In last week’s clinic, we learned how to determine what form of social media is best for you and whether or not you should blog. This week’s post is for all of you who decided to try blogging.
Deciding to blog is only the first decision you face. There are many others, chief of which are: What will you blog about? How often will you post? Who are you writing for?
Following are seven questions and why it’s important to know the answers before you go any further.
1. Find Your Niche
Everyone–and I do mean everyone–is an expert in some area. It may be a broad area, like retail sales, or it may be a specialty area like antique race cars. It may even be one of those weird niche categories like drawing portraits of horses with colored pencil (don’t laugh… that’s my “day job”).
Find your field of expertise and make it work for you. You may not believe it, but there are people out there who are also interested in those things and a lot of them would be interested in what you have to say. Some of them will be very interested and some will be so interested, they’d pay you for your expertise.
2. Aren’t An Expert? Make Yourself An Expert.
All you have to do to be considered an expert in something is to read three books on that subject.
If you don’t believe you have enough expertise in any area to offer help to anyone else, then learn. Open three good books on the subject. Read them. Study them. You now know more than most of the population on that particular subject.
3. Identify Your Target Audience
Whether you already have an area of expertise or have to get one, the next step is identifying your target audience. Are they do-it-yourselfers looking for advice on projects? Are they more likely to be professionals or hobbyists? Male or female? Young or old? High school educated or doctorates?
The more of these categories you can fill in, the better able you will be to write content those people will find helpful. So take time to give this some thought.
TIP: Take time to identify your ideal reader. Describe where they live, what they do for a living, what they do with disposable income, and how you can help them. I know this sounds like an arduous task, but it will not be a waste of time. If you have a specific person to write to, writing quality content will be much easier.
4. Write Quality Content
You would think this is so obvious, it wouldn’t need to be said.
It is obvious, but…
…it still needs to be said.
No matter how much you know about a subject, if your content is poor, you’ll have a difficult time reaching readers or keeping them.
There are a few simple guidelines to follow in writing the best possible content.
- Write for your audience.
- Treat them with respect.
- Use analogies that suit their background.
- Use appropriate language and good grammar.
Blogging successfully is as dependent upon your ability to successfully communicate as it is on your having something to say. Take time to improve your writing and communication skills. Write some sample posts first. If you have difficulty, you can still blog, but you may need to improve writing skills first.
5. Develop a Routine
Human beings are creatures of habit. We find a routine that works and we are loathe to change it.
It is, therefore, important to find a blogging or update schedule that works well for you as soon as possible. Whether you post once a week, once a month or once every other week, it’s important to be regular. Your readers will learn when to expect new content from you and will look for it.
Decide in advance how much time you have to write posts and respond to comments. That should be your guide to how often you post. You can write one post a week in as little as 15 minutes a day. Find the method that works for you and stick to it.
6. 100 Posts
The rule of thumb for new bloggers (or new blogs) is to post as often as possible. I’ve seen recommendations to do a post a day until you have a sufficient body of content.
I’m glad you asked. One recommendation suggested 100 posts. That gives readers enough background material to satisfy their curiosity if they like what you have to say well enough to want more immediately.
If you like to write and can publish quality content quickly, it’s not a bad idea to post daily at least until you get 100 posts under your belt.
What I prefer to do is to write articles in advance so they’re ready to go before I need them. For example, if I’m thinking of launching a blog dedicated to epic novels, I’d sit down and list ideas for posts.
I’d write as many of them as possible, too. I’d do that while thinking about starting the blog. I’d do that while designing the blog. I’d do that while setting up the blog. Hopefully, by the time I wrote the introductory post, I’d also have a collection of posts that could be scheduled in advance.
What’s the point?
Writing ahead of time gives you the opportunity to fine-tune, refine, proof, and revise your posts so the content is absolutely topnotch.
Writing ahead of time also gives you a buffer so that even if you don’t use them all immediately, you have some posts in reserve for those times when you can’t think of anything to write.
In fact, what I’d hope to have by launch date would be at least 50 posts ready or nearly ready to go. A the rate of one post a week, that’s nearly a year’s worth of posts. Ample time to establish your blog.
You may also find that the excitement of the blog doesn’t last through 100, 50, or even 20 posts. If that turns out to be the case, you know you need to find another subject without having gone to the trouble of setting up the blog first.
These are just seven things to consider before you start your new blog. They’re not the only things, but they are among the most important. Answer them correctly and you’ll not only save yourself time and effort in the long-run; you’ll also have a head start on launching your new blog.
Questions or comments? Please leave them in the comment box below and join the discussion.
Clinics in This Series
Introduction to Blogging For Writers
Blogging For Writers – To Blog or Not to Blog
Blogging For Writers – 7 Considerations Before You Get Started
Blogging For Writers – How To Choose A Host