I would like to welcome the listeners from Nancy Richards lunchtime program, Otherwise on (1-2pm) on SAFM, today. I have to say I am quite excited, I have never been on the radio before and I think it is going to be interesting. I met Nancy Richards at a recent workshop for beginner bloggers.
Blogging is fun and a great way to meet folk and make friends all over the world. You are not confined to a time zone or a geographical spot. Through blogging I have made friends all over the world and I continue to meet folk and connect and I love it. The thing about blogging is that nobody has the perfect blog, everyone is learning, everyone is tweaking their website. Just knowing that is a great encouragement to beginner bloggers… you really can dive in with what you know and learn as you go. Over the last couple of weeks I have been sharing a few tips with beginner bloggers at a Saturday workshop – it has been a lot of fun. I enjoy meeting new bloggers and the more bloggers share what they know the better the blogs we will get to read, so it is a win/win!!! This is not a technical post on how to begin a blog, just se7en + 1 questions new and beginner bloggers have asked me.
- The Start Up:
- Think Strategically:
- Create a Community:
- Grow Your Readers:
- Take Stock:
- PR Companies:
- The Ethics of it All:
Don’t wait for that special moment just dive in – that is the joy of blogging… it really doesn’t have to be perfect, it is almost better to just get things rolling. The father person kept encouraging me to begin a blog and I kept saying I would get around to it… until the day he posted a picture of my newborn daughter with Shrek Ears and a speech bubble saying: “Better out than in…” Let’s just say I knew I could do better and I have been blogging daily ever since!!! Four and a half years of blogging later I am still learning new things about blogging every single day – that is one of the reasons I love it. If you want to take the leap and start blogging then here is a post: How to start a blog in Se7en Steps, to help you get started.
When you begin blogging, if you are like me, it will be quite an achievement to just place a paragraph up onto the internet… later photographs will come and links and other bits and pieces of social media… Take stock of the bloigs you enjoy reading and dream big… imagine what you might want your blog to look like one day – this idea can change and vary, of course!!! When I began blogging I never imagined that I would have something to say for longer than a month, let alone years… For me, initially thinking big was 100 posts… nearly 2000 posts later… I could have thought a lot bigger when I began dreaming about our blog.
Blogging is not something that you do in isolation. I know that I create a blog that I would like to read, but I spend just as much time reading other folks blogs. Commenting and engaging other writers is a big part of building your own blogging community. To this end, find the blogs you like to read and engage the author, comment on their work… ask them questions and tell them what you enjoy. Remember, when you are idly reading through blog posts at the end of the day that someone spent a good part of their day writing those posts… If you have enjoyed them, then tell the author. This is a great way to build your community… you are letting other bloggers know who you are and their readers as well… often the comment section is a very good place to find like-minded readers and friends.
There will come a time, it may not be in the first few minutes or even the first days of blogging, but there will come a time when you want more than your immediate family to read your blog. At which stage the on-line friends you have established are a great starting point for building your own community. By having a clear idea of who your readers are and what they enjoy readers you will be able to provide content that they keep coming back for… not only that, but a great way to grow your readers is to promote other folks good work… if you see a post that you really enjoy or you have a blogger friend that juste speaks to you – then share that with your readers. Chances are if a blogger resonates with you, then they will resonate with your readers. Promoting other bloggers is a great way to grow your readership as their readers would like to read about who this like-minded reader is and if they enjoy reading your material as well!!!
After you have been blogging a while stop and take note of your blog… However don’t compare your blog to other blogs that have been going for years longer than yours or are run by media houses, in fact don’t compare your blog to others at all “keeping up with the Jones’s” is never a good strategy for growth. It isn’t a competition, there is plenty of room on the internet for new and interesting blogs. Take stock of what you have on your blog, look at the posts you have been writing that your readers have enjoyed reading – you can choose to give them more of the same… or stretch them a little and venture into new areas – you can do that!!! It is your blog!!! When you take stock of your blog then learn something new… take a look at Problogger or Annabel Candy of Successful Blogging for heaps of ideas for new and not so new bloggers to implement on their site.
This is one of the first questions I am asked… yes you can make money from blogging and lots of it, does every blogger make a lot of money from blogging – not at all!!! According to a recent webinar, run by the Problogger on monetization, only about half of all bloggers are actually making any money and most of those are making $100 or less a month. So yes, you can earn a fortune from blogging but it is a tiny percentage of bloggers that are making a heap of money from their blog.
Of the bloggers that are making money they usually have many different sources of income relating to their blog… many drips create a bucket, so to speak. They may have affiliate marketing, they may have an e-book for sale, they may sell their time and expertise… there are countless ways to make “little bits” of money on your blog. However, if you are looking to your blog as a second job then you will have to put in the time and hours of a second job in order to reap those rewards. Most bloggers do it for the love of blogging they are passionate about their message and will share their story wether they get paid for it or not.
If you keep on blogging and you are patient PR companies are bound to take notice of you. At this stage discernment needs to become your middle name. Not all PR companies are equal but you do need to treat them all with respect. Not all PR companies will have glanced at your blog content or established that their product is a good fit to your blog… some won’t even be able to spell your name!!! It is your job, as the blogger, to decide what you are or aren’t prepared to blog about.
It isn’t always easy – some offers sound too good to be true, they mostly are!!! I have to say for most of the folk that approach us, they are not a good fit, they either want too much for their “sample” that they want us to try or they want to use their own words on our blog. It is okay to say “Thanks, but no thanks!!!” And the most important thing about testing and reviewing products on your blog is: “Are your readers interested in the product?” “Are you staying true to your readers?” There is no point in promoting a fast food product if your blog is about whole earth organic produce. Your readers will think, and rightly so, that you are in it for the money, and they will look at your future reviews with half an eye!!! Always be transparent and tell your readers when you have been given a product to test or if you have discovered a product you loved and you are just mentioning it because you think they will love it as well.
And the Se7en + 1th
I can not stress this last bit about blogging enough and I am constantly surprised when folk ask about it: You can not take someone else’s content without asking them first… you may link to someone else’s post, you may direct your readers towards someone else’s work… but you may never ever take someone else’s writing or photograph without their express permission. Just no. It is plagiarism at best and any grade school student should know that they would get a paper returned if they even thought of doing that.
I have to say the key to great blogging is just being “nice,” and I can hear my primary school teacher shudder at the expression… but you are out there in the playground of blogging – share your knowledge, promote your friends, don’t ever say anything you can’t say in person to someone, don’t ever say anything about your ugly old aunt, who never reads your blog anyway… to be sure that will be the day she does and the pleasure of writing what seemed so funny at the time, will be very short lived.
In fact on our blog, I do keep it pleasant, I never say anything untoward about my kids, I try not to moan too much – I think folk do go onto the internet to relax and unless I have a very witty turn of phrase about a particular topic that I am moaning about, it just isn’t fun enough for my readers to stay engaged. Honestly most of our readers have their fair share of tantrums, toileteering mishaps and so on of their own in a day, without having to hop onto our blog and read about ours as well!!!
If you have enjoyed this post… and you are a beginner blogger, it does contain the sort of material that I talk about in these Saturday workshops and they will start to be held on a monthly basis… the contact details are all on the form below.
If you have questions about blogging then feel free to ask away in the comments I will be happy to try and answer them or to point you in the right direction to find the answers!!!