by Karen Taylor
Two Fridays ago, an email newsletter from a freelance writer landed in my inbox. I had subscribed to her niche newsletter some time ago and had become interested in her topic, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but had never taken any steps to start anything. For some time now, the frustrations with my job as a part time teacher and depressing income had left me feeling jaded and burned out. I was itching for change. I was searching for something that would reignite my passion.
As I read, headlines touting key phrases such as “find your freedom doing what you love,” “make money as a freelance writer,” and glowing testimonials seduced me. Soon I was jumping to a guest blogger’s page, where she shared the dream life of being a medical writer. For the rest of that day, I read and read, moving through archived blog posts that caught my attention, and clicking on links that fascinated me. Then I came across a blog post citing the names of the big bloggers in the blogosphere. Here they shared best practices, tricks and tips of how to create a successful blog. In the process, I started noticing the vocabulary. They talked about author ranking, Google keywords, magnetic headlines, landing pages, protocols for managing comments and passive income.
So here I am, writing about my foray into the Blogosphere and the lessons I’ve learnt there. (Thanks WordPress for your prompt that has got my fingers moving again after a three week writer’s block.) If you are a new blogger like me, and find yourself in a rut with your blogging, these are lessons for the road ahead that have inspired me and may inspire you too.
Over the last two weeks, I have been on a sort of educational tour. I think of it as my trip to Blogging University. I’ve subscribed to email lists and downloaded scores of free e-books that share priceless insights about professional blogging. I’ve read these voraciously, and stored every lesson in my brain.
I’ve read the stories of inexperienced bloggers and am learning the lessons they’ve learnt; A-list bloggers have intrigued me with their income reports. As I listened to video blogs and podcasts, the writer’s voice came across the digital pages sincerely and full of excitement and promise for what they do. I was intrigued.
Last week I mustered up the courage to resign my job. The urge to do something that makes me want to roll out of bed in the mornings dominated and drowned out the “safe” voice telling me to keep it. I feel vulnerable now, but it has prompted me into action. Hope for a more fulfilling life has been germinated deep in my soul. I’ve become caught up with the vision of a quiet space, away from the crazy corporate clutter that has stolen my desire to set my own path and create the life, the fulfillment I’ve wanted for too long. All I know is that I am ready to reach for what appears now to be so achievable.
As the blogosphere calls, tugging at my heart strings, like an old lover over which no closure has come, the writer within is rebelling against restrictions and fear, and sink or swim I have decided to take the path I’m being led onto.
My To Do List
There are a couple of important things I’ve decided to do. It’s advice for any new blogger who wants to jumpstart their problogging/freelance writing career and the reasons behind them from notes taken.
• Decide on a niche and stick with it. Writing about too many subjects will confuse the web crawlers Google sends out, thus lowering your search rankings. It will make it harder for people to find you, I’ve learnt.
• Get a website or launch a self-hosted blog. Blue Host from WordPress is one of the top recommended webhosting sites cited by some of the biggest names in the blogosphere. Until I can monetize my blog, I plan to do some freelance gigs to generate income. I have put it on my budget for month end. In my currency, it’s the cost of the product times $100.00. Once my new and dedicated site is up, I hope to attract more freelance work that way.
Tip: A successful website will require various features like an About Page, a Hire Me Page and Portfolio page showcasing your blog posts and/or other writing samples. The social media plug ins are also crucial as well: Share It, Facebook, Twitter, email subscriber buttons are all tools you need to enable usability and to leverage your site.
Get Started. Find your inspiration
• I’ve only just touched the surface here. If you are hungry for this like I am, start here and find your inspiration. I’ve listed the names of the bloggers I have read and who have all the know-how. Google them. Take your time reading through their articles. Subscribe to their newsletters once you get to their sites, and then you can sign in to their email list. You will be allowed access to the e-books. Take advantage of the free stuff.
Tip: I download and save the e-books to a file on my computer, so I can read them through at my own pace. Don’t hesitate. They have inspired me to get started. They can do the same for you too.
The Hall of Famers List (Not in any particular order )
1. Yuwanda Black of Inkwell Editorial Newsletter (she kick-started the whole journey)
2. Bamidele Onibalusi, Nigerian blogger. Proof you don’t have to live in a first world country to make it big. Find him at youngprepro.com
3. Carol Tice — Make a Living Writing
4. Linda Formicelli — The Renegade Writer
5. Jon Morrow – Copyblogger
6. Pat Flynn – The Smart Passive Income Blog
7. Francesca Nicasio — beafreelancer.com
8. Michael Hyatt (the first blogger I ever read)
9. Sophie Lizard at Beafreelanceblogger.com
10. Danny — Firepole Marketing
11. Mary Jaksch, Chief editor of Write to Done
12. Tom Ewer — Leaving Work Behind
When I logged into my blog last evening, I had all kinds of doubts that I would be able to write a lucid blog. Like many new bloggers, I sometimes get overwhelmed with self-doubt. We often judge the value of our posts on the daily views we get. A critical comment or contrary opinion can discourage and make you question your ability as a writer. My journey into the blogosphere has taught me that I am not alone in these feelings. These are the teething pains of many newbie bloggers experience. And that’s what they are. Teething pains. They will not last forever if we take the time today to learn the time-proven strategies. Everyone in the business had to earn their stripes. In order to learn to swim, you have to get your feet wet. Just be willing to put in the work and stay open to growth.
So, what do I take away from my two week tour of the Blogosphere?
1. First step to blogging success–Find the high achievers in the blogosphere and let them get to know you. Start with people on your level, guest blog and move up level by level ’til you get to the A-listers. Once they know you, their audiences will find you.
2. The blogosphere is a large, crowded place. Thousands of bloggers are competing for a piece of the pie, but if we pay keen attention and study the rules, take the courses and learn your lessons quickly, then you can claim your own.
2. Find your niche. Cultivate an audience. Write stuff that matters to your readers.
3. Keep writing. Write responsibly and write well. Use a spell check.
4. Finally, write from your heart. Share your passion. Be real and sincere.
Are there any newbies out there like me who have had or are having a similar experience? Did you have teething pains? What lessons did you learn? Send me a comment.