Since the story of my life is giving free advice (and doing free work for people who don’t value my time or the fact that I run a business), I’ve decided to openly share my advice on how to become a successful blogger or blogger-preneuer. It’s a job, and just because we make it looks easy, it doesn’t mean it is! If you skip through this, just promise me you will at least read #14… the golden rule!
- Learn, eat, live, breath social media. It’s a powerful tool to promote your brand. Start an account on each new channel that exists to secure your account ID. Start building your following early on the channels that you think will work for you. Stick to three. The longer you wait to build your following, the more expensive each follower becomes. For example, building a high following on Twitter today is a thousand times more difficult than it was 6 years ago.
- Be authentic. Just be yourself, it’s the only thing you know how to do. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re a geek, own it. If you’re a troll, stay under the bridge, because no one likes an online bully.
- Be original. When you have an original thought, don’t research it. Do your best with what comes out of your head so you know it was genuinely your idea.
- Be careful when you draw inspiration. Sometimes, even when we browse something quickly, a simple impression of something left in your brain can convince you it was an original thought. If you do get inspired by someone else, the classy thing to do is to give that person credit and refer to their original content (otherwise it’s called plagiarism).
- Consider your hidden costs and budget accordingly. The cost of blogging may seem relatively low but you may not be factoring in the following expenses:
a. your time
b. professional development courses (ps- my friend is teaching a full-day workshop on graphic design in Ottawa on Dec 2. Tell Rachela I sent you because I get a little referal bonus!)
c. purchasing google ads or facebook ads to get noticed
d. the cost to maintain your website, like your domain name and hosting service
e. you may need to hire a web developer or graphic designer if you can’t do the work yourself ( or invest more in b.)
f. business cards
g. purchasing clothing or products that are featured in your work (yup! We love those flowers in the flat lays, but it’s not all free!)
h. equipment like a nice camera, lighting, laptop, smartphone
i. attending events may seem free, but when you factor in your time, your clothing and the promotion work you promised, events actually cost you money
- Include IRL (#inreallife) in your social networking strategy. Yup, we’re all great at hiding behind our screens, but nothing is more impactful than making a great impression in person. Your fans and followers will really appreciate the face-to-face time. Going to networking events can also help make business connections or open collaboration opportunities. But remember the cost (see “i” above).
- Be timely. Just like a good newspaper, you need to react quickly to stay relevant. There is no point in blogging about an event you attended 2 months ago,unless you’re promoting the dates for next year!
- Be transparent. Yes, bloggers get a lot of free swag and paid opportunities, but only the classy bloggers will tell you if and when something was gifted and not purchased. ( See 5 b.)
- Be consistent. If you’re starting a new series or launching your blog for the first time, don’t announce it unless you commit to your promise. If you can only realistically do a tutorial video every 3 months, then do it every three months. Don’t say things like “I plan on doing these tutorials every week…” Find a cadence, and stick to it!
- Find balance in your content. I am guilty of this and need to stop myself sometimes. I definitely need to prioritize my sponsored content, but sometimes it’s nice just to say what’s on my mind (like this post for example).
- Make it about your reader. It’s not about you; it’s about your audience. What value can you bring to them? Ask yourself what are you doing for them in exchange for their reading time? Again, this is what I ask myself every time I post something… I hope I am doing a good job.
- Be nice. Just like in real life, when a person takes the time to compliment you, you say thank you! The same principles apply to social media. You should respond to all your comments, with a genuine and sincere tone. Don’t wait too long to do it either. I know we’re all busy, but this is your business, take a minute to respond.
- Take care of yourself. Again, I should be taking my own advice here, because I really don’t take care of myself enough most of the time. Running a blog, just like any business, is hard and takes a lot of time, energy and effort. A little work-life balance goes a long way. Unfortunately, sometimes the work-life limits in blogging are not very clearly defined.
- Be professional. I recently got burned by a client who won’t pay me for the work that I put in (I know! Can you imagine? PROMOTION IS NONREFUNDABLE!), and I didn’t have a contract or agreement to back me up. Lesson learned my friends- always lay out the expectations and deliver on your promises. I’m relying on karma heavily to fix this one for me.