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10 Things I wish I knew before starting a blog
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10 Things I wish I knew before starting a blog

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Read these first before getting started and taking the plunge yourself.

How easy it is to start

A teacher at a digital marketing class I was attending encouraged me to start my own blog as a way to boost my profile in the digital space and help build my digital credentials. It took me about 9 months after that conversation to actually take the plunge and do it.

Why? I personally didn’t know anyone who was blogging at the time that I could ask about their experience. I was also a bit intimidated to have to learn the technical aspects of managing the blog. Most of all I was convinced that only writers could credibly write a blog that others would want to read.

However, when I did start the blog using WordPress, with bluehost hosting the site, I discovered how easy it was.

Help is always at hand 24 hours a day

If you use an open source CMS like WordPress or Joomla and have a question, it’s almost certain that someone has asked that same question before and an answer can easily be found.

Alternatively, there are many many freelancers with WordPress or Joomla expertise on freelancer.com  that can help you very quickly and cost effectively solve your problem. I have had good experiences now with freelancers in Bangladesh, India and most recently Bulgaria.

You don’t need to be a brilliant writer to be a successful blogger

I will be the first to admit that I am not a great writer per se. I would describe my writing style as being very direct, business like and deliberate. Getting an MBA will do that to you.

However, if you choose to blog about a subject for which you are very passionate or knowledgeable about, it will shine through in your writing. In my case, having had a long career in Marketing I believe that I am very knowledgeable about marketing campaigns. I am also very passionate to learn about digital marketing. Thus this blog enables me to combine the two.

In addition, if you can write about a niche that nobody is covering or an existing subject from a new perspective then you can stand out and be successful. In my case, it is focusing specifically on digital marketing case studies.

Learn as much as you can about SEO before starting a blog

It’s only natural that you want to jump in and start posting articles on your blog. The first few posts will  feel like a fantastic achievement and an end in themselves, even if no one reads them besides you.

However you will soon be sweating every day on your traffic reports from Google Analytics and wishing you could get more traffic. Learning about SEO before you start your blog will mean that you can optimise your organic search engine ranking results from the very first post. SEO takes time for any new blog and you need as much help as you can from Day 1.

Learn as much as you can about social media before starting a blog

Links and engagement from social media have become incredibly important in SEO and driving traffic to your blog.

Be very clear upfront on who your audience is, which social media channels they use and focus on doing them well. In my case, as a professional marketing blog my primary social media channels are LinkedIn and Google+, followed by Twitter. I do not use Facebook and Instagram for this blog. Learn about writing headlines for social media, the best days and time/s of day to post and how to use hashtags.

Build your follower numbers on each of those channels as much as you can before starting your blog. Sure, it’s harder to build your follower numbers on social media channels without having regular content from a blog that you can post. However you can certainly curate, share interesting content and contribute to the conversation prior to starting a blog. If you focus your efforts on it, you can quite quickly (and organically) build up a significant number of followers on LinkedIn and Twitter especially.

Traffic generated is not a reflection of the quality of your posts

You need to accept that there are some articles and subjects that just get more traffic and readership than others. Don’t be discouraged if some of what you think are your best posts don’t get the traffic that  you are hoping for.

If the main measure of success for your blog is traffic then I would recommend trying a wide range of post subjects and areas in the first few months to see which generate the most traction.

In my case, the two most read posts on my blog are Make money on You Tube – start your own cooking channel, and Make money on Instagram – travel instagramers share tips . If only all of my posts could be on a Make money theme….

Focus on your area of expertise or passion

Concentrate only on those core subjects and topics that you want the blog to be known for. It is very tempting with a growing blog audience to throw in other posts on recent or newsworthy issues when you feel inspired to write or are struggling to come up with content.

Ultimately though it is going to confuse your readers and clutter up your blog with unrelated posts. The only exception to this could be for those other posts to reside in another section of your blog. You could call it other areas of interest or things I like.

I have learnt over time that I should leave covering other issues and topics to another platform such as Twitter.

Fellow bloggers are your best content resource

Without fail, they have been very helpful and responsive whenever I have contacted them for an interview request or asked them to share their story. They have been very willing to openly share their knowledge and learnings without worrying about sharing their secrets.

Non bloggers or those not active personally or professionally in the digital space have not been as responsive or helpful.

A small investment in the right theme can significantly boost traffic across the site

Until recently, I had been using a free PR News magazine theme for my blog. Three months ago I bit the bullet and invested in a Paid WordPress theme Sahifa. It is the #1 selling WordPress blog and news theme.

Since then, I have seen a significant increase in traffic to posts that have been featured on the popular list (as seen below) in the right hand side bar on the home page.

10 Things I wish I knew before starting a blog

Paid Blog Opportunities

In assessing potential bloggers to work with, brands and PR agencies will place more emphasis on the size of your social media following and influence (such as your Klout score) rather than the amount of traffic to your website. As an example below, here is my Catalog profile. Catalog is an online AustNZ directory that lists bloggers and their social media influence. Thus no matter how impressive your Google Analytics stats are. you also need to build up your social media following and profile if you want paid blog opportunities.

10 Things I wish I knew before starting a blog

 

If I had known these 10 Things I wish I knew before starting a blog, I would have:

  • Started the blog 9 months earlier.
  • Been a lot more strategic and efficient about developing content that generates traction.
  • Had better SEO and organic search engine ranking results from my very first post.
  • Become more of a social influencer and have a higher Klout score now.

Since launching the blog in June 2013, I have had 26,360 session views to date ( Currently averaging around 50/day) as per the chart below. I also currently have 1,713 Twitter followers.

10 Things I wish I knew before starting a blog

My Klout score is currently 45

10 Things I wish I knew before starting a blog

After blogging for over 2 years, just in the last 2 to 3 months I have started to get approaches from PR agencies about blog opportunities to work with brands.

 

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by Konrad Markham

About Konrad Markham