RHD Blog – One year on.
In my last post I asked whether a blog is worth the effort. Tomorrow marks the anniversary of my first published blog post and here I am, 12 months down the track and pondering that question. Is it worth the effort?
How much effort do I actually put in? Well, I only blog every 2 weeks. But my posts are fairly involved, and usually well over 1000 words. Each takes me about 6 hours to produce (and I could be under-estimating that!). There’s the time involved in research and keywords, in planning the post, writing the raw copy, editing it, then formatting it in WordPress (that’s often a headache!), and creating or sourcing an image.
On top of that there’s time spent posting it on social media, and more time spent looking at Google Analytics.
I can’t imagine finding the time to post more regularly. Unless blogging was my core business. Besides, I think I’d run out of things to say – things that are useful anyway. And that’s what I like to produce – useful content. I’d rather not blog just for the sake of blogging.
I chose many of my topics 12 months ago. At the start I did a big brainstorming session and came up with 36 ideas for blog posts. At only 26 posts in a year, that should mean I don’t have to think too hard each fortnight about what to write. And yet, I still get to each new fortnight and think: what am I in the mood to blog about today?
Even though I planned to write some posts about social media, I haven’t done much in that area yet because I’m aware of how quickly it changes. Write a post today about social media best practices and it will probably be out of date in 3 or 4 months. And I don’t wish to prolong any myths that become accepted as wisdom (I often see this, with people still spouting common ideas which have been outdated for months – like “images get better engagement on Facebook” (which is kinda true, but the flipside is they are less likely to be shown in newsfeeds now).
What have I discovered about my blogging style?
As time goes by, I’ve started to find my rhythm – and allow myself enough time for blogging, rather than rush it at the end of each fortnight. I’ve realised:
- That maintaining consistency is key. I set myself the task of blogging fortnightly, and I’ve always made sure I stick to that schedule. It would be too easy to procrastinate…
- That it definitely helps to have a topic which my mind is happy to run with. One that gets me thinking in the shower, or out on a morning run, that I can’t wait to write down (sometimes I make notes on my iPhone to capture those random thoughts).
- That I prefer not to pump it all out in one go. I throw some ideas together one day, start to flesh them out over another day or so (and think about them while I’m out and about, adding quick notes into my phone), then wait a day after the final draft to reread and refine.
- That I’m not at my best when I create too much structure (the 2-part series on an ‘A-to-Z of Online Marketing‘ really wore me down, and I didn’t enjoy writing them in the end. (It probably showed!)
- That I like sharing useful tips and tools based on my own experience, more than on what other people have said.
A blog on HubSpot suggested that “Your website’s ‘About Us’ page is like your personality at a job interview, and your blog is your personality after a few drinks.” I’m not sure my blog fits that bill (I get very giggly and loud after only a few drinks). I probably also get more opinionated… And that, for me, is the thing I get most from it – blogging has helped me express my opinions. The act of writing allows me to crystalise my own ideas and determine what I think is most important.
What do others think of my blog?
When people see me sitting in a café writing a post, or if I mention that I blog, they tend to ask “Ooh, what’s your blog about?” They sound hopeful that it will be something exciting. I used to answer with an apologetic “It’s just business stuff, pretty boring really…”. I mean, it’s not like I blog about food, or fashion, or eco-sustainability, or any of those things I think people might be passionate about or find entertaining.
But I’ve realised it’s not boring, and that I’m doing myself and readers a huge disservice by calling it so. What I write is useful, educational and time-saving (I hope). I don’t write only for myself, I write for other people who are just getting into small business, and hope they can learn from my research and experience, so they can save time themselves and become more successful more quickly.
In fact, that question should prompt me to deliver my ‘elevator pitch’, about how I love to help small businesses get online with a great, functional website as well as all the online marketing factors that revolve around it.
So, are people reading this blog? Yes, I can see that via Google Analytics… Some of them even spend minutes there (which is huge in internetland).
Do they find it useful? Well-written? Easy to read? Those things are more difficult to ascertain. I was pretty chuffed when a copywriter I admire shared one of my posts. And very occasionally someone writes a comment. (Hint hint… more comments and shares, please?)
Other tips on how I blog:
- I used WordPress to create my blog, and customised it to integrate it with my HTML site (though it’s still not perfect).
- I read my posts out loud to myself, to make sure they sound ok.
- I create links back to older posts that I reference. And occasionally remember to edit older posts to create links to newer content.
- I use Anti-spam technology and highly recommend that every blog should. I started without it and it was an eye-opening exercise. Quite amazing how clever the spammers are getting at disguising their link-infested comments as legitimate. I posted some examples on Facebook last year, such as:
- “So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject.”
- “It’s hard to come across knowledgeable many people on this subject, but you sound like you know what you are talking about! Thanks.”
How I collect ideas for blog content:
I mentioned that I brainstormed 36 ideas for content before I even started. My list has now grown to about 47, as I’ve come up with more ideas along the way.
- I started with What I Know Best. My core business – building websites. And then expanded from there with the multitude of things that relate to websites – colour, images, SEO, marketing and online integration.
- I read other blogs and follow the FB pages of people who are switched on to social media changes, etc.
- I run for inspiration. It’s amazing what thoughts come to you when you clear your mind and get some oxygen pumping around your system. I came back from a short run the other morning with a great idea for a new blog. I was so keen on it that I sat down and typed for an hour, instead of hooking into the work I had piled up on my to-do list.
- I’ve revisited my previous posts and pulled them together into a sort of “best of” collection.
- In time, I expect I’ll have the chance to refresh and update some of the older content.
And so, dear readers, here endeth my first year of blogging. It’s been fun. And I have no intention of giving it up. It would be great if you follow along, comment, share and get in touch. I’d really love to know if it’s helping people.