We all know what it’s like to sit in front of a blank page or computer screen, trying to come up with something to say while the time just ticks away. Believe me, every blogger goes through this. To be quite honest, every other week as my turn to post rolls around, I feel I have too much to do and nothing interesting to say. Yet, every week, miracle of miracles, I sit down and I write a post.
Actually, it’s not such a miracle. Despite all the reasons I can come up with why I can’t write my post each week, there is one thing that keeps me going. It’s the fact that Mary and I sat down when we started blogging and set some parameters.
We’ve already touched a bit on how to personalize your blog’s focus, and we’ll be covering content in greater depth soon, so I won’t address what to write about here. Instead, let’s look at some of the other essential decisions you’ll need to make at the outset:
Frequency of posts:
There are many theories about how often you should post if you want to grow a very large audience, but my philosophy is you won’t grow ANY audience if you quit! When we started Two Point Uh Oh!, we decided on one post a week, or two posts a month for each of us. We felt this was a commitment we could keep no matter how busy we were. Even though this still seems too much at times, having made the commitment keeps us on track.
Be ambitious while also remaining realistic about your resources of time and energy. Start with what you can manage, get the feel for blogging, and then grow from there if you feel the need.
Length of posts:
You’ll find as many opinions about the length of posts as you will about the frequency. As far as I’m concerned, the length of posts depends on two things: your natural inclination, and your audience.
For example, we’re pressed for time and our audience learns better if we deliver focused posts. Therefore, our guiding principle on Two Point Uh Oh! is “long enough to be thorough, but short enough to be digestible,” a rule of thumb that fits our needs and the needs of our readers.
If you’re a writer or a historian, you might love writing in-depth essays, and your audience will probably appreciate an involved discussion. If you’re a photographer or a designer, you might be better with images than words. If that’s the case, post a photo with just a line or two of text. Your visually-oriented audience will love you for it!
The best way to stick with blogging is to make sure your blog fits who you are while also serving your audience. With a little experimentation, you’ll find the right length for you.
Mary and I make sure to discuss the topics we want to cover, and we establish a blogging calendar a few weeks in advance. We know, for example, that our series on blogging will run at least another two posts. As I write this, I know that we’ll be covering how to find topics and create a calendar in a couple of weeks. Knowing what we have on our calendar helps me in the writing of this current post by allowing me to cover less information in greater depth.
Every blog has its tone. I’d call our tone “information through storytelling.” It’s a tone that suits the blog and fits our personalities. It’s authentic to who we are and it’s in alignment with what we’re trying to accomplish.
You, too, have a unique voice, a personality. Your readers want to see that you’re a real person who can speak to them in a natural voice. If you can find a tone that is professional, natural to you, and in alignment with your content, the actual writing will become much easier. All the blogs we’ve mentioned in previous posts are great examples of authentic tone. Study them if you want to get a better feel for tone. (Click on the “Blogs” category link in the right sidebar to access the posts.)
When you first start blogging, you might be tempted to look for a quick return on your time investment. When is that first client going to contact you? When will more business walk in through the door?
As we saw with every blog example we’ve looked at so far, a good blog isn’t about what it gets–it’s about what it gives.
Stay focused on what you’re giving your readers. Make sure you’re delivering immediate value. This could be useful information, a new perspective, or simply a beautiful image or a light moment to brighten your readers’ day. You’d like your readers to come back to your blog frequently, wouldn’t you? Then give them reason to want to!
Blogs Aren’t Built in a Day
Finally, manage your expectations. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you blogging is easy, or that you can do it in twenty minutes. Blogging takes planning, and it requires work. Building a readership is a lengthy process, and seeing a return will take some time. If you set your parameters and stick with them, you’ll see that blogging will become easier–or at least more of a reflex. You’ll also start to have small successes, such as the first time a reader posts a comment or your blog or someone compliments you on a post, and that will encourage you to continue. Once we start covering social media, you’ll see how the content of your blog will become a powerful tool to help you build your network and your expertise. So stick with blogging–and stay tuned for more!