A great compilation of actionable advice for the uninitiated of the blogging worldA great compilation of actionable advice for the uninitiated of the blogging world
When I first started blogging through Kopithoughts, I thought it’ll be rather easy. I mean, it’s just writing, how hard can it be? As it turns out, there’s more than just churning out content. There’s also personal branding, SEO, marketing it to the right audience, and more! Fortunately, I came across a review of this book on another blog. 10 minutes later, I bought the book online and was eagerly awaiting its arrival.
An extensive guide for the uninitiated to the blogging world
The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith was an amazing guidebook for a newbie blogger like me. There are two parts to the content – (i) preparing for the blog, and (ii) launching and maintaining the blog. In the first section, the author helps you appreciate and understand the “what” and “why” of blogging. She then proceeds to cover important aspects of the execution of a blog in the second section of the book. This includes broad themes like launching the site, content creation, traffic generation and monetising the blog.
I liked the way the factual way of writing throughout the book; it made the author’s personal experiences and learnings feel actionable and relatable. The author also shared the transcripts of her interviews with veteran bloggers which I felt were very valuable for their perspectives.
However, readers should know that this book does not cover the technical details of setting up a blog. Information about buying domain names, subscribing to web-hosting services or choosing a content management service are not covered. This information can easily be found on countless websites and YouTube videos online. The internet is like the gift that keeps on giving!
There were many learnings from every section of the book, most of which were prescriptive and actionable. I might summarise the key points of each section in subsequent posts as a mini-series in the future. In the meantime, here are three ways to be a more effective blogger.
1. Double down on uniqueness by identifying a niche and presentation style 2. Build trust first to earn the attention of your target audience 3. Blogging is an iterative process that takes time
Takeaway #1: Be unique both in covering a niche and presenting quality content
“… consumers are warier or messaging put together by a team of PR and marketing executives.”Natasha Courtenay-Smith
Blogs present an opportunity for people to reach audiences that mainstream media can’t. In order to keep readers coming back for more, it is important for bloggers to focus their content around a specific niche. This way, readers will be able to clearly see what is being offered, who are the target audience and what is the main problem that can be solved with the offering.
Having a niche does not necessarily mean restricting the content to only one specific topic. Instead, enhance the content with your own unique personality, perspectives and past experiences. Also, don’t forget to involve your readers in this process! When implemented together, the content will feel more genuine, sincere and relatable to your target audience.
Ultimately, blogging then becomes a lot about earning the trust of the readers. This thus brings me to the next takeaway.
Takeaway #2: Your audience will only pay attention to you after you have earned their trust
“The currencies of our economy now are trust and attention. Blogging for attention doesn’t work if you haven’t earned trust.”Seth Godin
With so many things vying for the limited attention we have every day, the audience needs to trust that they will be exchanging that finite resource for something valuable. The way to win this trust is to get into the community and interact with them; learn what makes them tick, their frustrations, and their goals. Then, use this knowledge to create content that the community can relate to.
According to the author, “readers are more likely to trust someone whose life echoes their own”. I’d like to tie this to a key learning shared by Seth Godin in his book, This Is Marketing. In a previous post, I wrote that understanding the audience is extremely important. If we can understand the goals that our audience is trying to achieve, we can structure our content to show them how to get there. This addresses their needs, and in turn, gains their trust.
Complementing your blog – the 2x2x2 Rule for winning your audience on social media
In the book, the author shares many different strategies that can help you gain more trust from readers and followers. The one I found to be the most interesting was the “2x2x2 rule” for social media. This rule is based on the following principles:
- Ask yourself two questions: Which social media platform do your audience use often, and which platforms match your ability and willingness to create content? The idea here is to show up where your audience is and engage with them.
- From the answers above, choose two platforms that is easy and natural for you to establish a constant presence. These are the two platforms in which you will create content for every day.
- Choose another two platforms to update on a less frequent basis. This is to ensure that you don’t completely miss out on any potential opportunities that might come from other channels.
Based on this strategy, the main platforms where Kopithoughts will be more active on will be LinkedIn and Instagram. We also have a presence on Facebook, but I don’t think people would go there for book summaries and insights as much as the other two. I’m also not on Twitter, so that’s not natural for me. So far there’s been some traffic from this set-up, but it’s still too early to say. I’ll monitor this for another few months and see how that goes.
Takeaway #3: Blogging is a long, iterative process
” [Blogging] is not a get-rich-quick scheme – it’s a journey.”Natasha Courtenay-Smith
When I first thought about starting Kopithoughts, I had a lot of reservations. I was concerned about many things, such as the aesthetics of the website, the quality of my content, and the sustainability of my efforts and passion to keep this running. Subconsciously, I was waiting for the perfect time to kick-off with a bang, but this was an unrealistic expectation.
The truth is that there will never be a perfect time to launch the blog. Furthermore, we will also never know how the blog will appeal to our target audience if we never ever put it out there. It is thus more important to prioritize action over perfection, and iteration over procrastination.
After launching the blog, experiment openly, solicit feedback, and pivot accordingly. Many of the interviews in the book highlighted this common trait among the successful bloggers; many of them had no idea how their little experiments can turn viral and take their blogs to the next level!
As the author puts it across in the book, “the path to a million-dollar blog is not a linear one”. Blogging, just like any other venture, requires a ton of work! All the more to get started as soon as possible, isn’t it?
As mentioned in the introduction, this book works as an extensive guide for bloggers at any point of their blogging journey. Since blogging is all about personal style and positioning, every blog is unique. As such, different strategies may only apply to different blogs. The more important thing is here is to be open to experimenting and iterating.
I personally found this book to be very helpful as I’m very new to the blogging scene. However, I was hoping that the book could have provided more insights and details into some of the more intensive topics such as SEO and content creation. Even though the author covered these topics in the book, some of them were rather brief. It might have been out of scope of this book, but it’ll make the book much more comprehensive.
Share your thoughts with me!
If you’ve read The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Drop a comment below, or share this post with your friends with the tag @kopi.thoughts!