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10 Key Tips on Creating and Maintaining a Successful Blog

6 Mar

The thought of blogging terrifies many of my clients, and many other professionals I know. Not too long ago, I was also terrified of it! Just like anything new or different, it’s the ‘fear of the unknown’ that can often get the best of us. There are a number of barriers for people when it comes to blogging, including; being unfamiliar with the technology, having enough time to sit and down and write a post, developing interest content and, what is usually the biggest fear, not knowing how to get started. Here’s the thing; all of these fears are conquerable and here are some tips for overcoming them:

1. Just start!
Or as one of my favourite business mentors Richard Branson says, “Screw it. Just do it!” – The toughest part for many people. However, you have to start somewhere, so just create a blog and get stuck in!

2. Pick a blogging platform.
There are quite a few blogging platforms out there for you to choose from. There’s Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr, but I personally recommend WordPress (as you may have guessed). It’s easy-to-use, highly customizable, and works brilliantly with search engine optimisation. They also have a brilliant WordPress mobile app which allows you to login and monitor your page stats, edit posts and monitor and respond to comments very easily. The screenshot below shows what the mobile app looks like (Click to enlarge).

3. Commit!
This can be the first difficulty when blogging, but you have to start off by making a commitment and dedicating some time to your blog. Your post doesn’t have to be too long. If you’re a beginner you could start off with a bi-weekly blog and, once you are comfortable, you could work your way to a weekly blog. Ease yourself into it, there’s no need to start it off with all guns blazing.

4. Start writing.
Sounds simple enough, right? This is the second difficulty people are usually faced with after committing some time to blog. Here’s my tip: Start off by writing about what you and others find most interesting about your business. I had my own ‘Eureka!’ moment after meeting with a client. We were discussing the ways his employees could maximise the ways they use their LinkedIn profile and low and behold, I wrote a post on it. Ever since then, I’ve found that most of the time you already know what to write, all you need to do is put it on paper.

5. Establish a calendar.
Following on from number 4, it’s important to outline a list of topics that you are knowledgeable about and think about some of the most common questions you receive. You can then build up a monthly or quarterly editorial calendar that gives you a schedule, enabling you to blog on these topics and you can also use the editorial calendar to effectively plan how to integrate the blog posts with your social media, email marketing, and traditional marketing.

6. Offer value to your reader.
Blogs are a brilliant way to answer questions, share information and entertain, but with each post you think about writing and ask yourself one very important question, “How is this valuable to my audience?” Remember, your audience has to know you, like you and trust you in order to do business with you, and offering valuable content builds the credibility needed to achieve this.

7. Keep it simple.
Skip the huge whitepapers! Remember, blogs are typically written in the first-person and offer an insight into your business. Don’t over think it, or start comparing your posts to the likes of Hubspot and E-Consultancy. Just write, then edit!

8. Make every single word count.
I have read so many blog posts which seem to offer ‘blog length guidelines.’ Some of these posts say that blogs should be less than 250 words, whilst other say that an average post should be between 400-800 words. I think they’re both wrong! Personally, I think there is no right or wrong answer to how long a blog post should be. After all, it depends on what it is you’re covering. Some posts need more words than others, that’s just the way it is. The only ‘guideline’ I have here is this; keep your posts clean, concise, and easy-to-read.

9. Include photos and videos.
Every single blog requires strong written content, but there’s no harm in adding a few pictures and videos in to spice up the post, add a little personality to it, and give readers a break from just reading lots of text. One key point: Ensure the photos and videos you include in your post are appropriate. Don’t just put them in for the sake of it. If it’s not relevant, it’s taking away value from your post.

10. Blog consistently!
There’s nothing sadder than seeing a great post by somebody from 2 years ago, and then finding out that was the only blog post they ever wrote. Avoid being a one-hit wonder by establishing and sticking to a regular schedule. Do not start a blog only to have it lie dormant. This can sometimes do more damage than starting a blog in the first place, especially if it’s a company blog.

How do you manage your blogging schedule? Are there any tips that I’ve missed out which you’d recommend?

Whether you’re an established blogger, or a complete newbie to the blogging world, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my post and for you to share your own personal experiences on blogging.