30 days ago I had a problem: I have a vast amount of experience in my career field, but I was just another face in the crowd.
What could I do to make me and my skills stand out? Build a great resume? Nope. That is outdated and just doesn’t have the oomph that I was looking for. Network like crazy? Nope. While networking is a must do, it is definitely not my strong suite…I am the introvert of all introverts.
I would just get lost in the crowd.
What can I do to fix this problem? There is this one skill that people say I possess, although I don’t see it, people tell me it is there. Can I harness this power to fix my problem? Writing. Is that the answer to the problem? I pondered this for months – how can writing help me get above the crowd so I can showcase my skills in my career field?
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I can start a blog.
I realized that I can write about my experiences in leadership, productivity, and personal growth. I can talk about my accomplishments in my career field…in a never ending stream of posts.
Better yet, the posts will live on forever and ever. It is a place that I could send people to that want to learn more about me. People may even just stumble across me. A blog is something different. A better communication tool than a resume…more intimate than social media.
So, I started a blog, just 30 short days ago. I started it just as a platform to help me grow in my career field. Just another weapon to use in networking and showcasing my abilities.
But something funny happened after I started building the site and writing the content. I absolutely loved it! The thrill of writing content and actually getting my ideas to paper. How exhilarating and liberating?
My goals have shifted. I wanted this blog to become more than just a career field growth vehicle. I wanted to become a writer. I wanted to use the blog to build a platform.
Over the years people have always commented on my writings. I never agreed. I never thought I was a good writer. My blog is starting to change my view on that. I am getting more comfortable in my writing abilities.
I love blogging and I gotta tell you, this blogging stuff is hard work! Where else can you go to write about whatever fancies you? From dogs and cats to planes and trains…there’s a blog for that! It such a wonderful community to partake in. I am a newbie to the blogging world and what a ride it has been so far.
I want to win at blogging. I knew that it entailed more than just great content. There is a whole process to this madness. I had to learn all that I could and start applying great techniques to complement great content. I have learned so much in the last 30 days that I’m afraid my noggin is gonna explode! This only the beginning and I have so much more to learn.
10 Lessons Learned in Those First 30 Days
1. Define the purpose
Know why you are blogging. Are you blogging for fun, or as a hobby? Do you want to build a platform? Do you want to monetize your blog? This all plays a part on how you build your blog. Each one has their own strategy as to how your approach your blog.
2. Learn the art and find mentors
Blogging is writing and writing is an art. As with any art form, the creator must learn, nurture, and grow their talents to produce the most effective art. Blogging is also more than just writing. It’s about building a platform so your art will be properly displayed among the masses.
Blogging is like packaging your art in a beautiful container…when the reader opens the package, your content just wows the socks off them. Learn the ins and outs of making great content, how to package that content, and how to build your audience.
One of the best ways to learn is to find great mentors. A mentor doesn’t have to be someone you know personally. To me a great
mentor is somebody already doing/being something I want to do/be.
Study that person and replicate what is working for them. I’m not saying copy them to a tee, but look at what worked for them and adapt it to work for you. Here are three blogs that I follow closely:
3. Design first
Content is king and always will be. But, design is queen. So, if content is king and design is queen, why should design be first?
If readers can’t get past your design, then they can’t get to your content. This works both ways. You can have a killer design, that just drowns out your content or have a horrible design and no one sticks around long enough to read your content. Your design should complement your content.
Think Apple packaging – pretty packaging, but not prettier than the contents within.
4. Content second
Content is what is going to drive traffic to your site. You have something important to say, and the audience wants to listen. Build it and they will come, but only if you offer something of value to them. Learn how to write for the web. It is a different reading environment. Web readers are less intimate until something catches their attention. Research shows that people typically scan posts. So keep your posts scanable, use shorter sentences, and smaller words. This is something that I am working on to get better at.
5. Pick a good theme
This goes back to the design point above. A good theme can make or break your website in terms of traffic. Good design that complements your content (along with good content) will keep your readers engaged. However, what really needs to drive your choice of themes is SEO. Is the theme optimized for SEO? If not, you could be losing out on lots of traffic.
See this article here from TentBlogger to see the effects of a theme not optimized for SEO. Personally, I use the Standard theme from 8BIT and love it!
6. Use good pictures
Pictures are worth a thousand words and add to the readers perception of your blogs. A great picture that relates to the content enhances your writing. A great picture will help your readers visualize what they are reading.
Stay away from cliché pictures. Use something that will engage your readers beyond the words on the page.
7. Don’t forget the about me page
About me pages are some of the most often visited pages on blogs. If you think about this, it makes total sense. When you want to learn more about the blog you are reading, or the person writing the blog, you visit their about me page.
Yet, this page is the most overlooked opportunity by bloggers, newbies and veterans alike.Your about me page doesn’t have to be viewed as just another obligation, or best practice standard. In fact, it shouldn’t be viewed as obligatory. Your about me page provides the following opportunities:
- Tell them about your blog
- Set the tone and expectations
- Tell them about yourself
- Invite them to subscribe
- Showcase your top posts
The possibilities are endless. Treat your about me page as a good opportunity to reach your readers and update it often. Check out Michael Hyatt’s “10 Ways to Create a Better “About Page” for Your Blog” or TentBlogger’s “Making the Best ‘About’ Page for Your Blog Ever!” for more information about creating an awesome about me page.
8. Make it easy to subscribe
Your readers don’t always want to come back to your website to get new posts. Allow them to subscribe to get your latest posts through email or a RSS reader. This function needs to be very easy for the reader to get to and complete. Otherwise, they will just bounce off the page and be gone forever.
Consider having a way to subscribe in multiple places on each page. One in the upper right hand corner and somewhere in the sidebar usually works well enough. You may even consider adding a subscription landing page. Here is a good article from TentBlogger on building a subscribe page.
9. Forget the metrics
Forget the metrics….for now. Don’t focus on the metrics early on in your blogging life. The numbers are never pretty and can easily be discouraging. Here are my metrics 30 days into blogging:
I have read that my bounce rate and average visitor duration are okay, but I don’t know that to be a fact. I currently have 25 RSS subscribers and 11 e-mail subscribers. My numbers are horrible. And that’s okay. I am just starting out and considering that I was on goose eggs across the board 30 days ago…I am making progress.
Most importantly, I am having a blast. Point being, don’t focus on the metrics just yet. Give your site and yourself time to mature a bit.
Blogging is hard work. It is not for the weak and weary. Some days are easier than others. You have to consistently write great content, while learning the ins and outs of the blogging world. Just keep plugging away.
Most people quite right before they reach the promised land. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
There you have it. What I learned in my first 30 days of blogging…at least some of the more important lessons anyway. Blogging is a great learning experience. If you’re on the sideline I urge you to jump in the pool…the water is great! If you’re already swimming with the rest of us, never stop learning and keeping typing away!
What lessons have you learned while blogging? What advice would you give to beginners like me?