After working in the digital media industry for nearly 15 years, I’ve seen plenty of blogs and websites come and go. This A-Z of soulful blogging includes my top tips and strategies to help get your blog bursting with creativity and be a magnet for readers and potential customers alike.
A: AUTHENTIC, ACTIVE & ASKING FOR HELP
A blog that’s written from a place of authenticity will easily blossom. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery however it’s exhausting keeping up the façade of trying to be something or someone you’re not. Be authentic and the writing and content creation will flow. Your tribe will gravitate towards you and your work, and will become loyal supporters in no time.
Asking for help isn’t always easy. Sometimes you might feel like a failure or needy by doing so, but the reality is you’ve just got to reach out to people, in or beyond your existing network. Do you have a friend who’s connected to someone you’d love to meet? Ask for an introduction. Stuck with a tech issue and need some guidance? Tap your existing network or find a group of likeminded bloggers where you can share tips and resources. Never shy away from asking and be ready to give back generously.
Being an active blogger means you’re regularly producing content and filling up your website, which is good for Google. It’s also great for developing your writing style and keeping your readers up to date and interested in what you’ve got to say. Part of being an active blogger also means looking after the backend of your blog by installing the latest plugins, security patches and backing up your content. Get familiar with your blog analytics to see what posts are performing and where your traffic is coming from.
B: BRAND & BLOG BOREDOM
More often than not, your blog or your website is the cornerstone of your business and an online extension of your voice, style and brand. It’s the place to showcase your latest articles, news, products and services and is a primary platform for people to find and connect with you. Provide readers with a brilliant and cohesive user experience by ensuring your blog is truly representative of who you are. If you’re a solopreneur, then what you publish online in the form of content and design actually becomes part of your personal brand.
Feeling bored with your blog? You’re most likely to get blog boredom (blogdom) more than your average reader because you’re often looking at your blog with a critical mindset and you’ve read the content over and over. Change up the look and feel with a new theme or swap out graphical elements to refresh the visual appeal. Tweaking the design and adding fresh content regularly keeps it interesting.
C: CONTENT CREATION & COLLABORATION
Content creation is the lifeblood of your blog and originality is key. It’s how readers get to know you and it’s what keeps them coming back for more. Collaborating with other bloggers is a great way to showcase your talent, cross pollinate ideas, forge alliances and expand your network. If you are inviting guest bloggers, keep the quality consistent and be sure to communicate your standards to any potential collaborators.
There’s no denying we live in a digital world and we are massive consumers of content 24/7. Your blog should look good and perform well online but also be mobile responsive so it’s viewable on a smartphone or tablet. Keep your blog dynamic and engaging with content that is disruptive. No one wants to read article after article that’s all about you. It’s like having a conversation at a party with someone who only speaks about themselves, which is really boring. When it comes to blogging it pays to know your strengths and weaknesses. If the technology aspect of blogging has you running in the opposite direction, consider delegating some of the set up or design work by using a service like Fiverr.com, Airtasker.com or with a VA (virtual assistant).
E: ENTREPRENEURSHIP & EFFICIENCY
It’s easy for your entrepreneurial spirit to be dampened if you find blogging to be a chore. What to write about and what will people think of your work are typical concerns when you’re first starting out. Think about the sort of experience you want readers to have when they visit your blog. What are you really passionate writing about? Blogging should be something you look forward to. Make the most of your time by blogging with efficiency. Spend some time writing articles and schedule blog posts and social media in advance to free up your creative time.
F: FOLLOWING, FREEBIES & FONTS
The blogosphere can be a lonely place, especially if you’re pouring your heart and soul into creating gorgeous content and no one seems to be visiting or leaving a comment on your blog. Is there anybody out there? It can take a while to build a loyal following and the key is quality content and consistency. Having a nice opt in freebie can be good for building your email list. Connecting with other likeminded bloggers can also help you to build your profile. If you read someone’s blog post and love it, be sure to say so by leaving a comment. Regularly check your favourite blogs and get to know the people behind the words. If you’re not getting the levels of traffic you want be sure to check your SEO and one of the simplest tips is check your fonts. You might love a particular, quirky font but if it looks odd on the screen or is difficult to read then people simply won’t stick around to read the content.
If you’re looking to position yourself as a thought-leader via your blog be generous with the information you’re sharing. You never know when or where your next potential client is coming from or how a new business relationship may eventuate. The Internet is a truly global marketplace. Your next customer might be from the same city or someone from a different country. When it comes to business and growing your online presence via your blog, remember we all start from humble beginnings. If you’re an established blogger, show your support to a new blog or biz that’s caught your eye by leaving a comment or sharing a mention on social media. It never hurts to give back and be grateful for any support that’s been shown to you on your blogging journey.
The social and business networks built through blogging can become central to how well you establish your profile and brand in the offline world. Reach out and connect with your network in real life through events and local meet ups. If sales and generating revenue is part of your focus, then hone in on your business strategy to make sure you’re paying equal attention to the e-commerce side of your blog. If you’re a new blogger, avoid the typical 6 month burn out and perish syndrome and use the first year to try out new ideas with content creation and design to see what works best for you as you refine positioning and niche. As you’ll be hustling for opportunities, it pays to stay humble and offer your assistance to others when you can.
I: ISOLATION, INSPIRATION & INSECURITIES
As a society, technology connects us in ways not previously experienced by past generations. The flipside to this connectivity is there are many entrepreneurs and bloggers today working in isolation. Isolation can be hard to deal with particularly if you have an extroverted personality. With many opting for email communication it can even be challenging to have a phone conversation with someone. It pays to take a balanced approach to communication in business and in life so if you feel disconnected, try to incorporate a mix of styles to support you which could include face-to-face meetings or skype video calls, speaking engagements or networking groups.
Inspiring your readers with heartfelt, well written content will keep them coming back for more but it’s not enough to simply have a blog. People need to find you online and that’s where building a strong following on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can really help. Instructional video content is growing in popularity and if this type of content appeals to you then overcome any insecurities you might have with being on screen and record a few videos at home for practice first. Improve your on-camera technique and get used to talking straight into the camera with emotion. Let your personality shine through.
It can be frustrating when you’re not achieving the results you want from blogging and business and you see someone else nailing it on all fronts. But don’t let jealousy bite you or become consumed by it. We’re all on our own journey and are at different stages of our individual journeys. Being jealous of someone else’s success will detract you from your own mission and eat away at your confidence. Jettison jealously and focus on bringing your personal best to everything that you do and the results will come.
K: KIN & KINETIC
Kinfolk; your tribe, your circle. The people that will be your biggest supporters and most avid readers. As soon as you start blogging, start nurturing your tribe. Have a clear understanding about who they are and connect with them in a meaningful and authentic way. Producing content for the web means you’re creating for a kinetic platform. It’s an ever evolving, pervasive, dynamic environment so keep your content fresh, accessible and full of movement with beautiful visual elements.
L: LISTEN, LEARN & LEVERAGE
Take the time to listen to what your readers like and learn about their preferences. Once you have a clear understanding of this, creating compelling content will become so much easier. Ultimately you want to love what you do so leverage all your available resources to bring your blog to life.
M: MOTIVATION, MARKETING & MIXING IT UP
Stay motivated about your blog by preparing an editorial calendar that will keep you moving towards your writing goals and content creation like a pro. If you’ve reached a stage with your blog that has you questioning its overall direction, go back to your original vision and start formulating a plan that will bring you back into mission mode. Refresh your marketing approach and try out a few different ideas that might attract new readers like a competition, webinar or video series. Mix up content formats to see what works best with your tribe.
Neglected, abandoned blogs are everywhere so make sure your blog doesn’t perish by keeping your content newsworthy and interesting. Nurture your tribe and give your readers a mix of personal, inspirational and instructional content.
O: OBSTACLES, OPPORTUNITIES & AN OPEN MIND
Keep an open mind about the types of publicity activities you’re willing to undertake when building your brand and blog. If you dislike dealing with the media or reluctant to engage in public speaking try to overcome these obstacles and be prepared when opportunity knocks. Stick to a calendar system and practice diarising your daily to-dos to help you stay organised. To avoid task-overwhelm, group scheduled tasks by project and break down jobs within a project into manageable chunks that will enable you to progress and remain optimistic.
P: PROCRASTINATION, PASSION, PERSONALISATION & PROOFING
Procrastination is the nemesis of productivity. If you find yourself putting off a certain project take the time to question why and identify the real reason behind the reluctance to move forward. The most exciting projects are the ones we are most passionate about. Passion fuels creativity and it’s often the practical driving force that stretches us beyond our comfort zone when dealing with completing larger, more complex projects. Personalise your blog and give it a professional edge with original, proofread content and most importantly, protect your digital work from theft by using an online plagiarism tool like Copyscape.com.
In the realms of content production, quality versus quantity is the winner every time. Thoughtful, beautifully written blog posts that occur with regularity will capture your reader’s interest and keep them engaged. Don’t sacrifice your standards to meet a publishing demand just for the sake of putting something out there. Know when to quit if an element on your blog or a particular topic isn’t generating interest. Question your readers to find out what they want you to write about and keep experimenting.
R: RESPOND & RELATIONSHIP
Running a blog is a two way communication channel. If someone takes the time to read your blog post and makes a comment, be sure to respond promptly and in a meaningful way. Move beyond the typical remarks and engage your readers in a conversation that forges a closer connection and opens up the dialogue. Think relationship building, not simply reply and you’ll create a richer engagement with your tribe and potential ideal clients.
S: SHARING & SOCIAL MEDIA
Sharing the content you’ve created is critical in driving traffic to your blog and building your online profile. Understand the content consumption preferences of your tribe and what social media platforms they’re using and schedule accordingly. Use social media to your advantage but don’t compromise your blogging efforts by spending all your time building your presence on different social platforms. Ultimately you want those connections and conversations to happen on your blog whenever possible where you have more chance of converting casual readers into valuable subscribers.
Trust in your instincts. If you’re fretting over pushing the publish button on your latest blog post, go with it and trust in what you have written and what you have created. Sometimes what you write won’t hit the mark, but that’s OK. You learn from the experience, move on and try again. If you’ve been absent from your blog or need to take a break then be transparent with your readers and share what’s going on. They’ll appreciate your honesty and approachability.
Make your blog an inviting destination by writing with your unique style and provide plenty of useful, relevant content to help readers improve their own lives. Maintain the upkeep of your blog and if you’re publishing via a blogging platform like Wordpress be sure to uninstall any untested plugins that could cause a stability issue.
V: VIRALITY & VISUALS
It’s almost impossible to predict what content will go viral so don’t create content hinging your hopes on it being a viral smash. What’s trending in content right now are visuals. Images and video grab attention and are a critical element in content marketing. The world needs to hear your voice via your blog but it also wants to look at pretty pictures too. Having a clear vision for your blog is also paramount. What do you want to achieve as a result of producing content? What’s the reason you want to create a blog in the first place? While we’ve talked a lot about blogging and business from an entrepreneurial viewpoint, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn’t apply the various strategies to a purely creative or personal blog. It’s often the case when we’re investing our time on a passionate pursuit, it can sometimes grow and become ripe for commercial interest and investment.
W: WRITE & WEAVE
The wonderful words you write and all the hard work you invest in building your blog will pay off and win the eyes of readers and the hearts of your destined tribe. Keep weaving your uniqueness through everything you produce for your blog and let people connect with your true, authentic self.
X: XENODOCHIAL & THE X-FACTOR
First impressions count online so make your blog a welcoming destination that is xenodochial with user friendly design, accessible type and the right mix of content. Give your blog the x-factor and give readers a reason to visit again and again.
Say yes to opportunities that will help you to build your blog and brand. How else will people get to know you and your work? Support yourself by saying yes more and embrace the possibilities that flow your way.
Z: ZERO IN
Before publishing your next post, check to see if you can tighten up the text by zeroing in and removing any unnecessary words or use a tool like PaperRater.com to improve your writing and readability.
Janelle Ledwidge is a qualified life coach, Licensed Facilitator of The Desire Map, co-author of “A Faster Future” and holistic health coach-in-training. As the Curator of AGLITTERINGSOUL.COM, Janelle loves writing and designing relevant, heartfelt, actionable content to inspire creative, ambitious women and soulful entrepreneurs who understand that investing in personal development is the key to crafting a lifestyle rich with happiness, passion and purpose. Visit Janelle at AGLITTERINGSOUL.COM and connect on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.