How to Take Your Blog to the Next Level
Is this the year you take your blog to the next level? Are you going to put in the blood, sweat and tears to turn your blog into what you know it can be?
If you're like many bloggers (including me), you started out with gusto. You blogged with hustle for the first week, a little less the next, and forgot your login password by the end of the second month.
But now it's time to focus. It's time to get serious about blogging regularly, building influence, and making a difference with your words.
So, how do you do it? How do you take your blog to the next level?
John, a good friend of mine, recently asked how he could create a prosperous blog in 2015. He explained that he wanted to become an amazing blogger, and asked me what to do.
After thinking about it a while, I figured out what I should tell him. Instead of keeping the tips between John and myself, I want to share them with you.
If your hope in 2015 is to take your blog to the next level, here's how you can do it.
If writers write, then bloggers blog. If you want to take your blog to the next level, you need to write more. Whether you find the time or make the time, if you want to be great, it will take practice.
If you believe Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour study/theory, you must ask yourself how many hours you've put in. Greatness takes practice.
Taking your blog to the next level begins with writing more. If you miss or skip this step, nothing else will matter.
No one will ready your blog if there's a new post only once in a while. One of the best things I've done while building a readership is to be consistent.
When I made the decision to get serious about blogging, I started publishing new articles every Monday. For the past two years, you could visit ellorywells.com and see a new post hot off the presses every Monday.
Consistency is not only good for you, the writer, but it's good for your readers as well.
Imagine if the Sunday paper came out every other Sunday. Or, on a Saturday night one week, and a Tuesday afternoon the next.
Being consistent will get you in the mental habit of writing. And, it will get your readers in the habit of visiting your site to start their week, or, get their mid-week boost.
Haven't started a blog yet? Click here and I'll show you how to start a blog in 8 minutes or less.
Also, don't stack your posts to close to one another. If you have eight blog posts written, it's better to give yourself an eight-week buffer than it is to blog three times a week. An eight-week consistent stream of great content is better than three weeks followed by a two-month gap.
Become a Better Writer
While I think it's important to find your voice, you still need to learn how to write better. Great writers are always working on their craft.
Stephen King, one of the greatest authors of modern times, has written over fifty novels. He averages almost 500 pages per book. King is always working to improve his writing.
Practice doesn't make perfect; it makes permanent. You wouldn't practice bad habits on the basketball court or in the gym while working out, so don't practice bad habits while writing.
Writing for you is great when it's in your personal journal. But, if you want to take your blog to the next level, you must write to be read. If your thoughts are unclear, your writing will be too. Practice great writing and you'll become a great writer.
To help with this, check out the Hemingway App. I'm writing this post in the Hemingway App right now.
On the Hemingway App's sidebar its telling me I have one sentence that's hard to read, none that are very hard to read, no adverbs, one word that could be simpler, and one use of passive voice. This post is also at the 5th-grade reading level, which means it's easy to understand.
Use the free web app for Hemingway to streamline your writing and help you be concise. If you ramble in your writing, stop it. If you don't like how you write, change it.
If you want to take your blog to the next level, become a better writer.
Find Your Voice
Yes, it's possible to write in your unique voice and still become a better writer.
Write like you speak. Your readers want to feel like you're talking directly to them and you're having a conversation with them.
You'll often see me asking questions in the middle of a blog post. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about this and I'd highly suggest you try it yourself.
Blogging is personal. It's communication between you and me; no one else. It just so happens that thousands of other people will read it, but, the conversation is still between the two of us.
Here's a tip for writing in your voice.
The next time you come up with a great blog post idea, pull out your phone. Turn on the voice to text option on your keyboard, and start speaking out your post. Your phone will convert what you say into text and you'll be on your way.
Using voice to text will allow you to do four things:
- It literally captures your voice, your inflections, and the phrases you use
- You can speak 800 words much faster than you can type them
- You can get the thought out before it goes away
- Since you'll have to edit it anyway, voice to text gives a great starting point for your next epic post
I've “written” several blog posts over the years simply by speaking into a new note inside of Evernote. While you shouldn't do every post this way, this method will help you find your writing voice.
When you find your voice, then you'll be on your way to taking your blog to the next level.
Inject More Personality
There's a news anchor here in Austin that is terrible. On screen, she has no personality. She has about as much flavor as wet cardboard.
Whenever we start writing, we often come across the same way as this news anchor. We tell ourselves we're being professional. We lie to ourselves and say it's what our readers want to hear.
It's not. Trust me.
The most successful people are the ones who put themselves, and their personality, out there for everyone to see.
I get it, it's scary. If we are our authentic selves and get rejected, it hurts! But, if we're this other person with no personality and we get rejected, it's ok, it's our writing voice, or our camera voice, so it's ok.
Haven't started a blog yet? Click here and I'll show you how to start a blog in 8 minutes or less.
Take a look at this video of anchor Dan Thorn. You may have seen this video out there on the web. It has, after all, been viewed over 3 million times already.
Dan has become famous and seen some amazing opportunities come his way because he's put his personality on camera and shared it with the world.
Is he a little weird?
Is it better than wet cardboard?
If you want to take your blog to the next level, put more of your personality into everything you do! Be weird, share your flavor of crazy, and of course, be bold.
Take a stand on something; pick a fight. No, not a literal fist fight, but make a statement and share the reasons you believe that way.
In an attempt to please everyone, we end up connecting with no one. By standing up for a cause, a belief, or a point of view, you tell the world who you are and what you're about.
Sharing your “world view”, as Jeff Goins calls it, will open the door for readers to connect with you. We gravitate toward the people who see the world as we do. We all have opinions, but if we sterilize our blog, no one will have a clue what we believe.
You don't have to try to piss somebody off, that will come naturally in time. But, sharing your thoughts, feelings, and opinions will draw people in. Your readers who stick around are they ones who will become lifelong friends and allies.
That's who we want to connect with anyway, right?
Share Your Story
One of the greatest tragedies we have in art today is how much we devalue our story.
How we got where we are, why we believe what we believe, and the struggles we've been through along the way are what makes us who we are. These things not only make us we are, but they're the best writing material in the world!
Truth really is stranger than fiction. The truth of our story is also the part of us people want to connect with the most.
Every great story has good characters and bad, ups as well as downs, and both happy and sad parts. It's this emotional turmoil that keeps bringing people back.
It's also what makes reality TV so addicting. We love watching the lives of other people. Your readers are the same way.
Your About page should share your story. Tell us where you've been, where you are now, and where you're headed. If you want to learn more about creating masterful About pages, (as well as why you should create them) you absolutely must sign up for my free email course!
Don't undervalue your story. It's who you are, and it's what we'll connect with the most.
If you want to take your blog to the next level, embrace and share your story.
An often overlooked, yet effective way to take your blog to the next level is to answer questions. As I mentioned here, if you're asked the same question three or more times, create a solution, package it and offer it for sale.
One of the best things you can do for your readers is to answer their questions. If one reader asks you how to grow your blog in 2015, chances are, other readers have the same question.
In fact, when I sat down to write this post, I was answering John's question. Two hours and 1671 words later, Derek asked me a very similar question. I'm not the only one who has two readers in different parts of the world asking the same questions.
If you've been blogging for a while, you may have jokingly said,
There's a blog post in that!
Well, it's the truth. Almost every conversation you have can be turned into a value-adding blog post that teaches something to your readers.
Provided you get their approval, or keep their names out of the post, your every-day chats can be incredible resources for your blog. Answering a question for one reader could be just the solution another reader is looking for. Plus, question answering posts are great for SEO.
If you want to take your blog to the next level, answer your readers' questions in a blog post.
In addition to answering questions, you should be solving problems. And no, they're not the same thing. Here's why…
Answering readers' questions is reactive; solving problems is proactive.
If a reader asks you a question and you answer it, you're seen as a valuable resource. If you solve your own problem, and share how you did it, you're a genius.
Every problem you've faced and every challenge you've overcome is material for a blog post. If you can record the solution, it's now a podcast episode or YouTube video.
Take your blog to the next level by solving your readers' problems before they even know they have them.
Share Your Stuff
You have to share your own blog posts. Period. Readers today have too many things going on to remember to check back in with your blog, even if you publish them like clockwork.
Sharing your link once isn't enough. Sharing it twice is getting there. Sharing it four times is about right.
Think about this…
If you share a link to your post at 8 am in Florida, it's 5 am in California. If you share that link at 9 pm in Washington, it's midnight in Rhode Island.
We could rant about Facebook's ever-changing algorithms all day. But the fact remains, most people won't see what you share. If you only share your post, podcast or your video once, you're shooting yourself off at the knees.
Is it work to share your art?
Is it necessary to share your art?
Only if you want other people to enjoy it.
Dave Ramsey and Vince Flynn both sold books out of the trunks of their cars before they made it big. They believed in their message so passionately they were willing to tell everyone who'd listen about what they were offering. One author sold money smarts and the other wrote incredible fiction.
If you're not sharing your work with the world, you cannot blame your readers for not sharing it either.
Unsuccessful people fear being called a self-promoter. Successful people know self-promotion is the first step.
Don't believe me?
Confident has almost become synonymous with cocky. In an attempt to be humble, we sit back waiting for our “big break”, but the world just passes us buy.
If you have a message someone needs hearing, tell them about it! When Dave Ramsey saw people choking to death on debt, he gave them a solution. And he profited.
If a blog post gets published in the woods, but no one is there to read it, does it make a sound?
To take your blog to the next level, you can't believe that if you build it they will come.
You must get the word out about the great work you're doing. If you're doing the things in this post, at first you'll help dozens of people. Then hundreds, then thousands.
If you want to make a million dollars with your writing, help a million people with your words.
Question: Have these methods worked for you? If so, what's your favorite? If not, what have you done to take your blog to the next level?