When you start your own blog, don’t expect to make it big. At least not initially. While some book authors make a killing on their first novel, it’s far less common in the blogging world. Most experts will tell you it takes 6 months to a year to build momentum and traffic to your blog. For many, it takes even longer, especially if you can’t sustain a schedule of 2-3 posts per week.
But, while it’s tough to achieve widespread fame and popularity in the blogging world, it’s very possible to build a following, establish your reputation, improve your search rankings, and draw qualified traffic and leads to your site. The trick is to focus. Narrow your goals. Start small and build from there.
Focus Your Topics
Choose a handful of highly relevant keywords that crystallize the topics you want to promote and be found for. Do some keyword research to make sure those terms are not too competitive, and to find wording that searchers are actually looking for. Build your content around those terms.
Don’t state the obvious or repeat what’s already been said elsewhere. Find your own voice, draw your own conclusions, look for unique insights. They don’t need to be grand or profound – just a different twist on something of interest in your market (here’s a fun blog post on how to document your epiphanies, from Marnie Pehrson).
Identify A Narrow Audience
Blogging strategy: Big fish, small pond
When you first launch your blog, tell everyone you know and make as big a splash as possible – you never know who might come. But once you’ve gone public, define the target audience where you want to make your biggest impact, and tailor your promotional efforts to them. Aim first to be a big fish in a small pond; make good impressions and let the word spread.
Search Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to find out who is talking about your topics. Talk with them, share relevant links (including, but not exclusively, your own blog posts), host discussions, answer questions, offer helpful hints. Give before you get. Find a Bookmarking site or an online forum that services your target audience, and make yourself known there by offering valuable comments. (My favorite is a wonderful small business site called BizSugar). Read and comment on other blogs in your field. This helps you get known by other bloggers, who, if your posts are good, will link back to you. Contribute guest blog posts on related blogs and link back to yours. Or, publish interviews with other bloggers and they may return the favor. Add some video into your blogging mix, as it will appeal to people who are tired of reading.
Ask Your Followers to Spread the Word
If your content is good and interesting and unique, people will follow it. If you want to build your followers, ask people to subscribe, to share your posts, to retweet — and make it easy for them to do it.
Finally, don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Learn as you go, redirect as needed, and be patient as your following takes its natural path. It may take you a while, so don’t get on the blogging train unless you intend to hang in there for the long haul.