Yes, that’s right! It’s the 7th Blogoversary of Minterest. I started Minterest (minterest.com) as a personal finance blog back in 2006 and later in August 2007 I started blogging about “Money, Internet, Investing” (yes, that was the first tagline of Minterest and now as you can see it’s — tech. marketing. mashups.).
To be honest it was “Just another WordPress site” literally and I was simply rehashing topics that were of “My interest“. But there is one thing… I was learning. I loved WordPress and that experience from Blogger.com to WordPress.org was awesome.
I started creating blogs on Blogger.com back in 2004 and was treating it like a simple publishing tool. I guess the reason why it didn’t impress or motivate me much was its inability to customize things the way I wanted.
And when I tried WordPress I started loving almost all of its aspects and started liking coding as well. Yes, I’m a software engineer by education but it was not the coding that inspired me – it’s the magic in “technology“. Thanks to Microsoft.
Coming back… I’m going to feature here 7 blogging lessons and tips that I have… learned, realized, or experienced in one way or the other over the past several years.
7 Blogging Lessons
Well, these are not exactly lessons but it’s a combination of lessons, failures, or a combination of both. And I’ve to say that I have yet to take action (or maybe I won’t for the above mentioned reasons). But the idea is to list few blogging insights so it’s more likely that maybe you will get a tip or two from each point.
Okay, here we go!
Today self-promotion is very crucial if you’re a professional blogger. So it’s like you’ve to brag without really bragging. Because that’s how you get more RSS subscribers, email subscribers, Facebook Likes, etc. How? Because you’ve to sell your achievements so that people will get to know about you and will like you and eventually follow you.
I admit that I’m bad at self-promotion. And it’s a bad thing as I can’t expect the visibility of my blog to go up if I don’t promote it outside search. And on the flip side it’s a good thing as this makes my blog stand out. In fact, I haven’t even asked my friends/family to ‘Like’ my Facebook page yet. Well, that’s how I’m tuned!
2. Done Is Better Than Perfect
It’s a million dollar maxim that I find extremely difficult to follow. When I start writing I get over-excited and over-obsessed. The end result is that… I take several hours to write a blog post when it’s not supposed to.
For instance, a blog post like this or this takes me at least 15-20 hours (or roughly it takes almost 2 days of my life). But there’s one thing I have learned… the secret to writing is to ‘Start Writing’ a blog post.
3. Niche Blogging
Yes, my blog is basically a digital marketing and technology blog. But the reality is that it doesn’t have a specific niche. A niche blog attracts more subscribers naturally because they know what they would get when they subscribe to that blog.
But it’s difficult to get subscribers to a personal journal like mine as I have to convince readers to subscribe to my blog. So unless they got a reason they won’t subscribe.
An alternative is… you increase your personal brand equity so that people will know about you and they will eventually subscribe to your blog.
4. Content Was King
I don’t fully agree or believe that “Content Was King” but it’s a reality… sort of. Know why? Because the most popular blog posts on Facebook or Twitter are not necessarily the best content. It’s like saying real artists are unknown to everyone. The marketer is the winner.
A decade back it was like 90% content and 10% promotion. But today it’s like 90% promotion and 10% promotion. And that’s how real marketers are able to get their first 1,000 readers in no time. An average blogger could take years to reach there if he didn’t promote his blog.
Do you have a blog? If so, then consistency is the key. Like I’ve mentioned, I started Minterest back in 2007 and yet I have now only a little over 200 blog posts. Why? I was not consistent at all and I didn’t follow a publishing schedule (and it’s true even today).
You know there are 52 weeks in a year and it means that I didn’t even publish one blog post a week on an average. And if I were more disciplined and was able to manage 12 blog posts a month then I would have over 1,000 blog posts by now.
Remember, your traffic goes up as the the number of blog posts goes up. And what’s interesting about the traffic growth is that it moves at a higher rate.
If you doubled the number of blog posts then your traffic should also double (or may even triple). The only thing is that… all the blog posts must be of the same quality.
6. Social Media
Social media is a big deal but frankly I don’t get much traffic from social media. Again, because I don’t promote my blog much on social media. I simply share my latest blog posts on my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and few other networks and there ends my blog’s social media marketing.
Over 87% of the traffic comes from the search engines. But sometimes I notice spikes in traffic and that happens when some influencer shares one of my blog post on social media. So if more influencers are sharing my blog posts on social media then it can actually multiply the traffic by several fold.
7. Email List
I realized that an email list is invaluable and out of the 7 lessons it’s perhaps the only thing that I’ll pay attention someday. Because I have been thinking about building an email list for some time. And The Email Marketer’s Handbook was the first initiative for that.
Email marketing builds a community and it therefore drives a lot of traffic, increases your income (as you will get more sales/leads), and will improve the visibility of your brand to a great extent.
Moreover it’s the best way to make sure that your message has reached your potential customers as 91% of Internet users check their email at least once a day.
7 Blogging Tips
Once again, the following tips are tailored for you if you’re considering blogging as a business. But it’s more likely that I won’t follow it myself as I consider my blog as a personal journal.
1. Build Community
If you check a blog that gets above average number of comments per blog post then you’ll notice that all the blog posts have a good percentage of the commentators in common. Why? That happens when they’re part of that blog community and it means that they will leave a comment when the blog publishes a new blog post.
Small publishers can easily build a community by contests, giveaways, giving freebies, accepting guest posts, accepting offers from advertisers, etc. But it’s something that I never did for my blog.
For instance, if you accept guest posts on your blog then the person who contribute content to your blog will promote your blog + blog posts written by him/her on their social media channels, blog, etc. And it means more traffic, better visibility, and of course more subscribers.
2. Connect With Others
I’m actually bad at networking and I don’t behave the way people want me to. For instance, I can easily get more social media love (and money too) by accepting guest posts and by agreeing to do reviews of other products but it’s something that I’m not comfortable to doing.
So here’s a tip offered by a reader who’s a marketer when I expressed my “Connection” problem.
You’re not wrong there, it’s super hard.
Try it, it’s easy. If you gain leverage, then ask for the link and you already have a relationship. For instance, let’s say you’ve referred someone else these clients in the past… how can they say no? Your friend/family member, how can they say no? Someone you send traffic and links to, how can they say no? That’s the outreach strategy.
3. Call To Action (CTA)
Call To Action, or simply CTA, is something that you can see in almost all niche blogs out there. If you’re doing blog marketing then ideally there should be a purpose behind every blog post.
For example, if you’re selling a SaaS product then obviously you must be blogging about things related to your product so that your traffic will be interested in your product. So your CTA can be a “Buy” button or simply a “Subscribe” button so that you can target the person via email marketing later.
Oh yeah, I don’t have a CTA yet but it’s in my to-do list.
4. PR Is SEO
For some people SEO (and link building) is dead. But I believe it’s not going to die and will continue to evolve. Yes, Google is taking actions against almost all SEO practises nowadays but there’s an alternative… always.
I will give you an example
When I first read this article Computer programmer ‘quadruples productivity’ after hiring a woman to slap him in the face every time she catches him looking at Facebook (yes, it went viral) I was amused at the number of websites that were reporting the same story.
The article in a nutshell,
Maneesh Sethi placed an advert on the classified website Craigslist to recruit someone willing to monitor what he was looking at on his laptop. Pays a female employee £5 ($8) an hour to strike him in the face.
And then I asked myself: what if it’s already scripted?
Disclosure: I don’t personally know that guy and I don’t know if it’s scripted or not but I just want to say that it works that way too.
5. People Don’t Need Your Blog
It’s true when you’re new to blogging or if you recently started a new blog.
And I would like to highlight a quote by Jim Connolly to further explain it.
The polar opposite is actually true. The closer you follow the same ineffective set of rules as everyone else, the less likely you are to get anything worthwhile from your blog.
Think about this. Starting a new blog today is like starting a new newspaper. People don’t need another newspaper as they’re kind of addicted to big media houses. So it’s your job to give them a reason to subscribe to your blog.
The best examples are tech blogs. You know there are hundreds of thousands of tech blogs out there but 90% of them are actually rehashing content of the best blogs in their industry.
6. Diversify, Diversify, Diversify
Well, I haven’t diversified my blogging… much. I haven’t really done anything else apart from writing. For instance, I didn’t launch any digital products, e-books, courses, training, tutorials, memberships, etc. when there were opportunities.
Diversification can be diversification of income, traffic, referral sources, content, products, etc. For example, if you have a niche blog then sell a digital product so that if you have a large base of readers then they’ll buy it someday.
So when you build your blogging career make sure that you’re also well diversified. Always have a backup plan.
7. Never Underestimate Your Blog
It’s true that people may think you’re successful only if you’re massively popular or have large social media fan base. But the reality is…
If you have just one reader and your blog changes their life your blog is big enough. — @ProBlogger
That’s right. Never underestimate your blog.
What Blogging Means To Me… Today.
Well, there were different phases for that. At first, it was just another publishing tool like I’ve already mentioned (Remember the old Yahoo! GeoCities? Yes, something like that.). And then I started blog marketing and was making thousands of dollars but later I almost quit.
Again back in 2011-12, I resumed blogging with even more passion (and obsession). So now it’s a place to archive my randomness. And yeah, it’s a powerful medium to share ideas and moreover writing makes you happier, smarter and a better thinker.
‘Happiness’ when I hit the “Publish” button.
I spend a lot of time blogging but the problem is I’m not trying hard to monetize it. That is because I don’t treat my blog as a business and I don’t want to be a full-time blogger. Yes, if you’re a professional blogger then you have to treat your blog as a business.
The reason why I don’t consider blogging seriously as a business is that… I don’t really want to live a Google or social media dependent life. And I don’t really know if it’s right or wrong or is applicable to everything but I always remember this,
Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo. — The Matrix Revolutions
Yes, I know that you won’t agree with me but I have to say that blogging or any other business that depends a lot on Google doesn’t interest me much. But yes, you can make a hell lot of money in a short period of time and that’s the only good thing about these things.
Otherwise, a real business is something that you own, control, and gives value to other people’s lives. That’s why Google itself is a real business (and a money machine too).
So what is blogging to you?
P.S. Happy Birthday to me!! Yes, I turned 29 today!
Image Credit: Flickr