Blogging is a creative way to express your feelings, reach out to potential customers, and improve your communication skills. Whether you’re blogging for profit or fun, a blog gives you the power to communicate with people all over the world at the click of a mouse.

However, before you run off to publish your amazing blog, it’s important to know these seven blogging tips:

1. Be ridiculously good at one thing and write about that.

Are you a professional photographer who would like to reach out to potential clients? Compile the best photographs from every gig, put them in a blog post, and tell a story about why those pictures are special. Make sure to thank the people in the photos for allowing you the pleasure to work with them, because expressing gratitude for the clients you have will encourage potential clients to give you a chance.

Are you a self-published author who would like to sell more books? Write blogs about related ideas and share the occasional “preview chapter” of one of your works. Don’t forget to make your reader’s life easy by ending your blogs in a link that goes straight to your book listing!

Have you struggled with universal issues like poor body-image, yo-yo weight-gain, an abusive relationship? Express your feelings on a blog directed to people who struggle with the same thing. Tell them a story to inspire them. Offer them action steps and guidance. Be vulnerable and upfront about your struggles to connect with your readers emotionally. Expressing yourself is therapeutic, and helping others will give you a sense of purpose.

2. Determine who you are going to help.

Your blog isn’t about you; it’s about your reader. Ask yourself these questions to sharpen your message and ensure you’re writing with focus:

  • Who am I going to help?

If you don’t know what kind of reader you hope to engage, then you’ll probably find yourself performing for a crowd of none. Teenagers, college students, busy parents, and business owners all speak in a different language, so it would be absurd to think you could effectively express your idea to all of these people in the very same words. If you don’t know who your reader is, you won’t be able to connect with them on an emotional level; and if you can’t connect with your reader on an emotional level, no one will care about your blog.

  • How am I going to reach out to them?

Now that you know who your reader is, you need to figure out where they are. If you’re targeting busy professionals, you might want to join some networking groups on LinkedIn and share your articles there. If you’re writing for busy parents, you could join a parenting forum to meet like-minded people, and include a link to your blog in your profile. If your goal is to help people lose weight, there is an endless supply of weight-loss support groups on Facebook that might find your blogs helpful (just make sure you ask the group’s owner for permission before you share anything).

  • What makes them so special?

You need to know what makes your reader tick. Are there certain words or phrases they use to describe the world and how it relates to them? Do they prefer short action-based posts, or would they rather read a personal story that illustrates your point? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, that’s okay; experiment with as many blog styles and formats as you can. Pay attention to what formula results in the best reaction.

3. Focus on style and substance.

No matter how good you might be at writing, your effort could be for naught if you don’t pay proper respect to the elements of style. Style and substance are equally important. If your web design looks unattractive, blog layout is impossible to navigate, content is riddled in typos, or site loads at a sluggish pace, people will leave your blog and go elsewhere for their needs. Run your blog as if it’s a business. Oh, by the way, you just so happen to be the CEO of this business, so you don’t get to make any excuses.

Reading Doctor Who

4. Read first.

If you can’t even be troubled to read, it’s arrogant to think you have the chops to make it as a blogger. The best writers know that reading is essential to their growth process. When you’re so absorbed in a book’s plot that you can’t put it down, or are so in love with a blog that you spend hours digging through their archives, take a moment to ponder why you feel that way… because this is the very feeling you want to inspire in your reader.

5. Ask for help.

Confession: I suck at a lot of things, especially graphic design and HTML/coding. If I tried to design a logo, blog layout, or book cover myself, they would look like crap. But you know what? It doesn’t matter, because I can pay professionals to do those things for me. If you’re working on a shoe-string budget, don’t fret: browse through freelancer listings on sites like Elance and Fiverr to get some help. If you’re going to do it, do it right; if you can’t do it right, hire someone who can.

6. Don’t quit your day job (yet).

When I first started my blog, I had a single reader. I call her “mom.” Be comfortable with the fact that people aren’t going to magically discover your blog as soon as you click “Publish.” I know it’s hard to be patient, but consistency is the only key that will unlock the door to success. Think about ways to monetize your blog in the future, but be aware that you probably won’t see any profit for a long while.

But don’t get too caught up in that just yet. Think about income generation, but don’t get consumed with it. If you’re a beginning blogger, your primary goals should be to establish a daily writing habit and offer immense value to your readers.

Below are eight questions that will help you keep your readers happy and engaged:

  • What makes your reader laugh?
  • What does your reader think about during the day?
  • What are some common traits that you share with your readers?
  • What does “success” look, taste, and/or smell like to your reader?
  • What roadblocks prevents your reader from achieving goals?
  • What words and phrases does your reader use to describe the world he live in?
  • What sources of stress trouble does your reader face, and how can you relieve her burden?
  • What story do your readers tell themselves about life, and how can you tell a better story?

It would be smart to use sign-up forms to collect the contact details of your readers with an email marketing service like Aweber. This allows you to notify subscribers of your new blogs (and increase your traffic). You’ll also be able to inform them of promotions and/or product launches after you figure out how to monetize your blog.

7. Reach out to fellow bloggers in your field.

One of the best ways to drive traffic to your blog is through writing guest posts on other people’s blogs. Don’t get trigger-happy; you need to wine-and-dine a fellow blogger before you try to score. Leave a thoughtful comment on a recent post or two, interact with them on social media, and maybe share one of their posts with your friends. After a little bit of interaction (I’d suggest giving it at least three weeks), send them an email offering to write a guest post. If you correctly applied the steps before this, they might recognize your name, which helps your cause. Here is an email script you’re welcome to copy/paste and modify to fit your needs:

Hello! This is (Your Name) with (Your Blog or Business Title). I discovered your blog a few days/weeks/months ago, and especially enjoyed your piece, (Insert Blog Title Here). I loved how you (Insert Specific, Meaningful Compliment Here). I am also in the field of (Insert Your Niche Here), and was wondering if you could use a guest post? Below are a few ideas for blogs that I would be happy to write for you. If you would like to see samples of my work, you may do so at (Insert Link Here). Thanks for your time and have a great day.

I hope these seven blogging tips help you make your blogs more creative, helpful, and share-able. Feel free to post a link to your blog in the comments if you have one. Also, in four sentences or less, tell us what you hope to offer your readers. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments.

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