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17 Blogging Takeaways From 2014

Learnt_From_Blogging

Rather than predicting what will happen next year, here are some valuable lessons I’ve learnt whilst blogging this year.

I can say that 2014 was the year that I found my voice. Prior to that I believed that when we create content for an audience they would simply consume, I was totally wrong. What it does is just sit there if it doesn’t entertain, challenge and influence.

If we are to build any form of momentum, we start by growing an audience, who come back to your source (your website/your blog) on a regular basis and then share with their own audience. It’s all about resonating with others who understand what you stand for and your ability to do this persistently.

THIS IS WHAT I HAVE LEARNT ABOUT BLOGGING IN 2014:

1)   It builds relationships

We can sit on our perch and whistle our own tune of product and self-approval but it is pretty unfulfilling. Doesn’t life feel better when there are others to share and build a dialogue. It’s the same with any relationship, we can’t dip in and out when we feel like, to make it work we have to be committed to it. This is how we connect with others.

2)   It develops thinking

Nothing beats a train of thought. I know there are many articles that look at the topic of burnout and running out of steam, but when you become disciplined you can push yourself to look further and develop a particular theme. I guess one of my particular themes that I have featured this year is the ability for us to take the role to teach others and to open up a discussion, rather than an ‘I am an expert’ mentality. You should see the amount of social media courses that have popped up in my local area of Dorset, we are brimming with experts down here if you ever need them!

3)   It is an asset

I know one of the biggest reasons why people don’t commit to blogging is because of time, but Valuable Content answered this one. Click here for their October ‘how do you find the time to write’ article. If you switch a mentality from something that you’ll dabble at and see how it is in a month, then you might as well do something else now. If you believe that it can become a resource that can position you as an influencer within your marketplace, then can become one of the most worthy assets to your business.

4)   It is all about people, not just SEO

I used to believe that the main focus for what we write is to be seen top of the search engines, how wrong I was. Whilst it’s a chest beating exercise to many, I found that those companies who got in contact via search results, many were the equivalent of coming to look at a car you were selling and no-one leaving happy. Blogging is all about interaction between people, not a logo or an automated response. Ian Rhodes made the ultimate decision by deleting 203 blog posts, this taught him a wealth about blogging and business, have a read of his story here.

5)   You become a media company

With the increasing relevance of content you create each month, you are becoming the equivalent of a magazine. You could say that my magazine was a mix of lifestyle topics, cookery, home improvement when the front cover was all about football. During 2014, I have stuck to a more defined topic aimed at businesses to stand for something, whereas previously you could cover everything in the marketing remit. It’s all about finding a niche.

6)   The need to stand for something and not industry hyperbole

Once you have committed, you must not hold back. You cannot resort to amplifying a message of self worth. I have found that those articles that are the most honest receive the most readership. I have found my pet favourite industry to explore (and highlight) to be that of estate agents. Why not read the putting more thought in the content we create example. The 20th century mentality of disruption, promotion and hot air is strong within this industry. If we are looking to say something, lets at least be original or with our own twist to a current way of thinking.

7)   This is not a popularity contest

Rather than thinking that we throw the Twitter net out to ensure that every regional #hour gets to see us (in the hope for a retweet), it doesn’t matter how many people get to see your message. What matters most is that the people who see your message connect. People need to understand what you have to say and make the longer-term investment to believe in you. I believe that it is better to have 20 subscribers to your blog, rather than 2000 followers on Twitter. These are people who have invested by supplying a new form of digital currency, their email addresses.

8)   You can make an impact on others

There is no better feeling than someone getting in contact with you and to continue the conversation after the ‘publish’ button has been pressed. A reaction from someone that they enjoyed, understood and empathised what you produced is one of the most rewarding feelings you can have. I think it is because someone else has made an association with what you say. This is worth its weight in absolute gold. To have a reaction from something you created from a personal standpoint will beat any ‘difference between PR and advertising’ article, hands down.

9)   You can become a source

By having a space where others recognise you and your industry viewpoint, your blog can become an authority. While others may be happy to dictate to become recognised, your blog can become a relevant space to encourage opinion and share learning.

10)  You develop your writing skills

In a recent Talking Content interview Demian Farnworth (from Copyblogger) commented:

“It’s important to be able to articulate your idea, promote your product, and educate people clearly, concisely, and persuasively. Otherwise competitors with inferior ideas and products, but superior communication skills, will win.”

During the 21st Century having the ability to write is one of the key skill sets that we need to possess. Just look at the ways that we now consume and how technology has transformed how we share and interact (where email effectively became the first social platform).

11)  It’s the truest meaning of an owned media strategy

Everything that you create, curate and distribute is down to you and your business. It can attract an audience, it can build subscribers and it can create supporters. This doesn’t involve a heavy investment by promoting on other platforms. The biggest investment is time and commitment to find and develop a voice. Time should never be an excuse, when the opportunities are considerable. Whether you take the blue pill or the red pill, it is down to your own investment that determines the return.

12)     You develop personally

By having clarity, blogging has kept me focused. I would like to think that every year I look back, I have developed both professionally and personally. I would like to think that by the end of 2015, I can look at my articles from this year and continued my own progression of belief, sharing and having something worthwhile to say (that doesn’t just fit in line with every other marketing blog out there).

13)     Create a bank of resources

The growth of articles means a bigger reserve of information. I make sure that a viewpoint that is shared with a customer (or prospective customer) is then emailed. It maybe more clearly defined as the focus is on one specific topic, rather than a conversation touching on a number of points. Over time the assets created has longevity as the articles have a wider purpose to continue a conversation (and a conversion tool).

14)   Frequency is not as important as relevancy

Rather think that you have to turn into the next Seth Godin and blog four or five times a week, it is far more important to be relevant to someone else. I now find that it is better to concentrate and focus on one considered article per week, rather than write two ok 600 word articles.

15)    You have to be committed

Similar to being relevant to an audience (see point 14), to serve that group you have to be committed. There is nothing worse than someone subscribing to hear more from you and then you return in sporadic intervals. To be committed you need to put the time aside, the editorial calendar in place and above else write with conviction about what you believe in.

16)    You don’t have to publish on ‘bigger’ blog to become accepted

There is the view that to build any form of recognition (which then leads to audience development) you need to submit articles to a more established blog. Ok, I have done this, click here, but rather than thinking that you need to piggyback on someone else’s credibility, you can build an audience if you remain committed and what you discuss is relevant. Rather than publishing on another blog space, you can control distribution via social channels and I have seen my reach increase via LinkedIn long form posts (although the door is currently shut for new permissions to share, I guess it will be open again in 2015).

17)   It is something to enjoy

I guess you always have to leave the last point as one full of hope and spirit. I truly believe that for anything to build momentum you have to enjoy the journey. It’s not about reaching your destination but the expedition that you make. The blogging journey is one that I enjoy. It has helped me build new relationships, cement friendships and shaped my thinking process.

 

To make any blogging commitment work, you need to make a pledge to yourself. If you can: be determined; stick with it; become inspired by the world around you; read; ask continual questions; look at what’s broken; don’t become the ‘get off my lawn’ type of person; believe in what you create; be persistent, you can create an audience who will stand beside you. I’m no way near there, but having others with you on your journey, is such a rewarding place to be.

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