How to Become a Phenomenal Blogger
Everybody writes, right?
1. Figure out your blog's focus.
Say you were going on a trip, but you never really decided on your destination. So you pack your bags, get the travel snacks and put gas in the car… and then you just drive around aimlessly.
That's similar to what happens when you decide to start a blog and don't know what it's focus will be. You'll write a bunch of content on a variety of different topics, but the blog feels disjointed and aimless. So, right at the beginning, take some time to figure out what your blog is about. That doesn't necessarily mean that you're picking out one particular topic or category and everything you ever write will be on that topic. It means that you're creating a mission statement of sorts that provides a structure and boundaries for your blog. If your mission statement is something to the effect of "providing commentary on the arts, literature and Netflix," it's pretty clear what your posts are going to be about.
The mission statement doesn't have to be written out or emblazoned on your blog, but you need to know what it is. It will provide the framework for everything you post—and the things you don't.
“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”— ― Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym
2. Figure out what's feasible.
So, you want to blog. You've figured out the focus and know what kind of content you want to produce (and the kind you'll exclude). Now it's time to think about the kinds of posts you'll create.
Maybe you're a prolific writer, capable of producing deep, thoughtful pieces six days a week. Or maybe with your work schedule and picking the kids up from daycare, you're only going to be able to produce one longer piece a week, in that two-hour time slot when the toddler is napping on Saturday afternoons. Think about your life, your drive to write and your schedule. What's a schedule you can consistently keep up with?
Some bloggers post every week day. Others post content three times a week. The point is to figure out what works for you and what you can actually do on a consistent basis.
After you've figured out the frequency you'll be posting, take it one step further. While every post be a long, heavily researched think piece? If you're like me, the answer is probably no. As you consider the frequency of your posts each week, also think about the depth of your articles. A former boss of mine compared types of posts to foods. Maybe you provide one dinner, a snack and an appetizer. Meaning one longer, in-depth piece, a short, snappy article (200-300 words) and a brief quote or a post that's an image. There's no right or wrong answer; it's just what works for you. But figuring this out before you start posting is imperative!
3. Plan ahead.
We've all seen it. The writer who starts a blog, then quickly loses focus and interest and the blog with such promise fades into obscurity. You can run a blog on passion for awhile, but sooner or later, you're going to need a plan to keep you accountable.
You don't have to plan out a whole year of content at a whack, though there probably are content producers who do. For me, I like to think about my blog in month-long chunks. So, about four times a year, I sit down and think about topics or themes I might want to cover over the next few months, always through the lens of my blog's focus. I consider blog series I might want to create or projects that sound fun.
And then, I make some decisions, taking my ideas and deciding which ones I can make become reality. I jot down theme ideas or blog series concepts and assign them to a particular month. Then, I drill down a little further, plotting out specific blog posts for specific dates according to the frequency I settled on in step 2. These posts are set in stone and I may change the schedule around throughout the month, but actually plotting out what I plan to say and when I plan to post it gives me a sense of urgency and accountability.
4. Set aside time to write and plan.
If something is important to you, you make time for it. You have to be intentional about writing a blog; otherwise, your domain will just sit there with those three posts you wrote when it was exciting and new.
To gain readers, your blog has to be updated on a consistent basis. Do you listen to podcasts? Well, you'd probably unsubscribe from any podcast that didn't update on a regular basis. You have to approach your blog in the same way. Set aside time each week that's devoted to writing, planning and thinking about the blog. You can even write posts ahead of time and schedule them to post at a later date (on many platforms). You must have content to have phenomenal blog—and to have that, you have to make the time to create. While ideas may strike at any moment, it's that daily or weekly appointment with the keyboard that makes them come to life. So no matter how many excuses you come up with when it's time to sit down and do the work of writing, do it anyway.
Editing is a key component of writing. Let me say that again: editing is a key component of writing.
Yes, sit down and let the words and ideas flow. Don't judge, just write. But later, when the euphoria of creation has faded, it's time to edit. Writing is work, people. Very, very few writers simply sit down and produce something genius that requires no editing. A good writer knows this and is prepared to do the tough work of paring down the excessive phrases, tightening where you waxed a little too eloquently and making clear the passages that simply don't make much sense when you read them with clearer eyes. Cut away the words and phrases that take away from the key point you're trying to make. Read the work aloud to see if anything sounds strange, stilted or unclear. Strive to be concise rather than wordy. Actually translating an idea from dream to reality is the biggest hurdle, but the second equally important hurdle is editing your work.
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© 2017 Mandy Crow