Beginning with Blogging: How to Start (And How to Stay Consistent)
So you want to blog. Awesome!
There really isn’t a shortage of reasons why a blog is a great idea. It helps boost SEO, it builds your authority (since it’s your original content), and it lives on a platform that isn’t at the mercy of an always-changing algorithm, like Instagram or Facebook. Having quality content that lives on your own site is the starting point for implementing one of the secrets to successful inbound marketing: building an email list.
With an email list, you have folks who set aside time to interact with your content, which means they’re one step closer to becoming customers. An email list is so invaluable that I honestly wouldn’t judge you if that were the only reason you want to start a blog!
But how do you begin with a blog so that you can build an engaged email list? You could find a million pieces of advice out there about starting a blog and keeping it going, but starting a blog really comes down to three key steps.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
1. Figure Out Your Why and What
Demystifying complicated topics and adding value to your readers’ lives are two of the best reasons to write content.
Truth is, you can’t make a lasting mark on the digital world without providing value to the people interacting with your content. Customers and readers are a lot more loyal to brands and people who are looking out for them than they are to brands and people who only want something from them. In order to figure out what kind of value to add to your readers’ lives, ask yourself why you’re starting a blog.
If you’re starting a blog for a business, your answer could be something along the lines of “to help build our website’s SEO.” And that’s a great place to start! But that’s an end goal, not a starting point.
Back up a little so that you can think more strategically, and focus on how you can add value to your reader’s lives. The why of your blog could be tied to your brand, or — if it’s a personal blog — a gap that you’d like to fill with your unique voice and ideas. Sometimes that means coming up with a motto, and sometimes that means just looking at the mission statement of your company and going from there.
A perfect example of a blog that focuses on adding value to its readers’ lives is a personal favorite of mine: The Minimalists. Their mission is to talk about “living a meaningful life with less,” and they’ve written and talked (in their podcast) about tons of topics that naturally progress from that focus statement. So:
- If you’re writing for your company, you could focus on topics that will help your customers on their buyer’s journey and further your brand. One way 9 Clouds does that for our automotive clients is by blogging about service topics. Posts like “How to Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Tires” answer a commonly Googled question and portray the dealership up as a helpful resource for its customers.
- If you’re writing for yourself, you could focus on writing your way through a question, such as “What’s the Best Way to Be a Vegan Without Giving Up Your Love of Chocolate?” (answered beautifully by Chocolate Covered Katie). That’s what our friends at The Minimalists call “learning in public,” and it’s a really great starting point if you’re writing for yourself.
2. Figure Out Your Where and When
So you have your focus. Cool! Now it’s time to start writing.
Well, to be more specific, it’s time to decide where you want to start writing. Pick a blog platform and web host you really like, and go from there.
Here at 9 Clouds, we use HubSpot, WordPress, and a few others, depending on the client’s needs. In my personal life, I’ve used WordPress, Squarespace, and Medium as I’ve tried my hand at blogging. All of those platforms are great for different reasons. When you’re trying to decide among them, focus on what you need from your blog.
The best way to know if a platform is right for you is to do a little research and just test it out! Who knows — you may find out that it’s the perfect fit, or maybe not so much.
And that’s okay! You can always switch blog platforms later. Just be sure that you over-communicate with your readers before making the switch. One of the easiest ways to lose followers is by jumping off the platform where they’re used to following you — without telling them first.
Speaking of followers, how exactly do you use your content knowledge to gain a dedicated readership? Here’s the easy answer: by being consistent.
Set up expectations for yourself, and follow through. Will you post every week? Maybe every month? It’s up to you — just make sure you’re being predictable. That way, people know what they’re getting into when they start following you.
3. Write (and Write Often)
Confession time: writing and posting regularly are literally the hardest things to do when it comes to blogging. In the beginning, it’s really easy to get all excited about the idea of having a blog and post really faithfully for maybe a few months . . . and then drop off because you’re not seeing the traction you want, you lose steam, or you just run out of ideas.
According to the folks over at Copyblogger (who are a lot smarter than me), the best way to avoid falling off the face of the digital earth varies depending on why consistency is hard for you.
If it’s because you don’t know what to write about, create a content calendar to help focus your thinking, so all that’s left to do is write.
If it’s because you’re not great at setting aside a reoccurring and dedicated time to write, do it once a month! Spend a couple hours hammering out all your content at once, then set aside another chunk of time later to edit that content, spruce it up with images and formatting, and schedule it.
You Can Start and Maintain a Successful Blog
The best rule of thumb when it comes to blogging is actually one of the best rules of thumb in life overall: you are what you do consistently, not what you intend to do. So if you want to be a blogger, be a faithful one so that you can add solid value to your readers’ lives, build up a following, and aid your content marketing efforts!
To recap, here are the steps you need to take to start a blog and update it in a timely manner:
- Figure out why you’re blogging in the first place.
- Pick out a platform that works for you.
- Decide what you’re writing (and how often).
And then — write.
Hungry for more ideas about content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO)? We’ve got you covered.