5 Strategies for Generating Momentum With Your Blog
Over 4 million blog posts are published every day.
That’s a lot of content. If you’re just getting started, it can feel like you’ve joined the party too late. Has the blogging Renaissance come and gone?
No, actually. It turns out reports of the blog’s demise were greatly exaggerated. The blogging landscape is shifting. Things are changing. What worked 10 years ago (or even three) won’t work today.
You need new strategies, new approaches.
It can feel overwhelming, but the beauty of it is that no one really knows what blogging will look like in the future. Which means you get to shape what the landscape looks like.
One thing is clear, though. Blogs are here to stay:
- 77% of Internet users read blogs.
- U.S. internet user spend 3x more time on blogs than they do email.
- Blog posts remain among the most shared content online.
- Blogs are rated the 5th most trusted source for online information.
- 60% of people purchase a product after reading a blog post about it.
- Blogging businesses experience 126% higher lead growth than non-blogging businesses.
The goal of this article is to simplify the process so you can just get started. I don’t want you to think about it too much, and I don’t want you to worry about whether to start a blog is even worth it or not. The short answer is that it is.
Here are five tips to help you launch your blog and keep the momentum going.
#1 — Figure out your style
The first thing you need to figure out is yourself. Duh. What are you actually going to write? Hopefully, you already have a topic in mind. There are a million things that you could blog about — what we want to do here is narrow down to a starting niche.
What’s the one thing you love to talk about the most? And more importantly, how do you like to talk about it? There are a million different bloggers who write about writing. But they all do it with a different style. Your style is what will draw readers to your blog. It’s the only thing that can separate you from the rest of the pack.
How do you figure out your unique style? Well, there’s good news, and there’s bad news. The bad news is that finding your voice and honing your technique takes time. There’s no real shortcut for it. You find your voice by generating a body of work.
The good news is that there are a few proven archetypes that work well for blogging. Choose the one that fits you best, and you can get a head start on this process. Jeff Goins identifies the five basic types of bloggers. They are:
- The Journalist — builds a blog by asking questions. To be a journalist, you must be curious.
- The Prophet — builds a blog by telling the truth. To be a prophet, you must be authentic.
- The Artist — builds a blog by creating art. To be an artist, you must have an eye for beauty.
- The Professor — builds a blog on facts and information. To be a professor, you must have a longing to learn.
- The Star — builds a blog on charisma. To be a star, you must be likable.
If you pick one of these styles to start with, you will be well on your way to creating a blog that people want to read. Are there successful blogs that don’t fit into these five categories? Of course. Are there hybrid blogs that blend multiple styles? Yes. The point is that these categories is that they help you get started.
You pick one approach, and you focus on it to start. As you build momentum and grow your blog, you can easily swerve off the path and try new things. But you need to create a stable base first.
#2 — Figure out your readers
Once you’ve figured out your style, you need to determine who your readers are. Of course, your blogging “personality” has already narrowed down your readership. If you’re a professor type, for instance, you want to find readers who are interested in facts and information.
But you need to go deeper. To succeed, you need a laser focus on a narrow target. Again, you can always broaden your focus later, but to start, you will gain far more traction if you are focused. You only have a limited amount of time, and if you focus too broadly, your blog will be diluted and weak. Dominate one niche first and then move onto another.
To blog, you need to punch the keys and produce work consistently. Start small, ease your way into it, and keep at it.
What you want your blog to do is create a reaction in your reader’s mind. You want them to say, “Hey, that’s me!” when they encounter your work. Your niche should be “an inch wide and a mile deep.”
What keeps your readers up at night? What worries them throughout the day? What are they afraid of? What are they angry about? Those are the kinds of questions that the best blogs explore. Great blogs connect with the readers’ emotions.
There’s a good chance you may already belong to your target market. It makes the process easier in many ways, but you still need to orient your writing toward other people. You need to write in a way that connects with other people’s problems and offer workable solutions.
Your target market may also be a past version of yourself. This is one of the strongest target audiences. If you’ve solved specific problems in your own life, there’s a good chance that other people have that same problem. Your solution will be extremely valuable to them.
#3 — Write slowly (to start)
The biggest pitfall in blogging is burnout. Too many writers try to do too much too quickly.
Yes, you need to write every day and publish often. But if you try to go from zero blogs to five per day, you’ll never make it in the long run.
You’ll grow to hate blogging fast. When you begin, the most you should be blogging is once per week. Even that may be difficult — aim for once every two weeks. If you try and write too much, you’ll work too hard, and you will burn out.
Blogging is a long-game. You need to invest in it over time to see the compounding effects take over. It’s much better to go at a slow but steady pace than to try and dash out in front quickly. Yes, you may feel like you’re “too late” to the blogging game and that you need to “catch up.” Nonsense. Everyone who starts blogging always feels like they’re late to the party. That feeling comes with the territory.
Take your time anyway. It’s going to take (at minimum) two years to see real traction with your blog. Don’t quit until you’ve been writing and publishing for two years. Take the long-term view and go slowly and steadily.
#4 — Simplify your approach
To be an “official blogger,” you really only need three things:
- A couple of blog posts
- A profile or “about” page with your picture
- A landing page for email signups
That’s it. You can make all of these in 30 minutes or less for zero dollars. Sign up for a free mail service provider and use them to make a landing page. Sign up for Medium, create your profile, and publish three blog posts to the platform, each containing a link to your email landing page. Congratulations, you’re a blogger!
If you want to build your own site, you can do the same thing for about $40. Easy.
None of this should be holding you back from starting a blog. All the rest will come with time. To blog, you need to punch the keys and produce work consistently. Start small, ease your way into it, and keep at it. Give yourself a few years. Decide today you’re going to do it and then stick with it. Give yourself a goal: you will publish at least once a week for two years; or, you will write 50 blog posts.
A brilliant strategy is important, but worth nothing without hard work and time.
Keep at it, and don’t let yourself quit until you hit that goal. If you make it there and you’re not getting the results you want or don’t enjoy it anymore, you can reassess. But give yourself that chance. If you keep at it long enough and write consistently, you will see traction.
#5 —Think about monetization early (before you feel ready)
There are a lot of ways to make money off your blog. You can run traffic ads, put in affiliate links. You can make money through the Medium Partner Program. You can build online courses or sell eBooks.
Whatever approach you take, make sure that it aligns with both your style as a blogger and your audience. Don’t choose a monetization strategy that goes against your core values. Also, you need to think about your readers. What problems do they have, and what solutions would they pay good money for?
Think about monetization early, even before you’re ready to make any serious money from it. You’re going to make some mistakes, and you’re going to need to figure out your way. Better to start on that now, while you have a smaller audience. Too many bloggers wait to monetize their blog, and when they do, they make mistakes that alienate their audience.
Think of your initial audience as your “early adopters.” Test out some monetization strategies on them and see what works. See what resonates. Ask them about it.
When thinking about monetization, though, always put your audience first. You always need to provide value. It’s not about you, and it’s not about the money you make. It’s about solving problems for your audience. That’s all sales are at the end of the day.
The power of consistent work over time
James Clear just published a brilliant formula for success:
Results = (Hard Work*Time)^Strategy
A brilliant strategy is essential, but worth nothing without hard work and time. Zero to the millionth power is still zero.
Earlier this year, Apple became the first U.S. company to hit $2 trillion in market value. While that’s certainly an impressive figure, what jumped out at me about the story was this graph on Apple’s market value over time.
Apple was founded in 1976 and went to IPO in 1980. It would take 38 years to hit $1 trillion in market value in 2018. Once there, though, it took only two years to double that value to $2 trillion. For decades, Apple’s value didn’t budge at all. Then, in the early 2000s, it started to break free, and from there, the growth has been mostly exponential.
Here’s the beautiful thing about that graph — it represents success in many different fields. Anything worth doing will take time, and for most of that time, you won’t see any outward success. Your output will look like that graph — almost no movement for a long time. You’ll then hit that breaking point where you’ll cut free, and all that hard work will start to turn into fantastic value.
For Apple, that moment was the iPod. But Apple couldn’t have made the iPod in 1985 — for many, many obvious reasons. The company needed to fail. It needed to fire Steve Jobs, hire him back. It needed to launch failed products. It needed to let the world and technology catch up to its vision. It needed to try bold, new things.
Your blog is the same. When you start, you need to produce a lot of work as a “testing ground” to see what will make the jump. You need to put in the work to get better. You need to go through many ideas. You need to fail again and again so that you learn valuable lessons. If you put in enough time, you’ll hit the point of no return if you stick with it.
Benjamin Hardy likens this process to a rocket leaving the earth. It takes an incredible amount of energy to break free of the earth’s atmosphere, but it takes only a tiny bit of energy to keep going once you do. You can coast on that momentum for a long time. Once we figured out how to send rockets into space, we’ve been able to send probes beyond the borders of our galaxy.
Start putting in the work now so that you can break free of the gravity holding you down. It will take a long time. You won’t see any results for a while. Keep at it. Keep trying new things, new approaches. You’ll break free in time.
Ready to build a bullet-proof writing routine?
Starting a blog means starting a daily writing habit. The good news: I’ve created a checklist for just that. Follow this every day and your writing will improve quickly. Get the checklist here!