You’ll toil for a couple of days on a post and finally hit “Publish”. Your mom might read it. Some of your Facebook friends might also skim it if they get around to it. You might get a few dozen visits the first week. You’ll be happy. You’ll write some more. People may or may not show up. The post you thought would intrigue the world got 24 views yesterday. You expected 2,400. It’s discouraging. Maybe you’ll take a short break from writing your new blog, really gather up some good stories, do an interview or maybe a review. Three weeks later you realize you haven’t written anything new and your next post gets five views. Five. “Maybe it’s not for me,” or even “I don’t have time to do this like I want to,” will play through your mind. Two months after it started, your blog is dead.
As the cold of winter creeps in and fishing slows in most of the country, this cycle will continually repeat itself. Kayak anglers are looking for ways to participate in the sport while they can’t fish. Rigging is fun but doing it every day is expensive and impractical.
I know all of this because I have lived it. I’ve bought dozens of domains, started countless blogs and a couple of years ago one finally stuck around more than three months. Finally.
Do you know why? I finally learned the secret. Actually several of them but it all starts with one.
Here it is: You CANNOT be a good blogger, have a following, be read and published if you treat it as a casual relationship. You must be married to your blog. Your blog is your brand. To do it right, it must be a job. And you have to perform your job well. People may only know you through what you present on your blog so make it a good impression.
A few simple steps will help guide you on your way. Follow these and you will at least have the formula down. The execution is up to you.
Step 1: You need a catchy name. Debbie’s Mom Blog or Pete’s Fishing Blog are too generic and not easy to remember. Trying something like Rob Choi’s Angling Addict. Catchy right? It’s also relatable. We all suffer from the addiction.
Step 2: Branding. You need a good logo. It has to say what you are about without having to list it. If you are writing about kites, have a kite of some sort in your logo. It makes an impression that is then associated with your blog.
Step 3: Design. The typical free design template default from Blogger or Wordpress is not going to get it done. Plenty of fresh templates exist for free or a small price that can help set you apart. And when you are selecting fonts, Comic Sans is only acceptable…never. It’s not cute. It tells everyone you don’t take this seriously. Try a Garamond or a Century font.
Step 4: Content. Have a vision of what you want to do. Write it down. Write down all the blog entry ideas you can think of. Talk to friends and see what they would be interested in. You also have to know your audience. My kayak fishing blog readers typically are not as interested in String Theory Applications in Physics as they are about a new adventure in a just released kayak from Manufacturer X. Write for you but also write for them.
Step 5: Write on a Schedule. You need to be predictable in your writing schedule. And you need to stick pretty darn close to it. More frequent is ok if it is good content but writing less frequently is the nail in the coffin. Pick a number like once a week or twice a week that you know you can keep up with and stick to it. Your audience doesn’t know and really doesn’t care about sick days or long vacations. The more predictable and consistent your writing and publishing, the more people will visit if your content is at least decent.
Step 6: Power Through. You will hit a wall. You will want to skip a week or six. You will think about taking a break. DON’T! This is where the work part comes in. This is a job. People are anxiously awaiting your newest post on Tuesday at noon. Give it to them!
Step 7: Cross Promote. If you don’t like social media, blogging probably isn’t going to be a successful venture for you. To grow your audience you need to be where they are. Blog readers are on social media! Sign up for a Facebook account, create a page, get a Twitter account and do the same. If you really want to get your social media presence going get on Pinterest, Linked In, Tumblr, Vimeo, You Tube and tons of others. It is also good to visit forums with like-minded people to let them know you have some content that is free to check out and you would appreciate feedback.
Once signed up, post updates but don’t over do it. Pick two or three places to post a link and a snippet. Much more push than that and you’ll be a spammer. People tend to judge newcomers more harshly on mass promotion than established bloggers. Established bloggers already have an audience though so they don’t have to promote as much. It’s the same as the age old conundrum of how to get a job with no experience and get experience with no job. All that to say, use good judgment.
Step 8: Be Thick Skinned. When someone flames your blog, hates what you are doing, leaves nasty comments and says you’re dumb, just stay calm. Keep in mind this is not actually a personal attack. It is an attack on a thought you put out there. People disagree all the time. We’re opinionated humans after all. The most controversial stuff you post will often generate the most traffic. Keeping your head about you during controversy furthers your brand image. Keep cool.
More steps exist but these eight are a good start. If you can do all this, you have a good shot at carving out your own little corner of the internet. If not, that’s fine too. At least now you’ll know going in what you are embarking upon.