I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to get it that way. The transcription provided by The Transcription People.
Today as you, as this video goes up on ProBlogger, it’s the six year birthday of ProBlogger. Naomi Dunford emailed me last week to remind me of the birthday. I think she started blogging on my third birthday, so she remembers it every year. She reminded me of it and offered to put a guest post up on that day, a birthday post which will go up later today.
I wanted to take a few moments out today to reflect upon the six years of ProBlogger and the almost eight years that I’ve been blogging. I started in 2002, and I wanted to reflect on some of the lessons that I’ve learned and particularly how I’d go about it if I was starting out again today.
Whilst what I’m going to share today isn’t really rocket science, I think it’s good to be reminded of these things, whether we’re new bloggers or older bloggers because whilst we often know this stuff, we don’t actually always do it – and I find myself in that category as well.
If I was to start out again today, there’d be three or four different things that I would be focusing upon.
The first one is content. Now, that’s a bit of a no-brainer in many ways. Of course you’d be focusing upon content as a blogger, a blogs not a blog really without some kind of content whether that be video or text or audio or images.
But really, your blog’s success hangs upon what you put up on to it.
As I’ve said many times on ProBloggers over the years, if it’s not enhancing someone’s life in some way, the chances are, they’re not going to come back again. That enhancement of their lives, solving problems, meeting needs in some way could be a big thing. It could be helping them to be a better Dad or a Mum, or helping them to learn something that will help their career.
It could be big things like that, or it could be small things. Giving them a chuckle, giving them a laugh. Helping them to know that they’re not the only person with a problem. Giving them a sense of community, a place for them to connect with other people. These are problems that you can be solving with your content. Your content needs to be useful in some way. And really I guess a lot of what I would be doing if I was starting out again today, is identifying the problems that people have, needs that they have and trying to work out how I can develop content that is meeting those needs on a daily basis. Just putting content on a blog that doesn’t really mean anything, that doesn’t actually help someone in some way, it’s kind of empty, and as a result, most blogs that do that don’t really reach the heights that they could.
The second thing that I’d be putting a lot of time into and I guess I did this particularly in the early days of my first blogs was community.
Helping people who come across your blog to feel like they’re being noticed, feel like they’re being heard, and giving them opportunities to meet other readers of your blog. It’s just such a vitally important thing.
People don’t go online just to consume content any more. They’re actually going online to belong and we’re seeing this with the rise of Facebook and Twitter and social media. The popularity for many years now of forums and chat, and all this web stuff that we’re seeing, it’s all about community, it’s all about belonging.
This is what attracted me to blogs in the first place, is that one, they would give me a voice, but two, they would enable me to connect with real people who shared my passions and interests in life. And yeah, so I guess, starting out again today and even tomorrow as I continue with my blogging, community is something that really I think needs to be a priority for us.
Taking notice of your readers, valuing your readers opinion, including that in some way. Valuing that in a public way on your blog is really important.
The third thing I guess I’d focus on, and this is something I didn’t really focus on that much for the first few years on my own blogging, was, is, I call it, to keep the “C” theme running, the content community, I call it connection, and giving people connecting points for you.
It’s perhaps not the best word for it, but if we want to keep the “C’s” rolling, then that’s what we’ll go with. Really it’s about capturing people’s email addresses, a place where you can continue to have that connection with them, it’s about getting them to subscribe to your blog in some way, it’s about connecting with them on Twitter or Facebook, wherever it might be that’s relevant for your niche.
This is so important. I look back on those early days on my first blogs where I didn’t focus on this, and I think of all the tens and hundreds of thousands of readers that came through my blogs that I didn’t actually offer them a way of an ongoing relationship.
For many years, I was just satisfied that people were reading it, and that’s a great thing, but what if I could get those people back again? Those hundreds of thousands of people who kind of just slipped through my fingers over the years and that didn’t connect in some deeper way. Now many of them did, they went out of their way to find ways of connecting with me, and I’m grateful for that.
It was only in the last few years that I began to offer people newsletters or connection points on Twitter and Facebook and that type of thing. So, whatever it might be for your niche that’s a relevant way of communicating with them and connecting with them, go out of your way to find ways of connecting with them. Don’t rely on other people going out of their way to connect with you.
The fourth thing I’d say is, again, keeping with the “C” word is cash, is money, is it monetising. Now this isn’t a goal for every blogger, but for me, as someone after a year or two decided that I wanted this to be my way of making a living, I began to have to think of ways about monetising my blogs and really, it’s about sustainability.
If you’re able to sustain your blogging in some other way and don’t need to make money out of it, then that’s fine. But for many of us, we want our blogs to at least break even, we want to be able to pay for the costs of the blog. We want to be able to, you know, pay for a nice new design or the hosting and that type of thing. And for many of us we actually want to make a living out of that as well.
In this regard I’d say, experiment with different ways of monetising your blogs. Many of us start out with AdSense or an ad network or Amazon’s affiliate program, and these are great starting points, but don’t just be satisfied with, you know, doing it in one way. Actually be constantly on the lookout for new ways of monetising, and be on the lookout for ways that you can directly monetise, and you don’t have to rely necessarily upon an ad network, or some other third party to help you monetise your blog.
Be thinking all along of, ‘could I write an eBook? Could I run a course? Could I have a membership site? Could I sell myself as a Consultant? Could I write a book?’ These types of things that you can more directly monetise your site also.
And I guess the last thing I’d say, and it’s not really a “C” thing at all, and it really comes down, it really incorporates all these different things is, actually do something that’s worthwhile. I come across bloggers from time to time who create blogs that kind of are, they’re just about making money and they’re not actually about contributing anything to the world that we live in. And whilst I kind of understand that on some levels, you know, we all need to make a living, I kind of went through a phase where I did that myself. I had blogs that were just creating noise, and, in the hope of, you know, getting a few readers from search engines and making a few dollars on the side. And I actually found that to be a really empty process.
Creating blogs that are just sort of spammy, adding random content on to the web may actually make you a few dollars, but make it your ultimate goal to contribute.
If we’re going to use a “C” word, perhaps it’s contribute. Do something that makes a difference in this world.
It strikes me increasingly as I do my own blogging that people are coming to read my stuff every day and I’m helping through my content, but perhaps there are ways I can contribute and make the world a better place as I’m also doing that in different ways. I, early next year I’m going to Tanzania with a charity to actually look at one of their projects and to capture the story of that in video and image and to share it on my blogs. And whilst that’s not really on topic in some ways, I kind of feel like as bloggers we have a responsibility to use the voices that we’ve been given and to use the profile that we have and the credibility that perhaps we have and to actually use it for good in some ways. And I think that’s a responsibility for us as bloggers, and I’d love to see us as bloggers really take this more seriously. And for me that’s something that I want to do over the next few years in particular.
So, there are my five “C’s”, content, community, connection, points of connection, cash and contributing something of value to the world and the blogosphere. They’re some of the, I guess, the lessons that I’ve learned. The things that I am wanting to inspire, re-inspire myself to continue to build on as I go forward in to the next six or so years of ProBlogger. And I’d love to hear some of your feedback in comments below.
Hope this has been of some value to you as you continue your own blogging.