How I Earned A Top Writer Status in Social Media on Medium in Less than Two Months: My Top 5 Secrets to Succeed in Blogging
In March 2017, I had a chance to attend the mega Social Media Marketing World conference hosted by Social Media Examiner in San Diego.
It’s the best social media conference I have ever attended.
My mind was blown away by ideas, tools and apps, actionable steps, analytics, and more.
One of the major takeaways was the power of video.
Everyone seemed to be talking about video and live-streaming, and why businesses and individuals should embrace it.
As a live-streaming enthusiast, I completely see its value.
However, does this mean the written word, specifically blogging, is losing its attraction?
Quite the contrary.
Blogging still has value.
A blog can still elevate one’s personal or professional brand to the next level. I earned a top writer status in social media on Medium within two months.
In this post, I share my journey as a blogger and my top five secretes to succeed in blogging.
My Journey as a Blogger
I started blogging in May 2017.
Yes, I’m late to the blogging game!
Before that, I had blogged four times in my entire life, and two of those posts were guest invitations.
The conclusion seemed somewhat obvious: Blogging was not my area of interest.
As of today, I have regularly been blogging for several months.
I earned this status on June 18, 2017. So, technically, that’s less than two months since I started blogging regularly. I also grew my followers on Medium from 600 to 1,000.
How did this happen? What led to my transformation?
Read below to find my top five blogging tips.
I. Understand Your Why
Simon Sinek is the person who truly pushed me to think about my “why.”
Blogging is no different from any other social media platform.
Many people jump into social media because it is cool or fun without understanding why they are on it in the first place.
It is fine if you are just seeking a channel to entertain yourself.
However, if you are running a personal or professional brand, you have to be wise about your choices and actions.
Therefore, here are my questions for you:
- Why do you want to blog?
- What do you believe?
- What are your business or personal goals?
- How can blogging move you closer to your goals?
- What’s the role of blogging in your overall strategic plan?
Here are my answers:
- I am a college professor.
- I believe today’s students have changed and educators, as a result, have to change how we interact with our students.
- Social media and technology play a huge role in how students have changed.
- Thus, I embraced social media as a pedagogical tool. I use social media sites heavily in my teaching to facilitate learning.
- I blog on social media, teaching, and higher education to help educators learn ways that they can apply social media to their own teaching and career.
How about you?
Answer these questions first and then develop a calendar to strategize your blog content.
For example, a social media influencer I know has a content calendar.
It means he crafts his material in alignment with the courses, webinars, workshops, training, or speaking engagements he’s selling.
For instance, if he’s doing a course on personal branding, his blog posts will be a series of tips on building personal brands.
Writing your blog content with the bigger business goals in your mind, so you do not just see the trees, but the trees and the forest.
II. Clarity in Your Focus and What Your Audience Wants
Once you understand your why, your next step is to identify a focus for your message or storytelling, which then helps you understand who your audience is and what they want.
Without a clear understanding of your why, focus, and audience, your content is going to struggle, and your blogs posts will look confusing to your audience.
You need a clear focus on storytelling to attract an audience to your blog and to become loyal to your content.
Two specific practices I undertook, that helped me understand my focus and my audience.
First, ironically, it is writing, which helps me develop and refine my ideas.
Often, the process of writing reveals my topic.
Second, reading books from authors who teach you how to find your voice.
I am fortunate enough to have discovered Mark Schaefer’s book, Known, which helped me tremendously to identify my voice and space.
III. Consistency & Rich Content
Among the 20 plus blogs I wrote, each article takes an average of five to 10 minutes to read.
For a ten-minute article, it’s around 2,000 words; for a five-minute article, it’s about 700 words.
Those that generate the greatest traction for me are those that are long and thorough.
Although people’s attention spans are getting shorter, quality content still reigns supreme by both humans and Google.
I resonate strongly with the nine tactics Nat Eliason discussed in his article, 9 Blogging Tactics for 2 Million Views in 2 Years.
Long-form and rich content of value to my audience is what helps me rise above today’s digital noise and builds a community of readers who enjoy and benefit from my content.
Producing such content is what brings long-term wins.
For example, I recently got a podcast interview invitation from a person whom I have never interacted with, but he loves reading my blog posts.
My blog posts have helped me build credibility in my field of interest.
The same thing can happen to you.
Focus on producing quality content on a regular basis, and you will see results.
IV. Be Vulnerable and Authentic
Once you identify your why and focus and develop a level of consistency, the next question is, “How should I approach the subject?”
As humans, we tend to share the good parts of our lives.
A precursory view of your Facebook news feed proves this.
No one wants to be a Debbie Downer.
We all tend to share the highlights in our lives.
My experience revealed a different scenario.
Among the blog posts I wrote, the ones that generated the highest engagement rates were reflections on my failures and mistakes as a college professor.
What this tells me is that stories that aren’t positive — the ones of struggle and failure — are still appealing to readers.
The key is being authentic with who you are and where you are in your journey; your audience will appreciate your transparency and vulnerability.
In fact, every time I publish something about my mistakes and weaknesses, I am always showered with love and support.
It’s reassuring to know we are all on a journey to make ourselves better.
V. Combine Blogging with Visual and Audio
Written Content needs to be combined with visual and audio formats to maximize its value.
One fundamental difference between blogging today versus five years ago is there is much more diversity in competition.
Before, blogging might have been your primary content creation and distribution channel.
Today, blogging by itself is not sufficient to reach your audience and to share your message.
Written content has to be used in conjunction with visual and audio formats to optimize its influence and impact.
Below I listed ways blogging can work with other mediums to improve reach:
- Blog post recap of Facebook live shows or interviews
- Facebook live shows announcing the release of new blog posts
- Create quote images of blog posts and post them on Instagram and Twitter
- Write blog post responses regarding trendy YouTube videos I watch or articles I read
- Customizing the highlights of my blogs on Facebook and Instagram as microblogs
- Sharing blogs on LinkedIn and Medium
- Adapt your blogs into video or infographic formats and share them across channels
There are many possibilities. But, you get the idea.
Written content must be used in conjunction with other content formats to attract an audience and to build a tribe for you.
Take advantage of the numerous social media sites available to maximize the potential reach of your written content.
Textual, visual, and audio formats have to be used hand-in-hand to optimize the range of each.
Your blog posts can still elevate your business or personal brand to a new level, even in 2017.
Find your “why” first, and use that to identify a central focus for your message and storytelling.
Your focus will help you understand your audience and their needs and pain points.
You can then craft content of value to your audience.
Use rich and thorough content to attract your audience and to build your community, and do so consistently.
Be authentic in your storytelling.
And don’t be afraid to reveal your vulnerabilities.
Finally, use the synergy of textual, visual, and audio formats to maximize the reach and effectiveness of each.
Blogging is a marathon, not a race. Enjoy the journey.
P.S. This blog was originally published on Spin Sucks as a guest blog.
Ai Zhang is a professor, blogger, liver-streamer, and social media (pedagogy) consultant. She received her M.A. from Syracuse University and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, both of which are located in the United States. Ai is an Associate Professor of Public Relations and Social Media classes. She also serves on a number of social media committees at national communication organizations. As a Social Media Pedagogy consultant, Ai is passionate about helping other educators understand and experience the transformative power of technology and social media, and use them to maximize their impact and potential reach. Ai is the host of a weekly Facebook live show, Classroom Without Walls: Using Technology to Reimagine Education. On the show, she interviews leading professors and professionals regarding how social media has transformed their teaching practice and professional careers, and how they use social media as an educational tool. Follow Ai on Facebook to watch her Facebook show.