Is this a post where I get straight to the point rather than explain a business principle through a witty and entertaining example of an action movie story arc? Why, yes. Yes it is. Because it’s time to get serious about blogging. Ready?
1. Think long & hard about your blog categories.
Your categories are the main sections or “magazine columns” that you feature on your blog. They should appeal to your target audience. They should be logical for you. You should like talking about them.
2. Design your site to be appealing and easy on the eyes, for long amounts of time.
Oh, and yeah, I had a sweet male reader let me know that he loved reading even though I mainly use pictures of women in my posts. But, I don't want you guys to feel left out, so I made some secondary images you can feel free to pin to your boards. I mean, this is probably not what you meant, but I sure like these:
3. Be Ugly Betty.
And by that, I of course mean: pretend you’re an actual magazine publisher and plan out each piece well, invest time into each piece, edit and format your posts, add great designs to your posts, write in a natural tone your readers will be drawn to, and publish regularly. If your favorite magazine missed a few issues, you’d eventually find a replacement. If you aren’t blogging regularly, your readers might find some replacements. HarshTruthsAboutBloggingLife.com
4. Share each post into infinity. Also, beyond infinity.
You write and publish something once, but who's to say you can't share that post once per month on Twitter, or twice a year on Facebook, or every other month on Google+, or on multiple boards on Pinterest (spread these pins out for maximum effect). Due to the "timeline" nature or most social media platforms, if you only share something once, it will only be seen by a smaller than small percent of your followers.
So, if your content will still be relevant in a month/year, take some time to schedule out multiple posts using a service like Buffer.
5. Make sure you know exactly who you’re talking to.
Want a free guide on how to do that? I wrote a little post with an ideal reader survey for you.
6. Make sure you know what those people want and need.
Your readers/clients have specific questions, desires, and needs. You can start to figure out these needs by the ideal reader survey above, by asking people, by paying attention to their comments and social media interactions, and by putting yourself in their shoes. What did you want to know when you were first starting out? What tools can make things simpler for your fans and customers?
Use the free worksheet in this post to begin to plan out posts and products that fit your readers' needs.
7. Make an actual blog business plan.
What major, important things in your life do you do without planning? Your wedding? Nope. A business? Nope. Saving for a house? Probably not. Yet the stars are supposed to align for our blogs, without planning, without thought to its setup, purpose, audience, or uses. C'mon Son!
I highly recommend making a blog business plan. Here's a template and instructions.
8. Find 3 - 5 sites to follow for blogging tips, 5 - 10 sites in your niche to follow, and 3 - 5 sites not in your industry to follow for inspiration.
9. Post frequently + consistently, with quality as your best friend.
I mean, actually frequently. Once a month is for the birds. There's no magical formula, but most pro bloggers agree that at least once per week is necessary. As you get to know your readers better, you'll begin to understand what they want, need, and expect. Try to cater to them while maintaining your brand goals and sanity.
10. Invest in your blog.
The things you spend money on are the things you want to get value out of. The things you spend money on are the important things that you care about. The best things in life are free, but some of the things that help you create your best life cost (a smidgen of) $$. → Tweet that one for me. It might not even make sense, but just go with it. It feels right.
Some small investments you can make: logo and header design (I'm investing in this right now--coming soon), blog design, software to make your life easier, books on blogging, a sweet home office setup, and premium tea to help you think. That last one is legit, right?
11. Format your posts to be read by busy, slightly lazy humans.
You know, things like numbered lists, bullet points, bold titles or headings (when necessary). You're smart. You feel me on this one.
12. Create a content calendar.
I used to use a planner that simply included suggested post dates and categories (colorful picture below) and the Editorial Calendar WordPress plugin (picture below) because I like a visual representation of when I should post. Now I use my EPIC BLOG: One-year Editorial Planner + Workbook (below). Whatever you use, make some type of content plan.
Without a plan, you’ll get around to that one post about that one thing on the 10th of NeverEver.
13. Now that you’ve created a content calendar, add in promotion & maintenance tasks.
Like what Regina, what promotion and maintenance tasks? I'm glad you asked friend. Try the ones on my free checklists as a starting place. Add or cross off whatever you need to.
14. Establish a writing routine that gives you time to think.
A post may seem epic when you first plan it, and most likely it is, but I always recommend outlining, then writing, then editing and publishing, at separate times. You'll likely think of ways to add more value, and often times you'll think of whole new posts that are necessary before the one you're planning in the moment. Just trust me on that one if it hasn't happened to you yet.
15. Find a blog buddy. Or five. Five is fine too.
Here are some tips for finding your BBFs (best blog friends). I've made like 28 since writing that post, and I love you all--you know I'm talking about you Erika, Naomi, Maru, Jon, "Gweb" and Bunny. Okay, so I've only made six. Whatever. Who's counting?
16. Get better images . . . probably.
Or at least, get more pinnable/shareable images.
17. Learn some basic coding . . . super basic . . . don’t freak out.
It will help you in so many places --"the blog stylist" killed it with her HTML cheat sheet for you.
18. Let people know how to help you.
Non-bloggers won’t understand what the heck you’re doing, and they won’t necessarily know what SEO is, or how they can help yours, so, inform your friends who want to help what actually constitutes as help.
19. Be you. We won’t like you if you’re being someone else.
I once made a quote about that. Okay, you got me. Oscar Wilde said it and I simply made it into a pin. Semantics, my friends. Semantics. But below is the board on which you can find my (and Oscar's) quote.
20. Get a good SEO plugin/tutorial and learn how to optimize your site, posts, and images.
If you're using WordPress, I recommend SEO by Yoast, along with these other plugins.
21. If you plan to monetize your blog, start preparing for it now.
22. Remember social media is whack and utterly useless for bloggers.
Oh man, I crack myself up. Just checking to make sure you're still paying attention. There's so much great stuff out there on social media. I'll simply leave you with my Pinterest board to start discovering some resources:
23. Get high quality photos of yourself, yesterday.
Don't simply crop yourself out of your picture with seven friends, champagne glasses raised in a toast, in a dark-ish restaurant. I can't stomach any more of those pics as your "professional" headshot. Don't do it to me. More importantly, don't do it to you.
24. Audit your blog regularly.
That post you wrote three months ago? It totally needs a link to the post you published earlier this week because they’re heavily related and your readers will be happy to have guided/quick access to both. Always keep in mind that no matter what order you write things in, any post or page on your website has the potential to be the first post a visitor sees.
P.S. Blog audits are also a great way to make sure you’ve included your affiliate links and product/service links in all the organic ways possible.
25. Learn some basic design skills.
You can use free software and free/inexpensive phone apps for this. You probs won’t always have access to a designer who can help you on your schedule so you might as well save yourself a few dollar bills and learn to add text, filters, and "decorative elements" to your images. On a computer, I recommend Canva. On your iPhone or iPad, you’ll go crazy for Rhonna Designs (I mean crazy!).
26. Double check yo self before you wreck … okay, you get it.
Grammar be your best friend. Good grammar are good for you, so if you don't be good at it, get Grammar Girl’s book, check for spelling errors, read your posts backwards, etc. A few typos can be forgiven in the blogosphere, but a post littered with errors, that post are be hurting your credibility. Check out Grammarly.com too.
27. Be available + interactive.
No one likes a person who never responds to anything. Granted, you may be so "big time" that you can't get to every blog comment or tweet, but none of them? I'll accept that when you become the President of the United States (but as we all know, even our President makes time to tweet), and even then, you can hire some people to help you out.
28. Pay attention to the questions your readers ask.
There may be a new blog post, new eBook you can sell, problem you can fix, or service you can offer, lingering in those questions. Also, you're showing yourself as available and interactive when you answer those questions and provide great tips.
29. Pay attention to the comments your readers leave on all channels (your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email).
Refer to the point above for the “why.”
30. Guest post like a champ.
Once you have a small to medium collection of quality content to lead people back to, pitch some sites that fit your brand (or that are frequented by your ideal readers) to do a guest post. Think about larger online magazines and websites as well. These guest posting opportunities will help you build relationships and will lead new readers back to your site.
31. Accept guest posts like a champ.
If someone else is willing to say some valuable and entertaining stuff on your blog, let them IF it fits with your overall brand and brand goals. Make sure each post fits your blog, fits your readers, and is the type of quality content you want your blog to be known for. Make sure to promote your guest authors and show them love. They will likely spread word of their guest post, which can potentially give you lots of new readers.
32. Don’t neglect your business tasks.
You know, the things like accounting + filing taxes, and learning how to be awesome at business. This is where your blog business plan (#7 above) will come in handy.
33. Don't let "creative flex" distract you from building your #1 brand.
I'm talking to you. You who allow other shiny new projects to distract you from the main one you need to focus on. You who are like me. You who need professional help because there are so many ideas racing through your head. Use these steps to minimize your crazy.
Photo of man working out: © iko - Fotolia.com Photo of man in suit: © GooDAura - Fotolia.com