If you’ve been an adult for longer than 5 minutes, you know by now that adults sometimes have the habit of declaring “I wish someone had told me that when I was younger!”
Or something along those lines.
Unfortunately, none of us can just take a swiff of “never-grow-old” potion so we can correct our mistakes.
All we can do is make best of the future.
(End pseudo-motivational speech).
On a more serious note though, there are things I wish someone had told me when I was new to blogging and didn’t know a…oh wait, there were blogs that did tell me what to do.
I just did not listen.
Turns out they were right and so today I share with you 5 things I wish I had done when (or even before) I got started blogging . If you are a newer blogger and you are reading this, I know without an inkling of a doubt that each of these will be beneficial to you if you are looking to stand out and catch the attention of attention-starved readers.
5 Things You Should Do Before You Launch A New Blog
1) Network with established bloggers in your niche
Do you want to know a secret ?
This first task is actually one of the most difficult ones for me. It is also why I started with it.
For a really long time, I thought it would be impossible to network and build relationships with bloggers who had more established blogs and easily got 100 comments on their blog posts within 4 hours of them posting.
It intimidated me to no end !
Unfortunately, starting a new blog from near-anonymity and growing it is impossible if a person refuses to network with other bloggers in the same niche.
So I finally mustered courage and started networking.
What I found was completely opposite to what I had feared all along – big name bloggers are human beings just like me. They have needs and desires just like I do. And they LOVE to hear from readers who add value to them.
Totally unexpected but a lesson well-learned and it has definitely impacted the growth of this blog.
How do you add value to big name bloggers ? I am glad you asked !
a) If you really like the said blogger, sign up for their e-mail list. This will give you a chance to engage more with their content because most bloggers will send updates of their new posts or even stuff that are working on in the pipeline which has not been shared with the general public just yet.
Engaging with their content also means you can e-mail them your thoughts on their newest post or a thought they shared in an e-mail with you.
Practical example : Sometime last year, I heard that Pat Flynn was raising money to build a school in Ghana. Because I was on his e-mail list, I got to hear about it during the very early stages. I am originally from Ghana and so this had me truly excited. I quickly sent him a note to let him know that I appreciated him carrying out such a kind deed.
A few weeks later, he wrote back personally to let me know he got my note and appreciated it.
Was Gertrude excited ??
Gertrude was on the MOON.
b) Connect with them on social media. I have found Twitter to be so useful when it comes to connecting with influencers online. You may need to find out where your particular niche hangs out the most and follow them on there.
Ask questions. Compliment them (genuinely). Respond to questions they post on social media. Share their content.
c) Comment on their blog posts. Honestly, this is one of those no-brainers I did not even consider until I read Ryan Biddulph’s book on how he built his blog simply by commenting on blogs and adding value.
I have gotten referral traffic from just posting comments on bigger sites. It works.
I am not talking about the generic “Great post. Thanks for sharing” kind of comments.
These comments need to be well-thought out and should add value to the conversation. Sometimes, you could even ask a genuine question you have had on the subject. Genuine and thoughtful comments will take you places you want to go !
d)If you have already started your blog, take a blog post the influencer wrote, follow the steps they mention in that blog post for carrying out a particular thing and report your results back to them.
Most blog readers plan to carry out the steps they’ve read in a blog post. Only a small percentage of that probably actually carry it out.
You will stand out immediately to any big name blogger when you let them know that a system they laid out in a blog post works for one of their readers.
You may even get featured on their blog. Do you see where this is going ?
2)Be super helpful and add value in online communities
I love Facebook groups for this particular purpose. There are other online communities outside of Facebook that are very active.
There will always be people who know a little less than you and these people will ask questions in the forums/groups.
You don’t have to be the expert. All you need is to demonstrate your knowledge by answering these questions when they come up and you could build a pretty good reputation for yourself.
Imagine you do this in the 2-3 months leading up to your actual blog launch ? You will be golden.
3) Guest post
Another intimidating one for me because I was always afraid of people saying “no”. When I started pitching people, I did in fact get a few “nos”. But I decided to carry on anyway. Ms Ileane allowed me to post on her Basic Blog Tips site a month ago and it brought in traffic, e-mail sign-ups and new relationships.
You definitely cannot go wrong here.
The key is to get started and field a few nos before you get a yes. Or maybe you will be better than me and get a yes right away !
What will your blog be doing in the meantime ? It will be collecting the e-mail addresses of people who cannot wait to see your blog on launch day.
4)Find 3-5 bloggers you admire and learn EVERYTHING
By all means, do not steal their content.
There are a number of things you can learn from them including (but not limited to)
a) Their tone of writing
b) Blog styling : colors, placement of different objects like e-mail sign up forms, graphics
c) What they are using for an incentive for their e-mail lists ?
d)What kinds of products are they selling ?
e) How often are they sending their e-mail broadcasts ?
f) How often are they posting ?
g) Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to study what kinds of keywords people are search to land on their websites. You can then create content using some of these keywords (more on that when we return to our SEO lessons).
Study, study, study. Will they be right on every single point you study ? Probably not. But you will have a better springboard for starting than most.
5) Read a few books on marketing & selling
Before you ever sell a single product on your blog, you will have to sell yourself. Personal branding is the name of the game.
A lesson or two on effective marketing/selling techniques will therefore put you WAY ahead of the pack.
Here’s a really short list of a few books I’d recommend (These are also my Amazon affiliate links. Please don’t feel compelled to use them. If you do, thanks !)
UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging by Scott Stratten
Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk (not exactly a marketing book but it will get you excited about sharing your ideas with the world)
Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
Wrapping it up
That’s what I should have done before I started blogging. If you are a completely new blogger don’t worry. You get to do it right from scratch. If you already knee-deep like me, it still does not hurt to employ these strategies.
What do you think ?
What do you wish you had done before you started blogging ?
Let me hear about it in the comments.
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