Entering the world of online blogging, especially if you’re hoping to quit your day job, can be terrifying.
Sure, launching your own content in an area you genuinely care about is exciting. And of course you’re enthusiastic. Every new blogger believes that they can make a difference. With a genuine love for language, you eagerly open a blank page and begin.
Then, reality sets in.
According to recent data, there are over 152 billion blogs online. And it is estimated that a new blog is created every half second. That’s 172,800 new blogs daily.
On top of that, a mere 13 percent of even select writers like ProBlogger readers earn over $500 a month.
Image Credit: Lifehackers
So, how do you rise above this basic-blogger noise to fulfill your dreams of becoming truly outstanding? Here are five proven steps.
If you’re like most writers, you’re fueled by passion. Sometimes that works. Often, however, you need more structure and substance to create the kind of compelling posts that keeps your audience coming back for more.
Specifically, if blogging is a core component of your marketing plan, you need to be strategic with your publishing efforts.
“One of the most important parts of starting a successful blog that many fail to consider is hammering out core objectives from the start,” writes Brian Honigman, the CEO of Honigman Media.
Start by figuring out the general purpose of your blog. Is it going to be a sales tool, a branding platform, both, or something else?
Then link this qualitative purpose to quantitative metrics (or KPIs), such as email subscribers and conversions. What numbers accurately reflect the performance of your blog and long-term success?
If, for instance, your blog is primarily used as a sales tool – think HubSpot, Zapier or CoSchedule – you might be more interested in the number of eBook downloads and the rate of subscribers to customers than the number of user comments or vanity metrics like traffic and social shares.
Understanding your blogging objectives will clarify your vision, guide your website design, and allow you to create a focused – and flexible – editorial calendar that keeps you on track.
How many times have you grumbled about your inability to come up with blog post ideas? Drumming up high-quality ideas on a consistent basis is an everyday battle.
You are not alone.
You can run a successful blog with your own thoughts, yes. But only for a while. Eventually, you run out of steam. When that day comes, you’ll need ideas, knowledge and fresh direction.
That’s where your peers come in.
Content marketing platforms like MyBlogU lets you “crowdsource your EPIC content ideas” and brainstorm with other real people in your niche. Mutually exchanging your expertise and experience allows the community to progress, as a whole, and simultaneously strengthens your personal brand. Platforms like ClearVoice allow you to build relationships and find top notch writers for various projects, tools to help with your writing such as “Idea Lab” and editorial calendar and premium curated content suggestions.
Additionally, reverse-engineering your content is another proven method. Use tools like SearchReddit to find out what’s already working and content curation sites like to discover and collect newsworthy insights.
By harnessing the power of collaboration, you’re guaranteed less pain and more posting.
Remember when “blogging” was centered on pop-culture, personal stories, and a few bits of politics? Before the world realized the potential power of blogs, bloggers wrote insanely self-focused, opinion-driven pieces.
Then the lightbulb flashed on and blogging became a team sport.
The ever-increasing popularity of sites like Quora and Reddit reaffirm the influence and significance of communities in today’s blogosphere. Driven by the interests and preferences of their users, collaborative platforms have become a staple of ‘new age’ journalism and a viable means to reinforce your brand. Take advantage of them in order to improve your visibility, establish yourself as an authority, conduct research, and even find jobs.
The tools you use are equally important. Memit, for instance, is a new collection and collaboration tool that incorporates the clipping and curation features of apps like Evernote, Readability, and Pocket. This difference with memit, however, is two-fold. First, memit integrates directly with whatever cloud platform you already use to automatically create a digital copy of whatever you “meme.” Second, by creating shared collections you can invite team members and co-collaborates into your creative process itself.
Blogging is no longer a solo pursuit. Stop being a recluse and embrace collaboration to grow your business.
The blogosphere is changing quickly and sinking your teeth into a competitive edge is the only way to survive.
If you want breakout as a blogger, you need to keep your subscribers on their toes. Invigorate them with your imagination, delight them with your diversity, provoke them with your passion.
Twitter’s “screenshorts,” for instance, is a rising phenomenon that is being popularized by celebrities and millennials to work around the Twitter character count. By ‘screenshotting’ and sharing a chunk of text as an image on Twitter, you can stand out from the endless stream of boring links, instantly grabbing the attention of your followers.
Also, involve your audience in the content creation process itself. When in doubt about what to write, just ask. Doing so will make your market feel special and position you as a compassionate blogger who cares about your audience’s desires.
Even the best content will be in vain if it isn’t housed in a website that is quick to load, simple to navigate, and easy on the eyes. Over 60 percent of shoppers do not trust a brand with an unprofessional looking website.
But strategic web design goes beyond catchy graphics and cute fonts. Your website is your brand’s strongest asset. It should, ideally, tell your story and enthrall your audience from the moment they walk in.
With the varying devices and screen sizes, there is a tendency for blog images and other content to display differently, sometimes appearing in the wrong places. “Blogs are often ridden with too much images, links and text on the wrong track” says John Rampton, the CEO of Adogy. “You risk frustrating your readers, and they will leave because of too much noise. Be clear and concise”, he adds. Sometimes, less is more.
Every business is different. There is no one formula to create a website that captivates and converts. But a clean interface is certainly more effective and enjoyable than a cluttered site with too many trappings.
This meaning erring on the side of simplicity. Above all, stay true to your brand’s personality.
You’re ready for awesomeness
Blogging is still a massively powerful platform. But be warned: the blogosphere is noisy.
By getting organized, educated, connected, fierce and visual, your voice can be heard – loud and clear – above this crowd.
What are some of your favorite ways to shine as a blogger?
Read next: The science behind viral content
Read next: How to measure video ROI: A beginner’s guide