A young girl from Nigeria reached out to me on LinkedIn:
“Please, I would like and appreciate it, if you would help me build my blogging career. I feel so passionate about writing and I would like to go far with it.
You can visit my blog (https//improvingfortune.com) and see where I am lacking, and if actually am doing the right thing. I will be ever ready to welcome any advice you give to me.”
So I went to her blog and had a quick look. I liked what I saw. But, unfortunately, I didn’t have time to provide a critique. The truth is, I am no expert on blogs or all that goes with it. So while cooking dinner, I wrote a quick response to her on my phone.
“Looks cool. Congratulations on starting the journey. Which blogging is. It is very hard to say what is lacking and what is the right thing. The biggest thing is that you have started.
The second biggest thing is to be consistent. It is a long-time game. Give yourself at least five years. Learn along the way.
In five years’ time, you will look back and see how far you have come. I am only two and half years in my journey and I have come a long way.”
She wrote back thanking me for encouragement.
Later at night, I thought I wanted to say so many other things to this young new friend of mine. In two and half years of blogging, I have learned a lot, which I want to share with new starters.
Rather than writing to her privately, I decided to list them here so that other wannabe bloggers might benefit from it too. Of course, I will send my friend the link.
So here we go.
Find your why.
I know it is cliché, but the only thing that will see you through the peaks and troughs of blogging is your why. If your why is not strong enough, if you are testing the waters, or you are doing it because everyone else seems to be doing it, you will be out at the first sign of trouble.
But if your why is that you have to write no matter what — the day you don’t write feels like a day wasted. If your why is that nothing else can fill your soul other than writing and you want to find a way to focus on your writing, then blogging is where you start.
Because you will learn a lot more when blogging than practicing in isolation.
First, you learn to write for an audience from day one.
Second, you build an audience while learning the craft of writing.
Third, your tackle the fear of ‘publishing.’ For years, I was so afraid to publish anything with my name on it. Writing small blog posts regularly helped me overcome my fear and gave me the courage to write books.
Writing is not the only thing you need to learn.
Learn technology, marketing, and publishing along the way.
In the twenty-first century, you need to be a Jack of all trades and master of one.
You will need to learn how to set up and maintain a blog. You won’t be able to fork out thousands of dollars every time you want to change the layout of your blog or want to include podcasting and video making to it.
You will also need to learn how email marketing works and how social media is essential to build your profile.
You will also need to learn how the publishing industry works because, sooner or later, you will be publishing books, writing courses, producing audiobooks. That is where the world is going.
Start learning them bit by bit from early on so that you can catch up. Because with technology, everything is changing faster than anyone of us can keep pace with.
Make a learning plan (not an earning plan).
Make a list of all the things you think you need to learn at this point and stick it on the wall where you can see it every day.
Then pick one by one and learn them. You will be surprised how quickly you will get through the list if you focus on learning one thing at a time.
I tried to learn several at a time and ended up burning out. So now I pick one thing and do it for 100 days and become fluent at it.
Keep it in your mind you are not looking at becoming an expert but just fluent. You are fluent at brushing your teeth, fixing yourself a meal, writing an email, posting a picture on Instagram. You are not an expert at these things but fluent. Jack, not the master.
You need to be more authentic on the internet than even in real life. Anything you write will stay on the internet forever. And people can smell bullsh*t from miles.
All the dealings on the internet happen on trust. It is something very hard for new bloggers to grasp. Yes, the shonky deals are out there, and you will be bitten more than once, but people who will be there for the long term will be more genuine and open than even your next-door neighbor.
Being authentic and open doesn’t mean you share everything about yourself and open yourself to be taken advantage of. Being authentic means not putting a persona and presenting to be something you are not. Be your genuine self, even if you have a weird accent, expression, or appearance.
Also, figure out what details of your life are not for public consumption and make a point never to discuss them.
Build connections and help others.
Other than learning skills, your next big thing should be making connections. Because, at some stage in the last two decades, apparently, we have moved from the Information Age to the Connection Age. Today’s economy is called the connection economy.
Build connections will people in your field. Help the ones you can help and seek help from those who can help you. Sometimes just reaching out is all you need to do to make a connection with a stranger.
Write on other platforms.
Once you get a bit comfortable writing on your blog, find out other platforms you can write on. It is called guest blogging, and several sites publish content from bloggers — Huffington Post, Forbes, HubSpot, Mashable, Entrepreneur — are some to name.
Or you can start writing on a platform like Medium, Vocal, Newsbreak and bring visibility to your work.
Get some experience on your blog first because the early days when no one reads your blog are the golden days. It is time to take risks with your writing, make mistakes and refine your stories.
Learn telling stories from your life and life around you. Wrap your message in your stories. People forget everything else, but they remember stories. Need an example — Once upon a time, a young girl from Nigeria…
There you go, my young friend; I hope I have given you enough to keep you busy for the next five years.