Those of you who follow this blog for some time know that I am not a big fan of “how to” guides, rules, and funny little checklists that should magically do everything for you. There’s no substitute for hard work, dedication, time, energy, and passion, and those of you who want a shortcut will be disappointed by this guide of mine.
Of course, there are some things that you must do in order to be successful as a blogger. I recommend reading my golden rules of blogging before you start reading this post.
That being said, let’s get down to business.
What To Blog About?
This question comes up quite often. Someone wants to blog because they believe it’s cool or it’s going to earn them an extra dollar, or maybe because they enjoy writing. So… what do you blog about?
A lot of people will advise you to find a niche. Do a bit of research and try to figure out what are the trending topics, and try to find one that is relatively new so there isn’t much competition.
I do not like this idea. Not that it’s not artistic, but it lacks any soul. If you write about stuff you couldn’t care less about, then you’re not doing a much better job than a robot.
Blog about something that sets your soul on fire. Write this down. Print it out. Put it up on your wall or fridge or on your desk. Find the thing that sets your soul on fire, in a good or in a bad way, something that you are terribly passionate about, something that makes your heart beat faster.
Maybe it’s a topic that makes you angry or bitter or scared, maybe it’s something you love. It doesn’t matter. If it makes you feel something, you should write about it.
Blog about the stuff you’d like to read about. Would you follow a blog like yours? If no, then it’s back to the drawing board.
The word, whether written or not, has one main goal: to make two people feel less lonely. Yes, we use words in such a way as to figure out if someone else feels and thinks and acts the same way we do. We have stories as a means to connect people, to make them imagine the same thing and create a sense of togetherness.
If you care deeply about a certain topic, odds are someone else will care also. And, if they don’t, then your passion can make them care.
Figure out your why.
Why blog? Why not do something else? Why spend so much time writing stuff on a computer to share them with the world?
What are your objectives? What do you want out of all this?
It’s important to figure out your why, because it determines your expectations and how much energy and effort you’re willing to put into it.
Those of you who say, “it’s just a blog” will forever be damned to spend their time in blogging hell, struggling to get anyone to even notice that they exist.
It’s not just a blog. It’s a blog. Your blog. Your little space on the Internet.
So, what do you want?
Money? Fame? To help others? To find like-minded individuals and connect with them? To create a personal brand? To create a platform for other products? To find your target audience?
Figure out why you want to blog and what you want to get out of it. Write it down.
Patience, patience, patience.
Did you write down why you want to blog and what you want to get out of it?
Do you have certain expectations? Say, you want ten thousand followers in the first year. A million visitors. To earn X amount of money.
Whatever you expect to happen, it’s going to take a while longer than you predict. Even if you are all negative about it, it’s still going to take a while longer. About two times longer. Take that into consideration.
You could write down that if you do not reach your blogging goals within the first six months, you’ll quit. And then give it a year to reach your goals.
Things never happen the way we expect them to.
See what others are doing.
Do you post poems on your blog? Can’t hurt to check some of the other blogs that do the same. See the way they post, their schedule, the themes they use, the visual layout, all that.
I’m not saying you should do the same, but it’s also not worth it if you keep yourself away from them out of fear of somehow subconsciously copying them.
My father worked in the restaurant business for thirty years and never went to another restaurant. Yes. He never checked the competition, their menus, their pricing, and the way they conducted their business. He went bankrupt in 2008.
You can do things your way if you genuinely believe there’s a better way or you want to do things a certain way because that’s who you are; that blogging style represents you.
Content is King.
First month of blogging. April 2012. I was reviewing books and movies. I thought it was a rather boring thing to do (yet I did it anyway), that there were far too many similar blogs, and that, in the end, it was just a blog meant to reach people so they could buy my books.
I was blogging once a day, and got some 500 views. That’s an average of what? 15 views per blog post? Yeah.
It was just a blog. It received just some attention. That was all.
Everything changed when I wrote my first opinion piece. Someone had written a book about writing bestsellers – there was a recipe, a strict set of rules to be followed and anyone could write a bestseller. The author’s best selling book was this guide on writing bestsellers, which was kind of ironic.
As a side note: one should never give advice one does not follow to see if it’s valid or not. And one should be successful in the business he’s trying to offer insight into. Just saying.
So, yes, I wrote my first opinion piece. Didn’t hold back. It was something that I cared about, because I thought that people were being told what they wanted to hear, and they thought they could buy a shortcut to fame and fortune with the price of a paperback, while it only provided a shortcut for the author of the book.
My post went live at midnight, and twelve hours later I had 1,600 views.
I knew my why, I knew what made me feel alive, and I knew what I had to do. Art has always been my passion, and I decided to write my thoughts on the artistic process, to write about my own struggles writing, and to offer insight into how an artist’s mind works.
As my own interests and focus shifted, so did the main topics on this blog: I now write about life, inspiration, and motivation. I write about developing a proper mindset, about being the best version of yourself that you are capable of being, while being aware that nothing comes easy. Stuff like that.
Content is king. Write the kind of things you’d like to read about. The kind of things that set your soul on fire. If you get goosebumps thinking about a certain topic, write about it. Even if your mind somehow tricks you into thinking that no one will care. Trust me, they will.
Engage the audience of your blog, engage different people. Read blogs, comment, connect with people. No man is an island. Do not advertise your blog on other people’s though.
I rarely approve comments that have a link at the end of them. It’s disrespectful.
I also believe that you shouldn’t overdo it. Just like SEO or using social media, it’s a sort of side hustle. Your main business is writing the best posts that you can possibly write while developing your skills to write better ones.
Remember, content is king.
Tony Robbins says that people major in minor things. In case you missed it, content is king. All else is secondary.
There are also nice things you can do to get more people to read your blog. Writing guest posts, hosting other bloggers on your site, finding like-minded individuals on Facebook Groups and whatnot.
The idea is to have fun and connect with others. Do not think of it as a transaction of sorts. You do something for someone, and they have to do something for you. It doesn’t work like that.
Try to figure out a way to do more for others. More and more. This is the idea. When engaging other bloggers, when writing posts. Try to ask yourself if what you are writing is somehow useful. If not, then maybe you shouldn’t be wasting your time.
The Visual Layout
Text intensive blogs that have a black background drive me nuts. Or just ugly blogs. Don’t know. I like things clean. I like to know my way around a blog after the first visit.
Spend some time to get this right. To find the right theme. It’s extremely important.
Allow sharing on all platforms. All of them.
And create an online presence on the social media platforms that most speak to you, that are best suited for your style. You know, the ones you spend your time on when procrastinating. Whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram, it does not matter what some expert says is the best platform, if you enjoy some platform more than others, then do your best there… it will pay off.
It’s all about passion. And mindset.
In case years of repeating myself did not do the trick, passion is essential. In blogging, in life, in love. Don’t be lukewarm. Just be energetic, fun, intense, interested.
Develop the right mindset. Imagine the world resting upon your shoulders. What you write will decide the entire world’s fate. It’s a fun game, try not to overdo it though. Or tell anyone else about it.
Act as if you are the blogger that you want to be.
It does not matter if no one reads your blog, because they will.
It does not matter if no one comments, because they will.
Don’t lose heart. Keep going.
When teaching my mentorship program, I spend a lot of time explaining stuff like this. Helping other bloggers develop the right kind of mindset, to set certain goals, and to get rid of crazy expectations.
One crucial aspect is this: you must be willing to keep going long after you decided it’s best to quit. In fact, the moment you feel like giving up, that’s when it’s showtime. Count on this. No matter how excited you are in the beginning, you will want to quit.
I wanted to quit not in the first few months, but a few years in, when I already had tens of thousands of followers and had to reply to some thousand e-mails a week.
You’ll want to give up. Don’t.
You’ll want to find some easier way to do it. Don’t. There is not easy way. You must do the work, do your best, and then things will happen just when you were ready to throw in the towel.
Consistency is key. Also, it’s important to show up. That’s half the battle. Show up, write your posts, do your best, whether you feel like it or not.
I loathe certain myths, like talent or inspiration, because they are just excuses. Lazy people trying to find reasons to continue being lazy.
When that day comes when you don’t feel like writing anything, and you’d much rather binge watch television or sit on a park bench and stare at the sky, force yourself to sit at your desk and just write. Anything at all.
You’ll be amazed that it won’t take long before you start writing stuff that you can actually use. Soon after that, you’ll actually feel inspired.
Inspiration must find you working, talent is the hard work others see and can’t explain.
Try not to forget you’re a human being. And you are doing stuff for other human beings, with other human beings. Do not become obsessed with statistics, numbers. You’re not a machine, and this is not some computer game.
Those numbers are real people, with feelings and emotions and they are reading your words. If that is not something magic to you, I kindly suggest you find something else to do with your time.
It is easy to forget this. So, so easy. Especially when the numbers go up.
Don’t become afraid that if you change things you’ll lose your audience. There’s no reason to congeal your blog and its future because of fear.
Also, a great rule to remember is that writing is the side-effect of life. You go out there and live life, and absorb as much information as possible, and you’ll never run out of things to blog about.
There is a lot to say about blogging. How important it is to enjoy the process, not to be outcome dependent. How important it is to blog about what you care about; far more important that writing about what is popular or trending. How you should always learn. How you should read as much as you can on blogging, writing, and your topic of choice.
How research is worth more than any money you are willing to invest.
How a domain name is one of the best investments you can make.
Also, if you’re interested, there’s one more spot available in the mentorship program. One month of one on one coaching with me, where we’ll discuss a ton of stuff about blogging. It will be specifically tailored to your style, to your topic, to your goals and aspirations. Cool stuff.