“By the end of 2011, NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company, tracked over 181 million blogs around the world, up from 36 million in 2006.”
State of the Media: U.S. Digital Consumer Report, Q3-Q4 2011It’s somewhat of an understatement to say that blogging is on the rise. More than 100,000 new blogs are created EVERY DAY on WordPress alone. If you’re thinking of joining the blogging masses, there’s a few things you need to know first.
1. It Shouldn’t Be About The Money
Not at first anyway. If you start a blog with the expectation of pulling in thousands of dollars a month in AdSense and affiliate income from the get go, you’re in for an exceptionally hard lesson. To make a SINGLE DOLLAR from your blog in the FIRST YEAR is an achievement. There’s nothing wrong or immoral about starting a blog to make money. It’s just not going to happen overnight. There’s a school of thought that advises that the thought of monetizing your blog shouldn’t even cross your mind until you have at least 100 unique visitors each day. To know when you have hit this magic figure, you’ll need to install Google Analytics or other tracking software. When you do start monetizing your blog, think like a leaky tap, and drip feed ad placements and the like slowly.
2. A Strong Brand is a Must
Having a clear vision for your new blog is an absolute necessity. Readers need to know who you are, what you’re about, and why they should read your blog over the 180 or so million other blogs out there (no pressure!). The path to having a clear vision is achieved through BRANDING. There’s a great (if brief) article about how to brand your blog for success over at Lifehack, but if you want to get your teeth into something a little meatier, try Andrea Shillington’s Branding for Good ($0.99 for Kindle). It’s aimed at startups, but the process is much the same for starting a new blog. After all, what’s a new blog if it’s not a startup?
3. Know Who’s Hot in Your Niche
If you spend anything over ten minutes reading about the art of blogging, you’re likely to come across some advice centred around the need to CONNECT to people. You’ll probably read some tips on how important it is to follow and comment on other blogs, the etiquette of sharing other people’s content, and how it’s all about how well known you are. It’s true that you need to connect to people in order to become a successful blogger, but what’s even more important than that is the need to connect to the RIGHT PEOPLE. If your blog is about cupcakes, you can’t reasonably expect an expert in tech to leave you inspiring and thought provoking comments – no matter how yummy your cupcakes happen to be. On the flipside, he won’t be too happy if you start talking about the pros and cons of making your own sugarcraft toppers on his latest post about smartphones. Accept that not all blogs are a perfect match for your own and take the time to seek out those that are.
4. Encourage the Involvement of Your Readers
Does anybody really CARE what you blog about? Tracking software can only tell you so much. Sure, you might discover that you have the required 100 unique visitors on a daily basis in order to throw the odd ad on your blog, but what you won’t find out is what readers think of your blog. Without readers your blog is an island. Every good business (and blogger) solicits FEEDBACK from their customers (and readers). By catering to their needs, expectations, and desires, your blog will only get better. In a nutshell, the last thing you’d want to see on your blog is “COMMENTS CLOSED”. Check out Darren Rowse’s inspired take on this over at ProBlogger. Oh and if you’re worried about spam (and who isn’t), you can set comments to be approved before publication or opt for the (easier) option of paying for a service like Akismet.
5. Remember that Rome was not Built in a Day
There are some very respected bloggers that say you should post fresh content to your blog EVERY SINGLE DAY. There are still others (enter Darren Rowse again) that say it’s a misconception. Yes, it’s important to have regular fresh content, but that content should not only be FRESH, it should also be INTERESTING. Posting for the sake of it, in a valiant (but misguided) attempt to provide your readers with something new, is almost guaranteed to backfire. Much like the old adage “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” your motto as a blogger should be “if I have nothing interesting to post, I will post nothing at all.” So long as you have something “interesting” to say every few days, that is more than sufficient – and an infinitely more attractive proposition than banging your head on the desk in frustration if you can’t think of a suitable topic.
Blogging is an art form. Make sure you learn all your brushstrokes before you get started!
Author Bio: Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK. Linda is a frequent contributor to DegreeJungle.com, and she is a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship. Contact her on Twitter @seelindaplay