So you want to start blogging.
How hard could it be? Everybody else is doing it. Right?
Blogging might be easy in some respects, but it’s also hard in others. It’s easy because you can write a 300-word article in a few minutes; it’s hard because, if you are not familiar with the subject you want to write about, you first need to do research. Even when the subject is “second-nature” to you, there are several other steps that you need to take after you put that last (full-stop) period on your article and hit “Save.” The following are five of the minimum steps to consider that will increase the chances that your article–your blog post–will become successful. This, of course, doesn’t take into account the fact that even before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) you need to be certain that the subject you intend to write about actually adds value for the reader. Just writing because you can–or so you can say: “I’m a writer”– might be self-satisfying but doesn’t add to the quality of the world.
I’m listing spell-checking first for a reason.
Regardless of how interesting the topic of your article, readers will not come back to your blog if they find that you can’t write a grammar-error-free post. Even worse, they might not finish that first article you were so eager to introduce yourself to them with. To decrease the chances of this happening, you need to either do a proper spell-check yourself, or hire someone to do it for you.
If you intend to do it yourself, I recommended that you put the article you just wrote aside for a couple of days. Why? So that you can come at it with a fresh set of eyes. Don’t just rely on your computer’s ability to find all spelling mistakes or typos. As often these are ‘real words’, your computer may not identify it as being incorrect in the context in a particular sentence. You need to proof-read carefully yourself. Also, keep in mind that sometimes one spell-checking pass will not be enough, so, please, do as many of them as necessary.
If you feel that you’re the wrong person for the job (of spell-checking), then you should hire someone else to do it for you. There are many resources out there. You can either hire a “proper” copy editor or, if money is an issue, you can even get a proofreader from one of the many Indi-author-friendly sites out there–like Fiverr for example–to do the spell-checking.
Whatever avenue you take, just make sure you don’t post an article to your blog right after you’ve finished writing it. Remember what Hemmingway said? “The first draft of anything is s**t.” I promise you. He knew what he was talking about. That article you just wrote? It isn’t ready for prime time. Run it through the spell-check grinder before you post it. Doing so can only make you look good.
2. Share the post
Sharing your post on other social networks (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) will give it much needed impetus. Now that you have a properly-spell-checked article posted on your blog, the next thing is for as many people as possible to read it. And how do you go about it? By putting it in front of their eyes of course.
In a perfect world, you would already be the proud owner of a one-hundred-thousand-strong e-mail list… You have one?! (I envy you). If that is the case, you need to let every person on that list know that you’ve just posted a new article to your blog. They should flock to read it.
Oh. That you don’t have a large following yet? (I feel your pain. I’m new at this too!). You then need to ensure that your article makes it onto as many other websites as possible.
One way to do this is by posting links to your article on the most popular of the social networks out there. I’m talking Twitter. I’m talking Facebook. And, yes, I’m talking also Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t have an account yet? What are you waiting for? Go on, create one now.
If you are lucky enough to know an ‘Influencer’, then you can ask her or him for help. Be careful, though; you can’t just go around asking these busy bees for help if you don’t have anything to offer them in return. Clear on that? Good.
Again. You have to help your article “get around” by doing your due diligence and helping “spread the word” via the social networks.
3. Use hashtags
Everything under the sun has a reason for being. Yes, even hashtags.
After posting your properly-spell-checked article on your blog, your first step–is to spread the word by posting links to your articles on social networks (to help get it in front of a larger audience). Another thing that will give a boost to those links? Twitter hashtags.
Hashtags make it easier for people to find your article by focusing on certain keywords, or even phrases, that describe what your article is about.
A word of caution is in order. Don’t go overboard with hashtags. Use only one (two at the most). Why? Because–believe it or not–smart people out there have done studies on hashtags and their usage. What did they discover? That using three hashtags or more can actually cause people to lose interest. And that’s the last thing a writer wants.
4. Use your contacts
This one also has to do with spreading the word to help your article find a bigger audience. What do you do if you don’t have access to an ‘Influencer?’ What do you do then? Uh?
It’s not that hard. In fact, it’s quite easy.
What you have to do is enlist the help of those “normal,” non-influencer, human beings out there that are already in your network (think Facebook friends; think people in your smartphone Contact Lists!).
Share the article with them, and ask them to turn around and share it with their own followers (we’re living in a connected world. It behooves us to make use of those connections).
And not that I’m asking you to bribe every one of your contacts (or to pester them with requests regarding your work) but it would be nice if you–from time to time- took them out for coffee as a way of saying “Thank you.”
Last but not least, you need to take time out to make contact (interact, engage) with those readers that take the time to comment on your article. You don’t have to write another article in response to their comment (though that could only help you), but even a quick “Thank you” note will suffice.
Responding to readers’ comments will let them know that there’s actually a human being at the other end; that it’s not a bot putting out words into the ether every so many days.
Courage dear readers, and keep writing!