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5 Tasks New Bloggers Need To Accomplish Before Writing a Word

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New bloggers and veterans alike face steep challenges when starting new blogs. There are just so many blogs out there, many with well established reputations, that making an impact becomes more difficult every day. If you’re not approaching your new blog with a solid plan in place, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. There’s just too much competition these days. You can’t get by just winging it.

When we start new blog projects, we want to get right into it. We want to install WordPress, pick a theme, and get to the writing. That’s the fun part, after all. But when you’re just starting out it’s not the most important part. Before you write the first word for your blog, you need to consider a number of other factors.

These are the five that I advise all clients to take before they even soft launch their blogs.

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1. Pick A Teaching Strategy

Oh, what’s that you say? You want to start a tech blog that discusses the latest news about Apple, Android, and more? I’m sorry to inform you that your blog will almost certainly fail. Having worked in the tech blogging business for more than five years now, I’ve seen so many blogs start and stumble. It’s not enough to blog the news and share your opinions. You have to provide far more value to the reader.

The rule of thumb: If you’re not teaching people something they didn’t know, they will leave and never return. If they come to your page and see the latest news and your opinions, they just won’t see the value proposition. But if they come to your page and see heaps upon heaps of tech tutorials and tips, then they might stick around. If there’s a chance they can find something they can put to use in their everyday lives, their chances of becoming a regular reader increase.

Teach them, and they will appreciate you. They’ll Like you on Facebook and share your articles on Twitter. And that’s how your spread your message. Your opinion on the news is not remarkable, and so people will not remark on it. But your knowledge and teaching skills? Now those are remarkable.

2. Set Aside Time To Learn

It’s not enough to jump into a blog using only the knowledge you already possess. Yes, that knowledge provides a good baseline. If you know a lot about gadgets, then you can teach people how to better use them. But eventually your well of knowledge will dry up. You’ll need to find new information that you can then teach your readers. That means finding time, if not once a day then at least a few times a week, to study up on your topic.

One of my clients has started a DIY home improvement site. He knows plenty about fixing things so that you don’t have to spend money on an electrician, plumber, or carpenter. But shortly after starting his blog he got so many questions that he didn’t have the answers to. It was then that he realized that he needed to become a veritable expert on home improvement. Now he can tell you all the different kinds of bathroom faucets and which ones work best for your house or apartment.

Let’s put it this way: if you don’t have the passion to learn more about your topic, then you probably don’t have the passion to blog about it in the first place. Your base of knowledge can get the ball rolling, but you need to continue pushing it if you’re going to stand out and succeed.

3. Determine Your Posting Strategy

Doesn’t it sound foolish to start writing posts on a blog if you don’t have a strategy for what you’re going to post and how you’re going to present it? It certainly does. Again, you can’t just slap up posts and expect people to assume you know what you’re doing. In fact, a slapdash effort will hurt your credibility and signal to people who you do not know what you’re doing.

Creating a posting strategy works on many levels. It helps inform what you will post, when you will post it, and how you will present it. Let’s take a look at them individually.

What you will post. What kind of information do you plan to present? Will it be in-depth how-to guides? Quick tips and tricks? Rumors and speculation? It might be a combination of the above and more. But whatever the case, make sure you know what you’re going to cover before you start covering it.

When you will post. The old mantra is that you have to post every day. In fact, if you want to attract the most attention you’ll post multiple times daily. Unfortunately, this just isn’t realistic. There’s only so much information to share, even if you continue learning. Decide on a posting strategy. Maybe it’s quick tips on Mondays, in-depth guides on Wednesdays, and a fun post on Friday. Maybe it’s a how-to guide twice a week. Whatever it is, make sure you plan it out in advance.

How you will present posts. This will depend on your strengths and your topic. If you like teaching with photos, then make sure your blog has plenty of high-resolution, illustrative photos. If you’re a word person, make sure you can teach people with precise language. There are some topics, of course, that don’t work with certain media. My client with the DIY blog won’t get far if he uses only text.

4. Determine Your Referral Strategy

What is a blog with no readers? A private diary. Surely you don’t want your new blog to end up like that journal you’ve kept tucked away for years. that means going out and creating ways for people to find your blog. It’s not like it used to be, but there are certain strategies that, with a little tweaking, still work. Here are a few I highly recommend.

Guest blogging. In addition to creating content for your blog, you have to create content for other bloggers as well. Many blogs these days, such as BlogTap, take guest posts because there are too much advantages of guest blogging. You can take advantage of this by writing quality content for their blogs. In exchange you’ll get a backlink. That will not only send some new visitors to your blog, but will also help improve your search rankings. Just as you offer something valuable to your readers with your blog, make sure you offer something valuable to a fellow blogger with a guest post.

PPC. Yes, you might have to spend some money on this new blog. Pay per click ads are becoming more and more prominent in Google searches. This goes especially for mobile search, where you might see three PPC ads and only one or two organic results above the fold. Finding your money keywords and purchasing a PPC campaign can bring instant traffic to your blog. In fact, many PPC experts call it the easiest traffic you can buy.

On-page SEO. While you’ll help your search referrals by guest blogging, you also need to take care of certain on-page SEO elements. This isn’t very difficult. It means writing search-friendly headlines (containing keywords) and using a few SEO WordPress plug-ins that take care of the SEO elements for you. Also, a rule of thumb for tags and categories: use few categories, and set them for the search engines. Tag liberally, and make them work for humans.

Social media. You might find that Facebook and Twitter send you more traffic than Google. But these days having presence on Google Plus have become one of the must have things. If you’re missing out on these elements, you’re turning away traffic. Make sure to set up accounts on both and stay active. That means interacting with readers. If you’re just sending out your RSS feed, you’re not taking advantage of the traffic that social can send you.

5. Hone Your Writing

Bloggers need not be great writers. It doesn’t hurt, of course, but most blogs don’t become popular because of the pristine English. They become popular because the author displays passion, knowledge, and depth. At the same time, that’s not an excuse to completely ignore the writing aspect. While people might not visit a blog specifically because of the writing, they will certainly leave a blog that is poorly written.

Best-selling author Stephen King broke writers down into four categories: bad, competent, good, and great. This isn’t a bad place to start, but it’s his remark about bad writers that falls flat. While he might be right that you can’t make a great writer out of a good one — greater writers are born, not made — he also believes that you can’t make a competent writer out of a bad one. I believe that you can. There is just one precondition:

Check your ego

If you are a sub-par writer and admit that to yourself, you then have the self-awareness necessary to improve. It doesn’t take much, either. Basic English tutorials are available at sites like Answers.com, among many others. Start there for the building blocks. Then expand from there.

  • Read your writing aloud to yourself. You’ll be amazed to learn how much you can improve just by hearing how awkward your sentences sound.
  • Take notes on what you read. Find something interesting? Write it down in a notebook so you can refer to it later.
  • Freewrite. When you have a spare 10 minutes, sit down with a notebook or word processor and type whatever’s on your mind. Don’t stop to correct mistakes, and don’t delete anything. Don’t even break for paragraphs. Just write for 10 minutes. The next free 10 minutes you get, read back what you wrote and see if there’s a nugget of usefulness in there. Then start to work on that.

As long as you can demonstrate a level of competence as a writer, you can run a successful blog. With enough experience, you can even transform yourself into a good writer. And that’s when the opportunities really start to pile up.

That might not be an exhaustive list, but it’s plenty for new bloggers, or veteran bloggers trying new projects, to digest before diving in. The good news: once you’ve take care of these tasks, you’re probably read to start building the content on your blog. That must be a relief. It really is the fun part.

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Comments

  1. Gagan says

    great article Joe Pawlikowski & Blogging Cage , i am sure this will help me in future alot

    Learn from Mistakes and giving proper time for all articles will makes you blogger :P

  2. says

    Well Said Pawlikowski I Was Just Facing The Same Problems Which You Mentioned Above I was Wondering That How TO Get Out Of It. And Your Blog Post Helped Me To get a Clear Veiw of Blogging And I m Gonna Use This Strategy Thanks

  3. says

    Nice strategy about blogger i appreciate your article great information is provided even suggestions in depth is more reliable for the blog begging…..

  4. Sarah Harper says

    Hi Joe, I am planning to start a blog related to tech, reviews and computer geeks. Your tasks will be really helpful for me to become a successful blogger. Thanks

  5. Binh Le says

    I think what helps me get noticed, is that I spend time helping others. When someone leaves a comment, I’ll check out their blog and RT their posts if they are interesting. I don’t help expecting anything in return, but I notice that more I focus on helping others, the more openly people begin to share my posts.

    • Joe Pawlikowski says

      That’s a great idea, Binh. Doing nice things for others is always a good strategy.

  6. prince says

    this are wonderful tips and step that allow new blogger should take before publishing anything on their blog, this post was quite interesting and informative thanks for sharing

  7. says

    Hey Joe ,
    I love the details you give on point #1. That’s where success lies in blogging. People are generally looking for solutions and if you give them answers on your blog, you’ll get them coming back.

    Thanks fot sharing these educative points

    • Joe Pawlikowski says

      It’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned in eight years of blogging. Help people solve a problem, and you’ll find an audience.

  8. Ashish Gill says

    awesome post…..really helpful in many ways..thanks for sharing such article…engaging audience is key rather than generating traffic for the bloggers…

  9. Kim Meredith Smith says

    New bloggers needs to understand the visitors view on the blog posts. Blogger need to target the visitors and keeping on mind that what is trending on the day today world of business.

  10. says

    I have same opinion that we need to provide unique and latest content to the readers. So, they love to visit again in our blog. Thanks Joe for sharing these useful blogging tips.

  11. says

    Good post Joe ,
    Thanks for sharing these tips.This tips are really important for blogging beginners.New bloggers should work hard to get ranked their blogs among the other blogs…

  12. says

    I would like to add one more point: Developing your own article style. This style can be in article layout or even writing style. This makes reader addicted to your writing and even if they find same content on other blogs, they will prefer you since they like you articles.
    Thanks for the tips!

  13. says

    Blogging has become a business for everyone to do online and earn from it. So this article should be the first article to be read by all to know what to do and how to do with blogging. Yes as you have said, defining the strategy will help us to run it life long an change it accordingly to our need which makes us more motivate to work and achieve our success in blogging.

    Thanks for sharing some useful information to be done before I start to blog. It will be useful for all newbie who wants to do blogging as a source of online income

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