You don’t aim for popularity!
Nope, you don’t blog just to build a popular blog.
You blog for meaning. For impact.
You blog to make a difference.
You blog to help others and to serve.
Don’t create a popular blog.
Create a blog that matters, and people will come.
My blogging journey.
I’ve been blogging for a little over two years now. With 1,000 readers and 10,000 monthly views, I wouldn’t say I have a popular blog, but I do have passionate readers – you.
And from time to time I get questions about what I did to build up my blog.
Here are 10 tips to help you start your own blogging journey towards a popular blog that matters.
1. Be passionate about writing (or creating).
This is my number-one tip, and you know what? No one tells you this. If you read all the blogs that tell you how to blog well, not one says that you should have an interest in or a passion for writing.
If you don’t like to write, think twice about blogging because it requires a lot of writing. At a minimum, I’ve written 200,000 words on my blog and in guest posts. That doesn’t include comments, emails and “about” pages!
What if you don’t like to write? You can still become a great blogger if you enjoy creating. That means podcasts, videos, photos or other creative ways of sharing your content.
If you’re not a natural writer and don’t like to write, you can still blog if you commit to becoming a better writer. Commit everyday to building this skill. Put in the hours and practice writing.
2. Know your “why.”
Simply put, have a message. Even if you don’t know what your message is, know that you must develop one to build up your blog. You can’t stand among the thousands of blogs out there without standing up for something, without saying what you believe.
It took me awhile to develop my message, which started as spirituality and ended at resilience. My blog’s initial premise was that you could start your spiritual journey today without moving to the Himalayas.
Today, my message is that you can make a comeback in life no matter how bad things get. In the dark of night or the depths of your darkest hour, hope and light exist.
I developed this message because it paralleled my own life. During my darkest and most difficult hour, after my marriage ended, I had a meltdown that inspired this blog. Today I’m able to share this message with others who are in similar places, whether in their careers, relationships or lives.
You will take weeks, months or possibly years to develop a message. Be patient while you craft it.
3. Pick a niche or topic you’re passionate about.
Blogging is hard work. You’re writing, almost always alone, for hours at a time. Just you, your computer, your thoughts and your writing. If you pick a topic you’re not excited about, you’ll get bored quickly and simply give up.
I love blogging because I love the topic I’m writing about: resilience, getting back up, finding your meaning in life, living your purpose. I love it because I can share a message with people who need to hear it. I can share a message with people who are in life-crushing situations and who need hope and encouragement.
It’s difficult for me to write posts on topics and subjects I don’t care about.
Sometimes you have to do work you don’t care about – like your day job. But blogging should be your “passion” business, so focus more on the passion than the business.
Of course, if you don’t have a day job or another means of earning a living, and your service-based business is completely online, you must make money doing work that you may not feel passionate about. My suggestion, then, is to get closer to the intersection of pursuing your passion and earning a living.
4. Guest post.
There are no two ways about it. You have to guest post to grow your blog.
When I publish new content, no matter how great I think it is, I never receive immediate responses or subscribers. Sure, you may have found one of my posts a few weeks or months after I wrote it, but you didn’t find it on the day I published it.
Likely, the way that you, as a new reader, found my blog was by reading an article I wrote on another blog. The best and most effective way I’ve grown my blog is by guest posting. Guest posting requires that you up your game – writing effective, high-quality content for popular blogs.
5. Make friends and get social.
To be successful as a blogger, you need a tribe of readers, followers and allies.
People will NOT simply visit because you’ve built up your blog. You will have to invite them. Let them know you exist.
In addition to guest blogging, I’ve found that these four strategies work.
Use social media to meet and connect with people in your niche. Interact with them on Twitter, share their content on Facebook and +1 their posts on Google +. Add, follow and engage your friends on social media.
Comment on other people’s blogs. If you’ve found a blogger you’d like to connect with, comment on his or her blog. Without question, the blogger will click back on your blog to learn more about you. Provide smart and insightful comments to help make the blogger’s posts even better. Other commenters and readers will also read your comment and possibly check out your page.
Email people. I’ve met some of my readers and other bloggers simply by emailing them or responding to their emails about a post that I wrote or a question they had. Email still works in terms of building relationships and meeting new people.
Meet bloggers in person. I’ve met a handful of bloggers in person through meetups, lunches and other get-togethers. If you get a chance, take the opportunity to meet a blogger in person. Don’t let your relationships always be cyber ones – bloggers are real people, too.
6. Listen to your audience.
Your audience has questions, problems and challenges. They’re willing to share their struggles with you. Be willing to listen to what they say.
Pay special attention to reader emails and questions. If you get a question repeatedly, respond to the asker by email, but also write a post addressing the question so that you can deliver your response to a bigger audience.
Survey your audience. Use Survey Monkey and send a survey to your readers, asking them about their challenges and problems. If you’re thinking about writing a book or designing a course, find out how interested in it they would be.
Your readers will willingly share their opinions and thoughts with you.
7. Work on becoming a better blogger.
Blogging, like anything else in life, is a process that takes time and practice. Here are four mini-tips on becoming a better blogger.
Learn more. So many free resources are available online to help you become a better blogger. Three sites that I read regularly are Unmistable Creative, the Middle Finger Project and Social Unmistakable Creative, The Middle Finger Project and Social Triggers. I like these blogs because they dispense free, practical tips that help me improve my blog.
Get inspired. Read and follow not only blogs that help you blog better, but also those that inspire you. Know where you’re going and what you’re trying to build. From the very beginning, three blogs have inspired me: Zen Habits, Becoming Minimalist and Tiny Buddha.
These blogs focus on topics different from mine, but they still inspire me to blog better (and, hey, even live better!). These popular blogs had strong messages that impacted people’s lives.
Collect ideas. Blog topics come from brainstorming sessions and inspiration, so always be on the lookout for ideas. Keep a journal to write down ideas when they pop up.
Your best ideas and thoughts will come to you at the most random moments.
Edit. Don’t just write a piece and hit the “publish” button. Take the time to review, edit and improve your post. If you have the funds, hire an editor to proofread and edit for grammar and spelling, and to ensure that the post makes sense.
8. Commit to the long-term.
There’s no such thing as overnight success in the blog world. Success requires relationships and blockbuster content. All of this takes time to build and create.
Are you willing to blog for the long haul? Will you spend the hours necessary to churn out content? Are you willing to put your passion to the test? Will you put yourself out there for responses (some nice and some not so nice) from your readers?
Are you willing to sacrifice several hours a week for your blog? Willing to wake up early to write, spend Friday evenings responding to readers and take all weekend working on your dreams?
9. Be helpful, generous and different.
Help and serve your audience. Solve your readers’ problems. Provide content your audience needs. If one reader has a challenge, others who come to your blog will have similar challenges.
Give generously. As a blogger, you have the opportunity to give to people on a regular basis. Freely share as much content as you’re comfortable with.
Reduce the number of ads and hindrances on your blog. Remove pop-ups and invitations for people to subscribe. Yes, such invitations are effective, but they’re also annoying.
Give by sharing other people’s content generously. Tweet a blogger’s post that you liked, or share it on your Facebook page. Keep up with blogs that you enjoy reading. Add value by leaving a comment. Show support by being there for your blogger pals.
Be different. Don’t be just another blog on the Internet. Don’t be another raincoat, umbrella or bowl of chocolate-flavored ice-cream. Be known for something. Differentiate yourself in some way so that your blog stands out in the crowded blogosphere.
Use excellent photos that you take yourself.
Write thought-provoking content, or write about topics that no one else covers.
Be personable, humorous or vulnerable in your writing. (And, this goes without saying, always be yourself.)
Find a way to stand out.
You can read articles like this from today until the next century, and still one thing won’t change: you’ll still be waiting to build up your blog.
I have one suggestion for people who aren’t sure whether they should blog. It’s what I did. Write 10 posts about the topic that interests you. No, you won’t get feedback and you won’t get comments, but you’ll prove to yourself that you can write 10 articles. If you’re able to write 10 articles and not hate the experience, you’re ready to blog.
1) Brainstorm, check and buy a domain name for your blog.
2) Get hosting services through Bluehost. (It’s affordable, reliable and the hosting that I use for Vishnu’s Virtues.) You can click here for a free blog name and 50% discount on Bluehost hosting.
3) Pick a theme like Thesis (the one I use for my blog) or Genesis (many bloggers recommend this one.)
4) Write content and click “publish.”
And, of course, let me know that you’ve started blogging. I try to keep up with as many of my readers’ blogs as I have time for. Send me a tweet on Twitter or email me using the contact form at the bottom of my blog. I’d love to check out what you’re creating.
Photo Credit Ron Cogswell and Upslon