The time for New Years Resolutions has come and passed. Now it's time to sit down and get actual work done. So forget those resolutions that you'll never keep and focus on these three ways you can step up your blog game. They're surefire ways to help you build a bigger audience and become a better blogger.
1. Read (a lot) more
In order to become better writers, we must read more. In a way, reading is like studying. It fills us with knowledge, not only of the subject matter but also of the inner workings of language. Think of it in terms of athletics. Reading is training and conditioning, while first drafts are practice. Our final draft is the big game. But we can't be ready for the big game unless we're in good shape. Reading helps us get in shape.
Reading, however, has to come from many sources. A social media blogger might read a lot of social media blogs, and in a way that's good. But in order to become the best a blogger must read blogs of all types -- especially topics she's not interested in. Reading wider introduces us to different people and different styles. That opens our minds, which leaves us open to improvement.
Furthermore, reading should extend beyond the internet. Magazine writing is distinctly different than blog writing, and bloggers can learn plenty from how magazine writers spin their tales. Magazine features offer great lessons in how to incorporate quotes, and how to tackle complex topics. Books are even better, since books are the most heavily edited of the writing media. They teach us the value of editing and polish, as well as how to weave together many topics into one theme.
2. Attend a conference
Building a better blog is all about growth, and there's no better place to experience rapid growth than an industry conference. These are typically large events where the biggest names in a given industry come together. They feature not only speeches from these big names, but also educational panels and other events that can help anyone related to the industry. Yes, even bloggers in it.
There are two routes to take when attending a conference. The first is to attend a blogging-specific conference. This can be a great help for beginners, since they feature tons of educational content. But they might not be right for everyone. More seasoned bloggers might want to attend a conference specifically for their industry. Tech bloggers might want to check out the Consumer Electronics Show. Those who blog about smartphones might want to look at one of the many CTIA conventions, or Mobile World Congress. This is a great place to better learn an industry.
Either way, it does involve an investment on the blogger's part. There are plenty of travel sites that can provide cheap airfare and hotel rates, making attendance easier. In addition, while most of these conferences charge attendees an entrance fee, typically media gets in for free. By contacting the conference's media representative, bloggers might get a press pass, which will greatly reduce the cost of the overall trip.
This also leads into the third, and perhaps the most important, point of action:
3. Email everyone
Our own skills can take us far. If we're talented, they can take us very far. But everyone has a ceiling. The only way to bust through that ceiling is to employ the help of others. How do we get people to help us? It's different in every situation, but the first step is to actually talk to people. Spending all day reading and blogging doesn't accomplish that, and it will eventually leave a blogger stagnating.
Here's the plan:
- Create a list of high-ranking people in your industry. This can be A-list bloggers, executives at big companies, or general people within the industry.
- Then search outside the industry for other people of note. This might be prominent bloggers in similar but ultimately different fields. It could also be people who work in, for instance, big marketing firms. Anything that you think can help you grow.
- Every day, email one of these people. If they reply, make it a point to continue the chain.
The initial email should be friendly and should never asking for anything. It should contain a compliment, and it should ask a question. It should thank the person for his or her time, and it should contain a simple sign-off. And that's it. Create a spreadsheet and record that you sent the email. If they reply, make another note of it. Always keep the latest correspondence date close at hand, and make sure you don't go more than a few weeks without contacting this person. This is how you build relationships.
Later on, you can see whether this person can help you accomplish your goals. If not, no big deal. That's still another person whom you know and with whom you have developed a relationship. If they can help, all the better. That's progress you couldn't have made on your own.
There is a time for resolution, and there is a time for action. Now that we're underway another year, it's time to take action for your blog. Do these three things, and good things will come for you and your blog.