Your Blogging Plan for 2013: Plan For Blogging Success

This is a guest post written by Angela Booth. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

The year’s end is a great time to take stock of your blog. What’s working for you this year? What do you need to do more of?

Once you’ve reviewed your activities for this year, focus on creating a plan for blogging activities in 2013. Once you’ve created plan, you’ll feel more confident, because you’re building your success.

Here’s how to get started.
Checklist
1. Revisit Your Dreams for Your Blog: What’s Changed?

Cast your mind back to the days when you were planning your blog. You had goals: to promote your business, to sell affiliate products, or perhaps to create a personal blog.

While those goals may not have changed, your methods for achieving them may have. The Web changes every year. Things which once worked well — methods of getting traffic for example — may no longer work as well as they did.

Perhaps your own emphasis has changed. For example, if you started the year blogging for your business, perhaps you’re now emphasizing Twitter, or Facebook.

2. Identify Your Audience’s Needs in 2013

Your blog has an audience. Think about what will be important for them in the new year. Think about your business too, and how you can align your business’s goals with that of your audience.

3. Identify Sources of Blogging Income

Everyone blogs for a reason. It’s time to think about income sources in 2013. Make a list of what brought income in 2012, and decide to continue those sources if they work for you, or to find new income sources.

Most bloggers spend a lot of time checking out income sources, or trying to get advertisers.

4. Choose Keywords and Topics

If you keep an eye on keywords, you know that they’re constantly changing, in every industry. A search term which brought great traffic no longer does. New terms have become popular.

Keyword tools are historical. This means that there’s no guarantee that they will send you traffic just because they once did.

Rather than studying tools, study news sources, and social media sites like Twitter to make your keyword lists. Spend some time brainstorming too. You may well find that they keywords you brainstorm out-perform keywords from a tool.

5. Brainstorm Blog Titles for January

By the time you’ve completed the four steps above, you should have a good idea of which blog topics you want to emphasize in January.

Keeping your keywords in mind, brainstorm some blog post topics and titles for January and February.

With your blogging plan in hand, you’re well on the way to a profitable 2013. Happy New Year!

About the author

Angela Booth is a copywriter and blogging enthusiast. Contact her via @angee on Twitter if you need writing or blogging help. Alternatively, visit her Creativity Factory Blog, where she’s starting a new series: “Make Writing Easy” for writers and non-writers too.

Five Ways To Be A Better Blogger

One of the main questions I get asked, when I explain what I do for a living, is ‘How do I become a better blogger?’ In truth, I never quite know what to say. There are so many different things which can separate the good blogger from the bad, it’s difficult to seize on a simple response and know I’m imparting good advice. So, for the benefit of anyone out there looking for five sure-fire ways to enhance your blogging practice and get in to a great habit for ongoing success, here are my top tips…

Blog

OK, this may sound like a stupid recommendation, but have you any idea how many people I know, who have failed at blogging – because they actually didn’t blog? Your blog is your business, and so you have to put more care and attention in to making it flourish than in most other areas of work. People’s blogs fail more often than not simply because they allowed them to fall by the wayside, neglecting to post up articles and look after their sites.
WordPress logo
The internet is like one big children’s home for lost, neglected or orphaned blogs which started out with a loving parent and then ended up shriveling in to a sad and lonely, disbanded site because their owners forgot to give them the things that they needed to survive. Blogs work, when people blog through them. Write at least three articles a week, and love your blog to make it flourish.

Blog for others

You may have nailed your blog, and you could be a great owner, posting up articles and looking after your site, but did you know that blogging for other people is just as effective as posting up articles on your own site? People who write guest posts for others bring traffic to their own site, generating more business and broadening their readership significantly.

So, for every three articles you write on your own site, why not factor in a fourth to post up somewhere else? This is a simple, easy and highly effective way of getting people to find out about you, your site and your business for no financial outlay and a very small investment of time.

Be responsive

Responsiveness is a key trait for any successful blogger, as you reply to the comments which people have posted up on your site, get back quickly to those customers seeking your advice or support, and generally maintain a healthy and involved approach to your business. The best bloggers spend time each day to answer questions, communicate with customers and respond to their requests, requirements and suggestions. By staying ahead of what your customers want or need, through listening to their feedback and responding, you will always be in a position to grow, develop and enhance your business.

Be proactive

Nothing kills a blog off more quickly than allowing it to stagnate, preventing it from developing and evolving in line with the requirements of the industry and customer base. It’s important to stay ahead of shifts and trends as a blogger, understanding the potential twists in the industry and catering for them just as they emerge in your market. Knowing what your customers are looking for, and providing it to them even before they were aware they had a need, will ensure you always stay ahead of your competitors and succeed.

Set a routine

Finally, having a great routine will enhance the way you run your blog, forever. Set apart a time to update your site, and have a strong and inflexible schedule based upon what you need to achieve each day, and when you want to achieve it by. This firms up your strategy and task list, and keeps you on track to be an outstanding blogger!

Celebrating A New Voice in The Blogosphere

Blogging is becoming more and more accessible to people all over the world, as WordPress and other platforms get easier to use, and the blogging craze catches on. This means that people who would normally have left blogging to IT experts and business owners are stepping up to the keyboard and lending their voice to the busy blogosphere.

According to some statistics, mothers are the newest to take up blogging across the globe. Apparently, the ‘mummy blogger’ (or ‘mommy blogger’ depending where you’re from) has become an unstoppable force when it comes to writing online diaries and sharing their experiences with the world. This is a welcome trend, opening up opportunities for people from all walks of life to communicate, share their experience of parenting and set up a community to support other people in similar circumstances.

How new trends arise in blogging

The trend is thought to have arisen for a number of reasons, including the fact that mothers who stay at home have sporadic opportunities to access the web at all times. In addition, blogging enables isolated parents to take advantage of social networking fully, engaging other mothers in comments and feedback and setting up chat forums to alleviate the sense of isolation which bringing up a child can create.

Although the ‘Mummy/Mommy blogger’ is not a particularly new phenomenon, it is rising hugely in popularity as people realize the benefits and rewards of sharing their experiences of childcare and motherhood online. In the United States, the situation has come to the attention of government officials policing advertising on the web, as new legislation has passed forcing some ‘Mummy/Mommy bloggers’ to disclose any affiliations which they may have with organizations, before advertising their products or services.

How blogging opens up new communications channels

This move demonstrates the power which people can have when they blog, in influencing other people’s purchasing decisions and actions. The rise of parental blogs, and their popularity among families raising children, is immense.

One woman in the US has been blogging about parenting since 2005, sharing her experiences of raising twins, and taking kids abroad. Linda Jones is enjoying a growing reputation when it comes to reviewing child-friendly holiday destinations, and is now frequently offered complimentary trips by organisations wishing to be reviewed.

Why the parent blogger stands to benefit from joining the blogosphere

A ‘Daddy blogger’ commented to the BBC news: “The lure of making money could be used to encourage positive blogs. Mommies make money, parents make money. They sit at home and they blog and there is definitely a good income stream you can make just from blogging. So, when money is involved there is definitely going to be some type of influence. They don’t pay you to bash their company and say something negative about their product.”

How to join the new movement

If you are a parent looking to join the blogging network, it couldn’t be simpler to register with WordPress and get in on the action. If you’d like support adding your voice to the thriving community of online bloggers, get in touch and I’ll support you to get started!

Getting Yourself Into The Blogging Habit

Habits are formed by association, when you repeat something often enough the brain recognizes it as a pattern and that pattern becomes associated with something either pleasurable or negative. As we get older this becomes harder for the brain to accept, so we need to help it along!

Keeping your blog as a positive thing on your task list

Try associating writing your blog with a pleasurable part of your day, maybe you have a cup of your favorite coffee and a couple of biscuits while you write. By a pleasant association you are more likely to enjoy the experience every day. If sitting down and writing becomes connected with a negative experience or feeling you are less likely to want to form that habit. If writing it feels like a chore then you aren’t going to want to sit down and write it!

Build it into your routine. Choose a time of day to write your blog that best suits you and your finest creative brain. Some people work well early in the morning, some in the evening. They don’t take long to update, try allowing yourself some time in your life to write uninterrupted; by allowing yourself some time it does become an integral part of your day. I find the first light of day an inspiration and love listening to the silence of the day before the hustle and bustle starts properly.

Making your environment work for your blogging

It’s also a good idea to make sure working conditions are good for you. Let your friends and family know this is the time that you will be writing your posts and you’d appreciate it if they gave you some peace and quiet for a while. It’s impossible to think when the kids want you to sort out an argument, you’re wanted on the phone or one of the other many reasons our lives are never our own. Shut the door; give yourself some space to think.

Forming the habit of writing it is going to take time, it’s not going to happen overnight, just as a good following won’t. Psychologists recommend doing an activity everyday for 30 days for something to become a habit.

…And that is good advice for a blogger. In order for a blog to work it needs to be updated regularly, every day to start with. Your followers are looking for good and original posts from you regularly. Although you shouldn’t post things just for the sake of a post, that kind of content is less likely to wow than one you actually have something to say in.

Maybe you can’t get to your PC to write sometimes. We all end up with other overriding commitments sometimes. If this happens, try taking a notebook or a voice recorder with you so you can brainstorm at convenient times, when inspiration strikes. Lots of us have this facility on our phones these days – I find both methods useful when I’m out and about, to record ideas that pop into my head.

Keeping the blogging habit alive and well

When it comes to blogging commitments, focus on the positive, not the negative. Rather than dwelling on the posts you forgot to publish, concentrate on tomorrow’s post and make sure that gets done. In order for something to become a habit, you need to think of it in a positive light. If you start concentrating on the negative you will condition your brain to associate blogging with stress, performance anxiety and boredom. Remember we do this for the pleasure, not because it causes us pain!

All habits take a while to form, so give yourself time to get used to your new routine. Keep light-hearted about your blog, and use it as a platform to promote you and your business without feeling overwhelmed by the obligations which regular blogging brings.

Improving Your Blog Stickiness

It’s relatively easy to get your blog set up and start updating it with great articles. It’s also straightforward to market it, let people know it is out there, and do what you can to encourage people to come and visit your site. With the right tools and support, you can get a great blog up and running in a small space of time.

What can prove to be a little more difficult is getting people to stick around. We’ve all visited new blogs and checked them out, and then clicked away from them, never to return again.

So. What is the ‘stickiness’ factor, and how do you make sure you have it on your blog? Here are a few ideas…

The soap opera technique

Do you ever watch soap operas? Some people live by them. They have an ongoing story to tell, and they retain maximum ‘stickiness’ in a number of ways. These include:

  • Running plot lines that don’t ever truly conclude (ever watched Lost?!).
  • Leaving you hanging with unanswered questions.
  • Dealing with relevant topics that people can identify with.
  • Letting you get to know the characters, so you care about how they’re getting on.

All these factors can apply equally well to blogging, and you can take inspiration from soap techniques for your own writing. By using open writing styles, you can make sure that people come back to your blog regularly to see how you’re getting on, and develop relationships with people that mean they are eager to get your next installment!

Keep abreast of leading-edge developments in your field

If you can tap in to news as it breaks in your industry, you stand a good chance of retaining your readership for good. Make your blog the first port of call for updates and information, and people will come back again and again, using you as a primary resource for finding things out. The best way to do this is to look online for relevant RSS feeds and subscribe to them, then comment on useful or interesting things which apply to your field of expertise.

Try providing useful widgets

If you make your blog useful, the likelihood is people will come back to the site as a matter of course, as part of their daily routine. Widgets such as weather updates, news items on a particular subject, or essential information such as share prices, promotions or offers (depending upon your area of industry) can be a great – and easy – way of making your blog site indispensable to your readers. Make it easy for people to bookmark you, and then make them want to visit you time and again.

Remind people through other means to visit your blog

Sometimes, we forget about even the best things in life. Have you ever discovered a great new recipe for a meal, only to kind of forget about it again? Blogs can be like that. Even the best ones can slip the net if people aren’t given a reminder to go back and check in with them. Keep your blog at the forefront of your readers’ minds, by linking to it from your other resources. Make it a prominent part of your company web site, and try sending out monthly e-mail newsletters that link people straight back to your blog. Make it even easier for people to return, by offering a prompt to add your blog to their ‘Favorites’ list.

Harness the power of storytelling

Storytelling is a skill which every single person responds to. Structure your blog posts with a clear beginning, a great middle and a decisive ending. These techniques tap in to our inherent response to stories which has been developed in us since we were children. By making your posts clear, well-structured and readable, you’ll give people a sense of ease when they read your posts, and encourage them to return to your site for another dose of storytelling, every day. As busy adults, we don’t often get the chance to take time out and lose ourselves in a great story. Your blog can be one of the places where people pop in to tune out for a while!

Build up long-term online relationships

This is the most simple, and most effective, way of building your readership and making your blog stickier than a fly caught in treacle (mmmm…). If people who visit feel that they are getting to know you, and you are reliable when it comes to providing help and support, they’ll come to view you as a valued colleague and friend. This is achieved by:

  • Making regular (and I mean REGULAR) updates on your blog.
  • Answering all comments and queries quickly and efficiently.
  • Being helpful, supportive and proactive when it comes to dealing with comments.
  • Visiting other blogs, and offering them the readership that you yourself are seeking to gain.

…Simple!

If you have a ‘sticky’ blog, get in touch in the comments and share your expertise with me!