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How to Leverage Your Blog for Bigger Things – Springboard Blogging Part II

Yesterday I wrote about using a blog as a Springboard for bigger things. In the post I talked about different kinds of bloggers and shared a little of my own story. Today I want to suggest a few ways to build a blog that launches you into bigger things.

So how does one become a ‘Springboard Blogger?’

Much of what I wrote yesterday about my own journey shows how accidental, evolutionary and lucky the process was for me (although I’ve become a little more strategic in recent times). Having said that – there are seven lessons that I’ve learned along the way that might be helpful for some.

1. Set Goals

While I’m not the best goal setter going around I do have some broad dreams and agendas in mind as I blog. I tend not to get bogged down in specific and detailed goals but instead set myself a broad course and then allow the wind to blow me where it will.

For example – with Digital Photography School (DPS) my broad goal was to create a space for beginner to intermediate photographers to learn how to use their cameras. I didn’t set out to create a blog with forums and then to write photography resources – I’ve let my readership, luck and circumstance hone the goal and the opportunities have opened up.

2. Position Yourself for the Next Bounce

As I say – my style with this type of process is to set broad goals and then to let the wind take me where it will. This isn’t completely true – when the wind takes me in a direction and I begin to see a potential next step I then take the rudder and begin to position myself for that next opportunity.

So with DPS, even in the first few days after launching that blog I began to hear back from readers that they wanted a space to discuss photography. I began to suspect that a forum was on the cards but didn’t want to launch one with such a small readership. So I positioned myself for the eventual destination of a forum by starting a Flickr discussion group. This was a tester but also a place where I could cultivate a culture of discussing photography (it was also a great recruiting ground for new readers).

As the Flickr group grew I began to position myself for the forum even further by recruiting moderators and building excitement about the new forum. I also had a ‘beta test’ of the new forum with a select few key users of the Flickr group so that when the forum actually launched it already had members, moderators and it was a very natural progression.

The lesson learned is that there’s a balance between this process being evolutionary (letting the wind blow you where it will) and then taking control and being strategic about getting to the destination.

3. Be Relational

At every step on my own personal journey the springboard moments have come as a result of relationships and working together with others. Looking carefully for potential partnerships and being open to synergy with them is key in leveraging your current success to launch new things.

4. Think Verticals

I’ve written previously about how my strategy has changed over the last few years in terms of the topic that I blog about. I used to think lots of blogs on lots of topics would do better for me but over time realized that there was more power in launching blogs that related with one another and that could launch one another. This is part of the reason that b5media is arranged around channels and is why DPS has been successful for me.

5. Look for ‘Energy Points’

This might sound a little New Age or something but I’m a big believer in being in touch with what’s going around you and looking for points where there is a natural flow or energy. Spotting these points in your life and then working in them can bring about wonderful things. For example – as a result of my original photography blog I used to get a lot of questions about photography technique from readers (despite this not being the focus of my blog). These types of emails became so frequent around the time that I launched DPS that it would have been crazy for me not to do something like launch a tips blog.

6. Be Flexible

I sometimes look back at the last 5 years of my life with amazement and wonder at the luck that I’ve had along the way. On numerous occasions it has been the accidents and mistakes that have been the keys to success of ventures. For example, when readers of my personal blog started complaining that I was writing too much about blogging I could have seen that as a negative thing and just stopped doing it – instead I turned it into an opportunity for a new blog – ProBlogger.

7. Have a Safety Net

One of the problems that us entrepreneurial types often face is that sometimes our ideas are just a little too big and that sometimes we get caught up in the creation of a new idea and launch things that only we think are great. One of the lessons that I’ve learnt along the way has been to always have a backup plan (or an escape route). Do think big and do follow your dreams – but don’t set yourself up to be destitute if those ideas don’t work. For me this meant that for a long while I had part time jobs while I got my blogging up to speed and it meant that I kept current projects going while I launched new ones.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Fishing says:

    This set of posts have been great, just what I needed at the right time, thank you very much indeed!!

    I just wish Darren there were 30 hrs in a day!!

  2. In my opinion having one strong online presence is essential. Once you have that “corner stone” in place you will be able to tap a wide range of projects.

    Secondly, as you mentioned, the contacts and the network. Who you know will also make a big difference on your activities.

  3. Darren,

    I know you talk a lot about being “relational.” I’m wondering if you can offer some specific suggestions for upcoming information marketers and/or bloggers to that end.

    What are some strategies that worked for you?
    How were you able to identify potential partnerships quickly?
    What was your best approach in these situations?

    Great post!

    -Jason

  4. Brian Auer says:

    This is great advice for anybody with a blog/site. I’m sure it’s very easy for the “bigger” bloggers to relate and use this advice immediately, but unfortunately some of us are just small fish right now. I just hope that by the time I need these tips I’ll still remember them, though I think the overall point has been set in my mind. Thanks for sharing!

  5. The relational aspect is very important. It is what allows you to connect with what your readers want and opens you up for opportunity when…

    the lightbulb goes on.

  6. Wow Darren! You really hit it with this series!

    I’d love to also add that these kinds of opportunities don’t just fall out of the sky. You really need to position your blog to be in the right place at the right time. Since there is NO way to predict where and when that will be, it takes ongoing cultivation of relationships and self-promotion to make it happen.

    I can’t stress the value of online networking more highly. The reason I was under consideration for the Entrepreneur.com gig was simply because I introduced myself to their Affiliate Program Manager. I had NO IDEA it would lead to a writing gig for them, but by being proactive, my name and blog was in front of the right people at the right time.

  7. Ponn Sabra says:

    Excellent post Darren!

    Can’t agree with you more.

    I’d like to expand on Point #7 though: especially since we’re talking specifically blogger and entrepreneurs.

    At least in my target market of women entrepreneurs, research supports that when women keep a “job” alongside their new business start-up they succeed faster. More details are here.

    With your post of ‘the future of blogging’ and ‘springboarding into the future’, for me, I’ve always seen my blogging as a branding/marketing/networking “relational” technique as one aspect of my “online biz”. Therefore, I share my time mgmt system to achieve this here.

    To respond to Brian, on and off blogging for over 2 years, I still consider myself a “small fish”, but making a “big difference” to my community that I strive to increase its traffic day in and out. Think of the this time (in the beginning) as a critical time to think of the future and your “springboard’ affect. Because, those aimlessly blogging will be left in the dust. Unlike yourself, empowered with education and forward-thinking…you are well on your way to unlimited success. :-) Cheers!

  8. I agree that it is very important to take one step at a time, watching carefully for opportunities.

    It seems to me often it is necessary to plan things ahead, but if the wind blows another way, why not follow it.

  9. All of these tips are very helpful, but the “be relational” one especially hits home with me. I’m no problogger ;), but as far as blogging and having an online business goes, it’s definitely the relationships aspect that has made the biggest impact on my growth.

    I think pretty much everything in business, particularly internet businesses, can be linked back to investing in individuals and trusting your gut-feel about who might be a good partner in the future, even if they aren’t at the present moment.

  10. jhay says:

    People and relations, these are the two things I’ve learned to focus on after building up my blog, design, monetization etc. Content development and building relations with other bloggers comes next.

  11. Blog Potato says:

    This series has been great. It really sums up everything i am trying to do with my blog.

  12. Brad says:

    Great post! My goal right now is to just grow my blog and readership by producing quality content.

  13. Carolyn says:

    Wow! Thanks, Darren, for this post. This series has been priceless. It has helped me so much by answering several questions for me. First of all, Down what new avenues do I want to take my blog now that it’s off and running? Your post has helped me to outline questions for myself, as well as looking at my blog in a new way.

    I truly appreciate your insight.

  14. I think that having a backup plan – a safety net – is very important, so that you won’t have too much negative pressure.

  15. Darren Rowse says:

    Mindful Entrepreneur – I’ll write a post on your questions – stay tuned.

  16. This is not unexpected from you. You have given a blueprint, as you always do.You have made me pack my bags and hit the road. Darren, you have quite a big crowd with you on this journey.

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