If you asked me for one piece of advice about starting a blog, one golden nugget you could take away and nurture into something outstanding, it would be this: FOCUS – Follow One Course Until Successful*.
That’s it. Simple as.
- I wouldn’t tell you creating a successful blog takes a lot of hard work and determination.
- I wouldn’t tell you your dream of turning your blog into a business will probably never become reality.
- I wouldn’t tell you about the millions of failed blogs lying dormant around the web.
That would probably put you off the idea.
And I don’t want to do that because, if setting up a blog and turning it into a business is what you want to do, you should at least try your hardest to make it work.
You need to start with the right mindset. Instead of thinking about turning your blog into your business, think of your blog as your business or as a marketing tool to generate business.
Don’t think of it as a place you can while away the hours offloading your thoughts into the ether. Unless, that is the reason you want to start blogging, of course. And if that’s the case, you probably won’t make any money from it because your blog is all about you, not them.
The early days are tough
Without showing a high level of commitment during the early days your blog will go nowhere. When somebody starts a new business they usually don’t have a book of clients waiting to hand over wads of money.
They build a client base slowly, through hard work, networking and reputation.
Ask most business owners about their first six months going it alone and often they’ll tell you it was a rough ride. Some will even tell you they thought about giving up more than once.
The first six months of a new business is a time for laying foundations. For setting the groundwork for future development.
The same applies to blogging.
“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”
Learn from the mistakes of others
During those first few months as a newbie blogger, you will make a lot of mistakes.
There is a lot to learn and making mistakes is inevitable. It’s natural.
The important part of making mistakes is to learn from them.
What do I mean? Let’s take a look at some of the stumbling blocks.
- Choosing the wrong domain name and switching after a few months
- Setting up a blog on one of the popular free blogging platforms
- Blocking search engines so they can’t index your content then wondering why you’re not getting traffic (yes, it happens)
- Writing terrible content
- Using terrible pictures
- Using an ugly or dysfunctional theme
- Not networking enough
- Spending too much time getting your post and your blog looking just right (your blog is a work in progress, there’s always room for improvement)
- Focusing too much on numbers
- Not having any plans for editorial content, marketing, post-publication promotion
- Choosing a topic that’s too broad
Perhaps the biggest mistake is giving up.
How often does somebody abandon their blog after a few weeks when the traffic and easy money didn’t materialise?
It happens all the time.
DING! It’s just happened.
DING! And again.
It’s why FOCUS is so important.
“Don’t try to plan everything out to the very last detail. I’m a big believer in just getting it out there: create a minimal viable product or website, launch it, and get feedback.”
You don’t need a network of blogs
Back in the days when I started blogging (2006), people set up blogs like they were going out of fashion. They’d start one every few months because they’d gotten bored with their current one or they’d had a winning idea for another.
I’d get caught up in the rush too.
I’d hear about something on TV or in the news and I’d think “oh! what a great idea for a blog” and I’d be off looking for a suitable domain name.
I’d take my eye off the current project and start on a new one. This is fatal! Taking your attention away from your current project could mean the end of both of them!
I don’t think this happens so much these days. People realise how much effort and work they need to put into creating a successful blog, so it puts them off starting another one.
The main problem with blogging is that rewards don’t come instantly.
It’s not like starting a new job where you get paid at the end of the month and your boss tells you how great you are.
This doesn’t happen with a blog.
The rewards might be many months or even years away, and during those early days you can often be left wondering “what’s the point?”
Getting it right
Of course, this isn’t always the case. Some people launch a blog and within a few months they’ve got themselves a ton of readers, a bulging email list and a thriving community of like-minded folk reading their blog posts and leaving comments.
They reach this point because they know the importance of focusing on their goals and putting plans into place.
It could be as simple as tweeting eight times a day or leaving comments on at least three blog posts a day.
These little steps don’t sound like much on their own, but over time they create a snowball effect that helps you reach your goals.
If you follow my example, in 10 days you’ll have sent 40 tweets and commented on 30 blog posts. That could get you a lot of attention.
Finding readers in the early days of your blog doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of places online you can go to to interact with people just like you. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus.
And you don’t need hundreds of blog posts either.
What you do need is useful and engaging content. The kind that provides solutions offers ideas or resonates with the reader.
FOCUS on that and building relationships and you’re onto something.
*I wish I’d thought of this acronym! Credit goes to Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.