Today I feel like reaching out to my fellow bloggers who are in the process of establishing their blog. I’m no expert on blogging and I have hobby hopped many times, but for some strange reason I take my hobbies seriously regardless of how long my interest lasts. Therefore I have some perspective on becoming successful with new ventures, the frustration that comes with slow progress, and the feeling of quitting to move on to something else. The truth of the matter is people judge others (consciously and subconsciously) based on their dedication to a certain craft. Often times success has a lot to do with the dedication to a certain skill that persists over time. I am going to break down the main factors that convince others you are dedicated to blogging and describe their various implications. All of these tips are lessons I have learned from pursuing hobbies in general that i can apply to starting a blog. Success does not come out of thin air (thin dedication more like it) and this post is a reminder of that fact for myself as much as you, my fellow reader.
1. Throwing Money – Initial Capital Investment
This is a very basic step which often times does not require spending money for certain hobbies that are free on the internet. What I am really referring to is an initial capital investment that acquires the tools necessary to perform at a distinct level. Basically performance enhancing tools. In blogging terms that could be as simple as securing a proper domain name or acquiring/customizing a theme that fits the style of your posts. Luckily many of these options are free when blogging, but it is important to gather all the tools available to you. Other items such as a workspace – somewhere where you can focus properly, or a desk if you need one, are equally important. These sound rudimentary since blogging is an easily accessible hobby to start, but it is important to make a list of things you consider important to providing quality content. That way when you sit down to blog, whether it is posting pictures, or poetry, or creative writing pieces, you can assure yourself you have all the tools to succeed. At the same time if the tools you need to acquire are out of your budget, be honest with yourself about that. That way you can set expectations of when you are willing to acquire them and realize that the content you are creating currently has to be made under such and such restrictions. This strategy eliminates the false feeling of “my content could be better if I had this, but right now it’s sucky so I won’t even bother”. Well if you acquire all the resources available to you at the moment you can do the best with what you have and make plans for improving in the future. Spending money and/or acquiring necessary resources indicates a certain level of seriousness, but it is usually the first and least significant step.
2. Time Allocation – Being Routine
All the resources in the world will not produce blog posts for you. Posting on a routine and sticking with it is a sign that you are dedicated to blogging. Posting infrequently or disappearing from the blogosphere indicates to your readers that you had higher priorities than tending to your blog. I like to use the analogy of someone replying “I just don’t have time to date right now”, in response to being asked out. If blogging is a high priority then time will be made for it just like humans make time for their significant others; hobbies are like marriages/relationships in the sense of commitment. Your routine does not have to be absolutely rigid. Be honest with yourself about how much time you have available and the amount of free time you are willing to commit to blogging. It’s fine to say “I blog once a week” instead of saying “I blog every Tuesday”, but be willing to blatantly establish your commitment to a blogging routine. Readers can easily judge your level of commitment to the blog by seeing the amount of time that was spent putting forth content and the regularity of posts. Allocating time regularly indicates to readers when to expect content and gives them an accurate measure of your consistency over time. If you say you blog once a week and you haven’t missed a week in a year, your readers will take you very seriously. That steady time commitment on a regular and unfaltering basis builds credibility.
3. Revision Process
This is part of allocating time, but I thought I would mention revision since it is a necessary expenditure of time. Once a blog post is made on your blog, it is pretty much a final product. You can make some minor edits here and there, but the essence of what is being displayed to the public has already been confirmed. It’s important to review your posts for organization, readability, and engagement. Often times I find my short stories start off with repetitive statements and my sentence structure is very similar; sometimes the featured images I choose are not displaying correctly, pictures within the post are spilling over onto the sidebar, or urls are formatted in a wonky way. Taking a couple minutes to make sure your content is formatted properly and is easily accessible to the reader goes a long way. I’ve seen posts where someone hit publish, but half their content is missing because data didn’t transfer successfully into their post. For all my fellow blog writers, you don’t have to spend forever checking for typos. It’s more important to make sure your writing flows smoothly and makes sense to the reader. The idea behind spending some time to revise and make final edits is not to aim for perfection, but to make sure your content looks sharp and presents your information the way you intended it to.
4. Networking And Learning
I was always taught that writing is a communal process and I take that idea to blogging through all mediums. Regardless of what you are trying to get better at, finding ideas and inspiration from others is equally important. There are only so many ideas you can generate yourself, looking at the work of others will help you improve much faster. For example, I thought it was a neat that someone customized the message above the follow by email widget to notify people that they can follow by email without having to sign up and becoming a blogger; so I added a similar message to my widget. I’ve studied how others posting similar content tag their posts to identify where people are looking for quality content. On top of that I explore the tags I publish my posts with to see what others are up to in addition to gauging the audience for a specific topic. You can pick up a lot of things by simply observing how others work and the personalized touches they add to their content. Then you can add something to your blog in your style when the time comes.
The other part of this idea is actually networking with other bloggers. It’s wishful thinking to believe that people will come to your brand new site out of the goodness of their hearts. Unless you’re creating outstanding content, this won’t be the case, and networking is a good way to share ideas, give/receive feedback, and make connections with like-minded individuals. Think about how much you appreciate thoughtful and appreciative comments on your posts. Fellow bloggers appreciate them too and it leaves a nice impression when you take the time to read their content and give them appropriate feedback that goes beyond “nice post, bookmarked your site”. Networking provides nice perspective and inspiration when writing your own posts. Also more people will know you exist because you’re that one guy that gives people thoughtful comments about their work. It takes time to write such comments, and many people are unwilling to dedicate that amount of time outside of their own blog. Writing thoughtful comments will set you apart from more casual bloggers who often confine themselves to isolation. At the same time it exposes you to outside content which you can learn from.
I’m no expert on blogging, but I wrote this post to demonstrate that often times we are all aware of the road to success regardless of skill level. When you look at bigger blogs with tons of followers and activity, they used some combination of: awesome content/superb layout and theme/ a steady time commitment, to achieve their current level of success . I’m not saying everyone who owns a blog should put forth a heavy time commitment and try to make the best blog they can. No, it’s important to be honest about the level of success you are trying to achieve and able to achieve. If your goal is truly to grow and provide awesome content, then this is just a reminder of the basic steps to make that happen.