The past several months of engaging in blogging have been quite interesting. I’ve learned an extreme amount of useful information and developed some great connections. One of the things I’ve learned is the concept of paying it forward; helping others along the way as I was helped in the beginning. So without further delay, here are 5 important steps every new blogger needs to know (shout out to DC Ladies who are hosting Blogtober this month!):
Get acquainted with social media asap
If you already know your way around the twitters and facebooks, you should be good to go. If you aren’t get knowledgeable as soon as possible. You don’t need an account for every website out there, but you should find the outlets that work best for you, your niche and your audience. Some of the solid ones to start out with are Linkedin, Facebook and Google+ ( depending on your niche others such as Instagram and Tumbler may be more appropriate; i.e. photo blogs). They are filled with endless types of communities that can be a stepping stone to building your audience. You’ll also find folks that are willing to share a plethora of knowledge on building a website and becoming an effective blogger.
Find your audience = finding your voice
There’s no point in logging onto your website every day to write posts if you don’t know who you’re writing to. Why did you decide to start a blog? Who do you want to reach? These are just a couple of questions you need to ask yourself when starting out. From there, it will be easier to build and make the right connections. Once you identify your audience, it becomes much easier to develop topics and posts that will gain interest. It may be kind of slow at first, but consistency and persistence will definitely pay off. As your audience is defined, your voice will continue to develop for the better. As this is happening, you’re not just gaining an audience, but you’re building a solid relationship with them, which is important in the blogging world. You’re not only building your voice from posting, but from interacting with audience as well. Answer their comments; start discussions with them – this will help you develop your vision and voice as a blogger.
Familiarize yourself with SEO knowledge, but don’t obsess over it.
As a new blogger, you’ll come across overwhelming amounts of information – especially SEO tips and tricks. While this is helpful, knowing the basics should suffice for your blog. If you get too into it, you’ll spend an endless amount of hours reading site after site about SEO tips when you could be using that time to develop your blog. You won’t be able to obtain that much information overnight. It comes with time and experience. Google AdWords is an excellent place to start to find keywords to use in your writing. This is especially effective once your audience has been defined.
Hook up with writers who aren’t afraid to share information.
Yes, there are writers and bloggers out there who are willing to lend a helping hand. Twitter is a great way to hook up with blogging communities. If you need additional help starting out, check out writing sites like HubPages, Problogger and Facebook. These sites are filled with blogger and writing communities that will provide tips to get started as a great blogger. The ones who have been around for a minute obviously know what they’re talking about! Here are a couple I would suggest:
If you’re serious about blogging and becoming a good writer, these sites provide excellent information and folks aren’t hesitant to share what works.
Don’t overlook original networking – face to face
This is one step that continues to help me again and again. The best relationships are made face to face, in my opinion. In today’s world of internet interaction, physical interaction is not as popular, but it’s very effective. One of the best decisions I made as a young blogger is join a networking group. Taking this step is extremely beneficial; you’ll be surprised at how many people have the same drive and vision as you. They’re also willing to share their experience and information with you which is great advice. You’ll find people who need guest bloggers – which is another great way to build your blog, you’ll also find people who will direct you to avenues that can make you money and so on. The opportunities that stem from networking are endless.
Are you new to blogging? How has your experience been so far?
As indicated by the button on the left side of my blog page, I’m part of a networking group. This organization is designed for independent business women trying to make their mark in the world. There are women with all kinds of backgrounds who are a part of the group. I’ve attended a few meetings and every time has been a rewarding experience. No one is hesitatant to provide guidance or advice on how to market your brand and work your away around social media. It really is a group of unique women who are willing to share.
This whole social media thing
I’m no stranger to the internet, but some avenues of it leave me slightly skeptical. After ending my relationship with Facebook after 5 years, I opened an account with Google and have been on there for a while now. I recently joined Linkedin, but haven’t really made my rounds there yet. I was highly encouraged by the group to get back on Facebook especially because it’s the nucleus of their organization, which is understandable and makes perfect sense. My previous encounter with Facebook made me tired of the personal ads, obnoxious friend requests and annoying privacy changes. When I first joined Facebook, it wasn’t with any real purpose; it was something everyone else was doing and it was a way to reconnect with folks you hadn’t seen since high school…well I’m pretty much over that now – next! After a few years went by all communication pretty much stopped between me and my contacts. If I really wanted to talk to I would call or text….and I didn’t care about your current status talking about eating a cheese sandwich while in the bathroom. Who cares?
Now, the purpose has been re-visited and re-defined. I haven’t gotten back on Facebook yet (one step at a time folks), but I feel a LOT more comfortable going back in with a business approach. This means fresh new contacts and a healthy way of networking, at least that’s what I’m hoping for. In the meantime, don’t get me started on Ello! I’m still trying to get comfortable with Facebook and Twitter! Well, I’ll ponder on it for a second: Do I think it will blow Facebook out of the water? Not really. Just from glancing around the site it doesn’t seem as feasible to navigate as Facebook. For example, those small circular pictures can get annoying – how are you supposed to recognize the faces or objects? Maybe it looks better on mobile phone. I haven’t read much about it so that’s pretty much all I have to say about it for now.
Learning the art of “paying it forward”
Because I’ve been introduced to the world of sharing (and caring), it only leaves me with the duty to be the same towards people who are not as knowledgeable as me in this journey of freelance and social media. The information I’ve learned at this point has really taken me places, all because people were willing to share and help me along the way. The advice they give is priceless; not just from Femworking but from other networks I’m currently a part of, such as Hub Pages (shout out to Billy Buc!) and Google. The great friendships I’ve built thus far encourage me to actually take time and build my online profiles with quality, instead of just rushing to put my information out there for the sake of numerous visits. I’m doing it because I actually look forward to working with and helping people. Why are you doing it?
Is it worth joining these types of networks?
Absolutely. Even if it’s just a few bucks a month, it’s well worth the investment. You’re not only investing in your business, you’re also investing in people which is a must in this line of work. The connections are endless, and the time is well spent. Because of networking, I’ve gotten clients for the line of work I wasn’t even planning on doing. But since I’m skilled at it, I don’t mind exploring and expounding in that area. Well what is it, you may ask? Stay tuned and find out!
In the meantime, I can be reached on LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Hub Pages. Stop by and say hello….you may never know how it might turn out! : )
Here are some recent thoughts I shared on Hub Pages:
Everyone has a different voice, but now everyone realizes that for themselves. Some of us are quick to click around on other sites to see how others write and format their blogs. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to do that only ifyou’re trying to develop your own style. During this writing journey, I’m learning more and more about my writing voice I have and the things I can do with it. That’s one way blogging is so beneficial. It exercises the writing muscles as the unique voice develops. Time and time again I’ve seen blogs become successful because the writer chose to be themselves. It may not have happened overnight, but after years of developing and being themselves, an audience that appreciates their voice started to grow and the benefits increased for the writer/blogger. It’s very encouraging to see this happening as I develop my own voice. It helps me to know that I’m on the right track.
Although I’ve seen many writers become successful because of their unique voice, I’ve also seen blogs fail because the writer gave up posting for whatever reason. This is a lot easier said than done, but I’m learning to keep going and discipline myself to be consistent. As a result, it’s become somewhat easier to finish out ideas that were started and to express myself better. Not too long after that, the confidence level starts to grown and I have the guts to start reaching out and networking effectively (yes, there will be a post on that!).
Check Me Out
In addition to my recent guest blog stint, I’ve had other opportunities come my way. It’s very encouraging as far as other outlets coming my way. Not only do I have a lot to say, I have my own unique way of writing about it.
An article of mine was recently posted on P.E.R.K Consulting, an empowerment blog for organizations. It’s a small start, but a big deal for me in my writing journey. I’m also working on another gig that came my way just last week as a contributing writer! Once that’s done, I’ll be sure to post those links as well. Again, not holding back on my own way of writing is what will open doors for me. The same can happen for you, if it hasn’t happened already!
What do you think? Are you a new writer trying to find your own voice? I’d love to hear about your experience as a writer and blogger.
Feel free to share opportunities that have come your way.
I recently read a great post about cross-country traveling that gave insight on the beauty of the United States. It’s true – if you’re not too excited about flying from continent to continent, you can get a lot of scenic indulgence in the U.S. There’s a lot to see and a lot to be inspired from. I had my own experience with cross-country when I relocated from New Mexico to Maryland. A friend of mine accompanied me at the time (I was nervous about driving by myself). I remember driving through Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Each state had its own “feel” to it. Their own sights and sounds.
I kick myself now for not doing a better job at keeping a journal because there were so many inspiring scenes to write about. Not even the tourists’ sights, just the windy roadways, the valleys and hills of Pennsylvania, and the run down streets of St. Louis. Other sights were just plain and scary. Completely abandoned gas stations that reminded me of scenes from horror stories, and stretches of roads so plain and quiet the only action they had was tumbleweed blowing across them. When it wasn’t my turn to drive, I could’ve busied myself with pen and paper. Instead, I opted to take a nap. Oh well. I know there will be many other opportunities and sources of inspirations to use in my writing journey. One day I would love to drive from coast to coast and write about the folks I meet, the scenes I witness and the overall experience of a journey.
Have you taken a road trip? What was your experience like?
A lot of my blogging first started on Hub Pages a couple of months ago. I had an ultimate plan in mind in terms of what I wanted to write and share, and those included my life’s experiences in starting over. There have been significant events in my life over the past couple of years that helped re-shape my mind and perspective on life. One of the biggest steps I took after starting over was buy a new home. At the time it didn’t seem feasible, it was a little over the top and buying the home didn’t provide much outlook into the future for me. Sure I had a steady job, but I didn’t know how I would fare as a homeowner as time went on. Again, me dealing with fear of the unknown.
When I first thought about buying a home, I was bored. I was doing my day to day job, paying my bills and being a law-abiding citizen. I wanted to do something that involved me investing in my future, something that I could call my own. When I would go for my daily jobs in the evening, I would admire the beautiful houses in my neighborhood and wonder what it would be like to live in one of them. That’s when the idea was planted in my thoughts and wouldn’t leave me alone. I started writing down plans, budgets and avenues I could take towards buying a house. I pulled my credit report, started researching and developed a time frame as to when I would like to be in my new home. The journey was incredible. It was filled with excited twists, setbacks, disappointments and endless changes. Although I had an original plan in place, things definitely changed along the way. There was an ideal location, design of the house, and budget ideas – all in place. Those things changed and evolved as the journey went along up to the day I settled on my house of choice. There were a few homes I loved so much and wanted, but couldn’t get because another offer was accepted over mine. When a seller finally accepted my offer, I was ready to move in the next day, but there were still more twists and turns to go thru before finally getting those keys.
At the end of the day, I’m glad of the choice I made and I’m reaping the benefits of owning my home. No, things did not go as planned to the t, but at the end of the day I was satisfied. There’s nothing wrong with planning, just know that things may not always go as planned. If there is peace within and patience, things will work out just fine. There’s a reason why life happens the way it does and we don’t always have the answers.
So why stress ourselves trying to figure everything out? I’m learning that for myself not just in day to day life, but in my journey as a writer. The original plan has been developed, redeveloped, switched, and retraced over and over again. It’s not going to stop anytime soon. The many changes are development and evolvement. It makes the journey that much more interesting and gives me that much more to write about.
So I’ve been blogging for about a month now, and I’m still learning the ropes of the blogosphere. I know there’s a lot more to learn, which is why I decided to enroll in WordPress’s Zero to Hero class. Our first assignment is to write a “who am I and why am I here” type post. I figured since I haven’t formally introduced myself, I’d use this assignment to do so.
Blogging is not my primary line of work, I’m fully employed with a large organization and it consists of writing everyday, from email posts, to letters, correspondences…all the good stuff. But that is not what inspires me to write. Growing up, all I did was read and write. I loved the Nancy Drew series and comic books. I would be away in my room for hours just reading. As I got older, I don’t know what happened, but I really fell off from my writing. My school teachers used to tell me that I should get into journalism because my writing was that good, but instead I pursued the medical field. I didn’t get as far as planned, but I did enjoy my time in public health – I may get back into it. Who knows? My whole point is for years I’ve been doing technical and academic writing that I’ve sort of lost my “personal” voice in writing. That’s one of the reasons why I’m here, to develop my personal voice and connect with people. Exactly how far do I plan on going with it? At this point, I’m not sure. I do know that I want to convey certain messages to folks, such as starting over in life or recreating yourself with a new beginning. I plan on sharing my journey in those areas as a witness that it is possible to make a comeback after delays and mistakes. With that being said I’m trying to develop this voice by running more than one blog at the same time…we’ll just have to see how that goes!
So there you have it, I’m a part time blogger with big dreams and a plan to reach out to folks who’ve decided to take the bold step of starting over. Even if it means cutting old ties, even if it means looking weird to your family…I know it may be difficult, but it is possible.
One of the most challenging things in taking on a new project (or in my case – a passion) is learning how to sacrifice certain pleasures in order to get things done. Since I made my decision to get back into writing, there are a lot of tough decisions I have to make in order to get my writing groove back. On a quick historical note, it’s been years since I’ve tapped into my writing. Growing up, all I did was read and write, but as I got older I really lost touch with it. In order to get back in the swing of things I realize I have to put a lot of bad habits aside and make certain sacrifices. For one, I have to master the art of time management. I hate being on a schedule, but right now it’s necessary in order for me to organize my thoughts and topics that I want to express. Breaking away from tv has never been so difficult – I was never a real tv person until now. It only gets in the way and it doesn’t help my creativity one bit. Perhaps I should just cancel my cable subscription?
Uh, the jury is still out on that!
One thing I can say is that my renewed passion for writing has definitely awakened my desire to read like I used to. It definitely helps feed my creativity and gives me ideas of proper expression. Arguably the most powerful form of communication, writing has gotten me through some tough times. When I was so angry and upset with someone, I couldn’t express myself verbally – it wouldn’t come out the way I wanted it because my thoughts and words were going a mile a minute which equated to a verbal mess. Instead, I would resort to writing everything down – the way I want it to be said. Did the person understand me? Yes. Did I get my point across? Definitely. As I continued to write things down, my ability to express myself verbally improved. I’m guessing it’s because I gave my brain practice to organize thoughts and feelings properly.
So reading, time management, passion and motivation are all at play here. This means new responsibilities, sacrifice (get off the phone and turn the tv off) and challenges are on my to- do list. I’m ready, especially since I’ve enrolled in the Blogging 101 course at the Commons. I’m so excited! I expect to be flowing by the time the course is over!
What motivates you to write? Do you struggle to keep a creative flow? Have you done the Blogging 101 course? I’d love to know – post in the comments, please!