As we rolled into 2012, my main blog Pocket Changed turned one year old. (No, there wasn’t a party or even a solitary candle on a cupcake.)
In honor of the first year, I looked back at 14 Lessons I Learned From Blogging, but a few weeks later I’ve realized there are even more lessons that I didn’t cover in that post that shouldn’t go unshared.
This post will add six more key lessons and delve deeper into the what you can learn from the last 13 months I’ve spent blogging.
Let’s jump right in.
1. If you genuinely help others, they will help you.
This lesson was brought up by Jeffrey Trull in the comments of the previous post and it is definitely true. When you are just getting started with your blog it is easy to publish something that you think is sliced bread reincarnate, hop up on your social media soapbox, and pray that people will start to listen.
Instead what you should be doing is reaching out to other bloggers and creating connections based on things you do for them, while expecting nothing in return. Feature them in your content like this. Write guest posts for them that are extremely targeted to their audience. Interview them on your site and get their name in front of more people.
Help others BEFORE you ask for something from them. They will be more likely to return the favor.
2. Don’t wait for the right moment to start.
If you are waiting for the right time to start a blog, that day is today. Almost every blogger that I’ve talked to has mentioned that they wish they had started sooner. Yes, you need a proper launch plan, a specific unique selling proposition (see #4), and energy to dedicate to it, but don’t waste too much time waiting and “learning” (i.e. just reading blog posts all day).
Benny Hsu pointed this out in the comments of my first 14 lessons post. He said, “Unless you’ve blogged for a long time before, your new blog isn’t going to be perfect at the beginning. Just start posting and improve along the way.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
3. Participate in mastermind or social media peer groups.
The power of mastermind groups is not just in connections you make with your fellow peers. Accountability is the biggest reason you should find a mastermind group. Get on a Skype call a few times a month with 2 or 3 likeminded people that you get along with and push each other to accomplish more than you could on your own. (If you need more help with accountability, check out action #21 in this post.)
Another option is a closed social media peer group. This is a group of people (could be up to 50+) that are all sharing ideas and asking opinions of each other on a platform such as a private Facebook group or a closed LinkedIn group. This is one way for you to more passively have a closed network to bounce ideas off of if you don’t have a mastermind group and can also be used as a test ground to find the right 2 or 3 people to create a mastermind group with.
4. Laser focus your USP and keep repeating it.
People should know exactly why your site exists and they should be able to find that answer all over the place. They shouldn’t need to go find the first post in your archives or wade through page after page until they find a manifesto post. Link to content that directly explains your unique selling proposition all the time.
Even if you think your USP is clear from the name of your brand or in the tagline, spell it out in:
- the sidebar
- the about page
- the start here page
- a welcome video
- the footer
- your content
You might think that you are overdoing it, but your USP needs to be clear and concise to the people that are visiting your blog for the first time. Those are the people that you are creating all those bulleted items above for anyway.
If you are a regular reader of Think Traffic, when was the last time you looked at our about page? (Maybe the first time you visited?) Target those landing pages towards non-regular readers. Completely explain what your site is about on those pages (and don’t just talk about yourself).
5. Don’t waste too much time trying to get big wins.
It is fun to read about people’s content getting syndicated by Gizmodo and their site getting flooded by 42,000 visits, but luck isn’t the main contributor to “going viral” like Steve Kamb did in that situation. He had a breakthrough because he had been working his ass off for years on his blog, wrote an amazingly informative and entertaining post, and his audience did the rest.
If you do get a big break or something you make goes viral, most of the time it will happen without much help from you (after creating it of course). I’m not saying that you shouldn’t share what you put up online, but you shouldn’t keep looking for a huge site to pick up your content or for someone popular in your niche to tweet your work.
Focus instead on continual forward progress. Just focus on making today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today. Then perhaps someday you’ll get a “big break” when you weren’t even trying to anymore.
6. Make everything you post insanely useful & purposeful
While this goes a bit contrary to a theory Joel Runyon wrote about on here last month, making each and every piece of content you publish insanely useful goes a long way. Instead of publishing just to publish (which can lead people to unsubscribe if what you create is lackluster), slow down the frequency at which you put out content.
“Won’t that mean less chances for people to come to my site, share my content, and subscribe?” Perhaps, but the key to publishing less often is to put in as much, if not more, time as you were before into creating content. This will lead to you spending two to three times more effort on a single piece that you publish. This almost guarantees that it is going to be better, more in-depth, and worth sharing.
Try it for a week or two and see what kind of difference it makes.
If you’ve been blogging for over a year, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?
I’d love to hear some of them in the comments below.