This is my 11th year of blogging.
I was blogging before more of the stars of the Disney channel were even born. And every year, I meet with people who want to start blogs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s for their businesses, other times it’s just for personal use for things like travel. My blog started out as personal and turned into a business.
And since we’re at the beginning of another year, I’m willing to bet that more than one of you made a commitment to finally start blogging, which is great! Since starting Mike’s Bloggity Blog Blob (original name) back in 2006, I’ve written almost 5,000 blog posts, so I’ve learned a few things that I’m happy to share. So check out some of my five tips, and then start blogging!
Just start it
I know, that’s not very helpful. If you could “just start it” you would have by now. But almost every person I talk to about starting a blog has been thinking about it for months or years and for whatever reason, just haven’t. The most common reason is that they are stuck thinking about what the blog will be about. And see, that’s the cool thing about blogs, it can be about whatever you want. Sure, if it had a common theme, that’s good, but I promise you, as you write and as you grow, your blog will evolve. So wasting too much time deciding “what it’s about” is exactly that, a waste of time. My common theme is Canadian. I like to share stories about Canada. But what this blog is about has changed many times over the years. It would be strange if I was still writing about the exact same thing I was writing about 11 years ago…which was basically a lot of Canadian Idol recaps.
Keep it to yourself
Okay, so you’ve decided to take my advice and just start your blog. Great. Now, don’t tell anyone about it. That’s right. Keep it to yourself, at least for a little while. I think you have one or two chances to announce your blog to your friends and family (the people most likely to read it more than once,) so don’t waste it. Sending your potential fans to read a blog that only has one or two posts, is sorta wasting that opportunity. Write for a while. Try putting blogging into your schedule, come up with topics that you like. And most importantly: see if you even like having a blog. There’s a very real chance that you’ll find out that you don’t. And while that might feel a bit defeatist, at least you won’t be wondering if you should start your blog. So write your blog, write it for yourself. See if you like it and when you have a few posts, say 12, then tell your friends through email, Facebook and Twitter.
Give it a chance
Most people who give up on their blogs because they wanted something to happen faster than it was ever going to. The biggest misconception is that blogs result in something happening quickly, and nothing could be further from the truth. Why? Because it’s about trust. You read and share blogs that you trust, building that trust takes time. So you need to give yourself time. Give yourself time for people to find your blog, like your blog and start sharing your blog. That, my friends, can take a lot longer just a few weeks. I’m talking months or years. That’s why you have to like what you’re writing about. If you went to the gym a few times, would you expect real results? No, that’s because there wouldn’t be any. You have to work at it.
Simply put, the blog wouldn’t exist without analytics. Now I’m not a math person at all. My Grade 12 teacher let me pass because he could see how hard I was trying and he didn’t want a Donna Martin situation on his hand. But I love analytics, I love numbers. For your blog to grow, you need to know these numbers. You need to know where people are coming from, how often and what they’re reading. I use all of that data to make a better blog. Not every blog post is a hit, far from it. So when a blog post does really well, I take note and try to replicate whatever made that post successful. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it’s an ever-evolving path. It’s also good to know when one of your blog posts is taking off. If I look at my analytics and see that 200 people are reading it at once, then I know I’m doing something right, and I’ll be sure to boost on Facebook and tweet it out a few different times.
Analytics also help show that your blog is growing. So even if your goal is for 100 people a month to read it, that’s great! Do whatever you can to make sure a hundred people read it. My goal is 1,000 people a day. But sometimes it’s way more than that, and other days it’s below. It’s the nature of the beast. But analytics let me know when I get to take a moment to celebrate and when I need to sit up and work harder.
I know, I know, another obvious tip, right? Wrong. Blogging, writing, any of this stuff always has to be fun. It goes back to that evolution thing I was saying earlier. If I had been blogging the exact same stuff for 11 years, it likely wouldn’t be fun. So I have to keep changing things up. Sometimes it’s personal story posts, other times it’s just sharing videos and photos. You gotta keep it fun for yourself. Trust me, if you aren’t having fun, your readers can totally tell. The more excited you are about your posts, the more your readers will be too. Blogging and writing should never be a chore. It’s supposed to be fun, especially a blog. That’s why blogs are so great in the first place, they can be whatever you want them to be. So maybe you take a week off to refuel your creative juices. Some weeks you’ll write a lot, and other weeks not so much. I used to think posting on a regular schedule was important, but now I think as long as you’re putting out your work somewhere regularly, then that’s great. So a blog post here, a tweet and Instagram post there. You’ll figure it out. And when you do, you’ll want to change it up. Always try to keep it fresh, that’s how you keep it fun
Okay, so those are my first five tips. I’ll try to write more posts like these, but if you have questions, put ’em in the comments and I’ll get back to you!