Beginner bloggers all make the same mistakes. From straight-up copying style and content from others (good for learning, bad for business) to trying to Frasier up their vocabulary to seem more trustworthy (impresses no one, makes writing stiff). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to common blogger errors.
One way to avoid these is to stop for a second before jumping into the deep end of the blogging pool, and ask yourself these questions.
Do You Have a Plan?
There’s nothing like aimlessness to turn off a potential reader.
Imagine this: you somehow stumbled onto a blog post. You like the style of it, so you go to their feed to see what kind of stuff they usually post, and find… no core theme whatsoever. There’s a post about what grapes are made into what wine, how to pick out a typewriter, a rant about headphones, and no central idea that all of the posts revolve around. Do you feel enticed to check out more of their blog or subscribe to their mailing list? Or do you feel mostly confused? Smart money is on the latter.
If there’s no cohesion in your blog, how can you hope to attract a readership?
The solution here is to know who you’re writing for. Sit down and write every detail about your reader that you can muster. What do they do? What do they like? What keeps them up at night? Knowing who you’re targeting with your writing is probably the most important thing you can do before actually starting your blog. Using your own judgment of what’s “good” or “interesting” is one of the more dangerous gambles you can take.
All of these data points about your target reader is something that will prove useful in creating content for them. And if you’re still not convinced that this is necessary, you’re going to recall this piece of advice when it’s 2 a.m. and you’re stuck brainstorming topics.
Do You have a Goal?
To grow your audience, you need to set short-term and long-term goals.
The goals could be for any number of metrics you’re going to use to measure your success: daily uniques, newsletter subscribers, number of clicks on a specific link, etc. Anything you can take steps to increase can become part of your goal, but it’s best not to spread your attention too thin. Pick several to begin with, and focus on them full force.
Every piece of writing you put out into the world should exist to serve a single goal: maximizing success in that one metric.
Do You Know Who You’re Up Against?
Researching the competition is something you should have done the second you came up what niche your blog is going to be in. Knowing where your prospective readers spend their time is key to attracting them to your page.
Blogging niches tend to have their own trend cycle independent from other media, so you better make sure that you’re keeping up with what the latest thing is in your circles if you want to stay current.
Not just that, making friends in the right circles will be a huge step up for your blog! Cozy up to a few bloggers in your niche and start helping each other out. Write a guest posts for one another, promote each others posts o social media, and have a friend in the trenches you can go to for advice.
Are You Prepared to Work Hard?
Possibly the most obvious, yet most important question in the bunch. Are you prepared to put in the hard work that it takes to maintain a blog? If you’re doing this all on your own, you’re definitely facing a difficult challenge. The problem with those just starting out is that they don’t see a return on their investment soon enough, and quit before really getting the ball rolling.
The harsh truth is that success in blogging most likely won’t come to you overnight, but there’s one thing you can do to win, and that’s stay the course.
To summarize, you need to know what you’re doing before you start doing it. And if all this seems like the opposite of the fun times that you imagined blogging to be, don’t worry, it’s going to get a lot more difficult. When you’re stuck brainstorming topics and wondering why you’ve been plateaued in the visitor numbers for awhile, you’ll be forced get back to the basics of it all — the stuff covered in this article.
Mind you, there’s a number of bloggers out there who found success without planning their content and just relying on personality and attractive writing style. If you think you have the potential to be one of them, by all means, close this tab and start your unlikely journey to success. For all the others, take the time to answer these questions, and prepare for the hard road ahead of you. Good luck.