). No matter whether you decide to post once a month, once a week, or once a day, the key is to be consistent. Figure out a schedule and stick to it. If you miss a month of posting, you may come back to find that the audience you spent the last two years building up has deserted your little Internet outpost.

 

STEP EIGHT

MARKET YOUR BLOG

What? Isn’t your blog supposed to be your marketing? In this strange new world we live in, it is not uncommon to market your marketing. In order to build an audience for your blog, you need to tell people about it. Depending on how much effort you want to put behind your blog, this could mean posting links on your Facebook page, guest blogging on other blogs in your industry, or tactfully posting links on message boards or in other Internet alcoves where potential readers hang out. Including a link to your blog under your email signature and on your business card will also help. This should really, really, really go without saying…but, your blog MUST also be on your business website (preferably in the main menu bar on every page)

 

STEP NINE

KEEP on Trucking Blogging

Keep on keeping on. Building a blog audience is a gradual and very uncertain thing that needs lots of content-nutritious fodder to grow. Hopefully you picked a topic you are passionate about, because you’ll probably be blogging to yourself and your mom in the beginning. You could even pick a great niche, write shining blog posts every week for a year, market your butt off and still not get more than a handful of readers. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, and sometimes you hit pay dirt. The Internet (and life) is fickle that way.

If you believe in your niche and that you have something important to say through your blog, keep at it.

 

STEP TEN

BE LAZY AND HIRE A COPYWRITER!

You want to do the blog thing, but there’s a problem. Sentences. They’re hard. No problem. There are crazy people in the world who actually like writing. People like me.

Hire me.
Pay Me.
I write nice blogs for you.

In all seriousness, copywriters can be a solution if you are looking for simple posts that focus on SEO key words and keyword terms. Make sure you find a copywriter with whom you have a good rapport and who understands your brand, your company’s voice and your goal for the blog.

Also, for my sake and for the sake of all the other copywriters out in the world, remember that blogs almost never result in an immediate spike in sales. They are an SEO tool and a relationship-building tool. Don’t expect miracles. If a copywriter promises you miracles, back away slowly and call me instead.

 

Did You Read My Blog Samples?