I have to admit it. I didn't have a clue when I first started blogging.
Most of this comes down to the fact that I didn't have a goal. The UK had just been locked down for the first time and I suddenly had some more free time on my hands. I decided to give this blog, that I had been dabbling with for a few weeks, a real go. Why not?
When I look back, I can't help cringing at my naivety. My waffley blogs, with no aim or audience in mind, with a non-existent promotion plan. Unsurprisingly, I didn't get a huge amount of feedback from my readers.
Its important to remember where you started, to really appreciate how you have grown. In a world that is increasingly been filled with new ways of working and side hustles, the blogging world is getting more and more attractive. So today, I thought I'd share the top 5 lessons that I wish I'd known when I started. Let the blogging begin!
1. Forget about niches, know your audience
When you start blogging, the advice that is consistently drummed into you is to pick a niche and stick to it.
This is valid advice. It means that you have a focus and are able to consistently produce content that you are passionate about. However, over time, I have found that it is more important to know your audience.
If you know who you are speaking too, the writing process becomes far simpler and you don't feel overly restricted with your content.
You want to become intimately familiar with your audience. Create an ideal reader avatar. Think about where this reader lives? Are they are a specific gender or age? What are their hobbies? What are their values? What are they likely to share on their social media?
Once nailed, ensure that your content plan revolves around this reader and you are good to get cracking.
2. Your blog needs to provide real value
This is a simple yet often overlooked concept.
What is defined as valuable really depends on your audience. Sure, you may have some hardcore readers, that will pretty much read anything you write (shout out to mine!). But this is likely to be a fairly small number of people. You should aim for everyone that falls within your target audience, and perhaps even some out with this group, to find something of value in your blog.
Think of the common problems that your audience may have and try to solve them. This can be in the form of recommendations, behind the scenes, how to's or breaking down complex topics.
Sometimes, it can just be as simple as providing some much-needed encouragement or inspiration on whatever you do best.
This is something I am still working on myself. So please do leave a comment below on what you would like to see more of. Asking your audience is a great tip!
3. Its 20% blogging & 80% promotion
When I started blogging, I was putting all my time and effort into writing the blog and next to no time in promoting it. This was my biggest error.
In these competitive times, one social share per blog is not enough. That doesn't mean you have to be across every social media channel. Pick the ones that your audience is most likely to hang out in and dedicate your effort there. You want to ensure that your social media content provides value in itself, as well as elevating your blog.
Creating a promotion plan for each blog is vital. I've found that this is the only way I can remain consistent and engaging. Rather than writing social media captions on the spot, I have all of my posts scheduled. I've recently moved to using Tailwind, which can schedule Instagram and Pinterest posts automatically. Gamechanger!
4. How to hook your audience
Promotion is all well and good, but how can you ensure that people actually click through to read your blog?
Titles are key. They should be intriguing and informative. Avoid over flowery titles that sound lovely but don't give potential readers any idea on what your blog is about. Make it clear how this blog will provide value. They want to know that clicking on your blog will be worth their time.
Once your audience is in, you want to keep them there. Ensure they are not confronted with a big block of text. Break your writing up into small paragraphs and include high-quality photos wherever possible. Include links to your other content where relevant. Keep key information until the end of the blog. Make it as easy as possible for readers to engage with your content.
Timing of posting is also important. Experiment and figure out what times work best with your audience. Review your analytics carefully and adapt where relevant. You want to ensure that when you post, you are able to set aside time to engage with your audience and promptly respond to any comments. No one wants to post and ghost!
5. Experiment and persevere
This is perhaps the hardest lesson of all.
It can be excruciating to spend hours crafting the perfect blog, for no one to actually read it. Our instinct is to take this personally. It may even put you off blogging entirely.
It is important to separate yourself from your blog. Avoid getting emotional and dig into the data. Note what your readers tend to respond well too and also what they don't. Experiment with different content and shake up your promotion schedules.
Most of all, remember to have fun! Blogging has brought so much value into my life and I'm sure there will be plenty of lessons I am yet to learn. Bring on another year!