Blog success, or as we like to call it, the Garden of E-Blog-den, Blog-adise, Shangri-blog-la or even Blog-topia. But those titles wouldn’t exactly be the best for SEO now would they?
There are so many blog posts across the wide, wide web that explain how to start and build a blog all the way to success-ville. I’m sure you’ve heard a million times: don’t compare yourself to anyone, find a niche, engage with the audience and be consistent. All of those are very true but we know this by now. Let’s step outside of the box together and unveil some magic tricks of the trade.
We’ve broken it down to seven ways to snag a one-way ticket to fulfilling the American success dream in the US of B. (United States of Blog-merica).
Make a schedule from the very beginning. Or at least try.
Why? Because otherwise, you and your blog will deteriorate like Britney Spears’ career in the 2000s. We just implemented a schedule a few weeks ago with Google Calendar and it’s been a godsend. Before that, we did whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. It worked for a while and before we knew it weeks had gone by and our blog was as dry as the Mojave.
Then, opportunities started flooding in with no Noah’s Ark in sight. We were missing deadlines, blogging all over the place and playing catch up.
Keeping a schedule will make it easier to organize tasks efficiently, set goals, and track progress. To top it off, there’s still time for all your Netflix binge-watching needs because you’ll be working smart in addition to working hard.
I would recommend Google Calendar because you can access from anywhere. Whether you’re at your in-laws for dinner or sitting in a space station. All I need to do is log in to my Gmail account and I’m good to go.
There’s nothing wrong with looking at other blogs for inspiration but don’t try to be them. If all your time is spent trying to make your blog look like everygenericblog.com’s, any personality or authentic voice will get lost. I’ve seen so many blogs where I recognize the exact theme and stock photos. It gets boring!
Instead, take bits and pieces, tweak them, and turn them into your own. For example, we loved the idea of a heinously large landscape header like the Nomadic Boys but it just wasn’t working on our blog. It made our blog look like a big ol’ slab of cold lasagna. Instead, we discovered sticky headers and that’s been the best thing since pre-sliced cake because it gave us a happy medium.
Take the time to surf around different blogs, do some trial and error with ideas and find what fits your personality. make your blog stand out! What’s going to make more headlines: a naked streaker running across the field or another shirtless Joe-schmo wearing a cowboy hat in the crowd?
Your first posts and ideas are probably going to suck. Seriously. Don’t believe me? Just look at these heinous logos we designed on Canva before realizing we needed a pro like Miranda to create one for us. Why? Because even though we saw ourselves improving we got tired of waiting for our strengths to grow to where we wanted them to be.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with recognizing what your strengths and weaknesses are and using them to your advantage. The main thing to keep in mind is that even if your first blog post is the worst thing since smooth peanut butter, it’s something you did to the best of your ability. That’s fine because everything you do after is only going to improve.
So embrace what you’ve accomplished, put it out there, be open to feedback, and grow from the advice and criticism you get. If you don’t share your masterpiece with the world, how can it improve?
The blog is a reflection of you and you alone. think of it like a first job interview.
Would you hire someone who walked into an interview wearing a chimp suit, munching on tree bark, wearing a banana peel necklace, and grooming their dry patches? Or would you hire someone who came in looking fresh with their hair brushed, clothes pressed, and black coffee with one milk and no sugar in tow? (People who drink coffee with one milk and no sugar mean business.)
Probably the second one.
In an interview, first impressions matter and the same goes for your blog. Display any aspirations, skills, and talents right off the bat.
We spent hours doing colour contrast tests for our logo to make sure the blog readability was the best it could be. The original colour was yellow, which looked great on the logo but if used for writing no one was going to be able to read anything!
Paying attention to those details matter because it makes all the difference in showing your dedication, work ethic, and eye for detail.
Be proud of what you’re sharing with the troops and don’t just settle for good enough.
If you’re not your biggest fan, who’s going to be? The more effort put into the blog, the happier you’ll be with it and the more you’ll want to promote it and put it out there. People will recognize the pride and hard work. Here’s another imaginary scenario.
“Hey everyone. I started a blog about mops. It’s kind of boring but the mop industry is lacking information. Check it out if you want.”
If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s that I’m a mop queen. Nothing gets me going like a fresh Pinesol soaked mop: they clean, make my floors shiny, and keep those diseases at bay. I started this blog to share all my mopping tips and tricks over on lordofmops.com. Mop on over and check it out!
Which one are you more likely to click on? The second one of course.
People will only care if you care. So care.
People don’t want spammy BuzzFeed posts like “Five Things I Wish I Knew About Squeegees” or “How to Build a Raft with Cotton”. People also don’t want just another basic lifestyle blog about OOTDs, beach-grams, and DIY didgeridoos.
Think of your blog as a counsellor. Are you more likely to go to a blog with the same information as every other blog in the world? Or are you more likely to go to a blog with new information conveyed with a unique voice?
Even if it’s something people already know about, like hammers, make it seem like it’s the most valuable and novel information. When people are on the Internet, they’re either looking for answers or entertainment. So why not combine both.
Here’s another thing. Make people feel like they’re being heard!
When we picked a blog layout, we had no idea that you couldn’t click on the picture to read the post. We never noticed that but other people did and complained about it so we’re going to change it!
Listen to people’s feedback and use it to improve. It shows you care what the audience thinks and they feel heard. At the end of the day, give people an experience that they can’t stay away from. That’s what will keep them coming back over and over again.
Try everything for free before deciding to toss stacks at things.
As a beginner, it doesn’t matter whether you have Canva, Tailwind, an email provider, a hosting site, a site designer, and a logo all rolled up into one gourmet sandwich. Blogging is all about building online relationships. Having all this will give a boost but if the writing isn’t engaging and you don’t form connections, all that money for the gourmet sandwich has gone to waste!
Prioritize what you spend your money on. As a lifestyle blogger, Pinterest might be perfect. As a news blogger, having a good email service provider might be more important. Or if you’re a burger enthusiast, a top-notch mallet magazine subscription could be vital to your success.
We decided to spend money on getting a logo designed because we wanted something to reflect our personality and our blog’s brand. The last thing we wanted was a pixelated, planet-shaped hot-dog logo designed on Canva.
So $ave Dat Money and spend it carefully.
Blogging isn’t going to be easy. There are going to be a ton of setbacks and bumps in the road. Like breaking your website or not getting that one affiliate.
It’s going to be more of a bumpy bus ride than a smooth Tesla autopilot journey. But there are things you can do to march your way up the ladder of success:
What’s one piece of advice you’d add to this list? Or would you rather just have a pile of dogs around you while you work? Comment below or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
On some days blogging is a dream filled with positivity.
Life is glorious – you win an award, get a house-sized million dollar check, a thousand retweets, a Nobel Peace Prize, and become World Dominator of Blog-nation.
On other days, the world comes crashing down. The house is on fire, the dogs are throwing up in the kitchen, the Internet isn’t working, Yoast is broken, and your entire blog closely resembles Gotham City. Except with no handsome husky-voiced Batman to save it. All that comes to mind is chucking the computer out the window and joining “The Quitters Family”.
No matter what, it seems impossible to stay positive and you’re on a full-speed, Nascar-level overworked blogger train non-stop to “I’m gonna delete my blog”-ville.
I’ve heard pretty bad things about that place so here are a few tips to get you off the Highway to Hell and back on the Stairway to Blogging Heaven.
Let’s be real. Sometimes, we all need a good ol’ cry-fest. There’s nothing like a cathartic session of crying à la red face and wheezing at the computer. So sit on your chair, bed, the roof, an elephant, the Kennedy Space Center, the moon – wherever your little heart desires and just cry. Go ahead and unzip those tear pockets and let it all out.
Trust me, it works.
My co-blogger and I work out of a PC room in Korea and we’ve bawled our eyes out with 30,000 boys around us playing PubG. I’m talking loud crying that leaves you gasping and wheezing so loud it wakes up the Sleeping Buddha. Tears that flood like Hurricane Katrina and short circuit the building with a horde of enraged teens after me.
I hate public crying as much as the next person and would rather face a locust plague and The Purge but bottling it up is much, much worse.
It sets you up for failure when everything from that point on is done with a negative mindset and a heart full of frustration and confusion.
Remember people, bottles are for juices and other beverages. Not tears.
If crying isn’t your cup of relaxing chamomile tea, do whatever it takes to get those emotions out.
Basically, it’s important to remember that as bloggers, we’re creatives. Positivity equals productivity and doing anything in a negative manner ends up with a catastrophe worse than a Level 9 earthquake.
Is it MailChimp? Google Analytics? Writer’s block? Your dog’s incessant barking? A zombie outbreak?
Dig deep down with a bulldozer to figure out what’s causing the frustration and anger and take a step back. That in itself will help stop that Burnt-out Blogging Rocket. If you focus ten hours on one tiny little “Vienna sausage sized” problem, it becomes difficult to look at the delicious “Costco-style Polish dog” big picture.
Identify the problem, address it, and come back later to solve it. Take a step back and reset the positivity switch. Do another less mind-numbing blogging task like catching up on emails or joining a Twitter hashtag thread. Anything to get you away from the gas can and back on the money-making train.
So many people think building an empire is this easy-breezy-Cover Girl journey. In reality, it’s time-consuming, exhausting, and most of us are working other jobs until the business turns into a money bagger. It isn’t a first-class Caribbean cruise with Michelin-star food and live Ed Sheeran every day. It’s more like building a raft with twigs and twine with a small branch for an oar for a trip from the Panama Canal to Greenland.
Remind yourself why you started the business. The independence, being the boss, or the control over every single aspect of it. Visualize your success and think it into existence. Whether it’s being in Forbes 30 under 30 or standing next to Marie Curie reincarnated. Casting out a line of positivity energy out will only reel it back in.
It doesn’t end well when you’re burnt out and left feeling like a wilted head of lettuce.
When I first started blogging a few months ago, the first thing I did every morning was:
Basically, have an all-nighter work session before even wiping out those eye-crusties.
Don’t do that. Don’t be that chump. All this does is leave you in a mood that rivals Regina George. Take at least half an hour in the morning as “me-time”. Drink some coffee, listen to music, pet some silky dogs, go for a run, or climb Mount Everest.
If you wake up in the morning to face a work avalanche, everything from then on will be done with a negative mindset and a heavy heart. Instead, start the day off right by taking time to yourself so that every challenge and setback can be faced with a positive attitude.
While having a hustle mindset is great, it’s equally as important to take some time to reflect on how far you’ve come, think about any tiny victories, and pat yourself on the back. Things as small as having one more view than last month to things as huge as landing a guest post on your favourite blogger’s site, She Hustles Inc of course. Go down the street to your local Sports Authority and buy the biggest, 7-tiered cheerleader trophy available, make them engrave a personalized message for you, place it in a glass box and put it on your mantle. Be proud of yourself!
Starting a business is a huge endeavour that most people wouldn’t even attempt. Have a drink, make yourself some fancy smoked salmon canapes, stare at your trophy’s and reflect. Get that positivity running back through your veins so you can get back to work stronger than ever.
Sometimes being positive is really hard and nothing works. The only thing that comes to mind is how starting this business is the worst decision since the Big Bang happened and the blog-universe was created. No matter how much you b**ch or cry or stare into the clouds or take some me time, everything leaves a sour taste.
At that point, take a step back from the giant red “delete” button and take a damn break. So many people think of taking a break as being synonymous with weakness. Blasphemy! Taking time to take care of yourself, your kids, your dogs or polishing your snow-globe collection is just as important as making those money moves. Refreshing the mind for new ideas, clear thoughts, and progress will get you farther and in the end, you’re only human. Not Moses parting the Red Sea.
80% of businesses and 99% of blogs fail within the first year for a lot of different reasons. People get bored, lose motivation, realize it’s more of an investment both financially and let’s be honest, emotionally. Negative thoughts begin to seep in and eventually take over so much that it seems you’ve actually grown horns and your drivers license says Lucifer McSatan age 1,007. Shut that entire scenario down real quick.
At the end of the day, remind yourself what you’ve built – whether it’s two months in or ten years in. Bring the positivity back and make the best business the world has ever seen. Besides Crocs. Crocs will always be number one.
What are you doing to build an empire? Have you found the perfect spot for a cry-fest yet? Leave a comment or email at email@example.com.
There it is. Sitting and staring at a blinding white screen with a little black line screaming at you to “Get your head in the game, Troy”. High school musical fans? No? Nice. Moving on.
Nothing comes to mind besides crickets and the sound of chicken cooking in hot oil. Maybe that last one is just me. Either way, we all experience it. That’s right. I’m talking about writer’s block, baby. This happens to everyone and it’s okay!
Occasionally, our creative juices get clogged up in the massive brain drain. You gotta turn on that garbage disposal, slice up all those stale thoughts and get some new inspiration so you can come back and create something bangin’.
However, we’re going to stay away from the usual “take a break” tips because I do that and five days later I’m still “taking a break” sipping margaritas on the porch. So, let’s get some fresh ideas out there.
This is one of the first things I always do and it’s the most helpful tip here.
For some reason, I attempt to write in a comedic style so when I’m in a slump, I like to sit down and watch stand-up comedy to get myself in that state of mind. I’ll read funny bloggers (looking at you fattymccupcakes), re-read some of the best Twitter beef, listen to funny podcasts, or watch Gypsy Sisters. Sifting through Pinterest or even looking through camera rolls can jog your thoughts as well. Read, watch or listen to anything that’s inspiring and gets you into a writing mindset that matches your style.
Secondly, don’t underestimate the power of a good Google search. “Funny Instagram bios” “most boring conversation topics” “words that rhyme with dingus” and “jokes about travellers diarrhoea” are all things I’ve Googled looking for inspiration and information to jog my thoughts.
Use the results, add your own flair and create something better.
Hopefully, you’re writing about something you’re passionate about. Otherwise…what? Whatever the topic is, tap into your emotional connections to it and try to recreate them. Think about how easy it is to write a creepy love letter to a celebrity or a rage text to a roommate. Channel those feelings!
“But Morgan, I don’t have any specific feelings towards the rise and fall of gasoline prices in middle America”. Well for one, I’m not sure why you’re writing about something you don’t care about but if you are, forge some emotion! Pretend you’re a wealthy oil salesman who really does care about the rise and fall of gasoline prices in middle America!
Try to connect the topic to some emotions. Like having to write about sports and being reminded of that rage-inducing ex of yours that would always ditch you to ‘watch the game with his buddies’.
See? Inspiration! Try to make a connection between the topic and an emotionally-evoking memory of it and write about it.
Curse away that writer’s block.
If I’m not feeling up to writing, I’ll psych myself up to have the best possible writing day ever.
Now, I’m annoying as hell and do this with almost everything in life but it makes all the things I do so much more enticing.
(If you didn’t catch the sarcasm there, LoFi hip-hop beats to study and relax to is notorious for being everyone’s go-to study music.)
Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. If none of this works, maybe it just isn’t the day to write and that’s okay. I always have a list of 20 general blog post ideas and about 4-5 posts I want to write about within the next month or so. If I can’t get out of a block for one topic, I’ll draft it and start a new one.
Frying your brain over one post isn’t worth it and it’ll cause a burnout. Taking a break and revisiting posts is a-okay!
However, if it’s a time-dependent post, try to just write. Just open up your brain and dump all the junk out.
Dump. The. Junk.
Make bullet points of idea fragments and try to piece them together later. For me, starting a post could look like:
Later I’ll go through, fill in the blanks and meld all the ideas together. Find synonyms for simple words, reorder all the ideas, write, edit and re-write. It seems a little chaotic but it can be really good to see all the thoughts written down and sift through the garbage hole that is your mind. From dust to diamonds, here’s the finished product!
Writer’s block is the worst and getting through it is a process that takes practice but it’s possible. Even if it seems like you’re lost in a haunted forest with nothing to eat but beetles for five days straight. Get comfortable, relax, find new inspiration, cut yourself some slack and get through that swamp! It’s part of the learning process and it’ll only make you a better writer in the end. Go forth little drain clogs and be phenomenal!
What are your tips for getting through the Saw trap that is writer’s block? Have you ever done anything crazy for content? Let us know in the comments below or shoot an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest Post by AlienEating
Since I was young I’ve somehow always been super wise. Just a regular all-knowing being.
Maybe I was just born wise or maybe it’s Maybelline but I’ve always put an emphasis on wanting to “be happy” with my life. In school, teachers always make students do that “5-year plan” and mine was always “travel and be happy”. Which would generally always elicit some response along the lines of “Oh honey, that’s sweet but we need a real plan. What are you actually going to do?” *insert confused look from greasy haired, chubby middle school me*. Usually, I would just say “I want to be a supervisor” just to make them angry. Why was that not a real answer?
Since then, I’ve done what I do best. Drink wine. I mean prove people wrong. I realized doing exactly what I said back then wasn’t that hard. Creating your own happiness is there for anyone who reaches out and grabs it. My most recent endeavour has been moving to South Korea to travel while teaching English to some mega cute Korean kids. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to do what so many people only dream of doing but recently the fast-paced, face-saving culture here has really bogged me down. The constant shoving, stares, and being packed in a sardine can of a bus is a living nightmare for me.
So, I decided to use my time wisely and do something I’ve always wanted to try, started a blog! Of course, I roped my best friend into it too to help with all the computer things I couldn’t do.
I’ll spare the sappy details but it’s been the best thing for me. It’s been better than swaddling up on my bed-couch while eating an entire baguette. Not even baguette slices, just munchin’ on the loaf. This blog has been a godsend for me, especially in a culture that depends so much on propriety.
I’m an extremely blunt and open person and a place like this gets me down. I want someone to talk with me when I complain in public about how late the bus is! So on those days when Korea is just beating down on me with an elephant-sized hammer, I’m able to just sit down in a PC room, furrow my brows and click click my little heart out. I can channel my energy into something positive. Writing about all the hilarious experiences from getting surprise acupuncture to tricking students into thinking we know what we’re doing as ESL teachers.
Blogging became a safe-haven and really brought back my happiness that I came to Korea with. Both Prachi and I loved blogging so much we decided to take it seriously and turn it into a career plan. Working 9-5 teaching English and zipping over to the PC room until around 2 am. Double full-time jobs, baby! I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I look at before going to bed. I can’t even go to the bathroom without pinning something, checking SEOs, or replying to comments. Which is absolutely mental but I’m in love with it. It’s something I’ve built and I take so much pride in it. It’s like I’ve customized a tiny online robot child and I have to feed him pins and Instagram follows.
Let me just say something though. Blogging is hard. Learning everything from the ground up is mind-numbingly exhausting. I’ve spent two hours adjusting headers to make sure it was centred. Then having to learn about SEO, different widgets and for heaven’s sake, there aren’t any plugins on wordpress.com. All of these tiny things matter because the blog is a reflection of us! If the blog is hot pink and zebra printed with content about medieval weaponry people are going to think of 2004 Ohio and 1702 England.
There’s nothing like feeling successful and proud of something you’ve created and being able to show it to the world. I finally feel like I’m working towards something again, I feel like I’m in control of my life and my happiness because I’m investing my time and energy into something I love doing.
Working for yourself is a completely different style than any average job. I work my own hours, I have no one telling me what to do or when to do it. It requires a great deal of self-discipline. I personally choose to take a break every 3 hours or so and watch a few throwback music videos, eat a cheese stick or 4 and whip around my ponytail.
Then back to work! If I sit on my bed-couch and eat dry tortillas while watching Say Yes To The Dress reruns for 6 hours then I’ll make $0. Can I blame my boss? The boss is my cozy cave of fleece and tasty maize dreams! Speaking of which, can we use tortillas as a world currency? No?
By all that I mean me, my own fault, mine. No one else’s. My success depends on how badly I want it, just like my happiness. If I’m not happy, it’s up to me to change that. No one is going to come and do it for me. You get what you put in.
I decided to take control of our own happiness by becoming my own boss and starting a blog.
That’s what makes me feel in control and happy.
Happiness is made not given. Peep a look at this nicely numbered summary:
I go to “work” every day because I want to, not because I’m reporting to anyone. Even my day job has improved because I know that once that’s finished, I can go work on my tiny online baby that’s going to lead me somewhere in the future.
There’s nothing more rewarding than being responsible for my own success. In the end, I’m not doing any of this to impress a manager or a future employer. I’m doing this because it makes me happy and makes me feel like I’m working towards success. Minus the days that I spend trying to work and just end up clawing my eyes out and drinking 13 $1 cups of coffee. Those days don’t yield success. But 1 step forward 2 steps back right?
What have you done that makes you really happy? Besides sitting in those same leggings for three consecutive days. Let us know in the comments or email us at email@example.com