The difference between entrepreneurship and employment (or self-employment) is leverage – the simple fact that entrepreneurs don’t trade their time for money. They find arbitrage opportunities, a great team to work for them, and get a lot more done in a day than employees of self-employed consultants can.
Bloggers usually start out with day jobs while they run a blog to test, experiment, “see how it goes”, and work “part-time” on it. That’s where the self-destruction starts. A blog stands a better chance of survival when there’s collaborative team effort behind it than the sweat equity, effort, and time of a single individual.
That, however, is not the only problem with bloggers. There are a lot more issues that plague bloggers thereby never letting them unleash their full potential. Here are some habits bloggers have that could be easily avoided by following these tips:
Write first. Set the tone & pace. Outsource later. Pay Well.
Of course, you don’t want to spend too much right off the bat. So, begin writing your blogs yourself. Work in advance if you find that you don’t get much time to sit and write. Sooner or later, you’d want to focus on growing the blog and writing posts isn’t the direct path to grow and scale up. Once you set a unique voice and pace for your blog, find others to step in and write for you.
Now, finding the right bloggers isn’t easy because everyone seems to think they can write. Blogs are unlike books, so everyone claims to be a good blogger. The key is to experiment with writers. Start a one-week paid trial, get 10 bloggers to write 10 different blog posts, pay for the ones you accept, and choose the best bloggers for long-term assignments.
Of course, many bloggers and marketers already outsource their blogging needs. Here’s the big mistake: looking to pay less. Bloggers who are good at their profession don’t come for cheap. If content is at the core of your business, why are you looking to spend less?
SEO? Try asking NY Times, Economist, or WSJ what that is
Bloggers go online, read up a few posts and articles, decide that SEO is the next greatest thing after riding the wheel, and then focus all their efforts on developing less-than-readable content strewn with keywords that don’t make sense in the middle of their posts.
Yet, some of the greatest and most-read publications do not focus on SEO; they focus on readers. They look at the quality of their content. They strive to carry the best content forward. They are so good at what they do that they never have to depend on Google or any one single source for their traffic.
Don’t depend on Google. Don’t let web traffic dictate your business. Do what’s right and everything falls into place.
What’s with that bland tasteless look?
WordPress is an amazing find. It spurs the growth of self-publishing and gave birth to hordes of self-publishing mavens. So, with WordPress came an endless sea of themes to choose from. One of the things with the themes is that there’s only so much you can do to make them unique. Most blogs end up with a familiar tasteless and uninspiring design.
Of course, Darren Rowse got away with an early 2000 looking theme for his blog. You aren’t Darren Rowse, so you got to work harder and invest more. Find a freelance WordPress expert with graphic design skills and get graphics for your blog.
The right design can set you apart. Make no bones about the importance of great looks.
Publish and forget? Sorry, but you didn’t write the bible
Some bloggers have a real bad habit of not responding to comments, not being on social media enough, and not engaging with a community on the outside of the blog. On the Internet, unresponsiveness is charged with the demise of your own blog. Again, social media consumes a lot of your time so hire professional social media managers (they are more honest, if you find the right ones, than your neighbor).
Respond to every mention, every post that links in, keep a hawk’s eye on your blog mentions elsewhere. Look out for your Tweets being re-tweeted. There’s a lot to give on social web. Of course, there’s even more for you to take. Before you expect to take, however, you have to give.
What value do you add to the community? How does your experience, attitude, skill, and knowledge help others? Find those questions people ask on the Internet and answer them to the best of your ability never mentioning your blog, brand, or business.
That’s the way it is: take it or leave it.
Stop Looking for “free”
“Free” stuff is free for two reasons: either because it has no value or maybe because a vendor was smart enough to use a shredded version of a premium product for a while allowing you to test drive (also called as freemium products). If you were to stick with anything free for too long, you’d end up earning nothing because free fetches zero (that’s how economics works).
Free methods of advertising, free tools to monitor social media activity, free analytics tools, free blogging tools, free ways to get traffic, free listings in blog directories – try them all out and you’d wonder why you spent time doing it all. Nothing’s ever free. For all the free stuff, you spent time, which in case you didn’t calculate, works out to be more expensive than effective, paid tools or services.
Only Google can pull it off by giving tremendous value away for free (actually, even that’s changing with Google Apps now being charged for).
Get off this self-destructive habit to get everything in the world for free. If you want to make money, be willing to trade in those dollars. Free can only get you so far. For the rest of the way and to grow, you’ll need to invest.
Follow the law of reciprocation
The whole blogging world runs on “You scratch my blog, I’ll scratch yours”. Merely publishing away and getting yourself listed on a blog directory won’t get you as much as you would if you could visit others’ blogs, leave meaningful comments, send out messages on social media, engage with the community, solve others’ problems on Q & A sites or forums, and try to get attention from those who matter.
Once you start doing that, you’ll see the law of reciprocation kicking in; others will visit your blog, leave comments, send out emails to you, and basically do all you’ve just done for them. Don’t expect that everyone would reciprocate, of course.
Similarly, the law of reciprocation works in many other ways. Once you start writing guest posts for other bloggers, they’ll begin writing for you. That’s a great flow of content over there.
A few will, and “a few” is all you need. If you’ve put in all that hard work and if you have a great looking, popular (even mildly popular) will do, or even if you are just getting started, share your blogs with us and we’d love to check you out.
What’s your sweat equity in your blog? How much effort goes into it? What are you doing today to take your blog several notches up? Share it with us. We’d ring a bell to celebrate your comment here.