I’ve got ADD and my mind goes a 100 miles per second in multiple directions. So while this is a great list, it is not in any particular order. Here are several steps to take your from being an average blogger to a blogger worthy of following and eventually an A-List blogger.
1. Focus. Many of us have mutiple blogs and as I set my goals for 2008, I decided to list all of the blogs that I contribute to regularly (or attempt to), those that are (or were) on the cusp of launching, and those that were visions or dreams. I decided that I was not happy with any of my progress for last year, granted I had good excuses (taking care of my wife who had some health challenges, switching companies, and moving cross country), but the bottom line is that if I had been more focused and didnt get side tracked by things like a lame blog contest, I would have had found the time and had much better results than what I had for 2007. It’s not like I had no down time at all, I just didn’t prepare and wasn’t focused enough. If you have more than one blog, you might reconsider putting some aside to focus on building your brand in a niche with one blog before moving on.
2. Set goals. Like anything else, you have to know what you are shooting for. Most people don’t aim at anything, so they don’t know if they succeeded or not, or at least not in a quantifiable way. Look at your stats – do you want more visitors? subscribers? readers? in bound links? Social Media involvement? Do you want to post more frequently? Solicit more comments? Whatever your goals are have to start with the benchmarks of where you are, and a game plan to get where you want to go.
3. Find resources outside of yourself. Perhaps you are a writer, but not a technical person, or perhaps you are a technical person but you are not a writer, perhaps you are not organized, or perhaps you just need more contributing authors (i.e. guest bloggers). Reach out in the blogging community or in your field of expertise and you will surely find the resources that you need. Keep in mind that when you find the right people, you can end up with synergy, where the sum of the combined efforts is greater than the effort of the individuals separately.
4. Check your passion meter. I will admit, I almost shut down one of my blogs, not because I lacked passion, but because I lacked resources. I realized that it was because of my passion for that market that I wanted to keep blogging in that particular niche. People can recognize a passionate blogger.
5. Make News. Interview someone in your industry, attend an event and “live blog” it. Then get it out to your network of colleagues and fellow bloggers as well as social media network(s). Before long, you will be on the cutting edge of blogging.
6. Keep your ears open. Many times when I am sitting in a meeting, people will think I am taking notes about the meeting, but what is really happening is that I am developing ideas for a blog. Most blogging comes from real life. When one of those ideas hits you, WRITE IT DOWN, or use a pocket recorder, text it to yourself, email it to yourself, or whatever method of communication you have available so you don’t forget your ideas.
7. Reflect on your day. If you find yourself running out of content, assuming you blog on an industry you are involved in, take 15 minutes in a quiet place (no cell phone) and just think of all of the happenings of the day related to your topic. Next think of a spin for the story, and go for it.
8. Plan your blog posts. Kind of like a marketing calendar, I recommend planning out your articles. I started keeping a running list of what I want to write, what I have written and what is live in a spreadsheet. You can have a few “any day” type articles for those days where you just don’t have enough to post, and supplement with daily happenings in your industry. Holidays are great events to make news about. Try to find some random fact related to the holiday that you can apply to the needs of your audience.
9. Watch (or listen to, or read) the news to see what is new in your industry. Be first to cover it and let everyone know about your post; then every else covering it will be following you. The more you can do this, the more you will be seen as a thought leader in your field.
10. WOW Them. Don’t use a standard boring template. I know, I’ve got one, but I always say my saving grace is that it’s the same one that Google’s Matt Cutts uses, so that buys me some time, but I am definitely due for a face lift. I am not a designer, so I am open to offers and will gladly discuss a barter arrangement for whoever want to discuss create some sexy WordPress template for me (you would get some PR and some free SEO services in exchange).
11. Make sure people can sign up for your blog by email. Not everyone likes to subscribe to traditional RSS feeds, not sure why, but I am one of those folks. I will subscribe to a blog by email however and using Feedburner is a great way to add the box that is so familiar to people. In fact, those not familiar with blogging or RSS feeds will think they are just subscribing to a newsletter, and in a sense they are. This isn’t to say not to use RSS feeds – definitely don’t leave them out.
12. Network. This is a key to success in every arena in life. Network with other bloggers in your field. Subscribe to their blogs, read their blogs, interact with their blogs, post comments on their blogs, link to thier blogs, and look for ways to guest blog on their blogs.
13. Get plugged into Social Media Networks. The results can be huge. Don’t just show up, submit your site and expect to see something. It’s like any other relationship; you wouldn’t meet someone at a conference and then ask for a favor – or would you? As you are starting out, try to find people that share common interests, or people in your local area. Check out their sites and rate/review them before asking them to do the same for you. I know many people have written on this topic and I as I was writing this, I decided I would expand it into a later blog post on Social Networking.
14. Use MyBlogLog. Now owned by Yahoo, it is a Social Community exclusively for bloggers and you can meet some great folks there and network with others in your field – including some A List bloggers. Feel free to visit my MyBlogLog page and join my network.
15. Be a real person. Use a picture so people have more of an idea who they are dealing with.
16. Blog OFTEN and consistently. The more content you produce, the higher likelihood that your articles will attract attention. Also, frequent posting helps generate lots of pages for your blog; which the search engines will like. Don’t forget to use a spell checker
If you are just getting started, this may seem like a lot. Feel free to ask questions, or post a comment and I will reply. IF you have been at it for a while, let me know which suggestions were helpful in getting you to the next level.
Until next time…
Anthony a.k.a. Old School