Today, I received an interesting email from one of my readers with a few questions about blogging. Since I think some of these tips might be beneficial to some of you, I’ve decided to publish my answers to the reader’s questions and provide some general tips to help you start or continue blogging. I hope you find these valuable.
Firstly, even though I’ve been blogging and creating content for years, I’m still learning new things daily. My advice might not be as useful and might not work in every situation. Conduct your own experiments and take my opinions with a grain of salt.
Secondly, some of my opinions and actions are related to my goals which may be quite different from yours. For example, I don’t want to monetize my personal blog and thus, I don’t optimize for some of the aspects that are important for blog monetization.
The Why of Blogging?
When I started my first blog, I did it because I wanted to start designing. Yes, you read that right. I didn’t want to improve my writing or just start blogging - I wanted to start designing.
The idea behind it was to start designing and get some feedback and exposure by posting my designs to a public place. Sure, I could just tweet the designs, but having a bit more characters to explain it further was one of the reasons to start a blog.
I posted new designs almost daily (just like now with my 100 days of blogging challenge) and I’ve seen myself improving. And that was the whole point; a blog was a nice public anchor to keep me motivated and continue designing.
After a while, I realized that designing different things was great, but I wanted to design something that people might use. And eventually, I started designing mobile wallpapers.
Your ‘why’ can be very different as you can see, my example was quite specific. Your ‘why’ can be to:
- share your knowledge or personal growth journey
- document your life experience
- express your creativity or interest
- find and build a community of like-minded people.
Once you know why you want to start (or continue) blogging, you might want to niche down.
Niche Down with a Personal Touch
If you’ve been following this blog, you might think - but this blog isn’t niched down at all, it’s all over the place - and I agree. However, this is a personal blog where I document my life experience and write about anything I find interesting. I don’t expect this blog to be nearly as successful as my previous project and I’m not even trying to be. It’s just a different ‘why’.
Let’s say that you like cycling - you like watching the sport, you enjoy riding your bike, and you might want to start a blog about it. You already know your ‘why’ - express your interest, share your knowledge, and find a community of like-minded people.
Now instead of writing for every single cycling discipline, you can pick just your favorite. When trying to do live blog updates - start with the race you are most interested in. When sharing your knowledge, share it about the thing you know most about - like how to set up your enduro bike’s suspension.
You should niche down and write about a specific topic you’re most interested in. I think this can help with a couple of things:
- improve reader-writer connection
- keep you motivated
- help you find a specific community easier
- help you attract passionate readers (due to a very specific niche).
Find something you want to blog about, niche down, but also keep an open mind about what else you might want to write about. Expanding your niche can be challenging but essential to keep your motivation going.
Platform Doesn’t Matter
When I started my previous blog, I did so using Google’s Blogger platform. It was the simplest and most cost-effective solution at the time. Sure, it wasn’t as customizable and self-hosted, but it did the job. I didn’t want to fiddle around with my setup; I just wanted to publish my designs. Only a few years later, I switched to WordPress.
So, one of my pieces of advice must be, just start publishing. I know that selecting a platform might be a hassle, so here are a few of my favorites:
- WordPress (self-hosted)
- Ghost (a bit pricey for my taste, but well designed and can be self-hosted)
- Jekyll and Hugo (if you enjoy Markdown)
I have to mention my friend Jan-Lucas, who created his own blogging platform in Go called GoBlog.
These are just a few on top of my head. You might want to find something specific for you, but at the end of the day, the platform doesn’t matter, the content and reader connection does.
Lastly, I want to answer a few questions that the reader sent me.
Q: What are the primary strategies you’ve employed to attract and build your audience?
A: I don’t think about this too much. I usually just focus on writing. Sooner or later, people start interacting with your posts and that’s where you form your connections, in some cases even friendships.
I wouldn’t focus on SEO from the beginning. Start by building a solid ground with good content and a small community that can give you feedback.
You might want to think about the places you currently consume articles from. It might be a forum, specific Reddit community or by following someone on social media. If you have a bike blog from above, you might post the link to your “How to set up suspension on your enduro bike” as an answer to a forum question that is asking this specific thing.
Q: Which strategies have proven to be most successful in maintaining reader engagement and ensuring their return to your blog?
A: I would say connections from social media. With the previous project, I’ve found Google+ (RIP) and later Twitter to be quite useful in gaining new audiences and engaging returning readers. I think interaction with your readers is crucial. Today, I use Mastodon, which isn’t perfect for this specific thing. You want to repost your content on a platform where you can get a new audience.
If my goal today would be to get a new audience, I would convert the most useful segments of my blog posts into short videos with an AI voiceover and post them on TikTok.
Q: Can you share insights on the challenges of earning a substantial income through blogging?
A: I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but it’s quite hard. If you want to make a living doing this, blogging might not be for you. For my personal blog, I have zero interest in monetization. In the beginning, don’t even expect anything coming out of it, just keep writing if you enjoy doing so. With content creation, 5% of creators are getting 80% of the revenue, which shows how competitive this space really is how hard it might be to earn a living.
If you’re just starting, don’t start for the money. You need to have your own internal motivation to keep you going.
Q: What have been some of your greatest challenges along your blogging journey, and how have you managed to overcome them?
A: There have been many. Blogging can be hard, especially if you’re doing it for a long time. This is also the reason why there are so many personal blogs with only 1-2 posts. One of the best ways to keep yourself creating is to find a couple of blogging buddies and motivate each other.