Updated: Jun 23
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone starting out in blogging makes mistakes. We are not perfect. Mistakes are not the end of the world (or the end of a blog!). I made a big mistake when I started blogging, a mistake I didn’t even know I was making. Now I have started to rectify my mistake. Here’s how I’m doing it.
I started blogging some years ago in connection with my work, but that was mainly an opinion blog based on topics I was familiar with or about which I had some knowledge or expertise. I enjoyed creating content for the blog and wanted to expand into creating my own blog based on my experiences of returning to photography after many years, essentially the experience of becoming a beginner all over again. I chose the topic because I felt I wouldn’t have to be knowledgeable – I could share my learning journey – yet it was something I felt passionate about and which I felt would lend itself to lots of different blog topics. My biggest mistake was that I didn’t really know anything about creating blog content. I knew nothing about attracting readership or getting found on Google. I knew very little about the wider blogging community and most of all I didn’t realise that if I was putting a blog online I had to create content for others, not just for myself, otherwise I might just as well keep a diary!
The blog post below was important to me. It allowed me to articulate my vision for photography. But it didn't attract any readers and I didn't know what i was doing wrong. I now realise that I have some work to do to create content that others will want to read rather than create personal ramblings that mean nothing to anyone other than myself!
How did not knowing about blogging affect me enough to want to change? Well, two things happened. First, after some time I became aware that the number of people reading my blog was disappointingly low, and second, I realised that this would not change just by lamenting the fact that I had no readers - I would have to do something. I began to do some research into blogging and into how some blogs are so successful, and this is what helped me to realise what I had missed in the beginning; that as well as writing in my niche I had to be aware of blog writing itself and of what I needed to do to properly call myself a blogger.
Actions I took
The first step was to look at other blogs and learn from them. I realised that interesting titles aroused my curiosity and encouraged me to read on, and when I looked at my own titles, they were often bland and uninteresting and wouldn’t entice anyone to read any further. Some work on titles was necessary! I read some blogs on topics that appealed to me and came to realise which blogging styles I liked. Through looking at other blogs I was led into a Facebook blogging community. This brought me into contact with other bloggers and I discovered what other bloggers were writing about, how they were writing and what I could learn from them. I even began to comment on others’ blogs and to receive occasional comments on mine.
Although I was beginning to be more involved in the blogging community, I still didn’t know much about blogging. I knew very little about all that is involved in content creation, even less about search engine optimisation (SEO), and I wasn’t attracting any more readers. I had a subscription to DIgital Photography School because of its excellent photography tips and when I noticed its ‘sister site’, https://problogger.com/, I was ready to take a look and there I found the 7 Day Content Sprint for bloggers, which gave me the impetus I needed to breathe some new energy into my blog.
One major benefit for me in taking the content sprint was that I began to understand about readership. Darren Rowse, experienced blogger and founder of Problogger, continually emphasises this aspect of blogging: that we need to understand our readers, know what our readers want and need and be of service to those readers. The content we share ought to be useful to people in some way, otherwise there is no point in sharing it! This brought me full circle and I had to ask myself the question – am I blogging just for myself or do I want to offer something useful to those who might read my blog? By answering yes to this question, I began to see blogging in a new light and started to work on how I could be useful to my readers. I considered all the different types of content which I could produce so that my output doesn’t become stuck in the same groove, even though I don't plan on changing my niche. I looked at improving my titles, at producing interesting first lines to draw in the reader and at trying to think of topics that might answer a need. I will only know the success of my new approach when I see if my readership improves.
More to learn
In a recent rewrite of a keynote address given at Social Media Marketing World, Darren Rowse names as his priorities in 9 Ways to Grow Your Blog Faster:
1. Engage with your audience and find out what they need
2. Create content that can transform your readers’ lives
These may seem to be lofty ambitions for my humble blog, but they are hammered out on the anvil of experience as Darren hosts one of the world’s most influential blog sites. In fact, Darren’s nine points on growing your blog are all variations on the same theme – how can my blog serve others in some way?
I have just bought an iPhone 11 Pro, mainly for its camera. So far my photographs have not matched the standard of those shared online so I will need to do some investigating to get the best images possible. Sharing my discoveries will be of benefit to those who read my blog as well as to myself.
I recently participated in a second content sprint on http://problogger.com/. As a result I have now planned 6 new pieces of content with many more ideas generated for further posts. I have created an avatar based on a beginner in my niche and will create content accordingly. I have also checked out the website https://smartblogger.com/, which, with over 4 million readers, considers itself to be one of the world’s biggest websites about blogging. From this site I have received some ‘cutting edge advice about blogging’, to quote the site itself. Most importantly, all of this is helping me to think of content creation in a new way. I am continuing to learn and to improve my content and I want to keep growing my blog in ways that might someday reach that lofty height – that of transforming someone’s life in some way.
Great content leaves a mark on people – it moves them from one place to another. - Darren Rowse, Problogger
All of us who are posting our blogs online want to write blogs that our readers will love, and hopefully share. We all need a bit of help from time to time, particularly from those who are expert in the field. If you are interested in giving your blog an injection of energy, or just want to learn more about blogging and you are interested in joining one of the Problogger Content Sprints, check them out here: