Note: This blog post is an updated version of 7 Blogging Years. 7 Blogging Lessons. 7 Blogging Tips. (published 4 years and 100 blog posts ago).
Yes, that’s right! It’s the 11th Blogoversary of Minterest. I started Minterest (minterest.com) as a personal finance blog in 2006, and later in August 2007, I started blogging about “Money, Internet, Investing” (yes, that was the first tagline of Minterest and now it’s — tech. marketing. mashups.).
To be honest it was literally “Just another WordPress site” and I was simply rehashing topics that were of “My interest“. But there was one thing… I was learning. And the transition from Blogger.com to WordPress.org is simply amazing.
I started creating blogs on Blogger.com back in 2004 and was treating it like a simple publishing tool. I guess the reason why it didn’t impress or motivate me much was its inability to customize things the way I wanted.
When I tried WordPress I liked almost all of its aspects and found out that I liked coding as well. Oh yeah, I’m a software engineer by education but it is not the coding that inspired me — it’s the magic in “technology”. Thanks to Microsoft.
I’m going to feature here 11 blogging lessons and tips that I have… learned, realized, or experienced in one way or the other over the past many, many years.
11 Blogging Lessons
Well, these are not exactly lessons but it’s lessons, failures, or a combination of both. And I must say that I am yet to take actions to fix most of the problems that are listed here.
I don’t know if at all I’m going to fix it. I may or may not mend the issues at hand, but the idea is to list my blogging insights so it’s more likely that maybe you will get a tip or two from each lesson.
Okay, here we go!
Today self-promotion is very crucial if you’re a professional blogger. So it’s like you’ve to brag without really bragging. And that’s how you get more RSS subscribers, email subscribers, Facebook Likes, etc. But how? You’ve to sell your achievements for people to get to know you and like you, and eventually, follow you and buy things from you.
I admit that I’m bad at self-promotion. And it’s a bad thing as I can’t expect the visibility of my blog to go up if I don’t promote it outside search. On the flip side, it’s a good thing too as I believe it’s one thing that makes my blog stand out from the crowd. In fact, I haven’t even asked my friends/family to ‘Like’ my Facebook page yet. Well, that’s how I’m tuned!
2. Done Is Better Than Perfect
It’s a million dollar maxim I find extremely difficult to follow. When I start writing I get over-excited and over-obsessed. The end result is that… I take several hours to write a blog post when I am supposed to finish it within a time limit. I always exceed the time limit.
For instance, a blog post like this or this takes me at least 24 hours (or roughly it takes 2 days of my life). But there’s one thing I have learned… the secret to active blogging is to ‘Start Writing’ a blog post.
3. Niche Blogging
Yes, my blog is basically a digital marketing and technology journal. But the reality is that it doesn’t have a specific niche. A niche blog attracts more subscribers naturally because they know what they would get when they subscribe to that blog.
But it’s difficult to get subscribers to a personal journal like mine as I have to convince readers to subscribe to my blog. So unless they have a reason they won’t subscribe and it’s as simple as that.
An alternative is… you increase your personal brand equity so that people will know about you and they will eventually subscribe to your blog and buy things from you.
4. Content Was King
I don’t fully agree or believe that “Content Was King” but it’s a reality… sort of. You know why? Because the most popular blog posts on Facebook or Twitter are not necessarily the best content. It’s like saying real artists are unknown to everyone. The best marketer is the ultimate winner.
A decade back if it was 90% content and 10% promotion, then today it’s 90% promotion and 10% promotion. And that’s how real marketers are able to get their first 1,000 readers in no time at all. An average blogger will take years to reach there if he doesn’t promote his blog.
Do you have a blog? If so, then consistency is the key. Like I’ve mentioned, I started Minterest 10 years ago and yet I have only 280 blog posts. Why? I was not consistent at all and I didn’t follow a publishing schedule (and it’s true even today).
You know there are 52 weeks in a calendar year and it means that I didn’t even publish one blog post per week on an average. And if I were more disciplined and was able to manage 104 (52 x 2) blog posts a year then I would have over 1,000 blog posts by now.
Remember, your traffic goes up as the number of blog posts goes up. And what’s interesting about the traffic growth is that it moves at a higher rate.
If you doubled the number of blog posts then your traffic should also double (or may even triple). The only thing is that… all the blog posts must be of the same quality.
6. Social Media
Social media is a big deal but frankly, I don’t get much traffic from social media. Again, this is because I don’t promote my blog much on social media. I simply share my latest blog posts on my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and few other networks and there ends my blog’s social media marketing.
Over 87% of the traffic comes from the search engines. But sometimes I notice spikes in traffic and that happens when some influencer shares one of my blog post on social media. So if more influencers are sharing my blog posts on social media then it can actually multiply the traffic by several folds.
7. Email List
I realized that an email list is invaluable and out of the ten lessons it’s perhaps the most important thing that I’ll pay attention sooner or later. Because I have been thinking about building an email list for some time. And The Email Marketer’s Handbook was the first initiative for that.
Email marketing builds a community and therefore drives a lot of traffic, increases your income (as you will get more sales/leads), and will improve the visibility of your brand to a great extent.
Moreover, it’s the best way to make sure that your message has reached your potential customers as 91% of Internet users check their email at least once a day.
8. Repurpose Content
I have personally spent many, many hours to write that one blog post that’s got no SEO value just because I loved to write that topic. The problem is, once it goes live it’s over.
Archived blog posts won’t get much traffic or attention unless it’s a search-friendly topic with a lot of keywords.
Content repurposing is all about extending the life of your original content (blog posts in most cases) by leveraging more mediums.
Repurposing is done by taking an existing blog post (or content) and using it to create something else on another medium (in an easy to consume way) thereby reaching an audience who wouldn’t have found your content otherwise.
So repurposing can add extra mileage and that way you get the most out of your masterpieces. It’s something that I have started doing recently (for this very blog post as well).
9. Outsource When You Can
I STILL haven’t started outsourcing content creation and it’s perhaps my biggest blogging mistake. And no, it’s not because everybody else is doing it but because it saves a lot of time.
Any blogger can easily save a ton of time by outsourcing a part of his/her blogging process. I am always a one-man army and I totally love it. But the reality is that you can’t focus on anything else when you’re a passionate solo-blogger.
10. It’s Okay To Make Money
I know it sounds awkward but I’m not selling anything on my blog. No e-books. No products. No services. Nothing. However, I did try different things at different stages of this blog only to pull off later. Oh yeah, once again, it’s hard to focus on anything else when you’re writing your heart out.
“If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.” — William Zinsser
11. Start Consulting
One of the biggest mistake I made while blogging was turning off most of the consulting gigs. During my hyper-active blogging phase, I used to get a ton of emails from other fellow bloggers, marketers and businesses asking for my help with blogging and/or digital marketing.
But I had to turn down most of those offers because I didn’t know their industry. And more importantly, I didn’t know how to professionally manage clients. The reason was pretty simple. I NEVER worked for a corporate ever in my life. Or, I never had a 9-to-5 job.
I was on my own since college. And now, as you can see, my blogging activity is down but on the brighter side I am learning to SELL to real people. And I have to agree that it’s a totally new experience that you can’t read/get online. If you are an expert in something then start consulting. Or, start selling products and/services hovering around it.
11 Blogging Tips
Once again, the following tips are tailored for you if you’re considering blogging as a business. However, it’s possible that I don’t follow it personally as I consider my blog as a personal journal.
1. Build Community
If you check a blog that gets above an average number of comments per blog post then you’ll notice that all the blog posts have a good percentage of the commentators in common. Why? This happens when they’re part of that blog community and means that they will leave a comment when the blog publishes a new blog post.
Small publishers can easily build a community by contests, giveaways, giving freebies, accepting guest posts, accepting offers from advertisers, etc. But it’s something that I never did for my blog.
For instance, if you accept guest posts on your blog then the person who contributes content to your blog will promote your blog + blog posts written by him/her on their social media channels, blog, etc. And it means more traffic, better visibility, and of course more subscribers.
2. Connect With Others
I’m actually bad at networking and I don’t behave the way people want me to. For instance, I can easily get more social media love (and money too) by accepting guest posts and by agreeing to do reviews of other products, but it’s not something that I’ll be comfortable with.
So here’s a tip offered by a reader who’s a marketer when I expressed my “Connection” problem.
You’re not wrong there, it’s super hard.
Try it, it’s easy. If you gain leverage, then ask for the link and you already have a relationship. For instance, let’s say you’ve referred someone else these clients in the past… how can they say no? Your friend/family member, how can they say no? Someone you send traffic and links to, how can they say no? That’s the outreach strategy.
3. Call To Action (CTA)
Call To Action, or simply CTA is something that you can see in almost all niche blogs out there. If you’re doing blog marketing then ideally there should be a purpose behind every blog post.
For example, if you’re selling a SaaS product then obviously you must be blogging about things related to your product so that your traffic will be interested in your product. So your CTA can be a “Buy” button or simply a “Subscribe” button so that you can target the person via email marketing later.
Oh yeah, I don’t have a CTA yet but it’s also on my to-do list.
4. PR Is SEO
For some people SEO (and link building) is dead. But I believe it’s not going to die and will continue to evolve. Yes, Google is taking actions against almost all SEO practices nowadays but there’s an alternative… always.
I will give you an example.
When I first read this article Computer programmer ‘quadruples productivity’ after hiring a woman to slap him in the face every time she catches him looking at Facebook (yes, it went viral) I was amused at the number of websites that were reporting the same story.
The article in a nutshell,
Maneesh Sethi placed an advert on the classified website Craigslist to recruit someone willing to monitor what he was looking at on his laptop. Pays a female employee £5 ($8) an hour to strike him in the face.
And then I asked myself: what if it’s already scripted?
Disclosure: I don’t personally know that guy and I don’t know if it’s scripted or not, but I just want to say that it works that way too.
5. People Don’t Need Your Blog
It’s true when you’re new to blogging or if you recently started a new blog.
And I would like to highlight a quote by Jim Connolly to further explain it.
The polar opposite is actually true. The closer you follow the same ineffective set of rules as everyone else, the less likely you are to get anything worthwhile from your blog.
Think about this. Starting a new blog today is like starting a new newspaper. People don’t need another newspaper as they’re kind of addicted to big media houses. So it’s your job to give them a reason to subscribe to your blog.
The best examples are tech blogs. You know there are thousands of tech blogs out there but 90% of them are actually rehashing content of the best blogs in their industry.
6. Diversify, Diversify, Diversify
Well, I haven’t diversified my blogging… much. I haven’t really done anything else apart from writing. For instance, I didn’t launch any digital products, e-books, courses, training, tutorials, memberships, etc. when there were opportunities.
Diversification can be diversification of income, traffic, referral sources, content, products, etc. For example, if you have a niche blog then sell a digital product so that if you have a large base of readers then they’ll buy it someday.
So when you build your blogging career make sure that you’re also well diversified. Always have a backup plan. :)
7. Never Underestimate Your Blog
It’s true that people may think you’re successful only if you’re massively popular or have large social media fan base. But the reality is…
If you have just one reader and your blog changes their life your blog is big enough. — @ProBlogger
That’s right. Never underestimate your blog.
Don’t Miss: Write Today; Monetize Tomorrow!
8. Content Strategy
When you start a blog (or at least later), you should have a solid content strategy. That is, think about how you are going to create and manage your content. You have to define your audience and figure out how you are going to reach them.
I didn’t have a content strategy when I started this blog. I was just writing what’s in my mind and it was enough for me as I haven’t defined my audience. Now I realize that it is indeed a problem.
It’s sort of difficult to sell products and services when you have a diversified audience. If I was focusing on only blogging and WordPress then it would have been easier to take this blog to its next level every few months or years.
9. Try Paid Traffic Sources
There are plenty of paid traffic sources on the web from where you can buy targeted traffic to your website. The best thing about online advertising (unlike television, radio, print, etc.) is that it’s totally accountable and you get to know the exact returns of every single dollar that you are spending.
And you don’t really have to buy ads from all the paid traffic sources out there. Instead, focus on quality and relevancy. I never tried paid traffic sources much because I realized that it can be extremely effective when you focus on quality and relevancy. Just be where your potential customers are there.
10. Write (Something) Daily
Don’t stop what you are doing. Because if you do, then you’re already dead.
In other words, don’t stop reading and writing. As long as you are passionate about your blog, you won’t stop blogging. Guaranteed! However, starting a blog and making money are two different things. It’s very much possible to have a successful blog that’s hardly making enough money to keep up with its cost.
11. Start Video Blogging
Why do I create content? Because, Firstly, “Happiness is when I hit the ‘Publish’ button”. Secondly, “Sharing is caring”. And the bonus? I was able to make a living from my blog. However, I never thought I would start a video blog (or a YouTube Channel). It was definitely not my thing.
But over the past few months, I am spending a lot of time on YouTube. And no, it’s not to watch videos. Instead, to monitor what other YouTubers are doing/creating. My sister (a food blogger) told me a while back that blogging is nearing its death and YouTube is the next big thing. She has noticed that most of the food bloggers were focusing on YouTube.
At first, I thought it’s stupid to think that blogging/content is going to die. At least not anytime soon. But when I started focusing on YouTube, I realized that she had a point. Again no, I disagree with her that blogging is nearing its end. But yes, it’s evolving. Today, blogging is not all about publishing few blog posts. Instead, it’s all about personal branding. And it includes writing blog posts, creating videos, creating podcasts, doing workshops, selling digital products & services, and what not.
When I put countless hours to content creation, it’s read by say 1,000 or say 10,000 people (if am lucky), even if the content is amazing. On the flip-side, if I create a pretty decent video and it got some traction then it has the potential to reach a million views on YouTube.
And as you probably know YouTube is great for building a brand and reaching a wider audience. The reason is pretty simple. Your blog is read by few thousands of readers a day, but YouTube has got over a billion active users. And this is the single biggest reason why I suddenly jumped into YouTube.
Closing Thoughts: What blogging means to me… Today.
Well, there were different phases for that. At first, it was just another publishing medium like I’ve already mentioned (Remember the old Yahoo! GeoCities? Yes, something like that.). And then I started blog marketing and was making thousands of dollars but later I almost quit.
Again back in 2011-12, I resumed blogging with even more passion (and obsession). So now it’s a place to archive my randomness. And yeah, it’s a powerful medium to share ideas and moreover, writing makes you happier, smarter and a better thinker.
And the third phase could be Minterest Level 3.0.
I spend a lot of time blogging but the problem is I’m not trying hard to monetize it. That is because I don’t treat my blog as a business and I don’t want to be a full-time blogger for the rest of my life. Oh yes, if you’re a professional blogger then you have to treat your blog as a business.
The reason why I don’t consider blogging seriously as a business is that… I don’t really want to live a Google or social media dependent life.
And I don’t really know if it’s right or wrong or is applicable to everything but I always remember this,
Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo. — The Matrix Revolutions
Yes, I know that you won’t agree with me but I have to say that blogging or any other business that depends a lot on Google doesn’t interest me much. But yes, you can make a hell lot of money in a short period of time and that’s the only good thing about these things.
Otherwise, a real business is something that you own, control, and gives value to other people’s lives. That’s why Google itself is a real business (and a money machine too) with over 200 products and services but your blog is not necessarily one.
So what is blogging to you?
P.S. Happy Birthday to me!! Yes, I turned 33 today! ;)