13 Lessons from 13 Months of Blogging

taking notes

The Grassroots blog has now been live for 13 months. It’s a new year and a time for reflection and we would like to share the some of the valuable lessons we have learned in our blogging bubble.

1. Consistency is crucial

Consistency is valuable for two main reasons… Firstly, your readers will know to expect your emails – regular good quality emails will generally have a higher open rate than irregular or intermittent emails.

The second reason is that having specific day/s that you post each week makes it more likely that you will post! If, like most people, your weeks slip away sometimes, blogs can get drowned in the “To Do” list. Knowing that your readers expect a blog from you each Tuesday for example will give you an added incentive to fulfil on your promise to them.

2. It helps to have a partner in crime

Having a great committed partner can be the difference between the success and failure of your blog. From the technical side of managing and improving your website, to creating new content and marketing, you will have a never ending list of things that need to be done. As well as having someone to share the load (and the successes); a partner will help you get through the lull of quietness before your start to see the fruits of your labour.

3. Plan the structure of your blogs

Whether you are posting a video, audio or written blog: plan the basic structure of what you want to say before you begin.  This will save you valuable time on unnecessary rambling! If you are new to the world of structured writing here is a simple structure that a helpful elf taught me:

Introduction… A few sentences introducing the various sections of the blog or video.

Point 1.

Point 2.

Point 3.

Etc.

Conclusion… A few sentences wrapping up the post.

Yes. I realise that it’s not rocket science… But I really had no idea when I started, so I thought I would share it with you!

4. Create a variety of content

Give your subscribers a good mix of content and don’t be afraid to ask them if they like it. Video will help people see who you are (yes, that is important!) so get started… you have to start somewhere! With Skype tools now like Vodburner and Callburner, you can now record video or audio interviews quickly and with no fuss, so there is no excuse why you can’t mix up the mediums.

5. Use a good host

A good host should keep your website up and available all of the time and have brilliant service in the unfortunate event that there is a problem or you have a question. We have been singing the praises of HostGator for hosting blogs because they simply have great service and they are as cheap as chips.

6. Create a post-blog checklist

Design a process for promoting your blog so that you make the most of your carefully crafted communication. It doesn’t matter how scintillating your prose is or how world changing your ideas are if the only person reading them is your mum. Create a post-blog checklist that will get the word out that you have something new for people to consume.

Ours includes:

–          Get another person with “fresh eyes” to edit and proof read the post before publishing it

–          Auto post blog to email subscribers

–          Auto post blog to Facebook Page

–          Tweet blog details and links

7. Respond to people’s comments

Take time to respond to everyone who comments on your posts. Of course once your blog peaks this will no longer be feasible (and that is a nice problem to have). Until that time acknowledge and appreciate the people who take time to contribute to your content in this way.

8. Quality is more important than quantity

Blogs do not have to be novels, there is no right length. It is better to have a short snappy blog that is informative or entertaining (or both!) than to have a long blog with the same content packed with ramble. A great example of this is marketing guru Seth Godin, who’s blogs are punchy and short enough to read every day. If your blogs need to be long though, let them be long. The key always is the quality of the content.

9. Promote, promote, promote

Have you ever heard the saying “Build it and they will come”? Well it doesn’t apply to blogs, for blogs it is more like “Build it and promote it and promote it and promote it and promote it and they will come.” To be successful with blogging you need equal parts of commitment to creating content and commitment to promotion.

Simple ways to promote your blog:

–          Add links and a description of your blog to your general email signature.

–          Get on forums of likeminded people and interact and contribute – again make sure you have links to your blog in the signature and in your profile.

–          Create a Page on Facebook of the same name as your blog and intersperse links to your posts/articles with other useful relevant information and links.

–          Write guest blogs for other websites on relevant topics

–          If your blogs are informative, repurpose them for other content sharing sites like Ezine articles.

–          Interact on other blogs in your industry, take an interest in their work and leave useful comments on their websites, with links back to your website

–          Join Twitter – check out other blogs on this site on using Twitter to market your business

–          Check out our content marketing eCourse and Twitter for Business eBook for step by step information.

10. Give a great incentive for subscription

Make turning new visitors into subscribers the number one goal of your website. Give them an offer they can’t refuse, something that is designed specifically to attract the kind of subscribers that you want to your blog. There are two important considerations when choosing an incentive: firstly it must have a high enough perceived value to compel your visitors to subscribe, and secondly it must attract the right kind of subscribers.

11. Use a good email marketing service

Your email marketing application will make all the difference in the world to how easy it is for you to communicate with and email your database. A well set up email marketing application will allow you to automate the collection of subscribers, as well as automate the delivery of your regular posts. You should also be able to manually send messages or move your data around or segment your lists if you like. We are huge fans of Mailchimp for bloggers and it is free if you have less than 1000 subscribers… very handy when you are starting out.

12. It can take longer than you think to have success with your blog, so hang in there

The concept of blogging is simple; create content regularly, share it widely and engage with your readers. Your ability to have success with it however depends on your commitment to producing new content and your marketing skills. You will also need to develop and improve the infrastructure of your blog, as well as having some good old fashioned luck and time in the market. Your commitment will dictate how quickly you grow and what opportunities open up as a result.

Our advice is stay with it, keep at it, don’t quit and keep your promises to your readers! The more you put into growing and promoting your blog, the more you will get out of it. If you get frustrated, take a deep breath and then either write a blog or promote the blog.

13. Have fun with it!

This is the biggest lesson of all. If you are sharing a topic that you love; and creating value for people then it’s hard not to enjoy it, even when there is a lot to do. Your readers are people just like you, and even if the topic is die hard technical you can have fun with either running the website, your business or your content. Have fun with your blog – not only will it be obvious to your readers but you are far more likely to be motivated to succeed.

These are our special 13 lessons for the day, what would be your number 14? What have you learned along the way on your own website journey? Have you learned the same lessons that we did?

Please share and add the link to your website if you have one, and tell us a little about what you do… I know it is not customary to encourage self-promotion in comments but we want to check you out!

Happy Blogging!

Serena “Social” Star