Future bloggers all share a similar moment where they realize they have something to say, so they decide to start a blog and then learn by trial and error. Luckily, there are many bloggers who have gone before you, and you can learn from their mistakes so you don’t repeat them.
When I started Punched Clocks after graduating from Penn State, I didn’t really have a clue about how to get traffic to my blog. I had a desire to share advice on how to navigate the work world and achieve happiness and success in life and work. That is the reason most bloggers start: they have a passion for a topic and a desire to share information.
I learned some valuable lessons about what works and what doesn’t, and also about how to keep going even when it’s not so easy to come up with ideas or the traffic drops. Here are a few lessons I learned along the way.
Choose the Right Niche
It’s important to choose a niche for your blog, but you don’t want to make it so narrow that you run out of things to talk about. For example, a blog on losing weight while low carbing might be a good idea. But a blog about the cabbage soup diet is probably too narrow. Here are two words of advice:
- Search keywords before making a decision on your niche
- Think about the topic and whether you can branch out later if needed.
Focusing on keywords also helps you bring traffic to your blog.
Commit to the Long-Term
You may get lucky and have a social media influencer pick up one or more of your blog posts, share them, and drive massive amounts of traffic to your blog on day two. More than likely, it will take months of writing quality posts, sharing them and doing other promotions before you start to see traffic results. Consider these tips:
- Make a commitment to post at least several times a week for a year before you give up on your blog.
- Keep in mind that people often quit because they aren’t seeing the results they want, but your blog may be just gaining tractions.
Setting a time frame to devote to your blog keeps you from focusing on the ups and downs of blogging.
Recognize That SEO Matters
Even though Google is constantly changing its algorithms, there are still some solid SEO practices you can put into place that will help your blog eventually rank better in the search engines. Remember this:
- Content is all important. Quality, frequency of posts and how well the content matches up to the keywords you’re trying to target are all significant factors.
- Vary your content. Search engines love videos, infographics and other forms of unique content – and so do site visitors.
While you should keep SEO in mind as you write your blog, don’t focus on it so much that the writing doesn’t flow naturally. The most important thing you can do for a new blog is to provide worthwhile content to your readers.
Remember That Dependability Is Key
Decide how often you want to post on your blog and stick with it.
Consider this advice:
- Set a schedule of how often you’ll post and stick to it.
- It’s better to post a few high-quality articles than a lot of low-quality ones.
Communicate with your readers if you make changes to your scheduling, so they will know what to expect.
One of the best things you can do for your blog, especially when first starting, is to get and stay organized. Here are a few tips important tips to consider:
- Create an editorial calendar, so you’ll know what posts to write and when to publish them.
- Use the calendar to vary your content between interviews with others, within different categories on your site and even with videos, articles and other content.
If you don’t create a plan, at some point you’ll hit writer’s block, or a family emergency, and your blog will suffer. A plan keeps you on track.
Create a Category Hierarchy
- Think ahead about categorization. While you can add categories later, you’ll likely want a handful of main categories, and then sub categories under those.
- Try to stick to a single category for each post, so the reader doesn’t grow confused or see repeat information while browsing categories.
Appropriate categories can also make your content easier to find once a visitor arrives at your site.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, sharing advice on finding happiness and success in life and at work. After graduating from Penn State, she moved to Harrisburg to start her career – and is loving every minute of it. Follow Sarah for more advice and a glimpse into the many, many things she learns from @SarahLandrum
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