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How To Blog: Blogging In The Real World -Common Misconceptions & Blogging For Money
I’m going to let you in on a secret most bloggers don’t want you to know about.
Blogging is not about writing.
Yes, being a good writer is one aspect of blogging – content marketing – but it’s far from the whole picture. Good writing is just the cost of entry.
A lot of advice is going to contradict this, so let’s use a metaphor to help you wrap your mind around it.
Imagine your blog is a television network, and it’s your job to manage that network. While you’re not directly responsible for the content that the network airs, it is your job to make sure the network’s programming schedule has a certain flow to it.
Take a look at a network’s programming guide and you’ll see what I mean.
In the morning there’s morning news, followed by daytime drama, followed by court shows, talk shows, sitcom reruns, prime time programming, nightly news, late night comedy then infomercials (give or take)
Looking at it in this light, the only major difference with blogging is that instead of breaking these content types up over time of day, you break it up over categories and sub-categories to make it easy for people to consume whatever they want, whenever they want.
But that’s really it, pretty much everything else follows a similar structure. For a blog to be successful the content needs to first be good, but that content needs to be scheduled and structured in a way where one piece flows into the next with little friction.
This is the same reason why Glee comes after American Idol, and The Following comes after Bones.
Without that you’d have melodramatic teenagers breaking into song for the hour leading up to watching a psychopathic serial killer murdering innocent co-eds.
A good part of what makes an audience stick around and come back is that content follows a reliable and consistent structure. That’s why they call it “programming.”
So How Do You Create Programming People Want?
First, ask yourself this – What are you most passionate about?
And when I mean passionate, I mean PASSIONATE.
Like if I got you started on something, could you go on for hours and hours about it?
Just as an idea, think about those people you know who can talk for hours about old movies, or independent movies (my other passions). For some people it might be Art, or health and fitness, or web design, pop culture, technology, cars, food, writing, your kids, Diy projects, landscaping…
Anything really, just make sure you’re passionate about it. Because if you’re still on this page, I imagine you have bigger plans for your blogging than just having a glorified journal.
Ok next, take that Master subject and break it up into smaller categories.
For a site like /Film that covers modern mainstream and mainstream independent movies that breaks down into:
/FilmCast (the show’s podcast)
Now each of these categories are still pretty broad, which is why /Film breaks them down into sub categories, for example:
and Page 2 (random tidbits)
When you break “movie news” into each of these sub-categories, it’s easier to manage mentally, and is a whole heck of a lot easier to monitor the web for relevant buzz and create content that fits each area.
Once you have this framework for what kinds of content you’re going to fill your blog with, you could use a free tool like Google Alerts or a more robust paid tool like SeoMoz’s Fresh Web Explorer to monitor the web for things like “movie casting news” “comic book movie news” “horror movie news” etc… that way you can have a steady stream of information to write about for each category.
To create the “programming” effect, you’ll want to publish to the different sub-categories on the different days of the week. (I.e Comic Book Movie Monday, Sequel Saturday…etc)
When you’re blogging as a single author, you want everything to link back to that single category, whatever your version of “movie news” is, because that’s how you grow an audience and create “programming” that establishes you as the de facto authority on that subject.
When it’s time to expand hire another blogger to manage the old section, and open up a new category to attract a wider following.
But what most bloggers do, myself included until recently, is start by doing some movie news, some reviews, maybe the occasional fan art… they’re all over the place, thinking that will get them “established” as the authority on “Movies” as a whole, but all that really does is convey to reader’s you’re an unorganized mess.
It’s much better to stay focused and grow each portion of your site one area at a time, than having every piece of content try to win over an audience every time you publish.
Your Blog’s Content
Though we talk about content marketing in more detail on a different section of this site, it is impossible to talk about blogging without also mentioning content.
The simple answer is your content is the reason your blog exists.
Content could be text and images, video, podcasts, infographics, products, research etc.
Your content is the reason why people visit your blog, and is what communicates your message.
However, it must be noted that I make the distinction between “content” and “blogging” because each holds a very different set of responsibilities.
If your blog were a person, then blogging would be the body, while content would be the soul.
The Technical Stuff For Setting Up A Blog
First – Register Your Domain Name
If you’re going to be blogging seriously, you want to do it on your own url. It’s much easier for your visitors to remember yoursite.com vs yoursite.wordpress.com and you’re going to have a better chance at ranking in the search engines when you own your own domain.
Second – Get Hosting
Hosting is where your website’s data is going to live.
While it may not seem important at first, who you host with matters a great deal for the long term success of your blog.
If your host frequently goes down, YOUR website goes offline and there’s nothing you can do about it. There are also times when a host gets hacked, and if your server’s been compromised, your blog, along with anyone else who shares your server, can become a weapon for distributing malware to your visitors.
So figuring out who to host with is a huge deal.
Personally, I recommend using WebSynthesis. It’s a little on the pricy side, starting at $27/month, but they have the most secure and attentive staff out there. They’re also a wordpress specific platform, so everything is built around and optimized for making wordpress, your blog’s content management system work like a dream.
Third – Choose Your Theme
Like hosting, there are a number of free to cheap solutions out there. But the problem with free to cheap solutions is that you run the risk looking like everyone else.
Seriously, how many times have you seen this theme?
When your blog looks like a number of others (mostly spam sites) it’s very difficult for visitors to trust you at first glance.
Your blog’s design matters a great deal when it comes to people paying attention to what you have to say.
At some point, you should consider getting a custom design made for you, but if you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a developer, I would recommend you start with Genesis by StudioPress as they have a number of themes that are beautiful and designed for both desktop and mobile browsers.
Where Do You Go Next?
It’s understandable that you just want to jump right in and start blogging right away.But following this urge right away is the leading cause for dead blogs 6 months to a year down the road.
I’m not telling you this to be discouraging, though. Quite the contrary actually. I’m telling you this so you can create content you’re passionate about with a realistic perspective of what to expect.
Before you do the technical stuff of setting up your website, I want you to give a good think on how your site is going to make money.
Will you Look for Blog Sponsors?
Are you Selling Consulting Services?
Will you be using your Blog for Affiliate Marketing Purposes?
Perhaps you’ll Write an Ebook or Course?
Are you building a website with the intention of selling?
Each one of these methods requires a very different approach for how you’re going to grow it, so figuring out how you’re going to monetize your blog FIRST will help you create and schedule your content with purpose.
After you’ve figured out the ways you’re going to monetize your site, break it up into the categories like we did earlier, then pick one with a specific set of sub categories to write about.
From there, determine the traffic benchmarks you’d like to hit before opening up the new sections of your blog.
Growing Your Blog
If you’re focusing on one category and it’s sub categories to begin with, growing your will be much easier to manage.
Once you start publishing content, you’ll want readers.
While we’ll be talking about how to increase website traffic in more detail in other sections of the site, some things you can do right away are:
Smart Social Media Distribution
Strategic Professional Networking
Because there are so many different ways you can grow your blog, you may want to create a promotional schedule to ensure you’re balancing content creation, blog management, and promotion well.
Stay Patient, Keep Current
Above all else, please realize that growing and maintaining a blog can take time. The dream every blogger has is to get picked up by some major source and become an overnight success.
While this does happen, the truth is even your most successful bloggers have spent years devoting countless hours to their blog and honing their craft.
It takes a high degree of dedication to grow a blog that matters, but with the proper outlook, the willingness to work, and the want to succeed, you can do it.
Also, realize that blogging is an ever evolving thing. What worked a year ago might not work in two months.
So it’s important to stay current on what’s going on with blogging and blog marketing news.
I wanted to quit. I look to my fiancee, her eyes quietly fixed on the road, and half jokingly say, “I think I want to start working for Men’s Warehouse” She says, “Ok” At that moment I realized our lives were in trouble.
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