There is no shortage of advice out there on how to be a better blogger. It seems everyone has their own take on what it means to succeed in the blogosphere. That’s because successful blogging is a multifaceted accomplishment, requiring you to be more than just a good writer. Blogging requires an amazing amount of focus, determination, and (overall) passion about the topics that you’re blogging about. Read on to see what it takes to make your blog successful.
What is the purpose of your blog? You should be able to answer this question before you ever start writing. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a mission statement. You don’t have to define your blog too narrowly, or publish your mission statement for all to see, but having one written down will help to guide you with each new piece of content you write.
Next, establish three to five topic buckets. As blogger Mark Collier puts it, topic buckets fold under the larger umbrella of your website’s purpose. For example, if the focus of your blog is to help people with personal development, you might choose motivation, productivity, wealth management, and relationships as your topic buckets. All of your categories would fall under one of these buckets, and every one of your blog posts would fall under one of your categories.
A blogger who only publishes when he feels like it isn’t very likely to have an audience. The truth is, you won’t feel like writing most of the time. However, if you want to create an audience, you will need to blog consistently, whether it be a few times a week or a couple times a month. The important thing is to let your readers know what to expect from you. Keeping an editorial calendar is a great way to stay on track with your blogging. You might also consider writing blog posts in batches instead of one at a time, and publishing each one when the time comes. When you plan ahead, you’re more likely to succeed in staying consistent with your blog.
Human beings are very driven by visual appearance, so you can bet that a user’s first impression of your blog will include the appearance of your website. Your website appearance should reflect your personal style, your business brand, and/or the aim of your blog. Keep this in mind if choosing a theme for your blog.
It’s also important to keep your pages clean and clutter-free. If you have distracting pictures, animations, old content, or banners that don’t contribute to the overall look of your site, then it is time to clean them up. If you have a lot of pictures on your website, consider using a photo gallery theme to keep things in order.
Coming up with content ideas is probably the most difficult part of blogging, so mastering the art of idea generation is one of the best things you can do. First off, you should keep a running list of blog post ideas that you can refer back to. From there you can come up with ideas in a number of ways.
Spend an hour or two each week brainstorming topic ideas. Just write down everything that comes to you, no matter how unpolished the idea seems at first. Sometimes they just need some time to marinate.
Set Google Alerts for your chosen topics and see what news items you can write on.
Visit sites like Yahoo Answers and Quora to see what people are asking about in different categories.
Create blog posts around reader emails.
Ask readers directly what topics they’d like you to address.
Stay on Task
If you have trouble staying on task, then there are a number of tools that can help. Ommwriter is a free tool that creates a writing space within your desktop, and even provides ambient music and appealing keyboard sound effects.
Time Doctor is another great tool. Not only does it track the amount of time you spend on a task, but it also checks up on you, should you drift off to Facebook or YouTube.
A lot of bloggers have had great success with Focus Booster. This little program uses the Pomodoro technique of working for a set amount of time followed by a short break. Which ever tool you use, the most important thing is that you choose something that works for you and follow through with it.
Get Out More
As much as productivity and focus matter in blogging, unplugging and living your life is just as important. Neglecting your other hobbies and passions in favor of blogging can not only drain you, but it can also hurt your writing. As Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
Though blogging can sometimes be a challenge, it can also be a great joy when your audience appreciates what you do. Remember that no great blogger became that way overnight, not even Seth Godin or Brian Clark. Use these tips to improve on your blogging life, and watch your efforts blossom as a result.