If you’re reading this article, odds are you looked at blogging and thought to yourself, “Oh, I can do that. Writing a few posts a week? Earning some money from it? Piece of cake.”
From the outside, it looks so simple, so easy, so fun, and so you rushed off to start a blog, write some articles, and publish them.
But then you realized: this stuff is kind of complicated.
It’s not as easy as writing a bunch of articles and then clicking on the publish button. Oh, no. There’s so much more than that.
And the more you read about blogging, the more confused you are.
Well, what you really need is an itemized breakdown of everything you need to do to get started. That way, you can stop trying to do everything all at once and just go through each item on the list.
So, that’s what I created for you: a checklist of 35 things you need to do to help you learn how to do this blogging thing well.
1. Figure out your why, if you haven’t already. You need to have it internalized. Why do you want to share your words with the world? Keep in mind, you need not one, but two reasons why: a selfish one (money, fame, glory, respect), and a selfless one (to educate, to inspire, to help).
2. Are you writing about the right topics? It’s common-sense advice, but I find that a lot of writers forget to answer this simple question. What do you want to blog about? How can you expand upon the knowledge that’s already there? How can you connect seemingly unrelated dots, so you add to the conversation that is already taking place within your niche?
3. Work on your branding. This defines your blog, the way first-time visitors react, and whether or not they can relate to you. Think in terms of a domain name, your blogs name, your logo and tagline, your writing style, and your about page.
4. Create an ideal reader profile. Who do you write for? Everyone? That won’t work. You need to figure out a specific target demographic your blog caters to. And while you’re at it, go above and beyond to define the psychographic qualities of your audience (challenges, objections, problems, passions, et.c).
5. Develop a content strategy. In simple words, a content strategy answers this question: how often can you publish quality content without having to give up sleep? In the end, you have to able to develop a content map that allows you to consistently publish content.
6. Set realistic goals. Before you even begin to publish articles, you need to understand a few things:
- It takes roughly 6 to 12 months to even begin to gain traction with your blog
- It requires an insane amount of work
- You will have to learn a couple of additional skills, such as copywriting, marketing, a bit of graphic design, social media marketing, and more.
You will soon lose enthusiasm because of unrealistic expectations. Keep in mind: it’s going to be far more difficult than your worst expectations, so try to set goals that are actually achievable.
7. Study. Let’s just say that, especially in 2021, if you’re not willing to invest time, energy, and money to study blogging, then you’re going to fail. It’s as simple as that. Enroll in a couple of courses, read some books about blogging, creativity, and writing, and follow a few blogs on content creation and writing.
8. Get acquainted with your blogging platform of choice. Take a look around the settings menu, change a few things around, and read as many tutorials as you can.
9. Choose an email marketing provider. I can’t stress this enough. It’s a capital mistake to postpone this. The moment you launch your first article, you’ve got to have a newsletter in place (subscription forms, pop-ups, and ideally a lead magnet.)
We use MailerLite, and honestly, we can’t recommend it enough, especially if you’re just starting out and don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars a month on software.
10. Build a presence on all social media platforms you can think of. Even though you might never actively pursue building an audience on most of them, it’s best to have a presence on most social media platforms.
11. Don’t go overboard with theme customization. Beginners often get this terribly wrong. Keep it simple! A minimalistic approach to your first visual layout will prove to be best. Then, as you become more comfortable with the content management system you’re using, you can customize it even further.
12. Read the best articles in your niche. This can be done quite easily via keyword search on Google, social media, and on Quora. Look at the top articles under the tags that best define your content. Study these articles, all of their specific elements (headline, introduction, formatting, etc.)
13. Download our Competition Research Template. It’s a free tool that will enable you to better understand what to look for when reading the articles of others within your niche.
14. Find guest posting opportunities. Now it’s time to see which of the blogs within your niche are accepting guest content. Make a list of the blogs that you think are a perfect fit for your content.
15. Read all about deploying the Trojan Horse Strategy. This is necessary, so you can figure out the best way to engage the bloggers you want to work with.
16. Join our private community. Do this in order to get a sense what other bloggers within your niche are doing. Introduce yourself. Ask for feedback. Showcase your blog, and ask for help.
Content Creation and Marketing
17. Write down some of the most interesting ideas you come up with after reading the best content within your niche. This is one of the best “hacks” you can use to make sure your first articles actually act to the conversation, rather than being recycled ideas from others.
18. Hone in your headline writing skills. You need to make your audience curious, and you always need to spell out the benefit of them reading the post. Make them think: I have to read that, right now! Also, you can use this handy tool here to properly format your articles.
19. Work on your hooks. The featured image is worth at least a thousand words. The introduction can make or break your article. Practice the art of writing irresistible introductions.
20. Make your writing screen-friendly. Take a step back and see how your writing looks — visually. Formatting matters. A lot. Add sub-headings, bulleted points, numbered lists, images, and lots of white space. Make it easy on the eyes.
21. Incorporate effective copywriting principles and frameworks. Blogging is not quite writing. Well, it’s mostly writing. But its foundation is based on copywriting. Master the art of copywriting, and you will reach the blogging stratosphere in no time.
22. Keep in mind: the content is the product. Even if you are not getting paid. Write each article as if you are asking money to pay for the privilege of reading it, and one day they will.
23. Engage with your community. When someone comments, do your best to reply, or at the very least acknowledge that person’s comment.
24. Link to and mention other articles/bloggers. Besides commenting and engaging other bloggers directly, this is the best tool you can use to get noticed by others within your niche. At the same time, you appear to be more credible as a content creator.
25. Comment on other bloggers’ posts. Be strategic about it. Be smart. Know what you want to gain from your efforts. It’s not just about getting as many people as possible to click on your link. Quality connections are just as important.
26. Reach out to other bloggers via email. Keep it short and tell them why you appreciate their work. Ask how you can help them, not the other way around. You never know how you can collaborate with them. If they’ve noticed you in their comments, odds are they’ll be more than glad to help you.
27. Realize this is a process. You can get better. Focus on learning as much as you can about blogging and about your niche. Invest in online courses, books, etc.
28. Shift strategies — evolve. I call this the blend and refine technique. Whether it’s promoting your content, engaging your readers, or networking with fellow bloggers, always try to figure out a better way of doing things.
29. Be persistent – and consistent. Remember the content strategy you worked on in the beginning? Stick to it, no matter what.
30. Celebrate your wins. All of them. No matter how small. Doing this will allow you to focus all your energy on building momentum.
31. Be patiently impatient. Do the best you can today as if it’s the last day to ever create content or network. Then do it again tomorrow. And the day after that. And so on.
32. Focus on the incremental. Don’t try to win the lottery. Focus on small, daily improvements.
Final Items on the List
33. Give it a year. Most bloggers give up because their articles don’t go viral within two weeks or so of them publishing their first article. It takes time to get noticed. Give it time.
34. Always look for better ways to add value. Always look for ways in which you can add value to your readers, or contribute to the conversation that is going on within your niche. This is extremely important. Always be aware of what is being said in the community. What are the main topics? How are they sharing content? What are the headlines that entice readers the most?
35. Do not be afraid to change even what is working. This is a bit of a controversial one, but it makes a lot of sense. Rather than become complacent, you should always lean in on that hunger and paranoia that most ambitious beginners have. Always experiment. Always look for a way to do better.
And that’s a wrap!
I know, it’s a long, long list, but there’s also a bit of a silver lining at the end of the rainbow here. The good news?
You don’t have to juggle forever
Yes, blogging is a lot of work. Yes, it’s complicated. Yes, it’s overwhelming.
But it gets easier. Or I’d rather say, you get better.
As you check off the items above, you’ll slowly have less and less to do.
And when you feel overwhelmed you should read this quote:
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy, just take it bird by bird.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Bird by bird, buddy. Bird by bird.
Blog posts get written one word at a time. You get to a thousand followers one reader at a time…
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