So About that Blog You've Been Meaning to Start...
First let me reiterate what you already know - getting your thoughts out there (blogging) is long overdue. It will help your business, service, or personal brand. Demonstrating knowledge, or better yet expertise, to your existing audience will amplify anything you are trying to accomplish because your implied credibility grows with each post. And the more credibility you have, which is all perception to begin with, the more likely a customer will want to buy from you or someone will want to hire you or anything in between.
Second, there really is no good excuse not to get your blog up and running. You no longer need to set up a website, build out a template, or buy a domain. Free tools like Tackk help you do so while making you look like you know what you're doing right from the very first entry. Your first post can be traveling through the social sphere five minutes after you are done reading this. But since you landed on this guide, you probably don't need a whole lot of convincing on either of the above two points. Perhaps you just need a little nudge to get started and some guidance on how to make your blogging efforts much more effective.
The Right Expectations
Think of blogging as stating a new workout regime. You aren't going to see the results you ultimately want after the first few posts. It will take some time but with each post (as with each workout) you are improving incrementally. You're exposing your thoughts to new readers, or establishing a little more credibility with existing users.
Additionally, you need to lose the self-doubt. Don't ever wonder if people really want to hear what you have to say. If you are writing about something you do repeatedly, have a passion for, or have spent a lot of time on then people want to hear from you. It's the golden age of information consumption, and the line between novice and expert as it relates to content publishers is becoming irrelevant. Interesting or informed content is all that matters, whether that comes from a WSJ writer or a mommy blogger writing about her babies experience on an all soy formula diet. Don't worry if early posts don't resonate with many people or end up being a dud with your audience. Write another one. Have thick skin, it's a volume game.
The Headline + Photo Are as Important as the Content
You could write the most existential post of all time, but if it doesn't grab the reader's attention with an interesting headline and a captivating photo, it will probably get ignored. Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed actually test dozens of headlines for the same article just to see what is most grabby to the user, and it's resulted in significant growth for both services. Don't be too abstract with the headline, and spend time thinking about what would make you click a headline and read on. Test multiple options if you can. Check out this article about just how fanatic Upworthy is about the importance of the headline - you should be spending as much focus on this as the article itself.
The photo is in the same category and as compelling headlines become more commonplace, the photo that accompanies the post often dictates what people will click. But no matter what you are writing about, you absolutely need a photo. If you need proof, check out this FastCompany article. Here is an excerpt:
- "Not only do photo posts get more engagement than links, videos or text-based updates, they actually account for 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook. According to Kissmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts. And as we’ve mentioned before, self-explanatory photos seem to perform best."
Now, like the headline, not just any photo will do. Clipart, photos with watermarks, or cheesy overtly obvious photos will actually make your blog post look more amateur and less trustworthy. In fact, the big trend in photos accompanying blog posts are high quality abstract or landscape photos. Even if these photos have nothing to do with what you are writing about, a beautiful photo evokes positive emotions and makes the reader dive into your content on a better note. If all of this feels like retail packaging and marketing, it is. The same principals apply.
This is a primary driver behind why we (Tackk) offer a 500px photo library search right on our site, free to all users. 500px offers millions of the highest quality photos of any site on the internet. On your next (or first) blog post, simply add a photo and search for anything you want - either on topic to your post or something more abstract like 'nature' or 'sunset' or 'beauty'. We have yet to encounter a bad looking 500px photo. We've taken care of supplying the captivating imagery part of your post, which honestly is where most bloggers struggle the most.
Share Each Post Liberally
Make sure you share your posts everywhere you have a presence - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr etc. It's much easier for your post to pick up new viewership if it's traveling on the destinations where your users are already hanging out, versus trying to get them to come to your domain. This is another reason Tackks do so well for bloggers - they are single untethered pages that travel very well. You can always link people back to your personal tackkboard (free when you sign up) so they can read some of your past posts. Just make sure you set up your bio by adding a profile photo and a little info about you. Ever see a good tweet from a Twitter egg? The same applies to Tackk as it's much easier for an audience to connect and engage with a name and a face rather than an anonymous silhouette.
Check out some great examples of bloggers using Tackk and their Tackkboard for getting their message out to the world.