Most websites will encourage to either write for SEO value or to some how write to build a legion of loyal followers. My advice is to do neither. Instead be true to yourself and write what You like. Who needs a legion anyway…you need a Tribe willing to spread your ideas.
If you’re writing for SEO value or to build an audience then you run the risk of writing what’s popular, and what’s popular is always a competitive space. If instead if you take a risk and write about the ideas in your head, give an honest opinion about the things you observe in the world, then your tribe will come. And what’s better you’ll be leading instead of following.
Both Michael Hyatt and Seth Godin (two very popular bloggers) tell stories how how for years they wrote (being consistent) and hardly anyone showed up to read their blogs. You can checkout what Seth had to say about following the so called “blogging rules” in is post Doing it wrong relentlessly. Checkout what Michael has to say in his video post My 7 Biggest Platform Building Blunders.
Somewhere in my web travels I came across this. Through a partnership with HP iStock Photo is offering 30 free high resolution images for free that you can use on your blog…or anywhere else for that matter.
Photo’s May Appear To Be Free
You’ve likely seen photo’s on blogs that read at the bottom “courtesy of iStock”. The tagline can be confusing
because it implies that somehow they’ve gotten the photo for free. However, they have not.
iStockphoto is the world’s leading royalty-free stock multimedia destination with millions of photos,illustrations, video, audio and Flash files starting at $1. You can find inspiration for all your business design needs including projects, business cards, identity, brochures and presentations.
How iStock Photo Works
To buy files on iStockphoto, you’ll need credits, iStock’s currency (but you’ll be using the 30 free photo’s first). iStock sells Pay-as-you-go credits, Subscriptions and Corporate Accounts (available with terms for either Pay-as-you-go or Subscriptions).
Last week I got an email from a friend who’s interested in becoming a blogger. He wanted to know how to blog and any blogging tips and tricks that I could offer a beginner or small business owner.
Here are 80 things that I advise anyone who has already or is thinking of getting started in online publishing. There are a lot more but I decided to stop at 80. When you’re done here review my content marketing strategy post for some in-depth ideas for generating content.
How To Blog
If you’re just learning how to blog consider stalling your launch and writing a months or two months worth of post. Schedule them for delivery. Now, once you launch your always a month or two ahead in your writing schedule.
Start conversations when you’re first start to learn how to blog by asking questions at the end of post.
Sell products or services that are actually needed by companies.
Make sure your blog lines up with a prevailing world view or else it won’t get noticed.
Use your platform to promote others with no expectation of anything in return and they’ll help you drive traffic.
When you’re first learning how to blog writing reviews can provide an easy source of content.
Conduct interviews of well known people.
Conduct video interviews of well known people and post them in your sidebar.
Look for content in things that happen every day and tie them to your niche topic(s).
Own your name, for example JoeSmith.com, even if you don’t blog there.
Always offer your best version of the truth at the time.
When your best version of the truth changes make a new blog post explaining why you changed your mind, be sure to link back to the original post, and link the original post to the new one.
When you first start to learn how to blog you’ll be afraid your work will be rejected but don’t be afraid to hit the publish button. You’ve got to get your thoughts out into the world.
Promote your blog like 50 Cent promoted his music before he became big, pedalling tapes out of his car trunk. You won’t have tapes or cd’s to sell but you can tell everyone about your blog, and produce fliers to give out with excerpts of your best post. If you target realtors, go to Fed Ex Kinkos, print a few hundred high quality, full color photos and drop them off at local real estate offices. Sales managers are always looking for great content to motivate sales people. While you’re there offer to come in and do a 15 minute presentation at their next sales meeting on your topic. Look your blog just spring boarded your professional speaking career.
Have a professional business card with your blog address and a description of the nature of your blog. If you can’t fit it on the back of a business card it’s too complicated.
Write responses to other blogs and link to them from within your post.
Be professional always.
Write short post, as your readers won’t always want to read long post.
Write long post and take deep dives, spread out over a month, into your subject matter.
Your readers are not interested in your dog, cat, etc, their looking for advice on how to accomplish something.
When bloggers start to learn how to blog they often don’t let their true selves come through in their writing. Be sure to let your personality come through in your writing, style, and layout of your blog.
When learning how to blog publish multiple types of content, articles, video, podcast, images, etc.
Carry a camera and recording device with you everywhere. You never know when a story will present itself.
Use your blog as your primary platform. Anything that you want someone to know about you, put it there before you put it on Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.
Use an RSS feed.
Feed social media outlets from your blog by automating your post with a service like Feedblitz.
Build cornerstone content for your niche topic(s) by doing series. Curate the individual post from a series on a page dedicated to the topic (like this one on Marketing Strategy). Make sure each post in the series contains a link back to the cornerstone page. This has tremendous SEO value.
You’re a professional publisher not just some blogger be proud of it and conduct yourself accordingly.
As you develop a wide body of content link to your own post from within other relevant post. When doing so be sure to use a keyword phrase that you want to rank for as the link not just ‘click here’. Big SEO value.
Write what you like.
Have fun with your blog.
Know the purpose of your blog and state it somewhere like on an about page. This helps new visitors know what to expect and serves the additional purpose of keep you on topic.
Encourage comments and be sure to participate in the conversation by responding and answering questions promptly.
Remember once you have even one regular follower you’re now a Tribe Leader…conduct yourself accordingly.
Be outrageous…if that’s really your character.
Don’t be salesy…even if that’s really your character.
Don’t use pop ups…they are absolutely annoying…at least I think so.
Sign up all your friends and family to your RSS and tell them you’ll disown them if they don’t read your blog.
Don’t use photos you have not purchased without permission. Getty Images has been known to sue. This is often a costly mistake for those who are not experienced and still trying to learn how to blog.
Use high quality images. Get an account for images with iStock or Getty Images.
Comment on other blogs, but only when you really have something to ad to the community. You’ll start to get traffic to your blog when you’re adding real value to another publishers tribe.
Monitor other sites and make notes about what you like, what other publishers do well, then incorporate it into your site.
When you’re trying to learn how to blog it’s helpful to develop a habit of writing everyday.
Give full credit and a link when you use a quote or excerpt from another person’s publication.
Learn to use the Adobe Creative Suite until you can afford to outsource image creation.
Microsoft Powerpoint and Apple Keynote can be used to produce high quality web images, and buttons for your site.
Get content and title ideas from the cover of magazines laying around your home. This is a good idea for those still trying to learn to blog as well as the experienced.
Repurpose your content by turning a blog post into a video, Slideshare, Podcast, etc.
Teach your tribe every tip and trick you know. If you don’t someone else will. (Click to Tweet)
Experiment with a wide variety of content matter when you first start to learn how to blog. Narrow your subject matter once you find your voice and what your readers are interested in.
Use Google Analytics to monitor which post get the most page views and have the lowest bounce rates. WordPress also has a stat feature that’s currently free for this.
Keep in mind you’re a resource for your tribe so link to lot’s of useful, cool, and hard to find stuff. This is useful advice for anyone who is just starting to learn how to blog because by linking to other blogs you will grab the attention of other publishers and they may reciprocate with a link back to your site.
Don’t get discouraged, write even if people are not reading your blog. If you don’t give up you’ll eventually have a body of work that might one day be appreciated. Think Picasso.
Seek inspiration from your favorite publishers.
Work on your blog architecture everyday adding a tweak here and a tweak there. It’s a marathon not a sprint you don’t have to have it all out the gate.
Put social media buttons on your site so the content is easy to share.
Produce evergreen content that has no expiration date, so it’s relevant for decades and beyond.
Write about really famous people who get searched a lot and tie their story to your niche or topic. By really famous I mean people like Einstein, Muhammad Ali, Edison, or Lincoln who’s popularity will likely always have some relevance in society.
When you first start to learn how to blog find ways to write about popular brands like Apple, Starbucks, and Google, and Nike, or even your favorite restaurant chain. Notify these brands via their social media channels about your post and they will certainly broadcast the free positive publicity.
Ask your readers to comment. Please complete the comment section below with any other blogging tips or advice for what’s working for you. (See I’m taking my own advice).
Use a spread sheet to keep track of the content you produce, your site persona’s, and any other notes you find helpful about your post. You’ll find this helpful even when you’re no longer a novice still trying to learn how to blog.
Publish a series on particular days. This let’s your readers know when they can check back in. For example I’m currently doing a Tuesday series on content marketing.
Make your series or pillar content easy to find by putting links either in the header or side bar.
Design a spectacular image to highlight your series and pillar content.
Use Google Trends to discover content ideas. Type a keyword phrase into the search box and poof instant ideas based on what web surfers are actually searching for and with the exact phrases they are using to search.
Schedule specific times to write. When you do try and write two or three post at a time, and schedule them for release in the future.
Publish list (like this one). Each item on a list has the potential to stand on it’s own as a unique post in a series.
Comments: If no-one or just a few are commenting don’t worry. It does not mean that your post are not being read. Most people don’t comment on the blogs they read. Sites with lots of comments are getting very large numbers of visitors each day.
Instead of relying on comments to gauge interest regularly check your Google Analytics report. Specifically look at the number of returning visitors, bounce rate, and time spent on the site.
Blog because you love what you’re doing not because you want to make money at it.
Use your blog to spring board a professional speaking career by putting together talk tracks to your most popular post.
Use your blog to spring board a professional writing career by expanding on your most popular post.
When you start to learn how to blog it’s easy to overlook the critical aspect of page load time. Speed is important for SEO value. Do everything you can to decrease the load time of your blog post. If you’re running self hosted WordPress install WP3 Total Cache the effects are instant and verifiable. Instead of storing photos on your server setup an Amazon Cloud Services account and store all photo’s there.
Put a link to your blog in your email signature.
Put a link to your most popular post in your email signature. When you’re first learning how to blog this can be an easy source of additional traffic to your website.
Put a link to your RSS subscription page in your email signature.
Turn your Tweets or the Tweets of others into a blog post. Example: I love quotes, reading them when others tweet them and tweeting them myself. I eventually will make a post of my favorite tweeted quotes with links back to the blog owners page that tweeted them.
Look for ways to give your Tribe more than they expect. Like I did here…you were expecting only 80 tips but you got 83 (smile)
Welcome to the club. Enjoy your career as a professional publisher. I hope this article was helpful in your endeavor to learn how to blog.
Here are some other places around the web where you can get advice on how to blog and improve your online profile.
This is the second post in my Online Marketing Strategies series. Sorry for the delay in getting this out. Appologies out of the way let’s dive in. Today I’ll discuss developing a solid website or blog strategy. I’ll also do a deep dive for choosing a domain name and a CMS.
You might think deciding on a blog or website platform would be a somewhat elementary part of your plan, but it’s not. Here are a list of things you need to consider when thinking through your plan of action.
What should you use a traditional website or a CMS?
What will your domain name strategy be?
Where will you host your website? Do you need in house support or will the support provided by the hosting company do?
I use a shared hosting plan now because my blog is small. As the blog grows I’m sure that eventually I’ll need a dedicated hosting plan. I also use GoDaddy for this.
Unix, Linux, or Microsoft operating system running on the server?
Domain name strategy
What will your domain name be? There are several things to consider here.
Company or product brand focus
Personal brand focus
Catchy phrase focus
When you’re small I suggest you consider personal branding over the other options. My thought is that I’ll always be Rodney Goldston. However, if I launch a blog under a business name and build content that endevour might go out of business one day. In fact it’s likely (checkout my post on what to do if nine out of ten businesses fail). Although the company might not exist the content might still be relevant. You can move the content but then you’re dealing with branding another site under a different domain.
With that said there are plenty of examples of success in each of these strategies, here are a few.
Keyword branded site:SEOmoz is a website run by Rand Fishkin about SEO it may also be the name of his company I’m not sure.
Personal branded site: Obviously this site uses personal branding, and so does Seth Godin
Catchy phrase site: Erica Napoletano runs Red Head Writing a popular site because her rants are edgy, and helpful (a winning combo).
Content Management Strategy
First you’ll need to decide on using a traditional website or a CMS system. By traditional website I mean a primarily HTML coded site (There is likely not much reason to do this). CMS is short for Content Management System. Most sites today are running on some CMS platform. This site runs on a self hosted version of WordPress.
Other CMS platforms you can consider are Joomla, Typepad, and MovableType. It’s worth noting here that because a website runs on a platform traditionally associated with blogging it does not have to look like a blog or even have a blog on the site.
Great! As part of your overall marketing strategy you’ve made the decision to start blogging and now you’re wondering how to avoid writer’s block. I think this may be what hinders many people the most from starting a blog. Their afraid of not knowing what to write. But most of us don’t wake up in the morning unable to talk, or with nothing at all on our minds. Successful blogging is just about developing a ritual to get those thoughts onto paper or screen.
Keep A Content Backlog and Style Bank
This is the best blogging weapon in my arsenal. I keep a backlog of content I want to write about in Notes on my iPhone/iPad. When ever a concept hits me for a new post I write it there.
Magazines are a great source for content ideas. I’m always scanning magazine covers for catchy titles that I can ad to my backlog. For example I’m looking at the August version of GQ magazine on my desk right now. On the cover reads “32 Pages of The Best Suits, Shoes, Ties, Jackets & Accessories You Need This Fall”. I could take that catchy title and turn it into something like “32 Tips On The Best Social Media Marketing, How To’s, and What Not To’s, You Need For 2013”.
The second thing is to keep a style bank of available post types. Once you realize that there are many ways in which you an create post and content for your blog you’ll never struggle with writers block again.
Keep in mind that a blog post does not have to be a 600 word essay. I’ve read in a lot of places that you should for SEO purposes make a post at least 300 words. My position is that you’re writing for your readers. Sometimes posting a simple quote may be what your readers need. Most of you know I’m a big fan of Seth Godin and often his post are just a few thought provoking paragraphs. Other times he’ll expand on a topic in a longer drawn out post. T
Here are a few post styles and links to sample content to get you started.