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10 Pieces of Advice for Bloggers Starting Out in 2014
Posted on April 24th 2014
A few years ago I met one of the most well-known travel bloggers in the world. When I asked him what made him stand out, he told me, "Nothing, I was just the first to do it."
In analysing the growth patterns of sites like Mashable, Problogger, and KISSmetrics, I noticed the same recurring themes popping up again and again: start early, be persistent, post content frequently, and plan.
But what if starting early isn't an option? What if you wanted to start travel blogging today - how would you generate millions of visits while being 10+ years late to the party? I want to clarify that it's definitely possible. Below are ten points that, for me, are essential for first time bloggers in 2014.
Procrastination is the downfall of many a beginner blogger. Resolve to start your blog now, although you may feel unprepared and uncertain. Delays mean that it will be months before your blog is started, if ever, and you will only have wasted a lot of time. If you are unsure of how something will work in practice you should try it out, instead of pondering it forever.
#3 Set Goals
Even if you only blog for fun, you should set goals. This makes planning easier and increases motivation. In the long run it pays off, even if you do not always achieve all your objectives. Most bloggers do not set goals from the start, but they quickly realise that it is pointless to blog without direction and not really knowing what they want to achieve. Not only should you set overall targets, but also targets for each month. This is very helpful in planning and it is also a psychological advantage if you have a road map in front of you, instead of just a gaping void.
For $40 you can save yourself literally weeks of work. I used to think that free Wordpress themes were a bargain, but i've since built enough blogs to know that more often than not they're less secure, slower, and lack important functionality - that you'll end up paying for in the long run.
#5 Touch A Nerve
People are on the Internet searching for answers to questions, and there is such a variety of online offerings that answers can be difficult to find. If you provide concise relevant answers to their questions you can reach the spirit of the reader. The great advantage to this method is that you can quite easily come up with new product ideas based on what your readers show interest in.
#6 Short or Long Articles
In my opinion, you're better off writing a low number of in-depth long-form posts, than a high frequency of short posts. I recently altered my strategy with the Venture Harbour blog: in 2013 we posted 3-4 articles per month around 800-1000 words each. In January 2014, I decided to increase the frequency to 10 articles per month, while increasing the average post length to 1,800 words. The result:
Short articles often offer less potential for individuality. Building a readership base requires unique content with a recognisable style. Longer articles are preferable if you want to examine a topic closely and go into more detail. In addition, longer articles can be timeless. This can have a very positive effect in the medium to long term, as these articles can rank well in Google and continue to bring traffic after many months or years. An archive full of long articles is therefore very positive and a good avenue for bringing independent, relevant traffic to your blog.
#7 Answer Questions
Never ignore your readers. Readers questions are a constant source for new article ideas. Instead of racking your brain, listen to what your readers say is of interest to them, and the content they want to read. Search forums, blogs and emails to see what concerns readers, their problems and needs, and build constructive content around these issues.
#8 Work on your copywriting & headline writing skills
There are people who roam around the Internet disturbing the peace wherever they can. They usually only participate in discussion to offend or to cause trouble others. Constructive criticism is useful, but trolls are only interested in creating discord. You can deal with trolls by staying calm and ignoring them. Regularly check your blog and delete negative comments. Check the style of your blog, look at the content and see if there is anything that may attract negative attention.
#10 Learning From Mistakes
Errors and failures are a fact of life and they usually shape us more than our successes. When blogging you can make mistakes that have negative consequences. This is one of the main reasons why blogs are never attempted, but errors are also about learning and evolving. The majority of errors are not permanent or dramatic, and major errors can be avoided (and repaired) with appropriate research before action.