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Don’t Go Into Blogging If You Don’t Know These 7 Things

Don’t Go Into Blogging If You Don’t Know These 7 Things

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!

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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).

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  • 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.

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    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 Upwork 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:

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    • 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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    Daniel Wallen

    Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2019

    How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

    How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

    Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

    Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

    But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

    To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

    What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

    You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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    You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

    If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

    1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

    Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

    Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

    While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

    2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

    It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

    “While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

    In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

    Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

    3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

    Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

    For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

    4. Good leaders are students.

    In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

    I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

    Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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    As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

    5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

    It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

    “As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

    This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

    6. Good leaders understand themselves.

    I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

    Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

    Final Thoughts

    Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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    Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

    After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

    Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

    If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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    Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
    [2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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