Every single week, without fail, I see people in several social media groups I am a part of ask this very question, plus or minus a few details.
I agree that it can get overwhelming really quickly if you’re a newbie to blogging and every one of the 1 million blogs on blogging out there is telling you to do something different every day.
I’m not saying that any of the advice you’re reading out there is bad. Actually these days, I find it hard to come across a piece of content that is not absolutely fabulous and super actionable.
As a newbie blogger, however there are certain elements of the blogging process that should be at the fore-front of the long queue of things you will do all throughout your blogging career.
What I discuss in this blog post answers the question “What should I be focusing on as a new blogger?”
Ready ? Let’s dive into it.
The Newbie Blogger’s Blueprint to Building And Growing A Successful Blog (a.k.a, things you should do beyond buying a domain name from your web host of choice)
This very simple fact of blogging was lost on me when I started my first blog in 2011. I had no idea I could network and even if I did, I simply did not know where to start. That changed for me after I read Ryan Biddulph’s Book How To Build A Blogging Empire Through Blog Commenting.
Reading that book was definitely an eye opener to the possibilities that abound out there if you are willing to get out of your comfort zone and build some meaningful relationships with other bloggers – some bigger and maybe ones even smaller than you. The mutual benefits are too many to list but it certainly can get you on the radar of some of the popular bloggers in your niche. And that my friends is where some big things can begin to happen for you, including:
- Guest post opportunities
- Podcast interviews
- Promotion of your content and products to their audiences
Don’t be a recluse when you start blogging. No matter how great your content is, retreating from all human contact will only hurt your blog.
Practical Ways To Start Connecting With Other Bloggers
- Read & comment on their blogs. Sue has a great post written on this very subject. It’s worth the read if you would like to add this to your arsenal.
- Subscribe to their blogs and connect with them via e-mail by asking insightful questions, offering them your opinion on a blog post you read or telling them about results you’ve obtained by putting their content into action
- Follow them on social media and engage
“But Gertrude”, you say, “I am an introvert and I HATE getting out of my comfort zone. Can’t I just blog in my corner until I get noticed? ”
I hear you loud and clear, my fellow introvert.
While you could stay in your corner and blog away and become famous when a movie star comes across your blog by pure chance and shares it with their 20 million fans, what are the odds of that happening, really?
My suggestion for my fellow introverts is to brave it.
At least that is what I did.
I was afraid of being rejected and ignored. I have been rejected and ignored. But guess what? In hindsight, I realize I went about networking all wrong. So I deserved it.
Even when I thought I did it the right way, I still have been ignored by some. It just ended up being a learning experience that enriched me and helped me get better at networking.
When you put yourself out there, your feelings will get hurt but it is absolutely important not to take it personally, learn what you did wrong and move on.
Leverage your relationships for guest post opportunities.
This point builds on the first.
Jon Morrow has been instrumental to helping me realize the importance of guest blogging as a new blogger.
Here’s the brutal truth: when you first start blogging, nobody knows you. People don’t trust you just yet. Sure, you might get a trickle of traffic here and there from sharing your post on Twitter but one of the areas you need to start spending some of your energy is putting out guest posts on blogs bigger than yours.
Guest posting strategically positions your content in front of an established audience and sets you up as an authority on your chosen topic.
Sumitha Bhandarkar of A Fine Parent collected over 1300 e-mails before she launched her blog. She used guest posting and a “coming soon” page that also collected e-mails of prospective readers. She had a targeted and hungry audience by the time she launched and which certainly allowed her blog to grow quickly.
Stick to a regular writing/posting schedule.
Now you have blogger friends and hopefully you have some content out there to prove you know what you’re talking about and your e-mail list is now gaining subscribers. We are not going to stop doing these things, but it sure helped you get started, doesn’t it?
Now it’s time to stick to a regular blog post writing/posting schedule. Many posts have been written on how many times it is ideal to write a blog post. There are arguments for and against each – twice a day, once a day, twice a week, once a week, once a month.
Personally, I think this depends on 1) how much time you actually have 2) what niche you’re in.
Some niches like coupon blogs have to post every day. You don’t have to do that if you don’t have the time or bandwidth to do so. I have heard of people batch-writing 3-4 posts at a time and posting one every week. I think it’s a smart strategy if you can do it.
I keep a list of blog ideas in a notebook with mini-outlines that I pull out when I am ready to write a new post.
The bottom line is to find what works for YOU so you don’t burn out or give up on blogging altogether.
Pick a regular schedule. Create your content. Stick to it.
Create a content promotion plan
Writing blog posts is only the first step.
There are always fresh eyes out there in the world who have never read your content. Thus, it is important for every blogger to develop a content promotion plan. Derek Halpern has a fantastic post on focusing 80% of your energies on promoting your blog content.
It does not have to be elaborate but having at least 3 modes of sharing your content will certainly help you on your journey to blog stardom. My 4 favorite ways to do this are:
- Emailing my list to let them know of the new post
- Updating my social media profiles with the new post
- Emailing any bloggers who were mentioned in the post and letting them know I included their content in the post (with the hopes they will share it with their audience – it won’t always happen but when it does, it is super).
- Participating in groups/social media platforms where I can promote my content
Build your email list
I touched on this earlier, but I wanted to reiterate because occasionally I will come across bloggers who want nothing to do with list-building and email marketing.
An email list gives provides you with a laser-targeted group of people who are interested in what you have to say. This is an audience who is more likely to buy from you when you are ready to sell products and who will become enthusiastic ambassadors for your brand.
Building your list does not have to wait until you have 10 or 25 posts up on your blog. It can start on day one or even before like I suggested above. Even if you don’t have an opt-in magnet just yet, have people sign up to receive updates from you.
That being said, I am not a fan of having to sign up for “updates” or “newsletters” but if you have not created a sign-up-worthy bribe, this will do just fine.
There is simply nothing that should stand in your way of building an e-mail list these days. Tools for it abound. For beginners I would recommend:
- SumoMe suite of tools that’s absolutely free ($20/month if you want to unlock some more features)
- Google Docs/Dropbox for creating and delivering PDFs or Wistia for delivering video content
Get the basics of SEO down pat
One name: Brian Dean. Go to his blog. Study his stuff and take action.
Always be learning, testing and tweaking (but stay away from worrying about minutiae).
I’m a big believer in the phrase “As long as you are alive, you haven’t arrived at the top”.
It’s absolutely important to keep abreast with what is going on in your niche so you can be a go-to source of information on your blog. You’ll also have to keep up with learning the latest blogging, social media and SEO techniques that can take your blog to the next level. Invest in your education with books and courses. It pays off.
A word of caution here – learning new information constantly can paradoxically cause “analysis paralysis by information overload”. Too much knowledge comes with its adverse effects.
Secondly, test everything on your blog.
I’ll give you an example from my own blog.
Last month, I noticed the bounce rate on my blog was increasing. I also noticed that the average amount of time people were spending on my blog went down from 1.5 minutes to 31 seconds! Something was wrong and I had to figure it out. After a bit of investigation, I found out I was losing a lot of people who were landing on my welcome home page but unfortunately were not clicking on the page that actually contained my posts.
I immediately got rid of the page and lo and behold, the time people spend on my site began increasing again.
What may work for one blog perfectly may not work for yours. So test, test and test some more (this also means you need to have a good handle on your numbers using tools such as Google Analytics and Google Webmaster) and tweak things based on your data.
Last but not least, install data analytics software.
I probably should have put this one at number 4 or 5 but hey, better late than never right?
Becoming a serious blogger starts with you being serious about your numbers. You cannot be serious about your numbers without analytics software.
At the very least, install and get familiar with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster.
These tools will give you insight to help you improve your blog immensely!
Wrapping it Up
If you are a new blogger overwhelmed about what to focus on, you know have your very own blueprint!
I’ll give you a hint that will help you execute this exact plan in the next 30-60 days for your own blog :
- Study this post and the suggested posts in-depth. By “in-depth”, I mean print them out the posts, read and re-read them.
- Do exactly what they say. If they give you an e-mail template for reaching out to influential bloggers for instance, follow that and write to 10 people in your niche.
- Keep tabs on your data over the next 30-60 days.
- Send me or Sue an email about your progress and we’ll cheer you on!
You’ve got this.
You don’t have to do all these things at once but putting things in place to make sure they get done will put you light years ahead of most bloggers who start out without a launch plan.
Gertrude is a scientist at a major university by day and blogs passionately at night. She uses her blog to share blogging tips, educational videos, and her excursions into sidepreneurship.