Blogs. They’re everywhere, hundreds of thousands of them with topics ranging from Cooking to Zoo Keeping (literally). But not all of those blogs are successful which is why I want to share these tips- to help YOU start a successful blog that readers will enjoy and share. Unless your blog is for private use and you think of it like your old diary you use to hide under your bed in grade school, a blog is only meaningful if there’s people reading it.
So, if your New Years Resolution is to start your very own blog, here’s 10 tips to help you get started.
1. Clarify Your Goals and Focus. While it’s ok to blog about the world in general, there should be a focus or goal of your blog. Your goals may include some or all of these:
- Tell readers what you think about the world
- Provide technical assistance to a community
- Contribute to an advocacy campaign
- Advance your brand and develop business
- “Build goodwill and better friendships” (as our friends at Rotary say)
Your goals and focus will determine your audience. As I said above, without an audience you’re just writing, not blogging. So you’ll need to decide, who is your audience? It could be teachers, school leaders, parents, a philanthropic community, it’s up to you!
2. Pick Your Platform. There are tons of blogging platforms available for use and most even offer a freemium. From Blogger to WordPress and all of the sites in between you’re sure to find one that works for you. Do your research, ask for input from blogger friends and decide which platform fits your needs. Make sure it’s customizable, easily to access, and easy to link. Determine where the blog will live, is it part of your existing website, if so will it be linked on your homepage? If you want to grow your audience, readers have to be able to find you!
3. Set a Schedule. You’ll need to figure out how often you want to post. There are no rules here, post as little or as much as you’d like; consistency is key! Readers are interested in what you’re writing about and if you go stagnant for a week or month at a time they’ll quickly lose interest and your audience will decrease. The best way to keep track of your posts and ensure you have a constant stream of content, is to create and maintain a content pipeline. Include things like the date you’ll run the post, the status, title, author, and a link to the draft.
4. Find Authors. As you’ve probably noticed, we have lots of great authors that contribute. It’s important to build up a network of guest/teacher bloggers. We’ve found that many teacher bloggers have a huge following. Having great guest bloggers also helps fill your content pipeline which will keep your posting consistent. To get consistent quality, contract with your regular bloggers and pay them a flat rate per post-that way you won’t feel bad about editing or rejecting a post.
Here are a few examples of who you could have writing for you:
- Teachers with classroom success stories
- Administrators with implementation examples (Instructional coaches, curriculum leaders)
- Vendors that can write sector advance (rather than brand advance) stories
- Education thought leaders
5. Use Visuals and Be Captivating. Make sure your posts are more than just words on a screen. Use pictures, video, or graphs to help captivate readers. While you want to have great content and share your focus with readers, make sure you’re not overdoing it. This isn’t a research paper, just a blog post so it’s ok if it’s short and sweet. Not every piece has to be hundreds of words, it’s ok to post a short observation and a link. We’ve found some of our most successful posts are actually just simple lists. In fact we have an entire Smart List Series that has had great success.
6. Establish Blog Policies. All successful blogs have an established set of “rules” or policies. These will help readers, guest bloggers, and other bloggers understand how your blog operates and also ensure your content is shared appropriately. Check out our policy page for an example.
7. Respond to Comments. Blog posts are a great way to start a conversation; as long as you respond to comments. Most blogging platforms have the option to allow comments only after approved which is a great way to make sure your blog content remains positive, but is also a great reminder. Don’t leave comments unanswered for more than 24-48 hours. These conversations will help readers get involved and help drive more traffic to your site.
8. Recycle Content. Team Getting Smart is always thinking about what we can turn into a blog post. How can emails turn into a blog post, blog posts into a white paper, then how can white papers turn into ebooks and infographics. You’d be surprised what can come from a simple conversation. Tom likes to take questions and turn them into a blog post, “I make it a blog assignment and open a doc to start taking notes”. Not only does it help him learn, it creates great new content for our blog.
9. Promote Your Work. Social media is the biggest tool you can use to promote your blog. Use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to your benefit. But don’t be everyone, just be where your audience is. So do your research. It’s a free and easy way to reach a massive audience. First things first, organize a launch for your blog using social media, sending a press release, and having some initial content already loaded for readers.
Once you begin posting, follow these musts for blog related social media:
- Know who your readers are and focus your social media posts on them. Ensure analytics are built into your site, this easily allows for this type of information to be shared
- Set up auto-tweets from your blogging platform, every time you post a blog
- Determine how many posts you’ll have for each blog and where you’ll post
- Once your blog is published, schedule tweets and/or Facebook posts to be sent, This will help drive traffic to your site
- Ask bloggers to publicize their posts
10. Don’t Quit. As important as it is to stay consistent, you should always keep blogging. Never, ever quite. Even if you find it necessary to slow down and publish less content for a while, keep at it! Make a commitment to your company, yourself, and your readers to continue writing and posting. You’re spreading your focus and message and once you quit it is nearly impossible to get started again.
Now it’s time to start blogging! Read through some of our posts, visit a blogging platform, asks your colleagues for input, and get to work! If you’re passionate about sharing your views and message with the world, this is one of the best ways to do it.
Getting Smart helps companies start and maintain great blogs and social media campaigns.