Ever since Justin Hall launched the first blog in 1994 with links.net, blogging has redefined the way people publish and share the written word. Now, Huffington Post is the most popular blog on the Internet with roughly 110 million unique visitors each month. It’s also the highest earning blog bringing in a monthly income of a little over 2 million dollars, while the next most profitable blog is Techcrunch at $800,000.
While you may not rake in this much cash, building up a successful blog is a great way to connect with like-minded people, foster an online community and — when successful — generate a modest income. While you may be looking at all the prosperous bloggers on the Web, you may be struggling to get the audience you’re hoping for because of some common mistakes. Here are five things beginning bloggers often struggle with and some suggestions on how you can set yourself up for success.
1. Choose the Right Platform
When setting up a blog, it’s important to make a few considerations before choosing your blogging platform. You need to think about your target audience and which network they’re more likely to use. If you’re going to write about art, music or fashion, Tumblr might be the best place for you. If you’re going to cover topics on business and marketing, you’ll fare better on WordPress. And if your blog is more of a literary journal you’re sharing with the world, then Blogspot could be the right platform for your message.
Even with these considerations, the most important factor in choosing a platform is comfort and ease of use, so go with whatever platform encourages you to publish the most blog posts.
2. Take Notes
This point can’t be stressed enough: you should always be working on your blog. The most difficult part of writing is actually sitting down to start a new project. To help avoid writer’s block, keep a notebook or smartphone in your possession at all times and jot down ideas when they come to you. The blank page will be much less daunting because you’ll have plenty of fodder to sift through for inspiration.
While the old-fashioned pencil and notebook are great, there is a real advantage to using a smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S6, as you can take high-resolution photos via a camera shortcut key and capture stunning HD videos to embed into you blog posts. Whatever you choose, once you build the habit of taking notes you’ll never go back.
3. Find a Niche
One thing that all successful blogs have in common is they have a well-defined identity and speak to a particular type of person. For example, Techcrunch provides the latest technology news, Perez Hilton covers pop culture and Lifehacker helps people become more efficient in their daily lives.
To find success with your blog, come up a with a mission statement that best aligns with the things you are most passionate about, and then find a way to do it in a way that no one else can replicate because it’s driven by your unique voice. Remember that you can’t be all things to all people, and the best way to build a following for your blog is to ensure it has a distinct perspective and an idiosyncratic approach.
4. Treat Your Blog Like a Job
Whether or not you’re being paid, you need to dedicate yourself to working on your blog with the same discipline you have for your day job. This means sticking to a regular writing schedule and holding yourself accountable to meeting deadlines. One of the worst traps to get in is to believe you only need to work when inspiration strikes. This could result in days or weeks passing by before you sit down to write again. By sticking to a regular writing schedule, your body will adapt to your routine and you’ll start to feel in the mood to write when it comes time to knock out another blog post.
5. Engage With Your Community
While blogging can sometimes feel like a solitary task, don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s ultimately a social form of writing. Encourage your readers to post their thoughts and opinions in the comments section and then respond to their questions and comments. Share your post on social media so people can develop a rapport with you and your ideas.
In addition, it’s a great idea to develop relationships with fellow bloggers by commenting on their posts, asking them questions in private messages and sharing their work on your social media pages. This a great way to get your name out into the world, and it can lead to forging lasting friendships with like-minded people.