Blogging: What I Wish I Knew When I Started

17 Actionable Blog Tactics

Before starting a blog, most prospective bloggers believe that it’s all about the writing. Yet the reality is that writing is only a small part of the total effort required for a successful blog.

While you may follow many blogs, until you yourself start blogging, you don’t appreciate that a blog is a media entity and what that entails.

Unlike most bloggers, I had the advantage of growing up and working at a family-owned newspaper and later leading the online marketing division of one of the most respected publications in the world. So I learned what running a media entity requires. Despite that, I’m continually amazed at how much “everything else” is required to keep my blog going beyond the time I spend crafting my blog posts.

The 5 Ps of Blogging

Tweet ThisBlogging-related activity can be broken into the five Ps:
plan, pen, publish, promote and participate. 

1. Plan

No blog post is an island entire of itself, to paraphrase John Donne. It’s part of a collection of posts and other content that are connected through a common theme. A blogging plan assumes that you have blog goals related to your objectives. The result is a process of organizing your articles to integrate your posts with your marketing. (Additionally, it’s important to set up your blog well because, on blogs, content isn’t king!)

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Determine on-going columns. Develop a set of regular features that are aligned with your topic. Map out categories and columns on a one, two or four week schedule.
  2. Create an editorial calendar. Plan your content creation to help keep your blogging schedule on track. BTW, it’s a good idea to have a supply of posts to use in the event of an emergency because once you start posting, you have an obligation to your audience to keep publishing on schedule.
  3. Secure appropriate resources. Before you dive into the blogging pool, get the support your blog will need. This applies to all blogs, both business and personal. Among the resources needed are technical help (BTW—I highly recommend my webmaster, Larry Aronson), copyediting to ensure that your grammar and spelling are correct and a blogging buddy to provide a sounding board and support system.

2. Pen

Blogging is its own form of writing. It’s not the compositions you were taught to write in third grade. For one thing, blog posts are read almost exclusively online – using a wide variety of devices.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Build writing habit by blogging regularly. Like any other form of writing, blogging requires continual practice.
  2. Craft attention-getting titles. Blog post headlines need to grab your prospects by the collar and pull them away from doing anything else except reading your content.
  3. Structure blog posts to entice online and mobile readers. Blogging differs from other types of writing insofar as you must go beyond having a great hook. You need to present the content in a way that facilitates consumption.
  4. Learn what content resonates best with your audience. Look at your analytics to determine what topics and formats appeal the most to your readers.
  5. Collect blog post ideas and titles. As you start to think like a blogger, you’ll begin to see post ideas and titles. Capture them in a Word document or a Moleskin journal so that you’re never at a loss for ideas.

3. Publish

Preparing each post goes beyond the physical activity of writing and rewriting your content.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Copyedit your content. While blogs are known for being more time sensitive than other publishing platforms, your articles need to be corrected for grammar and spelling or potential readers won’t trust your information. Further, mistakes detract from your brand.
  2. Add images and/or other content formats. Blogs can handle a wide range of different content such as photos, videos, audio and presentations. This can attract other segments of your audience.
  3. Optimize your posts for search. Blogs help support search marketing. This means reviewing each article before you publish it to maximize its searchability. Tweak your title and post URL. Also include links to other websites as well as to your own content. (Here are more blog search recommendations.)
  4. Maintain your blogging platform. This includes static pages such as your About page, Privacy Policy, Author Profiles, etc. Additinally, there’s general site maintainance including administrative work like analytics to track your performance and software updates.

4. Promote

As a blogger you need to let people know about your blog content on a regular basis. You can’t assume that someone who’s visited once will return. You need to continually remind them and to let them know that you have fresh content.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Distribute your content across your owned media. At a minimum, build your email house file. Also, offer the option of receiving your content via feeds. If your blog is supporting your business, use your other advertising and marketing to promote your blog.
  2. Leverage the power of social media. Distribute your blog posts at appropriate times to maximize your results. (Here are twenty-three tips for socializing your blog posts.)

5. Participate

By blogging about a specific topic, you’ve started a broader conversation. To build your audience and show your commitment, you need to engage in the related conversation, on your blog, other blogs and other forms of social media.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Respond to comments left of your blog. Many bloggers consider comments like gold. You should respond where appropriate, particularly those that include direct queries.
  2. Leave comments on other blogs where appropriate. The goal isn’t to leave your blog’s URL in another blog’s comments, which many bloggers consider spammy. Rather the objective is to extend the conversation and raise your personal profile. As a blogger, comments can sometimes yield useful post ideas.
  3. Share other people’s content. Social media isn’t a one-way screaming contest to get people to read your content. Rather you need to be part of the community and distribute other people’s content as well as yours. You should aim to position yourself as an area expert.

 

The secret to great blogging is to continue to blog and enhance each aspect of your blog over time. Bear in mind that regularly showing up at the blog is hard work – not just writing.

What have you learned from your blogging experience?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Content Marketing World 2015   I'll be there. Come and join me!CMW_2015


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42 Responses to Blogging: What I Wish I Knew When I Started

  1. Heidi,
    You make some excellent points. I’ve come to realize that blogging is more of an effort than one might think. I’ve read hundreds of blog posts and it is always evident when the author(s) have put some effort into delivering good, informative content.

    • heidicohen says:

      Kevin–

      There’s a lot more to blogging than creating amazing content (which is no small feat by itself!)

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  2. Tom Mangan says:

    Great summary, Heidi, I passed this around to a couple folks in the past couple days.

    • heidicohen says:

      Tom,

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that you’ll find other useful information here.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  3. Mark Trueman says:

    Hey Heidi,

    Awesome post. I only recently realized the power of number two in the participate section. I would always respond to comments in my own blog and share other people’s content but never take the time to actually write a comment for someone else’s blog (like yours) even though I’ve read most of their posts.

    This turned out to be a pretty big turning point for me because it became much easier to develop relationships with other bloggers.

    Anyway, great post. It was informative :)
    – Mark T.

    • heidicohen says:

      Mark,

      Thank you for adding your experience to the conversation.

      Many bloggers overlook the need and power of engaging on other people’s blogs in the form of comments. Once you’ve taken the time to comment on another blog, then share it so that others see that you’re part of the community.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  4. Heidi – So you worked on a family-owned newspaper. That’s a great background to have.

    I tend to blog about whatever intrigues me at the moment, but that’s not a plan. Per your excellent post, I am going to start using an editorial calendar and plan more of what I do.

    Patricia Haag

    • heidicohen says:

      Patricia,

      Even if you don’t use a formal editorial calendar, at least try to plan your posts for a week or two at a time.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  5. This is an excellent post, Heidi. I can’t but agree with
    Mark Trueman that leaving thoughtful and insightful comments under other
    people’s blog is a really good thing to do. It’s just a great way to develop
    relationships with other bloggers and they are glad that someone leaves them a
    relevant feedback. Than, they may do the same for you, which usually ends up in
    a good and stable ‘blogger relationship’.

    • heidicohen says:

      Michael,

      Thank you.

      Understand that commenting on other blogs requires more than just saying great blog post. Also, it doesn’t entitle you to paste your URL into the comment section for promotional reasons.

      You must be engaged in the dialog for its own sake not for what it will yield you.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  6. Agree with all that you say. Would like to add – have great content that adds value to the reader, while you do all that to grab their attention.

    • heidicohen says:

      Anuradha,

      You make an important point that strong content must add value to your readers. You can tell this by looking at which columns get the most visits and pageviews as well as deeper engagement metrics such as time on post.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  7. That’s a really useful summary. I’m still struggling with the calendar, but I *will* get there. I find the analytics absolutely fascinating; it’s interesting to see what interests others.

  8. wonderwomangonewild says:

    Heidi,
    I am just starting out with my blog and am looking to expand and create a social network. I found this post extremely helpful and love your insight! I’m still figuring out what I even want to talk about, but hoping the ideas will just come to me! Thanks for the post!

    • heidicohen says:

      Understand that deciding what to focus your blog on is a critical step in developing your blog. It’s good not to just jump in.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  9. Kirby @ TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com says:

    This is a great summary. Writing is only half the battle, and building your support structure (through technology, readers, comments) is critical!

    • heidicohen says:

      Kirby,

      Many new bloggers underestimate the amount of non-writing work that goes into maintaining a blog.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  10. Nice post Heidi.

    I might go out and find a blogging buddy :)

    Jordie

    • heidicohen says:

      Jordie,

      Check out #BlogChat at 8.00pm CT as a way of connecting with like minded bloggers, Meetups or conferences.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  11. Trisha A, Tulane University says:

    I’m so glad I came across this informative article! I have been thinking about starting a blog about my travels abroad but didn’t really know where or how to start. I will definitely take the 5 P’s into account in order to write my blogs and market them to new readers. Thanks so much!

    • heidicohen says:

      Trisha,

      Good luck with your blog. Make sure that you plan to get the appropriate resources. Also, it’s better to start small and grow than to give up after being drained by the amount of work required.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  12. Kelly says:

    Wow, I like your direct approach! Valuable info and I can’t wait to have more time to click through to your other posts!

  13. sarit lotem says:

    Great tips, very useful. Thanks.

  14. Chelsea Adams says:

    This is definitely something I am glad that I read. I love how you did the “five P’s of blogging” like the 4 P’s of marketing- brilliant! These are great steps towards creating a blog, and I think anyone who plans on starting one should follow these steps. It is very hard to get your blog noticed and receive attention, but I think by taking these steps, you will definitely be stepping in the right direction.

    • heidicohen says:

      Chelsea,

      Thank you! I wasn’t thinking of the 4Ps of Marketing when I wrote the column.

      Understand that getting attention for your blog can take time (a lot of time). It does help to be active on social media and other venues to cross promote your work.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  15. LINDA ANN Nickerson says:

    Informative and well-organized post for bloggers. Sharing this at Blog Park, a FB group of fellow bloggers, as I think they will find it helpful as well. Thanks for posting.

  16. Muskie says:

    I too wish I knew more before I started, sometimes it is better to not blog at all. After publishing more than a 1000 blog postings I assembled a collection of lessons learned: http://blog.muschamp.ca/2012/02/13/1000th-blog-post/

  17. What I wish I have known when I started was that the name I chose for my blog and website could have been a lot better. Now I am stuck with urls that are not the best. If I changed them now I would lose my Alexa and other rankings and my links to my sites.

    • heidicohen says:

      Steven,

      Names are an important element of any brand and blogs are no different.

      You’ve got a difficult decision to make.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  18. Great post Heidi, really enjoyed it. Thank you!

  19. Josalyn Monét says:

    Great post!!

  20. Great post! Thank you!

  21. Sam Lawhon says:

    Thank you very much for this post, I am just now getting into blogging and really appreciate the advice!

  22. Mikey V says:

    This is very helpful!

  23. camille says:

    Best advice I’ve read in all my research. Thanks

  24. Healthy says:

    For a while, I stayed away from sharing even a phrase from other people’s content because I was wary of being seen as a plagiarist. I would link to other people’s content where I thought it would help my readers but that was as far as I went with that.

    Nowadays, I’m using up Blogger’s reblog feature more and i think it’s been good to bring a wider variety of content to people who regularly read the blog.

    http://fullofknowledge.com/2013/03/increase-repeat-customers-how-to-increase-customer-loyalty/