I wrote in one of my last posts that there are a lot of “problems” regarding blogging before you actually start a blog:
- what do I write about?
- I will never be able to come up with a new topic every week!
- who is going to read what I have to tell?
- what software to use? WordPress or Tumblr?
- I have to make this blog look nice before I write anything!
- article published and now what? Where do I find readers?
- what if people leave a negative comment on my blog?
And even when you started out with the first posts “the problems” sometimes come back:
- no one cares about this particular topic – mind says: don’t publish it!
- this article is not ready yet - mind says: don’t publish it!
From my experience the most important thing is to “always.be.shipping.”. Some even suggest you should develop a “fear of not shipping“. This is especially hard if you are used to doing your work by looking over stuff countless times in order to make sure everything is nice & shiny. The following is what ultimately drove me to writing more consistent and what I learned so far:
This is what my schedule looked like for the first month:
- Monday: bulletpoints
- Tuesday: extend bulletpoints
- Wednesday: first draft
- Thursday: finalize – graphics & examples
- Friday: control & market
- Saturday & Sunday: idea generation for next post
I found especially Monday and Tuesday extremelly important. When you have those bulletpoints, the rest is just execution. I kept this schedule for the first couple of posts and it has been really helpful for me to break up writing like this. Over time the amount of time needed to write a post shrinks and I usually do this:
- quick bulletpoints when I have an idea
- brainstorm more bulletpoints, examples, references when I have time
- write the post in a couple of hours
The idea-stage totally disappears after some time as you really start to “become aware” of new topics just by writing consistently every week. A lot of people use custom setups for boosting their writing. Some use dedicated locations (e.g. coffeeshops on a sunday morning) as their “drug”, some use time-pressure to do it. Mark Suster has a great article on his way of writing blog-posts, too.
I have found the most valuable way of creating content is to share your experience. So for me this is everything on getting-started including starting to code, online-marketing, motivation, productivity, etc. The topic is also defined by your goal of blogging, for example reaching like-minded people in your space or creating a content-page to earn $$$. Play around with the topics you cover as some might turn out to attract more readers than others. That allows you to focus on certain areas over time.
Learning from others
A good starting point for learning is also to look at others. Look at personal-blogs, look at marketing-blogs and pay attention to:
- stlye of writing
- reactions to comments
I covered most of this in my post on how to drive the first 1k users to your landing page. In general it makes sense to find a site that allows you to reach a really targeted audience. From there people who are interested will come back or sign-up to future posts via RSS, E-Mail or follow you on Twitter, etc. I think you should really aim for the quality of readers instead of the quantity. So pay close attention to your analytics (e.g. Google-Analytics) when looking at numbers such as “average visit duration“. I usually have a really high average-visit-duration from Reddit and Facebook, (popular) Hackernews is often only a fraction of this. Also try different mediums according to your style and content. A few examples:
- Quora-Blogs: Perfect to (re)blog your content, especially if it is fact based (mine is here)
- Soundcloud: tell about your experiences. A lot easier to record than a video (I am currently experiencing with this here)
- Youtube: If you have got something visual and like to present yourself or a product
Also make sure to play around with:
- social: different social-integrations (in line with your readers) and places on your blog (before/after posts, floating)
- frequency of posting: 1-2x per week or less/more often
- publishing time: according to your (most) readers time-zone, weekends, evenings, etc.
I think one of the reasons blogging is great is that you are able to state your opinion in public. This may lead to (and sure will) people criticizing your content, your writing, your formatting, your titles, your images. As you put more content out there, the more likely it is that you reach more people and get criticized by some of them. To successfully handle this criticism I found two points really important:
- don’t freak out over negative comments! This can really hold you off from hours of productive work. Just accept that other people have different opinions. I found this gets better with every post you write (thus hard in the beginning).
- the most important thing (and this applies to a lot) is to focus on what others refer to as the “Line instead of the Dot“
What it means is that you should set yourself a goal (e.g. “write 1 blog-post a week for 6 month”) and really focus on the long-term perspective, not one single-post. So it might turn out that one specific post does not attract that many readers or attracts a lot of negative feedback. But in contrast looking back at the whole thing after 6 months might turn out brilliant for you. So I really encourage you to start blogging and put something out there. I have found that it really clears your mind by writing down what you think. It connects you with other likeminded and awesome people. It helps you to focus and be more aware of what you do. It puts you out there in the wild, yet vulnerable & sometimes unprepared but makes you even stronger while there. And it is just a lot of fun to do! Have you been thinking about blogging and struggle with something? What are your success-recipes to writing on a regular basis? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments! Photo-credit: iam_photography