What it really takes to blog
Blogging is becoming more and more popular. You can blog because you are passionate about a topic, you want to solve an issue or use this platform to brand yourself or your product.
As a writer/Author, Blogging is a fantastic way to get your name out there, showcase your books/writing, and build a readership. Building an Author Platform should be one of your top priorities when you start writing.
Why is Blogging important?
1 – Many agents or publishers will look at how well established you are before signing a contract with you, especially for you are an aspiring writer. They want to know if you are capable of helping with the sales because (yes) this will also be your job.
2 – You need to gather the right audience for your book. It’s easier to communicate with specific individuals interested in your genre that you have already identified. You know they will enjoy your book rather than shooting in the dark and hope for the best.
3 – You need to build an email list, so you can reach out to your readers when you publish your book. Start now! Don’t wait for your book to be ready. The more subscribers, the better chance you have to sell because if you post online, chances are they won’t see it. If you send them an email, it’s in their inbox. Even if you don’t read all your emails, you still look at the title. Your readers will know.
Blogging is one way to grow your presence, but Blogging isn’t for everyone. I always wanted to blog, but I had this misconception of what blogging was. I thought I would write a post, push the publish button and that would be it. I guess if you use a platform like Medium, you’re not too far from the truth.
However, if you use your website (WordPress), it will take a lot more than that, but the effort is worth it. It’s a bit like renting a house or buying one. If you buy it, it’ll always be yours. So, let me break this down to you, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s worth it, but yes, it’s work.
There are various types of blogging. You can post writing samples like short stories, poems, extract of your book, or you can act as an expert on a topic, as an activist of an issue, or use it as a journal. What’s important is to be consistent, so your readers know what to expect when they’re on your website. Pick something that you feel passionate about and stick to it.
Find a Platform to host your blog – Prerequisites
You can use different platforms for Blogging, but, for the sole purpose of building your Author platform, I would strongly suggest having your own website. WordPress is a great option because your readers will grow and stay with you. When blogging on an external site that isn’t yours, you will always take the risk to lose all of them if the company closes.
WordPress will provide options to find a host, register a domain name and create the website. Don’t panic if you feel it becomes too technical because you will figure it out. If not, there is always a support center ready to help. Also, feel free to use social media if you have a question. You’d be surprised how people are willing to help.
What does it take to blog?
Find Your Topic
– Write down your ideas
Evernote or OneNote are apps you can use and sync from different devices, so if you’re on the go and an idea popped up, you can open the app on your phone to write it down. I always have a dozen ideas written at any times, so that when I sit down to write the post, I can go over them and pick what speaks the most to me.
– Research the theme
You need to know what’s out there. Do it differently by bringing new ideas to the table. Ask yourself if this is helpful or insightful to your readers. What message are you trying to convey? Is it actionable?
You should also look up keywords that will help your SEO ranking. Make sure it appears in your first paragraph, so it tells the search engine what your post will be about. SEO is something I struggled with at the beginning (and still learning), but what’s the point of providing helpful content or telling your story if no one sees it?
– Find Your Blogging Voice
Writing a book and Blogging are two different animals. Write your post as if you’re writing it for a good friend. You want to be helpful and detailed, and you don’t want to use big words. Stay simple, have a coffee, and start a conversation. Give it with a personal touch (humor, opinions, sarcasm – whatever works for you) and see if how your reader interacts with you. It takes a few trials and errors to get it right, but first outline your post. It will help you write faster and will give you the breakdown of your post.
Write the post
– Write your post
For SEO purposes, your post should be at least 300 words. With that said, marketers conducted research on what the length of your post should be to attract the most visitors. The research shows that the most successful posts are the longest ones. As a rule of thumb, your post should be at least 1,500 words. Your readers will probably only read a third of it, so you need to write your post for scrollers. Your point should come across without effort.
Once you finish writing the post, edit it. It’s painful to read a post with typos, missing words or grammatical errors. Hemingway Editor or Grammarly are great tools to check a minimum. The App won’t catch everything, but it gives you a great start. Hemingway Editor will also grade and color code your text to improve readability. You should take advantage of these tools.
– Make it Pretty
Once your article is ready, it’s time to make it visually stunning. We are visual creatures, so visual is everything. You should add relevant images or memes to make it easier to read. You also add charts or graphics to support your point or add infographics to summarize your posts. It provides your readers a takeaway and a visual to share. Spend time finding relevant images and create visuals using free stock images or even better, your own. Canva is a great tool to create your own visual.
Set the post up
– Set it up in WordPress
Congratulations! Your post now only needs the add-ons as I call them. You should enter at least five tags. Tags are a way to tell your readers what your post is about. You don’t want to overlook that part. You should also make sure your titles have been set up with H1, H2, or H3… It also helps the search engine to understand the structure of your post. Finally, WordPress provides great plugins. You should install social media shares to allow you to both send out your post to all your platforms when you post, but also to give your readers an opportunity to share with their followers. This functionality will help with your traffic.
– Find the perfect title
The title is probably one of the most important steps. If you have a bunch of articles to read, what will compel you to read one versus another? I tried posting three different titles for the same post, and two barely had hits when the third got a lot of engagement. The difference? The title.
Coschedule offers a free feature that is very helpful. The headline analyzer will let you try different titles and rank them. The title should provide your readers either valuable information that can either help them or something that will pique their curiosity. Don’t overlook the title as it’s the first step to attracting your readers.
– Make it SEO Friendly
Finally, make sure your post is SEO friendly. A great plugin to use is Yoast SEO because it’s free and helps improve readability and ranking. You need to make sure both indicators are green before you publish. The plugin will provide a list of improvement, so you know what to change.
Neil Patel is a resource that I highly recommend. I feel that each section could be a post by itself, but I’m only providing a high-level overview, so you know what you get yourself into.
Make sure your permalink and meta description includes your keywords and shows without ambiguity what you’re talking about.
Publish and promote
– Schedule your post at the same time/day
When everything is set up, schedule your post to go out every week on the same day and time, so your readers know when to expect a new post from you. Consistency is key, and this is often when many bloggers fail because you commit to writing every week. Life still happens, and sometimes it’s not easy to stick with that schedule. Again, your objective is to build your community, so it’s important to show up when you say you will. Let me tell you; it’s hard when you work full time to stick to this.
– Promote : Content Promotion or Relationship Building
When you reached that step, you’ve completed 20% of the job, because 80% will be or should be content promotion.
You’ve already invested a lot of time and effort in this post, and you should promote your content and honor it. Schedule your post to go out at different times/day so you can reach the maximum people, but don’t spam. Coschedule, Buffer or Hootsuite can help with this. Your content promotion shouldn’t be higher than 20% of what you post on that platform.
Build your community and offer some tips, but never spam them. Reach out to your influencers, go on forums and provide your help, comment on other blogs, and let your subscribers know what you wrote about. It’s easier to open an email than to look for a blog. Remember building your email list is your number 1 priority.
– Monitor Traffic
Finally, look at your traffic, traffic source and trends and see what best works for you. Make sure your site has been indexed and use Google Console for detailed traffic information. Build on this and grow your community. Always look for ways to improve and be helpful. What did you do this week to help? Don’t wait for something in return.
Again, writing great content is important, but promotion will help grow your site. Blogging is a fantastic way to get direct feedback from your readers. Share your struggles, insights on how to overcome them, and valuable information you learn along the way. Be helpful when possible!
Blogging isn’t about posting an article out there and hope for the best. It takes a lot of time, efforts, and commitment. You also need to get some knowledge on Web Marketing, SEO, or Website optimization. At the end of the day, it isn’t about you, but how you can help and what you can offer.