There may not be a Nobel Prize for Bloggers, but there are plenty of prizes to be won if your blog reaches people, offers great advice and insights and affects lives. Those are, after all, the goals of an effective blog. If you can find a niche, and get specific, chances are that you can develop a winning formula. If you are thinking about starting a blog, here are seven considerations to ensure that your efforts are not wasted:
Passion, Purpose, Personality
While the three “Ps” of blogging might seem obvious, they are perhaps the most important concepts for a beginning blogger to grasp. The mechanics of writing a blog post can be mastered; but your basic reason for blogging must be born of your passion for the subject, your “obsession” with your topic. You will attract readers because you have something of value to offer them. You will keep them returning to your blog because they can relate, they learn something useful, and they recognize that you offer a unique perspective.
Choose Your Name Carefully
Spend some time choosing your domain name, and select your blog name carefully. No matter how cute or clever it is, if it has no relationship to your subject matter, it will not be effective. Your name need not be an award-winner. It should, however, be “good enough” as Henri Junttila of www.WakeUpCloud.com says. The best names are unique, concise, memorable and easy to spell.
A lot has been written about the relative advantages of free sites and paid sites. The truth is that, unless you simply enjoy seeing your words in print, a blog is an investment. You are investing your time, your energy and your money in a venture that you hope will return benefits to you. If your ultimate goal is to earn a living as a blogger, you may employ different tactics from those of a hobby blogger. Only you can make those decisions.
If, indeed, you intend to make blogging your business, you must first develop a business plan and define your goals. Be clear about them. Gather all the information you can. A good source for comparing hosting sites is www.WhoIsHostingThis.com. When you have the facts, you can make an informed decision, and launch your blog.
Who is hosting this?
Investing In Your Blog
There are myriad ways of investing: Time, energy and money are only a few. But, make no mistake about the facts. Creating a successful blog requires a multi-faceted investment of your talents, commitment that will test your limits, an ongoing effort that may be all-consuming, and time. No successful blogger has ever been an overnight success. And, no successful blogger retains that success without continuing effort.
If you have the grit to succeed in this field, you will continue to learn every day. You will continue to seek out and implement better methods of utilizing your time, being consistent, refining your design, monitoring results, testing reader response, effectively monetizing your blog, and employing social media marketing to expand your reach.
None of it is easy. All of it requires analysis. Much of it requires time, either yours or time you pay for. Some of it requires money, too.
Analytics — Getting Answers
There is an old expression about trying various strategies to see what works: It has to do with throwing strands of spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. That is one way to analyze results, to be sure. A better way, however, is to employ proven analytics, institute A/B testing procedures, utilize measurable techniques and monitor the results. If your end goal is to monetize your blog, you need to know what attracts readers, what your readers like, what prompts them to action, what they find exciting and what causes a response, whether positive or negative.
There are services you can use to track all this information; take www.Moz.com or Google Analytics. It is an essential part of the blogging success that you seek. Otherwise, you could be just writing on the wind. Neil Patel speaks of three ways to increase and retain readership on your blog. They are worth consideration; they are:
- Survey your readership to determine what they like (or don’t like)
- Build a community, by making your readers feel a part of something larger
- Collect emails, to increase your return visitor count
Be Consistent to Build a Following
Most blog analysts mention consistency as a key component of success. Readers, particularly those who are looking for useful information or advice, appreciate routine. If your readers come to expect a recipe every Wednesday, be sure they get one every Wednesday. Likewise, if a popular feature of your blog is a Q&A forum on the second and fourth Fridays of each month, don’t disappoint them. If you publish new posts three times each week, and suddenly miss two weeks in a row because you go on vacation, you may lose loyal readers.
Outreach, Community, Expectations
Remember, that your blog is not all about you. It is, and should be, very much about your readers. It is their needs, their concerns and their actions that have a direct effect on your success. While it is your passion that drives it and your personality that defines it, your blog represents a community of interested participants — or, it should. The best and most successful blogs have an active group of commenters, “sharers” and responders who all have a stake in the continuing success of the venture.
That is what makes starting a blog so exciting. Just as the digital world will continue to change and develop, so will your blog. You will respond to changing times, and to the evolving needs of your visitors and subscribers. Maintain ties with other bloggers in your field; write guest posts; link occasionally to others. Be interested, and interesting. Be involved. Be successful.
Guest author M-J loves blogging and reading other blogs. She is currently studying business part-time and has two children.