Everyone has a Story to Tell
An experience. A revelation. A passion. Everyone is an expert at something. If you really want to write, encourage, teach, inspire, inform or just untangle your thoughts, then I’m sure there are people that want to hear about it.
Traditional Marketing is Dead
Smaller, niche tribe and relationship building is what it’s all about. And that’s because, here, deep in the information age “no one really cares about what you know, until they know how much you care.” So writing a blog is all about service. Give people information that is helpful, easy to read, and of value for their lives.
This is not flowery, rambling traditional book writing, though a book could definitely come out of your amassed material down the road. It is concise, to the point, easy to understand, writing like you talk.
There are literally millions of blogs out there, but because of the “niche and tribe” idea, there is always room for more. The train has left the station on the new media. Get on board now!
Your Blog is the Beginning of your Platform
A platform is a place in cyberspace that you own and control. Make it the center of all you do on the internet. Think of it as your Home Base and other social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, Google+) as Embassies. Don’t put all your good content on a social media platform that you don’t have full control over.
Starting a Blog. It was 4 Years Ago
I have done many, many things that are not “blog best practices.” Hey that’s ok. It wasn’t a priority with all these babies running around that need to be fed and educated! But I do love doing it, cause I’m a little bit techy and a little bit rock ‘n roll. (That means “Orange” personality. Please don’t hem me in. Stuff like that.) And it is important for moms to do something they love and let their children see that.
So, here are my current thoughts, after reading tons of blogs on blogs, just plain old blogs on stuff, quite a few books on blogging, and experimenting with this site.
1. Go to the Bookstore and Google
Buy a few books on What blogging is in general, How to create a website, How to design a website, What makes a good blog, etc. OR just start googling that stuff and read, read, read. Personally, I enjoy starting at the bookstore when I’m on a new quest.
2. Use WordPress.org (not WordPress.com)
This will be the CMS or Content Management System for your blog. I started with WordPress (because I read a lot before I started) and I’m so glad I did.
I’ve seen many people start with something else like WordPress.com or Blogger.com or Typepad or others and eventually move their site to WordPress.org when they realized how limited the others were.
It’s free, it’s completely supported a multitude of experts who will help you, and you can tweak things til your heart is content. I googled “Why WordPress is the best” and there are masses of articles. Here is just one.
3. Choose Your Theme
This will help make your site prettier. I use a theme called Thesis from DIYThemes. There is a one-time cost (about $90), but the ability to customize is beautiful.
There are many free themes with WordPress.org though, and you can search through those too. I actually started with a free one and eventually switched to Thesis.
Thesis recently came up with their newest version 2.0. It’s a complete revamp and the opinions are still coming in. I’m not planning on switching from version 1.85 anytime soon to avoid the learning curve for now. But maybe someday.Here is a very well-explained tutorial on how to set up your site, choose your theme and write your first post by one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt. He also has lots of great links to other helpful posts.
3. Read Tons of Stuff on These 3 Blogs
Explore their archives. These guys are experts. I read their stuff all the time. I’m subscribed to their blogs. Soak it up.
- Michael Hyatt.com on blogging, leadership, entrepreneurship, productivity
- Problogger.net on blogging
- Copyblogger.com on web content
Also, Michael Hyatt’s book called Platform is excellent.
4. Articulate Your Focus
Don’t just write willy-nilly about everything. Become a “go-to expert” in a certain area. Write down maybe 3-5 areas that you want to focus on. Find the niche you are passionate about and start.
Have one post in each category written before you go live, so your readers can read something else after they have loved your first post.
5. If You Are Developing a Website Store, Make Your Blog the Home Page
I’m not selling, but I have read much about it. People want a relationship with YOU. Have your blog be the home page, write consistently, get to know your readers, and have your store be a link on the navigation bar. You can do all kinds of marketing in the side bar on that home page too.
Michael Hyatt talks much about this in his book “Platform” and on his site. He is a proven success, so listen to him.
6. Be Social and Give
It’s part of the tribe building. If you appreciate what someone wrote, comment on their blog. Respond to comments on your blog.
The comment section is definitely part of the content and can make things so much more interesting! Plus, this is building those relationships.
7. Write Posts that are Easy to Read
People move fast today and the attention span is almost nil. You must have easy to read posts.
- The headlines need to say exactly what the post is about and need to grab the reader’s attention. I’m slowly working on revamping my headlines to do just that.
- Use lots of sub-headings so the reader can scan and find what he wants.
- Use at least one image at the top of your post and maybe more throughout if that is your “thing.” But a least one will help visually, and also draw the reader in.
- Use a good readable font with serifs. I use Georgia.
- Don’t make the post too long (which I tend to do), though rules are made to be broken. The general consensus is 500-800 words.
- Use bullets or numbered lists. People like that.
- Write. Edit and remove unnecessary words and sentences. Add some sass. And you’re good to go.
8. Make it Easy to Subscribe and Connect
A Subscribe by RSS or Email section MUST be in the upper right area of your blog. “Above the fold” in newspaper-speak. People will look for it here.
Don’t make it difficult for them to enjoy your posts, want more, but not be able to figure out how to get your updates. It will be too hard for them to remember to come back on their own.
Also, have your Social Media buttons in the same general area. If they like what you write, give them an easy way to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
9. Have a Good “About” Page
And have it very easy to find in your Navigation Bar along the top of your blog. One of the first things many people will do is read that to find out more about you.
It’s also a great place to give them some of your best posts as a starting place on your blog. Put your name and a picture of yourself there. People want to connect with YOU. Not a faceless voice in the clouds. Revise it regularly. I’m still tweaking mine.
10. Be Consistent
It develops trust with your readers. Again, this is an area that I have done poorly at, but for good reason, as stated above :)
Seriously though, if you want to do well, decide how often you are going to write and stick to it. I know people who, come hell or high water, that post is going to get out on time, even if they are up at 2am the night before getting it written.
Some say 3 times a week is a good posting goal. Others write daily. My goal is to post once a week. My family will come first and so, that said, hopefully I can stick with it. But the general consensus is posting less than once a week probably won’t do you a lot of good in building up a readership.
Also, put it on your schedule. If it isn’t on the schedule or you don’t have a dedicated time that you know you can write, it probably ain’t gonna happen. For me, it’s nights and weekends. Here and there. Our life is too up and down, movin’ and shaken’. That’s the best I can do schedule-wise, for now, but it’s working for me.