Many Canadian businesses and potential bloggers are intimidated by (or frustrated with) building a following, especially in the beginning. Starting a Blog is like walking onto the stage of an empty concert hall and starting to sing. Maybe you’ve put out a few flyers and told your friends, but to fill the theatre you have to entice them with your voice.
A successful blog requires work, dedication, and an uncanny ability to know your audience, and ultimately giving them what they want. The first year is the most difficult, with few tangible returns for most. Unfortunately, too many give up before paying their dues. Many singers work in tiny bars before they make it big, but they still belt it out with everything they have. They constantly work at being discovered and appreciated. Blogging is very much the same, except you have many more avenues to success.
One of the most frequent mistakes is not viewing your blog as a business (or an important part of your existing business) right from the start. When you start in a business frame of mind, it’s easier to focus on what it takes to build a successful, profitable blog. Have a look at our Checklist: How to Start an Online Business in Canada to make sure you get off on the right foot. Learn more from our free ultimate guide: How to Make Money Blogging in Canada.
The first year of blogging should focus on:
- Defining and refining your niche and constructing a blog plan and editorial calendar. Jot down your ideas in a simple text file or notebook. Really examine what you hope to accomplish with your blog, then figure out how you’ll work those goals into useful content for your readers.
- Writing fantastic content as often as you can. It isn’t easy to be motivated when the concert hall is empty, but you won’t fill it without an outstanding performance. The more you appear and the better you perform, the greater your chance of being discovered. Be creative and unique in your effort to be noticed. It will never be a waste of time to produce quality content because the search engines eat it right up indefinitely. Don’t bother with fluffy, “I have to write something” posts. It’s the equivalent of stepping onto the stage and singing “Mary had a little lamb…blah…blah…blah. Goodnight.”
- Building relationships with other Canadian bloggers/media and their readers helps to promote your blog and establish your credibility. Post useful, non-spammy comments on other blogs, social media, and news articles to get noticed and entice people to visit your blog.
- Submitting guest posts to “authority” blogs is still a good traffic strategy, as long as you produce high quality content. Your goal is to gain exposure and establish your expertise.
- Learning about blogging, writing and online marketing. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to invest a lot of money into courses. The best, most economical courses on these topics can be found on Udemy. Also take the time to read popular blogs in your niche so you can learn from their success and examine the target audience up close. It’s a great time to practice what you’ve learned along the way, so don’t use learning as an excuse to procrastinate.
- Finding the very best sources of quality information and inspiration. For example, you can sign up to receive press releases from PR Newswire. While you can also be inspired by blogs in your niche as well, never steal their content.
- Find sources of top quality images. These images can make a huge difference in the response your posts receive on social media and reflect your level of professionalism. You can’t just pull them from a Google image search, they must be royalty-free stock photos licensed for commercial use or you have to get permission from the photographer to use their photos. Using images without permission can get you into serious trouble. My favourite source of stock images is Deposit Photos, where I pay only a dollar per image and don’t have to worry about copyright infringement. They have a huge selection of high-quality images to choose from so I don’t waste time going from source to source.
- Promotion and marketing is critical no matter how old your blog is, but it’s especially important in the beginning. Paying for ad’s is the obvious kick start, but be creative with it. For example, try an ad in a popular newsletter with a topic that compliments yours. A newsletter with as few as 500 subscribers can offer a higher return on investment than one with 50,000, if the subscriber base has a demonstrated interest in your topic or products. As a bonus, it will cost you a lot less to advertise to those 500 subscribers.
Stay dedicated to providing a smashing performance and eventually you’re going to fill that concert hall. If you don’t have the time or knowledge to frequently write top quality posts, hire a talented employee or freelancer to help you. It’s an investment that can’t help but pay off in the future.
What is your biggest obstacle in starting a blog? Please share in the comments below.
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