As we set about to become a blogger, we will encounter challenges.
Quickly listed, they look like this:
- Exactly what are we doing?
- Do we know everything?
- What must we learn?
- Just how many roles do we have to fill?
- Where do we go for help?
So, right at the start, understand blogging is a big world. Starting out, you won’t know even know what you don’t know. Trust me. You will be learning a lot and still will never know everything. It is just too big and moves too fast.
As a blogger, you will be writing — a lot. Everyone seems to skip this point, so I won’t. Make darn sure you writing is up to snuff. My native language is English, however, I (and you) probably will have material translated into other languages (fun fact: Facebook operated in over 100 different languages). My friend, that means if you have been communicating in text-speak (“lol brb idk”) change your tune. Proper spelling, correct grammar, precise punctuation, and the rest are essential for success. With those tools, you will be able to turn your ideas into useful, valuable pieces of writing, audio, or video that will appeal to your audience.
A hint: there is a particular style to blog writing. I am (more-or-less) using it here. My point is, blogging is not broadcast, print, academic or any style you have learned. The differences are not major, but are important. There are mentors, tutorials, and software that will help you get on track. Be sure to have the specifics in mind before you begin composing.
Now, great writing (I mean it, too) is only the start. Besides creating copy, you will need to fill a multitude of other roles, to-wit: publisher, editor, advertising manager, marketer, photographer, art coordinator, media manager, software engineer, web designer, SEO wizard, statistician, financial coordinator; to name a few.
Serious (dare I say ‘professional’) blogging is a multidisciplinary activity of the first order. If you make the commitment, it may seem like a tidal wave of decisions, choices, and challenges have crashed over you.
Personally, i can’t see how anyone can start and maintain a credible blogging endeavor by one’s self. To this end, I offer these suggestions: Find an assistant, or a virtual assistant. At the least, get some people to watch your back. I have an SEO genius who helps keep me on track; a Pinterest guru who is a whiz; a minister who is one of the best people I have ever met; and others (including an online network who can pitch in when I get in a pinch and need to be put back on track. Most important, I have a tolerant spouse who (for reasons way beyond me) loves me and puts up with all this. (Caution: if this one trips you up, forget blogging and bone up on building personal relationships.)
Oh yeah, SMM
Here’s one that surprised me, so I’ll keep it from surprising you. At the outset, my idea was I’d get myself a website and fill it with wise and philosophical information that would open the doors to peace and understanding among all people and resolve the problems of worldwide hunger and disease. Well, sort of. I filled up several web pages with my magnificent thoughts and solutions to the ills of humanity. And……. Nothing happened.
After two or three tries at this, I finally got the message: “If you build it, they won’t come — unless and until — you go out and bring them.
But, but, but… No.
So my dears, if you are going to have a blog, you will need to wade into the wilds of the internet and bring people in to read, hear, and watch your creations.
How is that done? You advertise.
Don’t panic, the rulers of the cyber universe have made a wonderful accommodation for just you and me. They call it “Social Media Marketing” (SMM) and, as far as we are concerned, it is free.
You ask: How so? Amazingly simple in principle (maybe not so much in practice). We make up all kinds of advertisements for our blogs and articles all put them all over places like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest, e-mail, and so on. All for free.
But we just don’t toss it out there, there is a science to this. We design and craft our posts, websites, and all those SMM ads with a secret ingredient that propels people to come to our pages and seek out what we have created. That secret ingredient is made with a recipe from the kitchens of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
I daresay that, along with high quality content, SEO and SMM are the three pillars to a fantastically successful blogging experience.
Am I serious? Ask Google; a search for “SEO” will bring up over 600 million results. When i am talking about networking and gurus, my best helpers are people with SEO creds and ideas. When I am talking about networking and gurus, my best helpers are people with SEO creds and ideas. Click To Tweet Modesty be gone, I beg these people when I am stuck.
Start your blog: Ideas, seeds and gems
Where do we start? What will we write about? Great questions — fortunately we have a lifetime, education, knowledge, countless experiences and tons of ideas. Be assured;
- these ideas can spawn great prose;
- these seeds can sprout into beautiful blossoms;
- these raw nuggets can be tumbled into gems.
In other words, ‘write about what we know.’ This simple rule can be a life-saver. Celestial mechanics may not likely be our forte’. But cooking a meal, playing a game, teaching a child, solving a problem,or working with a gizmo might be just the ticket for a fantastic article.
Each of us is unique and each has a special story. No-one has heard your story until you get to tell it.
But, before getting too far along, some warnings and cautions are in order. Remember, “safety first.”
Crooks and Distractions
Liars and Thieves
Face the facts: some people will lie, just because that is all they know how to do. These guys are toxic, run from them and don’t look back.
Then too, there are thieves (yeah really) who are after more than money. These crooks have an endless stream of mischief to take anything imaginable: ideas, photos, articles, audiences, websites, URL’s, your personal data, your clients customer date; yeah, and money too. Good fences make good neighbors. The internet is full of bad people. Keep a guard up. (I mean: security, backups, passwords, firewalls, for a start.)
Phones, phonies, and phacebook
More sources of distraction. (Yes, I see it; yes it intended it; no, I don’t have time to fool with fool with some things). While lost money and property are bad; people and things that steal our time and attention are equally grievous. Granted, if the house is on fire, or somebody is ill, then get on it. But, otherwise, keep your focus on the work at hand. I am the world’s worst for getting distracted. A quick fact check can lead to an hour of wandering around the Google-verse. Learn to approtion time, set priorities, manage to-do lists, and stay the heck on task..Learn to apportion time, set priorities, manage to-do lists, and stay the heck on task. Click To Tweet
We all are alloted exactly the same amount of time this yes, to be exact: 12 months, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds. Yes, that is you, me, the president, everybody.
The only difference is how we use it.
Don’t run with rabbits
Distractions can and will wreck our work. Over the history of aviation, distracted or confused pilots have caused countless accidents. Same cockpit rule applies at the keyboard. Think how often you have looked away while your fingers strayed to the wrong key (and it always seems to be a delete, insert or such) and you have just wrecked a perfectly good article; then you discover that ‘undo’ doesn’t.
This has a lot to do with maintaining focus and avoiding distractions. The human mind can spiral off in all directions at once. This is sometimes useful when you are in an idea-generating setting. Sometimes it is called cart-wheeling, or, for the precise, “keyword research”. These mental scavenger hunts can be useful, but not when we are seeking a treasure, aka being creative. There is not much creative about an avalanche or an explosion.
So, when we are writing, we should have collected our ideas and have an idea of where we are heading. Running astray in the middle of a writing session is not something I find productive.
Big Blogging ‘No-No’
Just as you want to avoid distractions and riff-raff, you should not fall victim to your own misguided thoughts. Let’s consider just a few examples of socially unacceptable and politically incorrect blogging behavior.
Be weary of overdoing attention getters. Some devices are great, bold text, italics, H1-H6 headings, nice graphics: cool. However overdoing things like music, pop-up boxes, and such things that nag and chase away readers. My pet peeve is pagination. Even well regarded organizations can’t seem to resist linking endless lists of small segments of information with “Click to Continue” buttons. This material usually turns out to be of low quality (the stuff you would not read if given a reasonable chance to reject it. In other words, it is click-bait, material which serves no purpose but to increase the producer’s click count records, producing a false impression of the site’s popularity. This and other overdone material is considered spam. Really useless material that gives a false impression of popularity and quality.
Word is circulating that Google and other search indexers are working on weeding this kind of material out of their results lists. So, just be warned that you don’t want to get your site into this kind of trouble.
Get a focus
One of the best ideas I ever heard is this: “Know more about the subject at hand than anyone else in the room.” Knowledge is power and information is priceless. These are our raw materials and our finished products. We have the capacity to create amazing, beautiful and wondrous things with just a few dozen characters. But we must be honest and faithful to our goals.
It’s true. People can spot a fake. Sometimes it might take a bit of time, but — sooner or later — they will.
Love, Not money
Blogging is special. Do it for the love or as a calling. Don’t do it as a job — it won’t work. You want lots of money? Get a dentist license. Blogging is special. Do it for the love or as a calling. Don’t do it as a job -- it won’t work. You want lots of money? Get a dentist license. Click To Tweet
If you love it and work at it, the financial side of blogging will take care of itself. If you tackle it as an instant goldmine, you will end up with a pile of dust and a lot of disappointment.
Deliver a message… you should already know the commandments: Valuable, useful, solve a problem.
About problems, they come in all shapes and sizes.
Example: I love my dogs more than I can say. But, when I am writing, they can be an ENORMOUS deistraction. Figure out a humane and kind way to occupy the little guys, and then type.
Money: you can’t blog if you are starving to death. Don’t quit your day job until you are confident that you can keep a roof over your head, body and soul together and your creditors off your back. (IOW don’t climb the high-dive board until you are a good swimmer)
Common sense blogging rules
The laws of nature and business apply for blogging. Just because we might find it new and different, don’t go losing your mind.
Hang on to these no-nonsense rules:
- Trust — But verify
- If it sounds too good to be true, It is.
- There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Perhaps it is harsh, but we can’t afford to believe everything we hear. Before you spend money on anything, do your homework. Read several reviews; then read more; then read all the bad ones you can find. Don’t blindly trust sponsored or affiliate reviewers. Look for starting points like Google; Facebook Groups dedicated to a product or area are great. Quora can be a great source of information. Example: I just switched to Google, entered: “Quora schedule Pinterest” and found references to Tailwind, Traffic Wonker, Viralwoot, Pinpinterest, Oneup, and Hootsuite. You might be familiar with one or another of these; but I’d never heard of any before I got into SMM. These are tools to help in the SEO/SMM process of what I call advertising your blog. If you don’t know about them, you will learn; but not today. The point now is: It pays to research the pros and cons and be an informed purchaser.Perhaps it is harsh, but we can’t afford to believe everything we hear. Click To Tweet
Likewise, bloggers are likely to encounter WordPress.com and WordPress.org and be mystified by the choice. I have used both. Here’s my advice, if you are a rank beginner, try out WordPress.COM. First, it is free. Second, it is a great place to play around and get a taste of the software and the overall experience. Hopefully you will like it and, come the right time, move on to a paid platform. On the other hand, it you find the whole thing a pain, you can get out wiser and without feeling a financial pain.
Just a speck of advice, don’t mortgage the house or sell the pets to finance a blog. These things can get into real money of both kinds (earnings and bills). Not to disparage the many honest and generous folks among us, but there are some capitalist predators among our ranks. Never forget that ‘sounds too good to be true’ warning. When you are considering signing up for a service or such, think ahead. Be sure you will know what it will cost next year, and what other things you might need to make it work correctly. Always educate yourself before you make a commitment.
These business have to make profit to stay open. They may be friendly and snuggly, but they do not exist to save you and me money — cruel maybe; true definitely. Trust me, if you get a free month (or two or three) now, you will pay for it later. Likewise, a great price is worthless if the product/service is down or doesn’t work right.
Thoughts as we blog
Next, we should talk a bit about setting up a web-site and starting an internet blog of your own. There are thousands of bloggers out there just waiting to give you advice on this one. So, give me a second before you dive in. First, everyone’s story is a little different. Many bloggers started out with nothing — no knowledge, no skill, no ideas. With trial and error balanced with lots of effort, many were able to assemble themselves productive blogs. Others, struggled and eventually gave up. These days, there are more bloggers, more competition, more to keep track of. But, I believe you can still follow the DIY path. On the other hand, many of the pioneers are offering classes (from broadly scoped to narrowly focused) on everything bloggish. You pay the money, they teach you the stuff.
As always, seek out information and the experiences of others before you start keying in credit card numbers. One caution for your list: the whole blogging industry is wide open and unregulated. It is something like the wild-west (digital edition). One caution for your list: the whole blogging industry is wide open and unregulated. It is something like the wild-west (digital edition). Click To TweetThere is no particular regulation scheme of web hosts, software, SEO practices, or mandated quality standards. In other words, it is the free market on steroids. There are government regulations requiring us to warn our visitors about our use of ‘cookies’. It is easy to comply with this one for us. We show the warning, the viewer clicks “OK”. Easy-peasy, and I think totally pointless.
Privately, just between us, I don’t think the government has any idea of what is going on in the world of bloggers; much less, any clue of how to regulate or manage the whole thing; and fortunately, it has no particular interest in finding out how to do it. (end of my libertarian rant)
Those who think and really care about quality, ethics, and professionalism have assembled all kinds of best practices and standards to help protect and guide us. None of these are mandatory, but all I have seen are well intended. Like so much in the internet, there is room for everybody and you can choose the hat you wear, be it white, black, or tutti-frutti. People who want to be good and play by the rules, will. People who don’t, won’t. So, pick your own crowd: good, bad, or gawkers. We see them all.
Our community ranges from the fastidious, perfectionistic, SEO-conscious, heroes all the way across the spectrum to the consummate, boiler room, AI-driven super-spammers. In the cyber social scene, “spam” is a four-letter word of the first order. Broken-links, crummy copy, and seo-stuffed keywords will hurt the creator, but a spammer infects the entire web until it eventually brings digital destruction to its purveyor.
So, shall we blog?
Let’s be a bit personal, you wouldn’t have read to here if you weren’t sincerely interested in blogging. In my heart, I believe the big blog billion is just a bit more likely than winning the mega-million lottery. So, what’s the point? Like our forerunners, we should be doing this for the pleasure, for the creative outlet, for the chance to benefit others. Then, hopefully, we can produce an income which could support our site and pay for its expenses. Or, perhaps, generate a supplemental income of some sort for us.
One way to make the journey better is to network with a tribe, or flock, or comrades. All in all, there are a lot of nice, friendly, good people to be found in the blogosphere. In my experience, they ask nothing from you, but still love to help and give advice.All in all, there are a lot of nice, friendly, good people to be found in the blogosphere. In my experience, they ask nothing from you, but still love to help and give advice. Click To Tweet
Finally, if you share the desire to seek quality, play by the rules and be a good faith bargainer, you can also join us as we get started with a new Pinterest community we call Better Blogs. Pay us a visit.