So you have a hobby you can talk for days about. Whether it’s traveling, video games, or rock climbing, chances are you’ve put a lot of efforts into being there and doing that. There ae sure to be hundreds, if not thousands, of other like-minded people in the world interested in hearing what you have to say on the matter.
The beauty of the internet is that everyone now has a voice that can be heard by the masses across the globe. Naturally, this had led to everyone from Amway distributors to social butterflies trying to “make money on the internet” by “creating great content.” The result is:
Among all the flotsam, there exists a niche of all powerful superheroes — bloggers whose every word is treated as gospel truth, whose blogs become must-visit shrines to seekers of online enlightenment.
For this reason, the concept of blogging can be a bit intimidating at the beginning. However, there’s little reason to be wary of entering an “oversaturated” market. Mommy blogger Crystal Paine offers four simple don’ts to bloggers starting out:
- Don’t blog for money.
- Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
- Don’t over-research.
- Don’t let lies limit you.
Based on how impactful your thoughts are, your posts will slowly gain more and more attention.
That said, everyone knows that it’s much easier to write about things you are passionate about. However, there are a several key ingredients to a successful blog to keep in mind. Here are the things that will keep you going full speed ahead on the road to blogging success.
It’s great to write about stuff you know and are good at. In fact, most bloggers who are really successful write about topics that they live, eat and breathe all day long. (Can you imagine Jay Baer blogging about makeup tips?) But there’s obviously going to be a limit to what you already know, right?
Now rewind back to the first meaningful ‘A’ you ever received. Now think a little further back. Did you not put enormous amounts of time and effort into reading everything you could lay your hands on regarding your topic? Research forms the backbone of any piece of writing including a well written blog. However, while you may know your topic du jour, make sure that you back up your own opinion and insights with some facts and figures to lend credibility to your post.
Your reading does not have to be limited to just your area of specialization. Actively seek out content from varied sources and about a plethora of topics. The exposure will widen your perspectives and offer you surprising new insights that you might otherwise have never thought of. Anne Cunningham, from the University of California, Berkeley quotes a study that found, “readers are more intelligent, due to their increased vocabulary and memory skills, along with their ability to spot patterns. They have higher cognitive functions than the average non-reader and can communicate more thoroughly and effectively.”
If reading can make you smarter, you owe it to your blog’s audience to start reading more, today.
Write with Flair. And Heart.
Every writer worth their salt has a very clear voice, which often outlives the writers themselves. Enid Blyton reminds you of your childhood friend. John Updike is funny. Herman Melville has gravitas, and Papa Hemingway is renowned for his to-the-point writing.
While even the best bloggers don’t often reach the standards of an Ernest Hemingway, they nevertheless have a style that’s uniquely their own. Their writing is crisp, it’s lively, and most importantly, it speaks to you. Not at you. The best bloggers in the business share their own views on the topic at hand and often use the first person to establish a relationship with their readers. You’ll notice how the most readable blogs contain phrases like “I find…” or “My experience says…”
Besides developing your own style, it’s also important to remember that your blog is your stage. You are putting on a performance. Though they might not readily admit it, people like being entertained. So entertain them. Crack a joke or two and your audience will be eating out of your hands. You don’t have to be all out wacky like Jenny Lawson out at The Blogess, but a smile on your face while you type your masterpiece often spills on to the keyboard and your readers’ faces.
Another critical thing about writing a successful blog is to infuse a human touch into your posts. Even if you blog about submarines and cryogenic engines, there’s always a reference to family, an interesting anecdote from work, or a mention of your personal favorite thing about submarines that lends your writing that ever elusive “heart.”
Compelling content comes from the soul. Keep it candid and creative as if you are chatting with someone on a personal level. Penny Herscher of First Rain has been dedicatedly writing her blog since 2007. Her posts are easy to read as she talks about everything from technology to her personal decisions candidly.
Focus on Fond Memories
Nostalgia is a surefire way to trigger social sharing. As a coping mechanism, by and large we tend to look at our past with rose-tinted glasses. ‘Those were the days’ is a common refrain thanks to this mechanism of our brain that whitewashes unpleasant old memories. Research from the Journal of Consumer Research shows that nostalgia pushes consumers to spend more money. Exactly what we all want!
BuzzFeed taps into nostalgia like a charm with content about Disney movies from the 90’s, fashion from the 90’s, pop music and comic book references from the past and the like. The more you remind users of how great their own past years were, the higher the chances that they’ll take up the mantle and spread the content that relates to their own awesome yesteryears for you. The more they share, the more viral your content becomes.
Over to You
Blogging is an extremely satisfying pastime. Perhaps the biggest advantage of this activity is the ability to create a worldwide community around shared hobbies and interests. But don’t be fooled — it is much more than a pastime. Even if you take Crystal Paine’s “Don’t blog for money” advice to heart, there will be a lot of business opportunities for you down the road once you’re moderately successful.
Establishing a strong, loyal following will make an influencer out of you. Should the entrepreneur or salesperson in you rise her head, don’t strike her down — ecommerce functionality is just a button away. So are a lot of other marketing and monetization tools. Just remember that people are there to listen to your thoughts, not just your recommendations. Every business needs a blog, but every blog doesn’t need a business.
The toughest step will always be getting your feet on the ground and moving. But, in time, your content will work to bring value to many people just like you.