Blogging refers to writing, photography, and other media that’s self-published online. Blogging started as an opportunity for individuals to write diary-style entries, but it has since been incorporated into websites for many businesses. The hallmarks of blogging include frequent updates and opportunities for readers to engage and start a conversation. Maybe you’ve decided it’s time you get a piece of that pie. As you’re searching for just the right niche, though, there are 10 “commandments” that will help you set up your blog for success.
1. Thou shall not do it for the money
At least not directly. Not only do most blogs not make any money, but most of them also actually end up costing money because of expenses like hosting. Success, for blogs, is rarely measured in money.
2. Thou shall be a consumer
You wouldn’t open up a pizza shop if you don’t ever crave a slice. Likewise, you need to understand and enjoy your medium before you begin blogging. Cultivate a crop of your favorite blogs and think about why you enjoy them so much. There’s plenty of lousy material out there, and you can learn a lot by identifying the mistakes you don’t want to make.
3. Thou shall reflect well on your brand
So if you’re not going to make money blogging, why do you even bother? It’s because you’re building your brand, and that means that every minute you’re writting to your audience, you’re creating impressions of your company, your ethos and your products. Even if you’re not specifically promoting yourself as a business person, you are positioning yourself as a subject matter expert. Think carefully about the image you want to convey.
4. Thou shall be useful
A considerable number of blog readers want information on topics of personal interest, while others want to learn something new. Understanding what your audience wants is vital, and delivering it is how you win loyal readers.
5. Thou shall not be a salesperson
Although one of the purposes of your blog is building your brand (and sales, by extension) be careful not to turn your show into a commercial. If people wanted an advertisement, they’d turn on an infomercial. You know your readers come to your blog for personal edification. Don’t alienate them by trying to peddle your wares.
6. Thou shall get personal
Let your readers get to know you, this does not mean you should spill all your secrets. Your goal should be to grow an audience of loyal readers, and one of the ways to do that is to build and nurture a connection between you and your readers. Whether you’re blogging about fly fishing, investment advice or child rearing, sharing a bit of your authentic self can personalize your blog in ways that keep readers coming back.
7. Thou shall create a consistent format
Although your readers are seeking new and interesting information, it’s our nature to also crave structure. Creating a format that each blog follows helps your readers feel anchored. They know what to expect. Your structure doesn’t have to be elaborate, the important thing is that your audience knows what’s coming.
8. Thou shall release blogs regularly
If you just randomly release your blogs when the spirit moves you, you’re going to have a hard time building up a consistent audience. Whether you do a brief daily blog on current events or longer, more in-depth pieces once a week or once a month, let your readers know when they can expect new blogs from you.
9. Thou shall be professional
You might be discussing frivolous or personal topics, but that doesn’t mean your blog can be sloppy. Getting a good theme, plugins and writing your blog effectively will distinguish it from all the lousy material out there. From hiring a freelancer to create images for you to investing in a good web host, take the steps to put together a clean, professional effort.
10. Thou shall be sociable
In addition to building your brand, one of the great opportunities blogging brings is the ability to network. Inviting experts, members of your industry and even the occasional erudite reader to be a guest blogger on your blog keeps your audience entertained and engaged. As a bonus, you’ll be inspired by a variety of perspectives and glean ideas for upcoming blogs.
Blogging gives you enormous opportunities to reach readers where they are, when they’re receptive. You’re a companion on a commute, company when relaxing on the couch or in bed, and a buddy when seeking information. Following the blogging commandments will help you build your brand and cultivate a loyal following.
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