10 Things All Bloggers Should Do - dummies

10 Things All Bloggers Should Do

By Amy Lupold Bair

You can tap into a vast variety of tips and tricks that can take you to the next level with your blog or even help you settle in happily where you are right now.

Discover your voice

Your blog is an extension of you, and discovering your blog voice is a bit like discovering yourself. Many bloggers struggle in the first weeks (or months or years!) to find their blogging voice. It’s also quite common for bloggers to travel far down their blogging path before deciding to change their writing style.

As you begin thinking about your blogging voice, ask yourself what you want your readers to know and feel about you. Do you want your blog to mimic an informational website, perhaps sharing product reviews or the latest news? Or would you like to treat your site as an online journal, sharing every bit of yourself?

It is not at all uncommon for bloggers to struggle as they find their blogging voice and gain the courage to write freely. However, after you’ve discovered your voice, blogging will become magically easier and suddenly more enjoyable.

Stoke your muse

Your life will inevitably change as you encounter exciting new things and opportunities. You may get a new job, your children will age, or you may decide to move to a new city. In any case, don’t neglect what inspires you.

If you write a mommy blog, your content will likely focus on the stage of life that you are in and the challenges you face with your children. But, those topics will change as your children age.

However, if you only focus on your blog and not remember to take time for your family and myself, your muses would be neglected and, consequently, our content would suffer. As you work hard to bring your blog to the place you want it to be, don’t forget to take time to stoke the muse that inspired you to write in the first place.

Survey your readers

Unless you are blogging solely for you and care nothing about growing or fostering your readership — which is absolutely fine, by the way — you should take time periodically to connect with your readers to get their thoughts on your blog.

Some bloggers like to keep an open, ongoing survey that is always available, not unlike a feedback box in a place of business. A link to such a survey can be included at the end of posts, within your RSS feed, or even as a widget in your sidebar. You may choose to check in with your bloggers once or twice a year instead, devoting an entire post to reader outreach.

Typical reader questions may include:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Education level
  • Gender
  • Favorite post topics
  • Interest in blog giveaways and contests
  • Preferences for blog subscription method

One popular tool is Survey Monkey, which allows users to create basic surveys at no cost. For those of you with a Google account, you may want to consider creating a simple questions form on your Google Drive. Each new form allows you to embed a link for your readers to complete the form, and your Google Drive keeps track of your readers’ responses.

Find your tribe

You’ve likely caught on by now that the blogging world not only requires participants to learn a new technological skill set but also introduces them to a whole new language. One of these fun terms is tribe, or simply put, the readers and fellow bloggers to whom you most relate.

Finding your tribe can be a tough and lonely road, but after you’ve plugged in to the online community that is right for you, it will take your blogging experience to a new, more enjoyable level. Take your time finding the community that is best for you, and be sure to look both inside and outside your content area while on your journey.

Don’t count your readers out when searching for your tribe! What are some of the other blogs that your most frequent readers also enjoy? (This is where a reader survey comes in handy!) Do your readers participate in online forums? Do they also blog? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when trying to join the right tribe for you.

Know your traffic sources

There are many reasons to know how many visitors your blog receives, from being able to report to advertisers to simply knowing that you’re not sending your content out into the abyss. However, even if you truly don’t care about the number of readers your blog draws, you still may want to know your traffic sources.

Take a look periodically at your traffic sources. For starters, it’s nice to know whether that sidebar ad you’ve placed on a friend’s blog is actually driving new readers to your site, or whether that free guest posting you’ve been doing is truly building your audience.

It’s also useful to your future content creation to know whether some content is drawing more readers than other posts.

This information may inspire future editorial calendar (where you schedule future blog posts) ideas! You may also want to go back to old posts that are still receiving search engine traffic and update these posts with links to more recent posts. Using tracking programs to look thoughtfully at your traffic sources may give your blog — and you — a needed boost, even if traffic is the least of your blogging goals.

Set goals

Joining the blogosphere can be an overwhelming experience, but you need to know what your goals are. Blogging goals don’t have to be complicated, and they’re certainly open to revision as your blog grows and changes. Some simple goals may include:

  • Grow readership: Would you like someone other than your mother and spouse to read your blog? Set a specific goal such as 50 new readers in the first month.
  • Follow a blogging schedule: How often do you hope to post? Once a week? Once a day? More? Less?
  • Utilize social media: Yes, social media use may fall under your goals for your blog!
  • Find a guest blogging opportunity: Do you have a favorite blog that also happens to allow guest posts? Becoming a guest blogger on that site is a worthy goal!
  • Monetize: If you are simply blogging for yourself or as a hobby, making money from your blog may not even be on your radar. However, for many bloggers, it is a main goal for their blog to provide at least enough income to offset the costs of the hobby or part-time job of blogging.

Define success

All bloggers should take the time to define their version of success. By taking the time to define your version of success for your blog, not only will you know when you’ve achieved success, you’ll also build a shield against that green-eyed monster, jealousy, as you look at the blogs around you.

Create a monetization plan … or not

All bloggers need to consider where their blogging journey will take them. Some questions to consider when creating your own monetization plan may include:

  • Do you plan to seek ads for your blog? What type of ads will you allow?
  • Would you like to work with individuals and companies to place ads or do you prefer to apply to an ad network?
  • How do you feel about accepting money to post content on your blog?
  • Do you hope to use your blog as a platform to seek other jobs such as paid writing or speaking opportunities?

Prepare to grow

A blogger who begins with a journaling blog on a free platform such as Blogger may end up choosing to move to a self-hosted platform with a dedicated server due to amount of traffic or depth of content. In fact, some blogs that began with a single writer have grown over the years to become multiple-writer sites, with the original author acting more as an editor-in-chief than a lone author.

If massive growth falls under your definition of success, you should certainly decide now how you want that to occur. But even if you don’t anticipate blog growth, it is still a worthwhile use of your time to think about what you’d like a growing and expanding blog to look like should that day come.

Know when you’re done

Although blogging has been around in one form or another for quite some time now, in the expansive timeline of the world of communication, blogging is still a baby. It will be quite a while before there are as many former bloggers as there are active bloggers.

Even so, the day will likely come when the cons of blogging outweigh the pros. Perhaps your blog chronicles your battle against cancer and you’ve reached remission. It may be time to thank your readers for joining you on your journey and then no longer post. Or maybe you’re a parenting blogger whose children no longer allow you to write about their lives. It may even be that you’ve made blogging a profession and the time to retire has arrived.

Whatever the reason, it’s important for bloggers to know when they’re done, even if that means that they’re just done with that particular blog. After all, blogging, at its core, is meant to be enjoyable, and when it isn’t anymore, you might need to reevaluate or move along to new pursuits.