The first year of blogging can be daunting and difficult. The learning curve for new bloggers is steep. Very steep. Website design basics, writing and publishing blog posts, navigating the wild and ever-changing world of social media, and problem solving along the way are all enough to keep a newbie busy. Very busy. You may feel at times like you are drowning in TO DO lists and competing priorities, with very little financially driving the engine of your blog.
It is, however, sometime late in that first year when you are able to pull your head up above the waterline and see the future that is your blog.
The key to maximizing your current and future potential as a blogger is to think strategically about both WHAT you want to accomplish and HOW you are going to accomplish it. A good blogging strategy considers four key components equally.
- The Blog Itself
Getting a quality blog post written and published is a lot of work, especially for new bloggers. In that first year, I had to tune out blogging gurus as soon as they would throw out terms like “content calendar” and “blogging schedule.” My brain was super-saturated, leaving no room for such idealistic lingo. However, consistency in blogging is what separates the newbie from the professional.
Consistency means different things to different people. For some it is one blog post per week; for others, two or three posts are within reason. Wherever you fall on that spectrum is fine, as long as you are consistent. My goal is one awesome post per week. More than that would be a stretch, and less would be lazy.
- Social Presence and Engagement
The second part of a good strategy for a (not so) newbie blogger is ramping up your social platform. This strategy is made up of two parts: consistency and engagement. Whether you are posting once per day on Instagram, twice on Facebook, and several times on Twitter, the key is being consistent. When you are consistently present, people start to pay attention. That attention is called an audience.
But building an audience is only the first step. Engaging with audience is the reason they will stay with you. And that, my friends, is what a following is. Don’t be deceived by the number of “followers” you may have on paper. If there is no engagement between you, it is just a number.
- Building A Network
Never more true than in the world of blogging, having a strong network of folks around you can help you in immeasurable ways. BlogPaws for me has become an integral part of my new network and one that I lean on daily for support, advice and inspiration. Take the time to reach out to those you admire, ask questions of tenured bloggers, and offer to help, support, or share their content. A network is synergistic, with the whole being stronger than any one individual. Put another way, newbie bloggers make friends; professionals build a network.
- Financial Engine
While no less important, it logically follows the other three components. Without consistency, engagement and a network, there is no audience. Being a blogger with no audience is like singing in the shower when no one is listening, making it impossible for brands (or talent scouts) to find you. With a growing audience in place and engaged, a (not so) newbie blogger is in a perfect position to realize monetization opportunities that will power the financial engine of the blog.
As a budding professional blogger, I can tell you that setting goals and establishing a strategy for success takes passion, planning and persistence. You have to know what you want and why, plan how you are going to make it a reality, and stick to it with commitment and resolve. Seize the opportunity that this New Year brings by planning on, not hoping for, blogging success.
Newbie and not-so-newbies: What’s getting you through these early days of your blogging efforts? What questions do you still have to stay motivated and on your game? Those of you with more experience under your belt: What has kept you motivated? What advice would you share with newbie and not-so-newbie bloggers?
Stephanie Seger is a mother, wife, big dog lover, and blogger. She proudly shares her life with her 2 children, husband and the inspiration for her blog, her Mastiffs Sulley and Junior. You can find her at Big Dog Mom and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @bigdogmomusa.