Latest posts by Ahmad Imran (see all)
- 10 Blogging Distractions That Harm Your Blog Efforts - October 15, 2018
- Why Bloggers Should Consider a Minimalist Blog Design? - October 4, 2018
- Avoid Perfectionism in Blog Design [Blogging Distractions] - August 30, 2018
I have been blogging for 3 years now. This post is a snapshot of my blogging career at its 3rd anniversary. This article won’t be updated going forward – to preserve my thoughts and beliefs after 3 years of blogging.
Blogging is a marathon.
It needs constant refinement and continuous improvement.
As a part time blogger with a full time job, my growth has been slow but steady. I have gradually built my traffic from a few to a couple of hundreds every day now.
I am not there yet, but the journey is well on. It is carving its way through the competitive blogosphere. Through the ocean of content marketing.
If you are a blogger who has high aims and want to fine-tune your blogging game, I am sure the 25 simple blogging strategies that I am outlining in this article will give you a gentle nudge in few areas of your blogging. You can apply these effective blogging tips from today and start seeing the improved results.
I have split them into 8 key areas.
Each area has only those blogging strategies included which I follow on a daily basis and have a firm belief in. These 25 blogging tactics are not “everything-blogging”, but I am sure they cover many of the blogging basics.
Let us dive in.
area 1 – your vision
“Strategic planning is worthless – unless there is first a strategic vision – John Naisbitt”
1 – deep need to succeed
Everything starts with a need, I believe.
Vision, plans, motivation and persistence – they all stem from a need or desire to do something.
If you are a serious blogger and want to pursue blogging as a career or become famous at it, you need to have this core requirement well established – the deep need and a burning desire to master the blogging.
If the push from inside is not strong enough, it is only a matter of time that you will tend to quit or give up blogging.
So spend some time on it. Lock yourself for a few days away from a daily grind or set aside some time to review this internal desire.
Think what is driving you to blog.
How strong you need to be a star in blogging?
Recommended Reading – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
In my case, I chose blogging as my way of sharing the knowledge, experience and feedback with others. To help others. I find it therapeutic and something which nourishes my soul.
Yes there is a monetisation or business agenda attached to it but that comes secondary.
I want to be a great online writer, blogger and someone who can touch other people’s lives through blogging.
2 – aim high and don’t undersell
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark – Michelangelo”
It does not take long for a strong need to turn into goals and objectives – whether they are just in your mind or whether you write them down.
I want you to think big.
Mediocrity and conformity are the the enemies of a blogger.
They apply to any walk of life. But in the game of blogging, they are even more relevant. Every day, there are thousands and thousands of blog posts published and only a few see the respect and love by the readers that they deserve.
The blog reader today is overloaded with information and you really need to shine and be unique to attract his engagement. For that, you need to have high blogging goals and ambitious objectives. Your personality, your attitude and most importantly, your blog will need to rise above the noise.
And that is only possible if you think big.
Be different and be massively useful.
Have a read of my vision about blogging and this blog. You will see that I have not hesitated in thinking big. As Les Brown said, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
3 – write your blogging goals down
A big one.
You read or listen to any expert in the personal development field, you will find one common theme when it comes to your goals and objectives.
Write. Them. Down.
Writing your blog related goals and plans is not a two minute job. It is hard work (specially when you are in your early blogging career) and this is why most of us tend to ignore or procrastinate over it.
“You need to have something bigger and stronger than your daily grind and busy lifestyle to pull you towards it and become a massively successful blogger.”
It does not happen by just drifting. You need to write and structure your blogging vision and plans in different steps.
Recommended Reading – 10 Goal-Setting Questions Answered By Today’s Top Goal Experts (Courtesy of BrianTracy.Com)
My blogging goals and objectives are defined.
I regularly visit and review them and base my strategies and tasks according to their requirements. I appreciate that they may change or get tweaked but there is always a start. Without having that initial start of seeing the end, joining the dots (backward) is not possible.
At a higher level, here is the hierarchy of how I have split my whole life plan. Obviously, blogging falls under a few headings but not explicitly highlighted below.
- Personal Mission Statement – Lifelong
- Life Goals – Lifelong
- Smart Objectives – Yearly or Monthly
- Focused Strategies – Monthly or Weekly
- Manageable Tasks – Weekly or Daily
4 – keep visualising the desired outcome
Having a dream and vision is one thing.
Seeing it everyday and living it is another.
No matter what others think, I am a firm believer of the “law of attraction” – I believe that if you keep an idea (or vision) for long enough in your mind, it becomes a part of your subconscious mind. It makes you act in a way that you manifest the desired outcome eventually.
But for many, it is hard to believe that how can one manifest the desired outcome by just visualising and thinking about it on a constant basis.
Recommended Reading – The Law of Attraction Explained in Simple Terms by Carla Schesser.
I take time every day to close my eyes and visualise my different goals and blogging is one of them.
I am not shy to say that I am a dreamer.
I believe in dreams.
I have written about this topic in detail if you want to practice this blogging strategy further.
area 2 – your attitude
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude – Zig Ziglar”
5 – plan (and prioritise) at all levels
Planning and prioritisation go side by side.
Best planning is when you are good in prioritising and have a bigger vision in front of you. Don’t mistake movement for achievement, make sure that you put first thing first.
With blogging, it is an overwhelming task if you are not organised and do things on adhoc basis. You will soon feel the pressure and won’t be able to juggle ten different tasks on a consistent basis. It is just not sustainable.
Aim to plan ahead.
And plan the right things to do.
I don’t start a day until I have finished it the night before (on paper) or latest by the morning of the day. It is so common to get drowned in a busy day or a stressful week otherwise.
Although I have Evernote and Todoist for high level planning, on a day to day and weekly basis, I use Bullet Journal system. A short 4-minute video is included below for your idea.
6 – focus (avoid multi-tasking)
There are two broad levels of focus.
One that I have explained above – focus on blogging and then planning it on a day to day basis.
The other type of focus which I want to talk about in this section is a short-term focus on a particular task.
Say if you want to sit down and write a portion of a blog post in next hour or so. I bet you will have many distractions around you that will pull and push you in every possible direction.
All they do is one thing – not let you blog effectively.
When you are blogging, turn everything else down, pay full attention to the task in hand, then go and do it. It is not easy but you have to get to this habit.
Recommended Reading – The 10 Common Blogging Distractions That Will Make Your Blog Suffer.
7 – develop strong blogging habits
Habits are mega important.
If you a blogger, make sure blogging and its related activities are your second nature and the only way to achieve this is by practising and repeating them times and again.
Remember, it is not the vision or the plans that get you to your blogging goals, the final piece of jigsaw is in action (habits). Without habits, it is only a dream.
The research shows that by repeating a task several times, it gets weaved into our subconscious mind and this is the time when it is easier to follow a habit. You need to reach to this level on all your blogging tasks.
As an example, I have been working on myself to get to a stage where I write 1000 words every day. A simple activity but you won’t believe how long it is taking me to fully lock-in to this habit.
You got the gist.
Recommended Reading – How Habits Work? by Charles Duhigg.
8 – persistence and grit (not talent)
How many times have you heard this, blogging is not a sprint, it is a marathon?
It is a slow cook. It needs persistence and grit.
The results are not fast generally. It takes years before you can get to a point where you can easily say that you have cracked the main code and you are on your way to blogging excellence.
I am a part time blogger with a full time day job. At the end of my 3 years in blogging, although I am well on my way, I am yet to see the big goals being achieved that I have set for myself. My bloggers in my shoes would have quit by now.
Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the desired blogging outcomes in an year or two. Many successful blogs took years to reach to a point where now people admire them and give examples of them.
Persistence (grit) demonstrates resolve. Resolve is your promise to yourself that you will never quit. You will make it work one way or another. It is just a matter of time.
Recommended Reading – 5 Ways Persistence Pays For Online Content Creators by Nick Whitmore.
area 3 – your niche
“Identify your niche and dominate it. And when I say dominate, I just mean work harder than anyone else could possibly work at it – Nate Parker”
9 – clarity of passion
If you don’t love (and feel about) your blogging niche, you can’t sustain a long term blogging overhead.
Churning articles on a constant basis with enthusiasm and power behind them is not an ordinary task. In the world of blogging where mediocrity is in abundance, for your blog post to shine, you need to put your whole personality and passion behind your words.
Once it is published, marketing your work and getting it in front of your audience is a task and a half too.
It is even more challenging if you are going to do it for years – sometimes, without much reward for considerable periods of time.
You need to have a love and extreme care for your passion – and then a huge desire and vision to blog about that passion.
If you are not clear on this one, stop.
Take your time.
Find your inner and real passion first.
Recommended Reading – 8 Expert Blogs Reveal How Passion Impacts Your Blogging Business by Donna Merrill.
10 – lock your niche but keep refining
Now that you have locked your area of blogging interest, you can keep refining it but don’t keep switching on a frequent basis. You will go nowhere.
As I said earlier, it takes years to master your niche. Make sure that you don’t have a changing goal post on your blogging pitch.
Lock your niche firmly, stick to it. Take time to think and reflect on your chosen niche. Think about its remit, define boundaries and stay within the boundaries.
It is an interesting question to ask – how big or small a niche should be?
I am not going to answer this one for you. It all depends on your choice. I have opted for a broad and wide niche – personal technology. But I have clarity in my mind why I like it and what will it cover on my blog.
You might want to go deep and focused on a smaller niche. Absolutely fine.
Tell me in comments below if you have locked your niche well?
How comfortable and confident you are on the boundaries of your blog?
Recommended Reading – 5 Key Insights to Lock and Refine Your Niche by Ryan Biddulph.
area 4 – your hosting provider
11 – robust and reliable hosting
I started with a £2.99 per month hosting feeling that I have got the best deal in the world.
It only took me a few weeks to realise that I need to switch to a more robust, reliable and faster hosting to run my site. I switched to SiteGround and since then, I have never looked back. It has been a great experience.
Don’t take this decision lightly, spend some time and find a hosting which you can trust and feel comfortable with. You don’t want problems and glitches every other day. You want one less thing to worry about.
It is an investment which will pay you off.
Recommended Reading – How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting? from WPBeginner.
12 – scalability and flexibility
Having a decent hosting service is one thing but having the right package (scope and features) is a different thing.
Depending on your blog traffic, you need to carefully choose and then keep an eye on the package you are having with your hosting provider. As you grow and your blog traffic increases, you might need to switch to a higher package with more bandwidth or more storage etc.
One size does not fit all.
The key is to be flexible. You need to be proactive and be ready for a change.
Recommended Reading – Different Types of WordPress Hosting Plans and Which One to Choose?
area 5 – your WordPress platform
13 – choose the theme and plugins carefully (from day 1)
These are perhaps the two most important decisions you will make if you decide to go with the WordPress as your blogging platform.
A solid and well designed theme will look nice, work well and assist you with your bigger goals and blogging objectives. A poorly coded or an inefficient WordPress theme will drain your energies and prove to be counter-productive.
Same goes for plugins as well. You will need them and there is nothing wrong with it. Just make sure that you only use the well-coded and well-designed plugins for your blog. Make the best out of those and don’t be a victim of plugin-overload.
Both the theme and the plugins are critical for a solid WordPress foundation. If you are not fully satisfied in any category, perhaps it is not too late to stop, re-think and change if required.
I have been with a single theme (Avada) since the beginning of this blog and feel lucky for not needing to change it.
As far as plugins are concerned, I have changed many. But if I find a reliable and efficient plugin, I tend to stick with it.
14 – keep your WordPress script lightweight
If you are a WordPress-techie, there is no harm in getting the maximum out of it. Because if the things get messy, you can sort them out.
But if you are like me and not too-technical with it, keep your WordPress script simple.
Blogging is not just about WordPress-power, it is much bigger and wider than that. Many new bloggers (including me) spend a lot of time trying to master and champion the WordPress with bells and whistles.
I felt that while it is important to know the required, it is usually not necessary to know the WordPress to nth degree. Decent experience and knowledge is good enough.
You just learn what you need – as you go along.
15 – expand WordPress when required (not before)
WordPress is a versatile platform.
Normally you can do whatever you like to do with your WordPress. There are plenty of themes and plugins which can give you tons of options and features at your doorstep.
Don’t be tempted to try and include everything from day one. It will slow you down and affect the quality of presentation and offer to your readers. Your maintenance time will increase which will be compensated from your overall blogging time.
Don’t be a victim to “spoilt for choice”.
Know your options and decide convincingly.
Be focused and super sharp in what you need to add on your blog, include it with a robust solution (plugin etc.) and stick with it to keep a consistent image of your brand.
area 6 – your blog design
16 – technically sound but simple
There are some basic principles and rules of a good blog design. Don’t compromise on them.
Your blog visitors will judge you on your design and presentation until you become so famous that they are loyal to your brand.
But as soon as you have got those key boxes ticked, try to be as lightweight, simple and elegant as possible.
Recommended Reading – 10 Basic Elements of Design by Maryam Taheri.
Information and design overload in my opinion don’t help anyone. Your reader is in a hurry (normally) and keen to have a clean interface and comfortable reading environment to consume your article and digest the information.
A good design is important but don’t get bogged down in finicky detailing.
I have been a victim of perfectionism in blog design and only now I realise that it was wrong. It takes practice to learn the art when to stop and when to carry on.
Design can be a major distraction if you are not careful.
17 – user experience of your blog visitor
You must have heard it many times, it is all (well, mostly) about your readers and blog followers.
When we say the reader’s user experience is important, it means that it should give the reader a pleasant feeling and ease of navigating, finding and consuming the information on your blog.
The design should have the end-consumer in mind. His comfort, his priorities and his behaviour. The life is busy and so is the life of your reader as well. Give him every chance to find and use your content as easily and as quickly as possible.
The mobile and smartphone has taken over the world and the proportion of people using smaller screens has gone past the more conventional desktops and laptops. So keep this in mind, mobile-first and mobile-ready user experiences are important.
18 – remove distractions from your blog
I am not a huge fan of blog-overload. Or design-overload.
Ads, sidebars, graphics, bold colours and busy pages – all feel a bit overwhelming to me – especially when I am only after a piece of content or information from a particular blog.
I am not saying to remove your sidebar today.
Or take the ads away completely.
Only you can judge which items on your blog can be removed or refined to make it more neater, smarter and tidier.
If you notice my blog, my emphasis is on quality writing and a comfortable reading experience for my ideal blog reader. You won’t see many distractions here.
No sidebar. No widgets. No ads. And no landing pages.
area 7 – your content
19 – no-fluff or wishy-washy stuff
I am a believer in respecting my reader’s time.
Internet today (and blogs specifically) is full of filler content and waffle. It is an art to cut the fluff, be precise with the words and present it to your audience in its most lean and agile form.
Your writing has a power and influence behind it – if it is to-the-point and laser-focused. Filler material only weakens your blog articles and dilute your message.
If you want to become a great blogger, try to be a great writer at the same time. They are inter-linked. It doesn’t matter if you write or you let others to write on your blog, if you know this basic rule, it will always help you.
Sharp, authoritative and to-the-point.
Your reader can feel it in your writing.
Recommended Reading – Cut the Crap and Write Better Now by Pamela Wilson.
20 – prefer long form and deeper writing (avoid thin content)
Keep the clarity, precision and focus intent – but write in depth and cover more in every article you write.
I was not a believer in this idea.
I thought that if Seth Godin can write short form, why can’t we do the same. It didn’t take me long to realise that it takes time to reach to the level of Seth. Until then, long-form and in-depth format is the right choice.
I aim to write long form articles now and try to target over 2000 words long write-ups. The article you are reading is nearly 4500 words.
However, don’t do one thing – never stretch your article unnecessarily with filler material to make the word-count higher.
Remember focus, precision and sharpness?
Recommended Reading – Why 3000+ Word Blog Posts Get More Traffic (A Data Driven Answer) by Neil Patel.
21 – keep your ideal visitor in mind (when writing)
You can’t write for everyone. Period.
You need to define your audience and stick to it.
You can perhaps expand your horizon and audience circle but only when you are comfortable and feel you can manage. Until then, stick to a well-defined group of blog readers. The better you understand this group, more effective and engaging your blogging will be.
I have my 3 specific ideal blog reader profiles and I frequently visit them to make sure that I keep refining them and know more about them. I have even given them names as well.
John, Chris and Emma.
Do you know enough about your blog readers?
What can you do today to understand your target audience better?
22 – SEO is important, weave it in (on-page)
SEO (search engine optimisation) is a big world. It has many dynamics one of which is on-page SEO.
On-page SEO is when you do certain additional adjustments to your written article so it helps the search engines to get a better idea about your article and offer. It then gets better results in search rankings due to that extra effort that you have put in.
I get most of my blog traffic (over 80%) from Google. SEO is important for me and the one strategy that I have been using since the day 1 of this blog is to use and benefit from the Yoast SEO plugin. (I have been using the free version to date)
There are not many plugins which offer so much under one heading. Get this plugin installed and learn the different ways in which you can improve your blog’s search rankings.
Don’t just remain within your WordPress admin panel, go to Yoast’s SEO blog and read articles and information there. Get into each different topic and see how you can apply the best practices to your own blog.
23 – freshness and accuracy – content update and repurposing
Blogs by nature are fragile when it comes to freshness and accuracy.
An article written 6 months ago (with love and care) will most probably lose its shine due to the passage of time and the information might not be up to date any more.
I am big on updates and have my content update strategy in place.
This is where you need to develop your strategy about how often and to what extent you need to update and re-purpose your old content. Give it an overhaul, re-write it or just edit it. Bring it back to life.
You will notice that on my blog, there are several articles which are updated on a regular basis. My strategy is that rather than pumping out fresh content frequently and forgetting about it, I tend to carefully revisit my old blog posts, analyse if there is a need to review and revise them.
Content re-purposing is slightly different but closely linked.
This is when you maximise the reach of your content by bringing it to other platforms. You do this by updating and adjusting its content and format relevant to that specific platform.
Recommended Reading – Content Repurposing – Getting the Most Bang for Your Content Buck by Ana Hoffman.
area 8 – your marketing
24 – 50/50 or 80/20 emphasis – marketing vs content
It took me a long time to realise that I have neglected the blog marketing in my early blogging career.
I was busy with pumping out the articles and improving my writing skills and forgot that if I don’t emphasise the marketing part, it is so easy to get your articles become dead. Simple.
Derek Halpern (Social Triggers) recommends 80/20 emphasis in favour of marketing. My view is that it needs to be at least 50/50.
It is not enough to just research, create, edit and publish an article any more. Your blog posts and blog in general need a thorough marketing strategy.
Online marketing is a big world, this article will not cover it but the idea is to re-ignite the importance of blog promotion in your mind. Ideally, you need to have a written blog marketing strategy in place.
25 – marketing is not just social media only
Don’t just think that social media is marketing – only.
Far from it.
While it is a useful tool and a global trend, I have found that if you are not careful with your social media strategy, it is a major distraction.
I started with 7 different platforms and spread myself too thin. Because I wanted to be everywhere. It didn’t take me long to realise that every social media platform needs time, effort and specific strategy to master.
“And the return (traffic from social media) in comparison to this effort is not as big and not as loyal as many think.”
Social media now sits well below the top few marketing strategies that I have in place today.
Definitely after email marketing and networking as a minimum.
Time to think if you are spending too much time on Twitter or Facebook?
actionable blogging strategies – your take?
So this was my story of 3 years of blogging.
Some basic and simple blogging strategies that I learnt on my way and they helped me to grow my blog steadily.
There is still a long way to go but my vision, motivation and action plans are strong. My habits are developing and persistence is intact.
I will get there.
And I am sure, you will too.
What specific blogging techniques and tactics have been extra-useful in your case?
What is the one specific strategy from the list above that you liked the most?
Share one or two of your best blogging tips to help me and the other readers to benefit here.
Remember, life is abundant.
Sharing is caring.