by Cathy Tibbles, WP Barista
Once upon a time I was married to a man who was diagnosed with celiac disease. So I started converting our family-friendly recipes into gluten-free ones. I posted them on a cute little blog, "Strawberries Are Gluten Free". And I waited.
I waited for the accolades, the questions (so I could answer them), the awards, the traffic.
Guess what happened? In the space of a year I made $0.82. I will remember that dollar amount until the day I die. Those pathetic numbers are still mocking me!
I had done everything I knew to do - I shared my heart. I had great recipes, I had answers, shopping lists and meal plans. I had phone numbers for manufacturers all over the world (this is before wheat was mentioned on labels). I had heart. And a ton of passion.
That was nearly 9 years ago. Since then I've worked with bloggers who have passion, drive and a message. I've seen thousands of bloggers begin very passionately. But later… is another story.
Some are successful, you know who they are. And some fizzle and close shop. If you want to be successful - and we're defining that as gaining an audience who you may serve - you need to do what the successful ones do. And not do what the others did.
In my experience and research, there are two things that every successful blogger does eventually. If you start these two things earlier - you will find success earlier. If you procrastinate, you will have a longer path to success - if you get there at all.
Let's start at the first 6 weeks.
Blogging In the first 6 weeks
This is the path of most modern bloggers.
- Google "Start a blog"
- Look to see what Fancy Nancy's site looks like
- Decide that your best theme is one of Foodie Pro, Brunch Pro, Cook'd Pro or Cravings Pro
- Look at 4 - 10 sites per day taking note of the things their site will have one day
- Search for FB Groups and have a seizure at the sheer number
- Try to add an account in twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook (is that a page? Profile? Are you a business? Person? Public person? What's the difference? )
- See 1 ad for every 3 FB posts touting beginner blogging classes (FB senses your vulnerability) Wonder if that is a good one? Or that one? Are they all the same? Did Fancy Nancy take a blogging course? I wonder which one?
- Oh yeah, then try to figure out how to use Instagram on your desktop - what the heck?
- Ask your teenager about snapchat.
- Shudder at the thought of live video
- Give up trying to verify a Youtube channel.
- Wonder at the difference between WP.com and WP.org
- See blogging courses ads while you're watching America's Got Talent on Youtube
I have seen this overwhelm in hundreds of new bloggers. This learning curve is not for the faint of heart! But let me boil down all that I've learned through watching successful and not-so-successful bloggers.
This is what the successful bloggers do in the first six weeks and beyond:
Too simple? Actually, it is!
The faster you learn to focus on what matters, the faster you'll grow an audience. The faster you narrow your activities to writing and networking the faster you'll find success. Here are some tips for writing in the first year of blogging.
Conquer the Overwhelm
The only thing needed at this point is focus. No courses. No fancy tools. No pixel perfect design. All of those things are fine but at this point are just a distraction.
- Outline your overarching message for each quarter or life event for the year.
- Outline the goal or message for each month within that quarter.
- Decide your schedule for the first 4 weeks (your trial period).
- Be consistent
- Favor quality over quantity.
- Write. Edit. Publish
If you have time to add a photo to your post, great. If not, who cares? No one's reading at this point anyway!
You need to trial your schedule and find your writing style. You need to learn to stop getting sidetracked by bright sparkly courses, new social media networks and young contestants on America's Got Talent.
When I talk about networking I mean this.
Beginning with Social Media Networking:
Week 1 - 4
- Go to Facebook, find 2-3 groups that seem interesting (join some that your friends are already in or ask someone in our group which ones to join).
- Participate in those groups every day, 5 days a week for 4 weeks.
- If you find you are drawn to anyone in those groups, like their FB Page. Comment on a few of their FB Posts. Share any to your page that are relevant to your soon-to-be audience.
- Open a spreadsheet. List the FB pages you've liked and their link. Visit daily.
- In your spreadsheet, create a list of blogs to follow regularly (starting with your new FB Group friends).
- Sign up to each blog via email. Respond to every email or leave comments on every post from here on out.
STOP - do not do more than this.
But do it well. Find those bloggers that you really connect with - you like them! See if you can help them? Or share stories, because you get each other. Does it sound like I'm giving you friendship advice? 🙂 That's because I am - networking is just being nice to people!
If you do this daily for 4 weeks, you will see traffic already. And more than that - you will have made genuine friends.
Week 4 - 12
If the above doesn't take up all your time, ADD this, but don't skimp on the above.
- Open a Pinterest account. Create 10 boards that are relevant to your topic.
- Search Pinterest for the most popular pins in all 10 of those board topics. Pin 20 popular & pretty pins to each board.
- Follow your spreadsheet friends' pinterest profiles. Repin their pins to help them out.
- Visit Pinterest every day and pin a minimum of 2 pins on each board. You may want to use Boardbooster for this.
The most effective networking you will find for blogging is live events. I strongly recommend these if at all possible. Nothing will increase your readership faster. Find these events at meetup.com, Facebook groups or even Pinterest. Ask your new spreadsheet friends.
Continue Networking after 12 weeks
By 12 weeks, you will know if you like Facebook Groups and Pages and you will know how to use them. You will know if Pinterest is your thing. For bloggers, those are the two strongest networks you can have. You can also try Twitter and Instagram too.
There are courses for each networking platform that will help you. BUT the more courses you do the less time you will have for the core work. The core work is always: Write. Network. Repeat.
Anything that detracts from that is a threat to your success, not a help!
Let's work on Solutions together.
Join the Foodie Pro Bloggers Facebook group where we can keep each other accountable. I know consistency is the most difficult thing for me. Ever! Let's connect in the group so we can put some blinders on each other - no more shiny object syndrome! And maybe put this on a sticky on your monitor: Write. Network. Repeat!