There are well over 100 million blogs out there. Why’s anyone going to read yours?
Every keyword phrase, every niche, every topic, every angle has been covered. The competition for attention and traffic is fierce. But there’s still room for your blog . . . if it’s amazing.
A blog is trivially simple to start, but not so easy to keep rolling. There are so many factors — traffic, social media strategy, design, monetization. If you try to absorb everything at once, you’ll be too overwhelmed to keep going.
It’s important to learn and grow, but you also want to keep your focus. You need a plan — the kind you can scribble on the back of a bar napkin. If you make sure you don’t stray too far from these three points, your best path will get a lot easier to find.
Step 1. Get Obsessed with Your Audience
Your blog isn’t an SEO blog or a mommy blog or a political humor blog.
Your blog is not about your topic at all.
Your blog is about your readers.
Whether you’ve been blogging for 1 day or 1000 days, you need to know who’s showing up to read, watch or listen to you.
What do they care about? What are they interested in? What’s worrying them? What makes them smile? Who/what do they lust after? What do they fear? What do they loathe? What do they cherish?
What do they devoutly wish someone (maybe you?) would write about? What kind of content would feed their minds, their pocketbooks, or their souls?
You never have to pander to your readers. You’re not their slave. But you do have to know them.
Step 2. Keep Yourself in the Picture
In keeping with step #1, I’ve probably said It’s not about you a million times on this blog.
But that’s not really true. It has to be about you. Because blogs are about expression, and if you don’t show up in all your glory, there’s not much point to the whole exercise.
Shoot your mouth off, ideally when you know what you’re talking about. Rant, rave, shout from the rooftops.
And when you’re totally clueless, ask a million questions. Engage, pursue, reach out, investigate.
While you’re at it, go ahead and look like an ass once in awhile. Confess all the oddity and foolishness you’ve been trying to hide since junior high school. (No one’s ever fallen for your cool kid cover anyway.) Get as naked as you dare.
You’re the prism that your readers want to look through. Don’t try to create some kind of quasi-journalistic cloak of invisibility. You’re the point.
Step 3. Stay Fast on Your Feet
Comments slowing down? It may be because your readers are tweeting you instead (which is a fine thing, since those tweets are seen by hundreds or thousands who don’t know you yet). What tools could you add that would make that even easier to do?
Hosting your blog on someone else’s domain, like Blogger or WordPress.com? Make the jump to self-hosted WordPress before you’re completely comfortable with the idea. It might be messy, although a good blog developer can usually make things reasonably painless. But it’s never going to get less messy than it is today.
Sexy new tools are being created every day. You’ll never master them all, so don’t try to. But don’t let your blog sink into the same stagnant habits, either. Try new plugins, new themes, new tools, new approaches.
Great blogs, and great bloggers, evolve.
Blogging is about challenge and mystery. It’s about never knowing who’s going to show up, or link to you, or what exactly your server will do when you hit the front page of Digg.
Blogging, like many of life’s more interesting endeavors, is all about how you take the curves.
Just make sure you have a rough plan and a few grounding principles. Then get out there and have fun. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.