How to create a successful blog?
How to start writing articles that would help build a formidable following.
Why am answering? I had apprehensions before I started my blog, the apprehensions that made me drop my blog idea a couple of times before I started again some months back — have written 150+ articles so far in this short time, few been published on third party sites and learnt a lot.
To begin with..
Okay you have ideas, you have a domain on which you want to talk and write about. You want to make sure that your first few steps are right so that you are successful sooner. You do not want to make any mistakes.
At step number zero you do not create momentum by being cautious. You create momentum at the start actually by being opposite — by being aggressive.
At the harm of sounding cliched, there is no easy path to success. And no one here [even ones with million followers] can tell you what is the right way to go about starting a business or a blog with million customers. Or how to do that quicker.
What myself or any other blogger out there can give you are pointers that can help you understand your craft [ writing, here] better. The key is that you are able to solve/address a need or problem that is important for your end reader — the core to creating a following.
Ideas are just the beginning
First thing is you do not know for sure if your initial ideas will work. No one will know if your ideas are great or not, at least now.
So what you should do? Write. And then publish. Every day. Experiment with all your ideas. Ideas, content are all the same — the more you create, the better it gets.
Ask any blogger, they will tell you that the more and more you write, you create more quality content. Of course intent to improve yourself matters. With that in place, the more content you create, the more chances of you writing better quality stuff.
Similarly, you ask any entrepreneur, the first few ideas you get on any area are not that good. Even though it might feel like you have found a jack pot. Your gut feeling on something is only as good as your experience in the craft. When you have no experience in writing or starting up, you validate your ideas by creating them and putting out for consumption. That is your ultimate validation.
The more you experiment by testing out those few ideas, you will understand your craft better. You will learn more. You will come across insights based on which you will get better ideas. Its like sharpening a knife, the more you are at it, the more sharp your skill gets.
Change the focal point
When you produce anything for consumption the focus is not you, the focus is your customer. Its not about what blog you can write, its about what blog your customer wants.
What kind of people are you writing your blog for? What is their pain point or aspirations that you are addressing in the blog? And do you have any actionable value in your content, insights that users can apply and improve their lives on?
Firstly start writing on all the ideas you have. Do not ignore anything as unimportant. Some times your bad ideas will work better than your so called good ones. At the start you do not have the luxury to choose. You do everything that you can think of. And then you think of more stuff to create. The motive here is to see what works and what does not.
Its about experimenting. Experimenting with your writing as well as what you are writing about. Lose shame. Stop unnecessarily worrying about your image or what people would think.
At the beginning, no matter how good the content is no one will read. Or very few will. And fewer if any, will give you feed back. Because writing well is one thing. Distribution is a different ball game altogether. So its about practicing your writing muscles and conditioning your brain to consistently publish.
What is your distribution network?
Content is only 25% of the game. 75% is in distribution. Good content will not be a success by itself. You need to spend remaining time posting your article not only on your website but also on publishing platforms like Medium, Quora, Facebook — wherever your core audience will be.
Be shameless in asking your friends in your network to read and give feedback. Share your content in social platforms — LinkedIn, twitter. Reach out to publishing websites to write for free in return for their user’s views . Right now what is important for you is to build a following, one follower at a time.
Read more on your area to see what is missing. But also share and comment on other’s articles. Form a network of readers and writers and engage with them constantly on twitter, Facebook etc Give feedback to other writers like you. Do not see other writers or people writing similar blogs as a competition — see them as a collaborators. Guest write in their platforms. Help each other in editing the blogs. Give feedback that would help some one improve their writing.
Experiment with your story telling.
More importantly you have to experiment with the form of story telling. This is 2017 — world of video, audio, and text. Do not just write text after text. Include images and videos and audio in your blog. Create content in other story telling platforms like instagram — you can create pictures and quotes and publish there. Answer regarding questions in your core domain on quora. Create a youtube channel to talk about your domain related issues and problems.
The center of it all.
Central to content creation or building an app or website or business is whether you are solving a customer problem.
Is there a pain or need you are solving for. What is the people are aspiring for deep inside? Hows that aspiration showing up in their behavior? And how can you address that aspiration? What kind of title your readers are most likely to click on?
Click bait titles are considered to be elusive but they exist for a reason. Users click on a title because it indicates an underlying human value. It raises your curiosity, it talks about a story of fighting against the odds, it boasts of teaching you the art of survival or it plainly talks about something that you want to learn for long.
Users click on something when the title has something for them. We all want to listen to stories. We all want to understand more about the worlds that we are part of and interested in. Listening to stories is part of our ethos. That is how we estabilished our religions and governments.
A blog has different angles to it. Content. Titles that interest people. Images and video and audio that augment the story. Story that enraptures people. Your own unique voice.
It takes time to build your own skill in the craft as well as create something of value to others. Do not expect to build a million followers in 6 months. It doesn’t work that way.
Tell a story that people are interested in. Tell a story that would absorb people in to a different world and give them a reprieve from the tough lives they are living in. Give a chance for people to dream. Give a chance for people to learn and improve their lives.
Focus on what you give. And you will be surprised and astonished at what comes out of it all, at the end.