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[Case Study] My Precise Strategy on How to Start a Blog

[Case Study] My Precise Strategy on How to Start a Blog

After all the mistakes I made with my first blog (aka my “starter” blog), I decided I needed a better plan for how to start a blog successfully.

In fact, I would say knowing how to start a blog on the right foot is crucial. Even when you do everything correctly, it can still take months to start seeing results.

And, if you don’t start out right, it will take even longer.

(Of course, the flip side is once you start seeing results, you’ll continue to, even if you aren’t always on top of posting.)

Even knowing it will take time to see results, it cam still be difficult to keep moving forward when you have little to nothing to show for it (trust me, I know, I just went through it). It’s even worse when you’re also listening to a nagging little voice in the back of your head questioning whether you’re doing it right.

Because, hands down, worst of all, is finding out months down the road (after expending all that wasted time and creative energy) that you did, indeed, do things wrong and that’s the reason why you’re not seeing results.

That’s why I’m going to walk you through my precise strategy on how to start a blog today—so you can duplicate it and experience the same type of success I am with my new blog, LoveBasedBiz.com. I started this blog in December 2016, and it took about a year to start seeing results. But now, I’m finally getting the traction and momentum I was looking for.

That said, I think I could have seen results months sooner if I hadn’t gone through a “crisis of faith” about six months in. I started doubting myself and was seriously considering throwing in the towel.

I didn’t let myself stop, but I did cut back on how much I was posting each week.

Looking back, I see that was a mistake—one I don’t want you to make.

Here’s the thing: it’s still totally possible to grow a blog from scratch. It’s also totally possible to still use SEO (search engine optimization) and attract organic visitors to your blog.

AND if you set your blog up right, it’s also possible to make money from it. (In my case, I’m selling books and products with my blog.)

All you need is the right strategy.

(Now, that said, I do want to add that you can always find someone who isn’t following one or all of these steps, and is still rocking it with his/her blog. Unicorns exist. However, I do believe the vast majority of folks who decide to disregard what I say below are likely going to be frustrated with their blogging efforts.)

How to Start a Blog Step 1: Get clear on your message.

Gone are the days when you could create a business around rehashing what other experts and gurus teach, or even worse, relying on “new” to cut through the marketing clutter and give you momentum.

Now, you really need to get clear on your unique voice and message to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Yes, you have one (trust me). If you’re feeling called to change the world with your unique gift (even if you’re not entirely sure what that gift is), you have something to share.

You just have to find it.

Chances are it’s some sort of combination of what you find super easy to do and your personal story and life experiences (including your core wounds and/or your shadows). It’s definitely worth the time and energy to dig in and get clear on what you’re meant to bring forward into the world.

For myself, I knew I needed to get the love-based message out in a big way.

How to Start a Blog Step 2: Get clear on what your blog is about.

Yes, yes, I’m also disappointed that people aren’t rushing to my blog to read my personal musings on whatever pops into my head, no matter if it’s related to my overall brand and message or not.

But, unless you’re super famous and/or have a big following, that’s life.

Your visitors are coming to you because they expect a certain experience on your blog. Maybe it’s content. Maybe it’s entertainment. Maybe it’s both.

If you don’t provide that experience consistently, they’ll likely stop coming.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment. It also doesn’t mean your blog can’t evolve over time. What it DOES mean is that getting clear on what your blog is about, and then aligning your content with it is the key to success.

For myself, this was easy. I knew I was being called to get the love-based message out into the world in a bigger way, so that’s what my blog needed to be about.

How to Start a Blog Step 3: Choose a blog template that’s both mobile friendly and looks up to date. (And, get comfortable with the idea you’re probably going to have to update it in a few years.)

With more and more people accessing the web using phones and tablets, if you don’t have a mobile-responsive blog, you’re just asking to be ignored by a lot of potential visitors.

How to Start a Blog Step 4: Write posts around popular keywords.

If you want to build up your organic traffic (“organic traffic” refers to the posts that will show up organically when your ideal clients are searching the web using those keywords), this is non-negotiable. (I’ll dig into this strategy in more detail in a future post, but in short, find popular keywords that don’t have a lot of competition, and write your posts around them.)

How to Start a Blog Step 5: Write high-quality, longer posts.

I can’t stress this enough. Just throwing up a fast, poorly-written, poorly-thought-out article is NOT going to help you over the long haul. Take time to create solid content, even if it means you can’t post as often as you like.

Also, I suggest writing at least one long post a week (and by long, I mean between 1,000 and 2,000 words). Studies show that longer posts get shared more on social media, and get more SEO love.

How to Start a Blog Step 6: Use graphics and pictures.

I haven’t done a lot with infographics (yet) but Michelle Schaefer, one of the blogging mentors I’ve followed, swears by them. For myself, I’ve definitely found that having unique pictures (I take a lot of my own pictures) encourages people to click and read.

How to Start a Blog Step 7: Consider integrating podcasts and/or videos.

Not all of your ideal prospects like to read. Not all want to listen to podcasts or watch videos.

That’s why offering multiple modalities for consuming your content can make your blog more accessible and desirable to a bigger audience.

In addition, you’ll also open up more platforms to advertise your blog on. If you have a podcast, you can then advertise your blog on all the different podcast platforms. If you have videos, you can build your YouTube channel and presence.

Which leads me to the next step …

How to Start a Blog Step 8: Have a social media strategy in place.

Alas, blogs don’t promote themselves (at least not anymore). Along with setting aside time to write your blog (or have it written for you), you’re also going to have to set aside time to promote your blog (or have a marketing assistant promote it for you).

Luckily, promoting your blog is an excellent way to also promote your business—especially if it’s set up correctly so it reflects your brand and message. When people visit your blog to read your juicy content, they also get a taste of what it would be like to work with you on a deeper level. Hands down, this is one of the best ways to market your products, programs, and services.

People don’t want to be hit over the head (especially on social media) with your sales messages. But providing a link to a meaty blog article or podcast or video is something they may even end up thanking you for.

So, what’s the best way to promote your blog? Social media of course. Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, and Twitter can all be easily incorporated into your marketing strategy. In addition, you may want to take a serious look at Pinterest. I’ve been playing around with it more, and a lot of my research points to Pinterest as being one of the best platforms to promote your blog.

How to Start a Blog Step 9: Be clear on the action you want your visitors to take, and then make sure you ASK them to take that action.

Building your email subscriber list should always be one of your biggest calls to action on your blog. But, I also think you should consider soft selling your products, programs, and services. Now, that doesn’t mean you should expect someone to read a blog post and buy a year-long, high-end coaching program. But, you can certainly seed the results of that coaching program on your blog, which can get your ideal prospects to start to consider working with you.

If you’re an author, blogs are an excellent way to sell books (both fiction and nonfiction), so definitely incorporate them.

So, there you have it—how you can set up your blog for more success. And, if you’d like to dig into even more Internet Marketing (including setting up your online marketing plan), you may want to check out my “Love-Based Online Marketing” book available at most online retailers.

What I Learned from My Blog: 5 Mistakes I Made

What I Learned from My Blog: 5 Mistakes I Made

In 2016, I took a hard look at my blog, my business, and my industry, and I knew I had to make some new choices when it came to marketing and promoting my business. (I share my story in depth here.)

Along with deciding a blog was still the way to go, I also decided my blog (which I now lovingly refer to as my “starter” blog) had so many issues, it seemed the best thing to do was start over with a fresh, new blog.

Mind you, it wasn’t the easiest choice to me. My starter blog was getting a decent amount of organic traffic. Not great, but it was something to build on.

Plus, I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to build my SEO back up. While my research showed it was entirely possible to build up a new blog’s organic traffic, I also knew it was more difficult now than when it had been when I had first started blogging.

In the end, I just felt like I had made too many mistakes with my blog to justify keeping it. It felt like it would require too much work to fix what I had done versus starting over fresh.

So, what were those mistakes? I lay them out for you below.

1. I didn’t keep it up-to-date.

My blog no longer fit my brand. It was built around my old brand, which was “The $Ka-Ching!$ Marketing Strategist!” I had named my blog “Rev Up Your Results!” None of this fit into the new Love-Based Business brand, which is where my business is now.

In addition, the blog theme itself was old and dated. It desperately needed a facelift.

Now, it’s true I could have simply rebranded everything. Put it in a new template and added new graphics. But, that’s actually easier said than done. I had A LOT of content on that blog, and making sure all the content survived the transformation is not only tricky, but a ton of work.

If that was the only mistake I made with my blog, I may have attempted it. Alas, there was more to come.

2. There was no clear focus.

When I started my blog years ago (I’m not even sure when I first started it), I did it because at the time the “new” marketing strategy that was getting all the attention was BLOGGING.

Throw a blog up! Get thousands of visitors! It’s the new, hot thing!

Okay, I could do that. Plus, I was already writing a weekly ezine (well, nearly weekly, maybe three times a month), so I had content I could post.

Made perfect sense.

Needless to say, while I do believe having a blog is better than not having one, this isn’t the best blogging strategy. Having a clear focus, goal, and plan for your blog is essential, if you want it to be successful.

And, that lack of initial focus ended up being reflected in the content I posted over the years.

Now, before I get into all my wanderings in the blogging wilderness, let me put things in perspective.

I started my business as a freelance copywriter in 1998. Since then, I’ve morphed into a copywriting company and further morphed into the Love-Based Copy and Marketing Company. I’ve published a non-fiction book series (the love-based business books) in addition to fiction books (I have two novels published and a three-book series due out later this year), plus I have a lot of other plans in the works.

This type of shift in business focus over a twenty-year time period is pretty normal.

After you’ve been in business for a few years, you’ll start to see that your business is a living, breathing entity. It grows and changes just like you do. (And, just like other living things, sometimes it dies, too.)

So, expecting your blog to have the exact same focus when it’s over a decade old isn’t realistic. And, if your blog IS that old, I don’t think it’s a problem if some of the older content is different from your newer offerings.

That said, my content problems were bigger than normal “growing pains.” Mine stemmed from not having a clear vision for my blog other than attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every month. So, when I didn’t attract hundreds of thousands of visitors, I would vacillate between tinkering with my plan to ignoring my blog in frustration for weeks (or even months) at a time.

Needless to say, that’s not a plan for success. (For anything, not just blogging.)

But, looking back, I feel like a lot of what I did was a necessary part of my journey. In some respect, I used my blog to help me find myself and get clear on my message and what I stood for. I posted some beautiful tributes (the ones to my mother and my dog, Roxie, are two that come to mind). I also posted some very odd, more personal posts that really had no place on a business blog (like one about tequila during my Cabo vacation that still attracts a visitor every now and then—needless to say, those visitors aren’t my ideal clients).

Overall, though, my “starter” blog gave me the freedom to explore my creativity and test what worked and what didn’t. And for that I’m grateful.

I was able to see which posts worked better than expected, and which ones flopped. That was priceless information.

Unfortunately, however valuable that creative experimentation was, in the end, it still led to the bigger problem, which was my blog felt disjointed. It didn’t hang together right. And, just liked the branding issue, it felt like too much work to tinker around to try and fix it. (Especially since I wasn’t even sure precisely what to do to fix it.)

But, even this paled in comparison to Mistake #3.

3. I wasn’t sharing very good content.

Ouch!

Yes, I’ll fully admit it.

Okay, so to be fair, pretty much all of my “not great content” happened over approximately a two-year period where I had tried not one but two different strategies to boost my number of visitors to hundreds of thousands.

It started with me joining a 30-day blog challenge and deciding to post every day.

This was a mistake. A big one.

Not because posting every day won’t work. It can. But, there’s a catch.

You need to be posting good, solid content.

And, I wasn’t doing that.

You see, for years I had a problem with the concept of speed. I had bought into the hype to move quickly, so I did. But, unfortunately for me, part of how I defined “quickly” was pretty close to “sloppy.”

On one hand, the blog challenge was a success. I posted every day for a month. I even extended the blog challenge for a few months (although I didn’t quite make every day, I was definitely posting four to six times a week).

Some of those posts were good. But, others were crap—something I simply threw up so I could check off the “yes I posted” on my to-do list.

Eventually, the “nearly-every-day-blog-post” started to wear on me, so I switched strategies (again) because I still wanted multiple blog posts a week and I thought if I changed my system, it would be easier for me to create them.

Unfortunately, the bad habits I had picked up during the blog challenge stuck with me, which meant some sloppy content still got posted.

In addition, because I was trying to move quickly, I didn’t have my editor edit my posts, so that contributed to a further decline of quality.

So, again, trying to sort through all that mess just gave me a headache. Plus, since I had switched strategies and visions so often, the whole blog felt energetically confusing, and the thought of putting my beautiful and powerful love-based message on a discombobulated platform sent shivers down my spine.

While this was probably my main reason for rolling the dice and starting from scratch, there were a couple other mistakes that turned this decision into a no-brainer.

4. I was dealing with broken plugins.

For whatever reason (maybe the technology was reflected in the content mess), I had a few strange technical issues with my old blog. The podcast plugin never worked, so I never did get my first, “starter” podcast on iTunes (or any other platform). I added one of those Tweet plugins, which worked for a little while and then stopped. It just seemed to be a never-ending battle with apps and plugins that just wouldn’t work right.

This was more annoying than anything, and maybe if my heart was more into saving that blog, I could have landed on a satisfying technical solution. But, I was also missing a vital piece.

5. I had no call to action.

Now, this wasn’t entirely true. I did have a CTA at the end of each article to sign up for my free gift.

But, part of where I wanted to go with the love-based platform was to also wrap the articles around one of my books. Selling the love-based business books was most definitely part of the overall vision for the new love-based business blog.

And, if I used the old blog, with the old posts, I would either have to go in and edit a whole bunch of articles OR live with the fact that my older articles (i.e. the ones getting organic traffic) didn’t have a CTA around the books.

Again, it felt like a much easier and less stressful project to simply start fresh.

So, now that I’ve walked you through the mistakes I made with my blog, check out this post where I walk you through what I did to set the new one up for success.

And, if you want to learn more about how you can be more effective with your Internet Marketing (including your blogging strategy), you may want to check out my “Love-Based Online Marketing” book available at most online retailers.