I Blog Hard: Part I

by Rachel on June 10, 2010

Well, I’ve convinced everyone of why they need a blog, but I realized I need to address the question of how.

I can’t tell you how many people come to me and say, “Where do I start?”

And the answer to that is, “OMG — where do I start?!”

It’s really just such a huge topic! I couldn’t figure out how to explain all the aspects of it, but I realized that we could consider your blog’s inner beauty and outer beauty.

Your blog’s inner beauty is all the stuff that no one sees but that really counts. Your blog’s outer beauty is what makes it work — technically speaking, that is. (Now please do not start asking me if your blog looks fat.)

And just like with human beings you have to work on the inside first or no one will be impressed by how good you look on the outside! So today, I’m going to talk about how to get started really developing your blog’s inner beauty. Next week we’ll get your blog’s hair did and get into the fun tech stuff like domain names and graphics and all the tech shizz!

But first: these are the things I tell people to do before they’ve even thought about things like SEO!

Think about your content. You really need to know what you want to write about — and why. Your topic can be super specific or it can be broad, but it needs some sort of theme or idea. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but choosing one or two major areas of focus really helps.

Now read…

Think about how often you can post. If you can’t create a quality post at least once a week, then hold off on starting until you can. You can totally make your own schedule: three times a week, twice a week, twice a day…whatever works for you! But a once-a-month blog post (always introduced with “Sorry I’ve been MIA…”) is going to lack energy and if you’re writing to help your career, it’s not going to show your passion. Can’t handle that? Then plan that you’ll get super motivated, write four posts in one day, and wait to publish them week by week.

Now read…

  • How to Post More Often and Feel Less Guilty. This post I wrote explains how to set a schedule of posting and how to use categories to create better content. The idea of using categories will also seriously help with step one, coming up with your content.
  • Making BTB Time. You might be surprised to find yourself doing more “behind the blog” than actually blogging. But if you aren’t willing to do it, then your blog will look kinda crummy.

Think about your audience. This is huge. (Honestly, these first few steps are all so tied together that you can’t really consider one without the other.) But you aren’t blogging just for you — you’re blogging so that other people read it. And you can’t get people to read it if you don’t think about who those people are.

Now read…

Think about your style and voice. We’ve already figured out what you want to say. Now…how do you want to say it? Short posts? Long posts? Videos? Podcasts? Photos? I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: if your blog comes up in my Reader and I can’t see the title, will I still be able to know you wrote it? If you have style and voice, I most certainly will!

Now read…

Look at other blogs. First, look at blogs that cover all topics. What do you like? What don’t you like? Then hang out in your niche for a while. Think about what the awesome non-niche bloggers are doing and how you can apply that to your niche. And then look at what the other bloggers in your niche are doing. Find the “best” and most popular blogs. Find the crappiest blogs. And look long and hard.

Do not stop looking when you say, “I could do this too!” You can stop looking when you can confidently say, “I could do this better.” Do not even think about going forward until you’re certain that you can do it differently and better than other bloggers are already doing it.

If you can’t figure out how yet, then hang out in pre-blog purgatory until you can! There’s no rush. Think about what’s missing in the niche you’re trying to enter. Can you provide new and interesting content? Can you be the blogger who posts just once a week but goes super in depth on a topic? Go back to Step #3 — maybe writing to a different audience will help. I mean, hey, when I thought about writing about health and fitness, I knew the content wasn’t too novel. So instead I chose to write my blog to an audience that gets laid. Huge, huge, huge difference in the blog I could produce.

I know it’s hard to be patient but remember…inner beauty is more important in the long run! No one cares about the outer stuff if your heart and soul aren’t in the right place. I’m not even going to give you the steps on how to do the tech shizz yet because I want you to have time to think about this first.

Because there’s a pretty good chance that once you start blogging, you’ll get pretty into it and want to put a good amount of time and energy into it. Why put time energy into something that doesn’t have a solid foundation? Don’t rush through these first steps!

Yes, I blog hard. But I truly believe that if you’re going to blog, you should blog well. And I know you can. And I really hope you do!

Read Part II & Part III!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joanna Banana June 10, 2010 at 8:58 am

OMG. Thank you Rachel. Oddly enough I was just about to search my reader for blog maintenance tips. I got my first non mom and sister comments this past week and I cannot believe the SURGE of energy it gave me to keep up. UNREAL. All these tips and posts will just help me even more. THANK YOU SO MUCH

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2 Mary (A Merry Life) June 10, 2010 at 10:53 am

Love this post. People forget these things when they blog but they are crucial!

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3 Kevin - @lunchboxsix June 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Step 3# “Think about your audience. This is huge. (Honestly, these first few steps are all so tied together that you can’t really consider one without the other.) But you aren’t blogging just for you — you’re blogging so that other people read it. And you can’t get people to read it if you don’t think about who those people are.”

This is what I am struggling with. I have been blogging about twice a week. I want to keep my ideas fresh but I try everytime to think first will my reader like what I am putting down on my blog. Yes, I said reader. Not – readers… HA

Kev

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4 Rebecca June 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I needed a little kick in the butt and I have to say these tips really motivated me! Thanks!

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5 Rachel Marlena June 10, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Ugh still stuck in “blog purgatory” but I KNOW this and accept it because like you’ve said, it is about successful blogging, not sucky blogging. Great tips, Rachel!
xoxo

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6 Hayley June 10, 2010 at 5:07 pm

thank you thank you thank you!!

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7 Trinidad June 10, 2010 at 10:01 pm

This is so helpful! I just started blogging, last week, HA! And have been looking for good tips, especially on how to gain readership. I really liked the mindcasting vs lifecasting part! I never thought about it that way but it’s so true. I’m gonna have to bookmark this one!

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8 Rachel June 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm

I’m so glad you liked it!! Seriously, I love hearing that — and good luck with your new blog! I’ll definitely be checking it out! :)

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9 Lindsey January 24, 2011 at 10:29 am

Hi Rachel! I’m a newbie…but I took your advice and recently stalked you on facebook, read a bunch of your life lessons, and (my favorite thing to do to favorite blogs I read) bookmarked you on my work computer, home computer, and husband’s computer.

Let me start by saying that I know I’m probably not the best user of commas, etc. I do make mistakes but always triple check anything I write that will hit anyone else’s eyes, just to assure myself that I gave it my best effort. I’m no English major.

I considered starting a blog numerous times, but then realized that no one wants to read my diary. This post about how to start a blog was awesome though, and I may consider giving it another go. I read my favorite blogs every day and might be getting the hang of knowing what people are interested in reading. They need entertainment to go along with whatever lesson/recipe/story you choose to share. What they DO NOT need, however, is distraction in the form of stupid mistakes. Let me explain. My co-worker (who I’ve known since seventh grade) recently started a blog about cooking and she loves doing it because she loves to cook. The problem is that the blog is SO TERRIBLE.

The mistakes are everywhere and fall into several categories –
…the annoying kind where the wrong tense of a word is used:
“The peanut butter can become soft and allow them to slight crumble apart.”
…and the even more annoying kind where too many exclaimation points are used:
“Now, I basically used every ingredient on this list. Except I couldn’t find the McCormick’s packets! I have no idea why!!! It’s really frustratig whenever Super Fresh doesn’t have everything I need!! ”
…and the kind where it is just plain wrong, in a funny way:
“But I understand that some people don’t like the taste of meat or don’t eat meat because of the animals rights things.”

What should I do?! She needs help. She needs spell check. She needs someone other than her fiancé to comment on her posts. Since I’m a friend (and since she sits 10 feet away from me Monday-Friday), I really hate to burst her bubble by telling her she needs to edit. Plus, my name and email address would be visible to her, so anonymous bashing is out of the question.

Can you help her?

Thanks – and I love your work!
Lindsey

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