Blogging

Looking for tips on how to do a blog? Check below for some tips to get started.

There is an expert within each of us. You may not know it yet but there is one within you. Most likely, that inner expert is one who can influence the decisions of your prospects and customers, provide them with solutions, speak to their needs and make their lives easier.

Through blogging, you can unleash the power of your inner expert to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Tweet this.

In the era of content marketing, millions of bloggers who make up the global connectivity of the Web are doing this as we speak. They’re writing content on behalf of their businesses or as individuals passionate about a hobby. They’re empowering others with knowledge that’s useful across all walks of life. Just look at this list of 50 Best Blogs for Train Enthusiasts; just one sliver of one sliver of a piece of a massive pie.

Blogging is so much easier than many might think. However, the key to making it a success is commitment. Making the time to do it and doing it regularly. Believe me, I know how challenging this can be. Life happens. It’s just way too easy to get thrown off track by tasks that often times seem more pressing. But blogging is like anything that requires practice. Ignore it and it won’t let you live it down.

Hence my article today: A starter guide to help you launch a blog and stick with it:

Tip No. 1: Know why you’re doing it.

Knowing why you blog will help you to uncover information that’s critical to your blog’s success. You’ll grasp the elements needed to create and distribute useful content. Here are some things you’ll learn; use this as a checklist when you ask yourself why you want to blog:

  • Will it be for fun or for business? If it’s the former, you can be more lax in your writing standards and the frequency in which you blog. A good example of a just-for-fun blog might be sharing your travel experiences, unless you work in the travel industry, in which case, your blog can serve as a marketing tool. A business blog might feature commentaries on industry trends or a how-tos.
  • Who is your audience?  A just-for-fun blog might be geared toward friends, family members and fellow hobbyists. Your business blog will primarily target three types of people:  customers, prospects and people who can send you referrals.
  • How will you talk to your audience? With a just-for-fun blog, you won’t have the pressure to be brief in the same way you will if you run a business blog. When someone comes to your website for business tips, they’ll want to get straight to the point. With a just-for-fun blog, you can be more prosaic and wordy. With a business blog, it’s a good idea to keep your format to numbered or bulleted lists.
  • What does your audience need to know? This is a key element when planning your blog because your readers will only want to read what’s useful to them. Whereas a just-for-fun blog can emphasize more entertainment and intrigue (although a it’s good for a business blog to have these elements too). If you’re writing as a hobbyist or for business purposes, a short, structured list might be helpful if you want to share tips on pet care, changing the oil or keeping aphids off of roses. For business bloggers, to know what matters to your audience, think back to conversations you’ve had with audience members. Ask yourself if there was a particular marketing topic about which they were curious, or, if you have a close relationship with your audience members, ask them what topics they want to see.

Tip No. 2: Create an Editorial Calendar

Plan topics for six months so the research and writing processes are continuously on your radar. Here’s a checklist:

  • Decide how often you want to blog. If you’re blogging on behalf of your business, you can blog once a month and spend the rest of the month marketing this specific post (we’ll get to that in a minute).
  • Create an Excel spreadsheet that lists days you will post your blog in one column and the topic in another column. This is a good tool because whenever a great idea comes along, you can just add it to your list.
  • In whatever calendar you use, schedule the specific days you will post your blog and on what topic.
  • Within your calendar, use a T-minus strategy to determine when you’ll start researching and writing your content. I typically plan for 7 days to write my blog posts, this way I can spend time on it each day for 7 days until they’re due. If there’s heavy research involved, I may begin the research process several days before that.

Tip No. 3: Get Started

As I mentioned earlier, if you’re brand new to blogging, you may be completely amazed by how easy it is to start one. You can actually start your own blog, right now, for free. All you need is a username, a password, a topic, the desire to do it and the motivation to write. Start a blog right this minute. Below is a list of blogging platforms. Pick from any of these sources, register and then follow their instructions for customizing your theme, setting up your profile and writing your first post:

Note that each blogging platform above has its own way of doing things and each of which is very different from the other. For the purposes of this article, I won’t get too technical. The point of this how-to is to help you start a blog, today and for free. But I will note that over time, you’ll want to pay attention to ways you can attract more visitors using search engine optimization tools and track the progress using Google Analytics.

If you have a technical person on staff who handles your website, he or she may know how to optimize your blog and set it up in Google Analytics. If this is the case, talk to this person first so he or she can set up the necessary tools before you even start your blog. But if you’ve gone ahead and written your first blog post, it’s time to tell the world about it…

Tip No. 4: Share your Content

Once you’ve written your post, here are 6 things to do next:

  1. Email a link to it to key stakeholders. If you use an e-newsletter distribution service such as Constant Contact, MailChimp or Emma, this is ideal content to send to your list. If you’re sending your article to specific person through Gmail or Outlook, you may want to personalize it by saying,

    “Hey, I remember your asking me about this once. I just wanted to let you know I wrote a how-to on the topic. Thought you’d find it helpful.”

  2. Share it on Facebook. Add it to your business page or share it with friends in your personal profile.
  3. Tweet it. Make sure to use hashtags that help you to expand your audience. Check out hashtags.org to find trending hashtags that apply to your industry.
  4. Write and distribute a press release to local and industry media announcing your blog post. The best distribution sites are ones that actually charge, such as PR Web. They have a wide reach and can even land you some plum space in the search engines. But if free is what you’re after, do a search on Google using key words “free press release sites.” If you have media contacts already stored in your address book, personalize an email and send them a link. You can say something like:

    Dear (Media Contact):

    I just wrote a blog post about (fill in the blank). I’ve attached a link to the article for your information.

    This topic is a big concern for people within my industry. And it’s hot right now. If you write about this topic, please consider me as a contributing expert who can lend insight into your story.

  5. Do Step 3 several times throughout the month but in increments. Use a site like Hootsuite to help you program in tweets. You can also program in posts for your Facebook page and LinkedIn. Hootsuite is an excellent and powerful tool.
  6. Get to work on your next blog post, then do Steps 1-5 all over again.

Tip No. 5: Know what to expect.

Once you’ve written your first blog post and shared it with the world, now what? Are you an overnight digital sensation? On the list to be an expert witness in an upcoming celebrity trial? Known the world over as the guru in your field? As much as I’d like to say “yes” to all of the above, unfortunately, the results don’t come about that quickly. (If this does happen to you, please bottle your secret and sell it the world.)

One of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make (I’ve done this too) is expect overnight success with their blog. True, there are hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there who’ve monetized their content or gained an international audience, becoming part of the cyber elite. Seth Godin, Gary VaynerchukPete Cashmore, Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, Arianna Huffington, anyone who’s friends with Arianna Huffington, and you get the idea.

The truth is, in addition to the “it factor” and, in some cases, massive financial backing, these bloggers reached their digerati success because they stuck with it. Remember, if you reach a point of thinking no one is listening and people aren’t responding to your content, don’t get discouraged. Work your strategy and eventually you’ll see results. If you don’t see results, however, then try new tactics. Give yourself at least one year of consistent effort to decide if blogging is for you.

And with that, go forward and be awesome.