The Beginner's Guide to Blogging

Blogging doesn't come naturally to everyone. So if you think you don’t have what it takes, you can relax.

With nearly 40% of US companies using blogs for marketing purposes, it is safe to conclude that blogging is to business what cheese is to hamburger, what beer is to Superbowl, what controversy is to Miley Cyrus, what.. well, you get the picture. 

If you've been giving blogging the cold shoulder until now and wish to make peace with it, you need to read and follow this blog post right now.

What you will need for this exercise (in no particular order)

  1. A blogging platform- where else are you going to post it, right?

  1. Friends/ connections to share it with - how we wish search engines were generous enough to automatically list our blogs on the first page of search results for everyone to read! However, as long as that isn’t happening, we continue to share our blogs on social for maximum readership (AND search engine rankings, of course).

  1. Good eye for research - apart from a flair for writing (natural or developed), this is a must-have for any aspiring blogger. More on this later.

  1. Good intent - of course, everyone knows that blogging is a subtle form of advertising and the expected end result is ROI. However, this is no reason why you shouldn't be writing stuff that will benefit your audience in some way.  

  1. Sense of humor (it’s a bonus) - a sense of humor is like the garnish of grated cheese and red sauce on your spaghetti and meatballs. Just like the right garnishing  can tantalize your senses, a little dash of humor can make your blogs much more appetizing.

Generating a blog topic

  1. List posts: One of the first hurdles to blogging is generating the right topic. For starters I’d recommend you stick to list posts. Examples of lists post: 5 tips to turn leads into sales, 6 steps to master personalized selling,  etc. You could take a cue from Buzzfeed, which does an excellent job of making list posts.

  1. Depend on keywords: Blogs are usually written around keywords. Keywords are words that are often searched for by your audience. You can use any of the free keyword tools like Wordstream, Google keyword tool or the Bing keyword tool.

  1. Resort to social media hashtags/news feeds: I like to personally start my day with a healthy dollop of social media. Why? Because over time I have realized that the trendiest and most happening news and discussions happen first on social sites. I choose to follow people and influencers from my field which let me understand what the others are talking about. Oftentimes, these blogs serve as an inspiration for a new post.
  1. Newsjacking: Close on the lines of the previous point, newsjacking means to catch on to the most “trending” topic currently and using that as a base for your new post. Your trending topic may not necessarily be related to your industry, but with a little cleverness  you might find a way to relate the two.

  1. Something that you feel your prospects need but your company hasn’t covered yet? No matter how often your company blogs, there is the possibility that some general topic area has been missed. Find out what it is and get crackin’ on it.  

Creating an outline

  1. Feel free to write anything that comes to your mind when you first pick your topic.
If you are anything like me, then having your topic out of the way is like accomplishing the biggest hurdle in this whole process. Once you have that in place, feel free to jot down whatever you can think of related to that topic. You don’t need to focus in on any specific aspect of your topic yet, just jot down whatever strikes you. If you’re falling short of ideas,  have a random conversation with colleagues/friends/ family about the topic, you’ll be surprised by what you get.   

If I choose to write about Christmas and I sell Christmas decor, I’d probably choose a topic like “How to decorate your house for the holidays”
Possible general topics: which things to put up first, halloween decor, christmas ornament, decorative lightings, how to save time on decorating tree, wrapping gifts, funky sofa furniture covers, faux floral arrangements.   

  1. Create a flow
The points jotted above are a kickstart to your writing. The next step requires you to choose the ones that are most relevant to your topic and discard the ones that aren't. (Tip: Don’t discard all of them, some of them can be developed into a whole new post in the future). Arrange the points sequentially in order to keep a flow for your readers. Jot down every related topic randomly, arrange them in a sequence.

  1. Research
Make sure to do plenty of research when you start writing about anything, even if you are a subject matter expert. When you research, you are going to come across stuff that you may have missed or a point of view that you hadn’t known before. Another benefit that research offers  is adds greater depth to your content. Google is your best bet for researching purposes. However, depending on what you want to blog about, you can also access research articles and ebooks from Aberdeen, Forrester, Ezine Articles, google scholar, etc.  

The draft
Once you have got your topic, outline and research in place, you are done with most of the hard work.

Now you need to articulate your thoughts and connect the dots. This isn’t as hard as it seems.
You will often find that you have a lot on your mind, but when you write it down, it doesn’t make sense. Happens all the time. Yes, even to the best of bloggers. The only way to get out of it is to keep writing till you are satisfied with what’s on paper. Don’t be too hard on yourself the first few times (note: by first few times, I mean at least a few months till you actually start liking what you write).

Here are some tips to help you blog effectively. A common error that most bloggers do, is to publish the blog without proofreading it. By doing this, you could be committing the gravest error in the blogging world. You need to proofread your post at least twice, before you pass it on to a trusted friend or colleague to proofread it for you one last time. No one likes to read poor grammar with punctuation in the wrong place. This will only deflect attention from your messaging to your grammar.

The key to being a successful blogger is to stay consistent and being passionate about what you blog about.

“Successful blogging is not about one time hits. It’s about building a loyal following over time.” - David Aston

“If you want to continually grow your blog, you need to learn to blog on a consistent basis.”- Neil Patel

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.” -Jason Calacanis

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