Don’t let the newsletter advocates and social media mavens fool you. Blogging is completley changing the way business and marketing is done in the world today. Having a blog is no longer a recommendation, it’s simply a require and if you have a product or service to sell, then it’s a complete no-brainer.
A compelling, useful, entertaining blog can be the center of a content strategy that rockets you to success in whatever industry you choose.
That said, there are a lot of bloggers out there, with an estimated 600 million as of this year. Many of them have a years-long track record with thousands of articles competing with for attention. That makes it harder now than ever before for a rookie blogger to make a splash.
With more blogs and content creators out there than ever before, it’s now more important than ever to make sure your site content provides real value and is better than the competition. By having these elements and main keys of focus in place, it will be much easier for you to accomplish the goal of using blogging as a source of revenue.
However, you can make your blog stand out because of its quality and readability. Here are seven key strategies to make the most of your blogging and how to leverage them toward success as a master blogger.
6 Tips for Beginning Bloggers
1. Use a Content Calendar
A content calendar is a tool that helps you plan what you will post in advance. It offers important advantages compared to writing without a plan:
- You can link your content to calendar events for thematic posting.
- It makes keyword identification easier to accomplish.
- You can avoid writing about certain topics too much or too little.
- Many writers find it easier to come up with great ideas in dedicated brainstorming sessions, rather than one by one at writing time.
- It makes it easier to create a series of posts.
More subtle but still important is the fact that a content calendar creates a gap between having an idea for a blog post and executing that idea. That almost always leads to creating better content because you have more time to do research, gather images, and simply mull the content over in your mind.
You can write your content calendar as a series of bullet points on the back of a napkin or invest in various planners or software suites that help you do it. How you do it doesn’t matter, as long as you do it. That applies whether you plan to write one post per month or put a little bit of content out each day.
How to Get Started
- Decide how many posts you want to write in the next month.
- Map out a calendar with the posting date for each.
- Check the annual calendar and your own business schedule, noting opportunities to incorporate that information into your blog topics.
- Brainstorm and assign topics for any remaining posts.
You can use the same strategy for your social media posting in support of your blog. The same reasons, benefits, and processes apply.
2. Know Your End Game
One of the most common rookie mistakes for beginning bloggers is adopting an “If you build it, they will come” attitude. They just start blogging and figure they can handle the money side of the business once they get established.
That’s useful if you’re the kind of person who sometimes uses excessive preparation as a means to procrastinate. It puts you out there before you’re ready so you have to become ready. But for the rest of us, it’s a mistake.
Start your blogging journey with a clear idea of how you plan to turn your words into money. Will you use it to generate advertising revenue or affiliate sales? Will you use it to drive interest in your own business? Know from the beginning so you can develop your blog’s infrastructure and your marketing funnel to match. If you try to do this later you’ll have to retrofit certain tools and will unavoidably waste some of the content you created early on.
How to Get Started
- Decide how your blog will make you money, even if you don’t have the product or deals in place yet to actually earn that money.
- Build your blog with the tools necessary to earn money in your chosen way.
- Map out your content calendar with that earnings plan in mind.
Ask yourself: Is there an end game beyond the first earnings model for your blog? Can you skip the initial earnings stage altogether and chase your ultimate goal from the start? If not, what can you do from the outset to accelerate your progress toward the finish line?
3. Prioritize Your Email List
Your email list can be one of the biggest, fastest, most reliable moneymakers in your content repertoire. It’s different from your blog, but you can use your blog to gather emails for your blog. Even if you’re not producing a newsletter, you can still collect emails and send direct messages to your followers on a semi-regular basis.
Rookie bloggers often believe their subscriber list replaces a mailing list, but that isn’t the case. Some people engage meaningfully with both, but the majority prefer one mode or the other. Your job is to communicate with your entire potential audience in a way that works best for them so you never miss an opportunity.
How to Get Started
- Create a database to store your email list, either manually or via a service like Mailchimp or AWeber.
- Install an email collector widget on your blog.
- Send an email to your entire list once per quarter or at least once per year.
Many mailing lists offer a loss leader freebie like an e-book to encourage people to subscribe. You can use a similar method to get more people to provide you with their email addresses.
4. Nurture Your Expertise
People come to blogs for many reasons, but all of them read because the blogger knows more than they do about a topic. For some, the blogger has access to more celebrity gossip, terrible puns, or cat videos than they do. Some read blogs by people who know more about their hobbies. Others want to read from experts in their careers or other interests.
Whatever you blog about, make it part of your job to build and develop your expertise in the topic. Become an expert in not just the skills and knowledge, but the trends and issues surrounding the topic and the people who lead thought in the sphere.
This is one of the best parts of being a blogger: It becomes part of your job to engage deeply with a topic you love.
How to Get Started
- Read at least two to three blog posts every week about things you don’t know on your topic or things you’d like to understand in more depth.
- Follow the top 10 thought leaders in your space on social media and engage with them routinely.
- Read at least one book per month about your topic.
Nurture relationships with other bloggers in your topic. Don’t think of them as competition, but rather as partners. Find ways to cross-promote, guest post, and otherwise cooperate with them so you can share one another’s audiences and all become more successful.
5. Master Your Image Game
Content with images generates significantly more engagement than text alone. That means your blog will do better if you use images and use them well. A few best practices to keep in mind include:
- Use high-quality images taken by professionals.
- Crop your images to match the layout specs of your blog.
- Learn how to use metadata for images to optimize search performance.
- Use only royalty-free images, images you pay to use, or images you took yourself.
- Work in infographics, cartoons, and humorous images when appropriate for your subject matter.
- Make sure you understand the “featured image” feature in your blogging software and use it well.
Using images can feel intimidating at first to writers who haven’t branched out into other media, but the basic skills needed for your blog to stand out are simple enough. Set aside a couple of hours per day for a week, and you should have all you need.
How to Get Started
- Sign up at Pexels, Unsplash, and Getty Images, where you can get free and low-cost images quickly and easily.
- Add an image idea area in your content calendar so you can brainstorm the types of images you want at the same time you’re brainstorming topics.
Embedded video is much more engaging than photographs. But remember that photographs are more engaging than text alone. Look for opportunities to insert relevant, compelling clips from YouTube into your content. You can start generating your own content later on.
6. Keep It Super-Simple
More than one beginning blogger has fallen afoul of creating something too complex and difficult to viably manage. It usually happens in one of two ways.
First, some build a blog that’s too difficult for readers to navigate. It has too many pages and vague signposting. Their posts have too many tags, or the layout is too busy. Readers won’t spend much time figuring out how to use your site, so make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
Second, some bloggers create a project that’s too ambitious to manage given the priorities and responsibilities in their lives. This is common because most people decide to blog in a moment of deep inspiration and enter the project more optimistic than reality will permit long-term.
The solution to both is to start as simple as possible. Master the basics and put forward a single product or project. Then build on the success from there, rather than trying to succeed at multiple things at once.
How to Get Started
- Make a list of the things you want to do with your blog.
- Identify the one thing you can do the fastest, easiest, and best.
- Cross off everything on your list that doesn’t serve the one thing you chose.
- Save the others for later.
Consider outsourcing any tasks or skills you dislike or are bad at. Save your personal time and energy for the aspects of blogging that excite you and challenge you in an uplifting way.
6. Take Advantage of Social Media
As important as content creation and blogging is, it would be a huge mistake to discount the many opportunities and massive reach available through social media. With more than a billion users spread across the major platforms, this is simply one of the best ways to reach new audiences while also getting users back to your site.
SEO is still a huge component to bringing traffic to your site, but nothing worse faster then social media–especially if you are willing to put some time, money and effort behind it.
How to Get Started
- Take a moment to look at your competition and see what they are doing on social.
- Register on the top platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Spend some time on the customization and look and feel of your profile pages.
- Promote your content on social and add social sharing buttons to your site.
Social media can quickly spin into a whole new project of it’s own. To get the most out of your efforts and not spend an endless amount of time on each platform, be sure to take advantage of the many different social media scheduling and marketing tools available.
Ideally, you would master all six of these practices before launching your blog. If you haven’t started yet, we recommend doing exactly that even if it means delaying your launch date.
If you’re already blogging without one or more of these skills in place, don’t try to add them all at once. You’ll end up frustrating yourself. Instead, focus on the one you think will be the most fun (or the least hassle) to implement, and make it part of your normal routine. Once it’s automatic, add the next and then the next until all six are natural to you and you’re ready to learn the tricks and techniques for the next level.