Blogging feels like a nice New Year’s Resolution. Share your thoughts with the world. Become a better writer. And maybe, just maybe, go viral. Or so you hope.
But it’s hard, hard work. I know this from personal experience. I’ve started 5 blogs. And dumped a few, and kept up 2. Even now, I feel as though I’m barely hanging on.
So how do you keep up with your blog? What’s the secret to keeping that New Year’s Resolution? Thankfully, it’s not a secret. Nor is my list of ingredients in any way complete. But having blogged for several years, I’ve discovered a few motivational blogging tips.
5 Ways to Stay Blogging
Hone your Niche
When I first started blogging, I was all over the map. In some ways, I still am. I tried lifestyle, but since I’m a terrible home ec person, that fell apart. I don’t travel knowledgeably, and my photos aren’t quality enough to maintain a travel profile. And writing about my Christian walk wasn’t consistent.
In 2015, I decided to be a college blogger. I wrote a few posts, linked to other college blogs, and even created a few cool looking college graphics. But after a few months, the niche felt stale. First, I wasn’t getting a college audience. And everything I wanted to say, was already shared in a dozen other articles.
Enter September 2016. On a whim, I wrote a series on a Jane Austen book. A lot of people commented, even shared my posts. (By alot, I mean 75 views, a couple shares) But it was incredible engagement for a struggling blogger.
And I loved it.
I talked about my passion – books. And my feelings, and relating the bookish lessons to real life.
Then I began to hone my blog, gearing it towards books. And it’s not hard to write about something you love.
Find Effective Platforms
I was a total goose when I started blogging. I began on Blogspot, jumped to Wix, tried out SquareSpace, and finally discovered WordPress.
WordPress isn’t paying me to say this. But I love, love, love WordPress. It’s streamlined, and makes blogging fun. It’s not a headache to use.
When I decided to get serious about blogging, I wanted to pay for my own blog. Of course, I was stupid and paid double what I needed to. Don’t make my mistakes. I spent a cadgillion dollars on stuff I didn’t need. Don’t double pay. Research ahead of time. Don’t change your mind about a theme after you’ve paid for it. And know the difference between self-hosting and not self-hosting. (It has some technical thing to do with .com vs. .org)
Knowing this will save you money.
But if you do spend money, it encourages you to keep your blog maintained.
Just saying. That’s an extra tip, by the way. Spending money forces you to blog. Or else be mad at yourself for wasting cash.
Read Good Blogs
When I mentioned finding your niche, I talked about linking to other college blogs. Reading quality content from other bloggers gives you ideas.
I read quite a few blogs. And they’re not all in my niche. Some, like Michael Hyatt, are simply great blogs covering productivity. But I do spend time reading fellow book bloggers.
I ask myself –
What are they not talking about? Where would my content fit in?
Who is their target audience? Would their readers read my material?
Do I agree with this blogger? Why or why not?
Keep Accountable through Social Media
I’m sure you have a media account.
But using your personal account won’t necessarily drive you to write. I discovered starting a blog Facebook page helps motivate me. While lots of my friends like it, I know it’s more than friends. Random people follow that, and they don’t know me personally. If I start a public page, I need to make my blogging more consistent. My friends understand my busy life, but I don’t want to demand random internet people show me the same grace.
Learn how to use media to promote your content. Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr. They can all help drive you reach your audience and create engaging content.
Also, engagement. Run giveaways. Respond to comments. And – this is important! – link to other material.
See a great article in your same niche? Share it on your blog’s media platform. Let your audience know that not only are you learning, but you’re spending time investing in sharing other great material.
Find your Voice
Don’t try to sound like someone else. Be you.
I love politics. But I can’t be Matt Walsh. That may be why I’ll never have a huge political following. I just don’t have an aggressive writing voice.
But I can perfect my personal voice. And it’s not hard. It’s just me, writing as though the audience were in the room with me. Listening to me speak the word aloud.
Be authentic. Readers want to know you. Your content doesn’t matter if it sounds like Siri put it together.
Use personal stories.
The first blog posts I wrote that really created engagement were hard for me. It took me a while, but I shared some of the my childhood history. I didn’t sugarcoat or make it sound like court records. My friends read it, more than anything else I’ve blogged. It wasn’t a distant story, but something personal to my readers because it was actually a true story they cared about.
Blogging needs to be honest, applicable to life, and engaged with your readers.
No-one has a voice like you. Use it.
Be Willing Not to Blog
This isn’t a tip on my list of 5, because frankly, this is hard to say. There are times when I was sure blogging wasn’t for me. I thought about deleting my blogs. And I have. Twice.
In the end, I’m still amazed Redgal Musings is still a thing.
Last year, I started a podcast with a friend. We had great content, equipment, and a fun time. But it just never went into sync. And we put a lot of hard work into it.
But sometimes, you just have to let it go. Whether it’s a Youtube Channel, a blog, an Instagram. Maybe it’s not right for you. Maybe the timing is off or you can’t afford that platform.
I don’t know whether blogging is your calling.
But I do know you have a voice. And I can’t wait to hear it, whether through a blog, podcast, magazine, or on the radio.