Monday night I participated in a live Spreecast hosted by Janice and Susan on blogging and the ins and outs of why we participate in this crazy online world. There were so many great questions asked and I thought I’d offer a few of my thoughts on the business of blogging.
I’ve been at this blogging game for a little over four years now and while I do not claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that have been useful for me and, perhaps, they will be useful to you as well.
First, start by knowing why you blog. Are you just wanting to keep a family journal for long distance relatives to see and participate in? Do you want to gain a larger audience? Do you have a message you want to share? Do you have a business that you want to promote? It helps to write out exactly what you’re wanting to do with your square of internet real estate.
For example, my goal for this blog is to simply tell stories. Sometimes they are about my kids, sometimes my husband, but most times those stories are about me. Story telling is, and always has been, my creative outlet. I try to keep things light as much as possible because Lord knows there is enough heavy in this world to drag us all down. But on those occasions when life gets overwhelming and humor isn’t quick on my finger tips, I share deeply and honestly.
That is my mission. I know it and I’ve embraced it and I feel much more confident in my blogging.
Second, know where you want to go with your blog. Do you just want to stay small and private? That’s fine! Embrace it. Do you want to work with brands and review products? Go for it! Do you want to grow your audience and reach more people? Great! There are a few things you need to do to make that happen.
- Write well. The prettiest design and catchiest title cannot make up for excellent writing.
- Market yourself and make contacts. This is an area that I’ve really struggled with. I am not good at networking and marketing, much to my husband’s chagrin. But it is so necessary and there are different ways to do this. From blogging conferences, where you can interact with others face to face (gasp!) to Facebook and Twitter, there are a lot of ways to promote what you’re doing, but this leads me to my next point.
- Don’t overmarket yourself. Don’t make every interaction about you and your blog. It’s annoying and a turn off. And please, please, please – do not leave comments on other people’s blogs promoting your own blog. That’s obnoxious and won’t gain you followers. (Unless, of course, it’s during an online event such as the Ultimate Blog Party in which such promotion is expected and welcomed.)
- Offer to guest post for someone else. Many larger sites offer the opportunity for guest posters and it’s a great way to gain exposure.
- Be nice. Don’t gossip online…about anyone. Not your mother-in-law, your husband, your siblings or another blogger. The same rule we teach our children applies to blogging, “If you don’t have something nice to say then, ‘Shh!’ Say nothing.” Don’t forget that your words live forever on the internet.
- Interact with your readers as much as possible. When I have time, I try to visit the sites of the people who comment on my blog. I don’t always have time to comment back, but I do when I can and when that person comments again on one of my posts, I feel like I know a little more about her (or him). Make friends in this space because that’s what we’re here for - interaction and support.
The title of this post is completely misleading and basically a flat out lie, by the way. You can’t succeed in blogging without trying. Everything worth pursuing takes effort, right? Put in the effort, have fun, and don’t forget that there’s a whole lot of life to be lived offline. Blogging is an outlet, not life itself. Don’t allow those two things to get mixed up!
There are a few more things I’d like to say on this topic so I’m going to write another post tomorrow. There are things you can do in your posts specifically that keep readers engaged and wanting to read more and I’ll share those things along with a few more tips. On Friday we’ll discuss how to make money blogging.
If you have any specific questions for me, you’re welcome to leave them in the comments section or email me at kellistuart00 (at) hotmail (dot) com.