I could teach you how to get your posts to rank in Google. I could also teach you how to write posts that people will actually read. We could talk about how to integrate social media buttons, guest posting, email to scale your audience, and building the attention of that audience.
But none of that matters. None of it.
Ignore the traffic consultants and social media evangelists. In fact, tell them to stuff it.
Because if you don’t have one critical element, you’ll never get off the ground. Above all else, you need discipline.
Why Is Discipline So Important?
Ready for the bad news? You will write blog posts for years before anybody cares. The only comments you’ll get will be spam trying to scalp what little traffic you have. The only followers you’ll get are fake accounts trying to shove affiliate links down your throat.
This is all you’ll see for YEARS. Not weeks. Not months. YEARS.
There are two reasons for this:
- It takes forever for anybody to start noticing you. We live in an attention-constrained economy and you’re competing with Facebook. It’s going to take awhile before you break through the clutter and gain some momentum.
- Your first posts will suck. They’re going to be bad, really bad. You will write hundreds of thousands of words before you develop your own voice and learn how to engage readers.
And this isn’t just about a blog. It applies to podcasting, YouTube channels, email lists, Twitter feeds, Tumbler blogs, everything.
The only way to overcome these two challenges (clutter and initial suckage) is to write week in and week out.
To keep writing for months and years without any signs of gratitude from anyone, you’re going to need incredible discipline. You will be sitting at your keyboard writing your 132nd post when you say to yourself “No one is going to read this, why should I care?” Without discipline, you will quit. Then you’ll never know how far you could have gone.
The Worst Part is the Best Part
So we’ve established why blogging (and content marketing) crushes your soul before you see any return. What’s the upside?
The upside is that everyone else is going thought the EXACT same process. But they don’t have discipline. They’re going to start strong, write feverishly for several weeks, notice that no one seems to care, feel the crushing of their soul, and then they’ll quit.
VERY few people have the discipline to produce content week in and week out with absolutely no reward.
But you will. You’re going to keep going. By pushing forward when everyone else bails, you’ll move from a cluttered arena into one with plenty of space to make yourself heard. And through the sheer volume of content you produce, you’re going to get really good. Your writing will go from total crapola to an engaging narrative that grips your readers.
Then, and only then, will you start to notice the impact of what you’re doing. People will comment on your blog, they’ll reach out to you. You’ll have job and writing offers. For company blogs, you’ll start to move some serious product. You’ll see the ROI.
Make no mistake, blogging is a marathon. So dig your heels in and get ready for the long haul. There are no shortcuts.
To get yourself through the soul-crushing phase of blogdom, use these strategies:
Commit to a Specific Frequency: Decide whether you will blog daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Then stick to it. No matter what happens, it is your sole purpose in life to push out content by the deadline you’ve set. But don’t post more than this limit. Once you have your post done for the week, that’s it. Allow yourself to relax because you earned it.
Start with a Content Bank: Before you launch a blog, write 10 to 20 posts and don’t publish them. Keep them in reserve. When that deadline is looming and life conspires to throw you off course, just pull a post from your Content Bank and you’re good to go. This will give you room to breath when you need it most.
Guest Posting: Several years ago, blogging consistently was enough to get noticed. This is still true to an extent put it takes MUCH longer than it used to. Once you’ve got a blogging rhythm going, start reaching out to other blogs and try to get a guest post out there. Basically, you write a new post that gets published on their blog. In return, they link back to your blog. Their readers will then start coming to you. You’ll also get some extra Google juice from the link which will pull in more organic search traffic. You’ll grow your blog exponentially faster.
My Blogging Strategy
When I start a new blog, I follow these steps:
- Write 10-20 posts before I even think about installing WordPress, now I have a Content Bank.
- Launch my blog and start posting weekly or bi-weekly
- Once I hit 30 posts, start building relationships with other bloggers in my space.
- Guest post on whatever blog will let me.
- Maintain a 1:1 ratio of guest posting and self-published posts.
- Over time, get guest posts on the best blogs in my space.
If your content is good, this strategy will give you a sizable audience in 1-2 years.
So get started. There’s no better way to build your brand (for your business or yourself). But prepare yourself for a long slog.