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7 Essential Things You Should Be Doing When Your Blog Is Still Young

This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Write To Done.

These days my blog, Zen Habits, no longer has the problems of finding its identity and finding an audience … but there was a time not too long ago when Zen Habits was just a baby going through the inevitable growing pains.

And yes, I remember struggling to find new readers — to just let people know I was even there. The early days of a blog are the toughest, by far.

But they don’t have to be. When a blog is still young, just as in childhood, it can be freer, carefree, and fun. Everything is a learning experience. Best yet, a young blog has endless potential — it can be anything (except perhaps President of the United States).

So if you’re the owner of a young blog, here are seven things I recommend you do, based on my experiences:

  1. Create amazingly useful content. This is the most important thing you can do the first month or two of your blog’s existence. The next item (branding) is also important to think about as you start, but in terms of how you spend your time, writing amazing and useful content should be 95% of what you do. Your design, ads, technical stuff … all that can be worked on later. Right now, write your butt off. Create tip-packed posts that will knock the reader’s socks off. Read more: What Makes Great Blogwriting?
  2. Create a great brand. When you first create your blog, you should think a bit about the brand you’re going to create. When you create a brand, you are sending an unspoken message. What unspoken message do you want to send? Start by defining your target audience, then by figuring out what desires you will tap into. Then craft an unspoken message that will be true to yourself while tapping into those desires. Use that unspoken message to craft your brand (the title of your blog) as well as everything else you do, from blog design to post topics to the tone you write with and more. Read more: Branding 101: How to Promote Your Blog Like the Big Guys Do.
  3. Network with other bloggers. When you first start out, you might not know many other bloggers. Rectify that situation by commenting on other blogs in your niche, and sending friendly emails to other bloggers whose blogs you enjoy. Offer to collaborate with them, to do guest posts for them (see next item) and in general be helpful and friendly. Develop a relationship with other bloggers — it’ll pay off in the long run.
  4. Write guest posts. One of the absolute best ways to promote your blog and your brand, and to find new readers, is to write guest posts on other blogs with readers who are among your target audience. Of course, it’s hard to get a guest post slot on big blogs when you’re just a little guy. So start with blogs that are just a little bigger than you — if you have 10 readers, go for a blog with 100-200 readers. If you have 100 readers, go for a blog with 300-500 readers, and so on. Before you start doing guest posts, however, be sure to have 10-12 solid, powerful, insanely useful posts on your blog. You want your new readers to come to your blog and be struck by a great first impression. Every guest post you write should be as amazingly useful and tip-packed as the ones on your blog (see first item).
  5. Experiment and have fun. Once you’re a blogging powerhouse, you have thousands of readers’ expectations to live up to. You have to put up great content every day, and each word is scrutinized. So take advantage of your youth as a blog — have a blast! Experiment, try out different writing techniques, imitate other blogs, try humor and rants and moving personal essays. Try to write a post that will become popular in the social media. Find your voice as a writer. Seek inspiration and write whatever you’re inspired to write.
  6. Get out there, often. Now is the time to start becoming more visible, and to spread your brand as much as possible. Comment on many other blogs, participate in blog carnivals, send links to other bloggers and see if they’ll share them with their readers, participate in contests. Be visible.
  7. Seek out your potential. You can be anything you want to be when you’re just starting out. Figure out what that will be. Aspire to great heights, and seek to raise your level of blogging each step of the way. Find your path to greatness as a blogger. Try new paths, and find what fits you. Follow your passion, your inspiration, and above all, enjoy the journey!

For more great tips on blogwriting, see my blog for writers and bloggers: Write To Done.

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. Henry says:

    Wow nice guide, I am about to start and a post like this helps a lot. It would be great if there where more post like this, like things to do when you first start a site, etc

  2. Ugh, that’s me: a new blogger with a new blog struggling to find my direction, readers and niche. So many people are doing it nowadays that I sometimes think that the golden age of blogger is over.

    But I’ll keep writing and see what happens.

    Thanks, Leo.

  3. Nate says:

    Leo, great post. I’m a new blogger, these tips are what I’ve been looking for.

    -Nate

  4. Thanks for the tips – I am going to implement some of them on my newest blog and see how it goes.

  5. Vincent says:

    Thanks Leo. These are some great tips for new bloggers like me.

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

  6. العاب says:

    Thank you for these handy tips . that is exactly what i am doing and i’ll keep it .

  7. gendut says:

    very basic listing….useful but,need time and discipline to get the great result……thanks for the posting

  8. seodoz says:

    Hello,

    I agree with you. I believe that participation in relevant forums (by helping others with some good solutions) is also a great way to come into picture. it might take some time to get recognition but it will definitely be very helpful.

    Thanks

    Anshu
    http://www.seodoz.com

  9. Studenomics says:

    One thing that I have been doing to try to grow my blog is by networking with bloggers in the same niche and have them tear apart my blog. I love honest feedback and if someone just tells me everything they hate about my blog I will be able to greatly improve it.

  10. coachben says:

    Great tips! I need to start apply this to my new blog http://www.dailyabworkout.com

  11. Gavin says:

    As per usual some very handy tips there! Im currently in the early stages of a new blog and am finding it quite difficult this time round to bag an audience, so hopefully these tips will help! Thanks

  12. Jorge Cunha says:

    Very useful tips but some things are common sense but it’s good for guide line.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  13. Angel Cuala says:

    Another great guest post, Leo. I am trying to do all of them, especially the third one – networking with others.

    But I suppose inspiring others the best tip ever, and Darren agrees with me.

    This is why I think he choose my tip as the best blogging tip, which I won his Problogger book via the contest from Kevin of Blogging Tips.

    Thank you very much Darren!

    You, Leo and Kevin are among my inspiration. You guys are never selfish in any point. That’s why I am doing my best to inspire others too.

  14. My blog is 6 months old and to me, still new, I am trying to do all the above but my number one task is having fun. I learn so much on a daily basis it’s impossible not to be positive about the blogosphere. I find it difficult to stay organized or on task. Any tips for that?

  15. wisdom says:

    Good tips, thanks for the share.

  16. Peter says:

    Great post! My guitar blog is still only a few months old and I’ve had a few little successes in terms of networking and publicity, and now I’m trying to figure out how to take it to the next level. I’m lucky that I can use a lot of the content that I write for guitar magazines, and expand upon them, and I’ve had good results with sending links not only to other bloggers but also to more news-based guitar and music sites.

  17. When a blog is young it’s a great time to go in and tweak the code. When we make mistakes we learn a lot so by the time the blog has matured, the blogger has too. You don’t want to be making those same mistakes when you have a large readership.

  18. Gareth says:

    Thank you, these are great tips for someone just starting out with their Blog like me.

  19. Thanks for the great tips Leo. I started my blog at Digitel Steps 8 months back. But Just now am doing well. This is because I just started blog with out knowing any thing other than blog. We have to know about everything before starting blog, then the blog will rock.

  20. dev says:

    Great tips from Leo, thank you

  21. Tracy says:

    Thanks for the tips.
    I’m a little blog just starting out so I’ll experiment with these tips!

  22. BloggerSavvy says:

    One point I think is essential (and so many of us overlook it), is to ensure that we are using reliable web hosting services. Not only does this effect us directly (if visitors cannot access the site properly), but it seems there is an SEO spin to this aspect.

    In March of 2005 Google was issued a patent of interesting note is the nameservers (DNS) handling the server on which your blog is hosted:

    One statement of Google’s treatment of nameserver information is:

    “…the age, or other information, regarding a name server associated with a domain may be used to predict the legitimacy of the domain. A “good” name server may have a mix of different domains from different registrars and have a history of hosting those domains, while a “bad” name server might host mainly pornography or doorway domains, domains with commercial words (a common indicator of spam), or primarily bulk domains from a single registrar, or might be brand new. The newness of a name server might not automatically be a negative factor in determining the legitimacy of the associated domain, but in combination with other factors, such as ones described herein, it could be.”

  23. Monika says:

    Thank you for the info. I am enjoying this learning process and rediscovering who I am. Now it’s time to find new connections!

  24. For a young blog all the above ideas are great ! But are they enough ? Well , I will like to add another point to it . The eighth point (8) Always blogs about the topics that you are passionate about. Few day back I was blogging about the things that were maximum searched over the internet but later I learned that the traffic , keywords doesn’t matter, what matters is “Blogging about those topic in which we have experience, eagerness and expertise.”

  25. Great article Darren! I’ll keep these useful tips in mind as I blog!

  26. Leo thank you for the great blog of yours as well as the post. I have a relatively new blog myself and although for only a few months I’m already getting 1600 hits a month. I, like you said, am finding my blogs voice and having a blast doing it.

    One of the things I’ve started to do per Eban Pagan’s suggestion is reading Comedy writing to give your writing more character and flair. I’ve noticed a more fun and relaxed writing style that is coming much easier these days.

    With your suggestion I’m just going to push the envelope of writing valuable content that is fun! Thank you!

  27. Angela says:

    I have really enjoyed reading your posts! They have opened my eyes to the art of blogging. As a virgin blogger, I am so glad to have found your site to help “show me how”.
    Kudo’s!

    All the Best,
    Angela

  28. I bought your book Darren this weekend at Barnes and Noble. I love it, specially the way it’s written as it’s very down to earth and simple. Seems like your talking directly to me in your writing. I had a blog for a whole year which I named clueQ. I’m a computer System Administrator myself and I wanted to create a place where I could share my experience and solutions I had found over so many years of work; by the way, the best thing I could give others is my Knowledge. Sometimes this simple written solutions I saved and wrote on a notepad took me days to figure them out and not even books gave me the correct path. Thanks for the book and inspiring me to continue my technology blog journey.

  29. mcdamas says:

    It’s such a great article that I learn a lot from it. I understand that I must do what the article demands me to. Thank you to you

  30. Vijay says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for your richy post .My blog is just born 1 week ago . May be your words praise my blog for its nearer success ..

  31. Dean Holland says:

    Great !! ;)

    Thankyou very much for this detail, I myself just started my blog 5 weeks ago..

    Things have been moving fast for me, Im now hitting 140-340 visits to my blog every day

    I just made my first online earnings too !!

    Its amazing what can be achieved, Ive made over $1700 in just 8 days with my 5 week old blog !!

    This type of info is inspiring for my own development.. Keep it coming :)

    Many thanks

    Dean
    http://www.DeanHolland.com

  32. Essential advice here. I agree 100% with the branding and visual effects needed.

    I’m a trained journalist so if anyone wants to interview me on new media or whatever I’m available :)

  33. Richael Neet says:

    This is indeed a very useful article for me, as I have just started off raw in the blogging arena. Yes, I am finding difficulty in attracting traffic and comments and I greatly believe in one point you raised; “Start off with Creating amazingly useful content”.

    If you write blockbuster posts right from the word go, your readers would be more appreciative than putting all flashy modifications and writing useless contents. Overtime, redesign your blog, ask for design feedback and continue with your content writing. Yes, it takes time, but the end results are always sweet :)

  34. Excellent list. I’ve printed it and will keep by my desk as a reminder. There are so many things to learn about blogging. I’m afraid to make mistakes and that slows me down so the tip on experimenting is timely.
    Thanks again

  35. Eugene says:

    Darren, I have to thank you for these posts. I’ve tried to blog commercially before, but I never made it past the first big humps. I’m hoping that with your advice and a little wherewithal, I’ll have something to show for my work this time.

  36. sam says:

    Thanks for all the tips very helpful. I really need to do all of these but it’s very time consuming yet that’s how you create traffic so I guess I have to put some time into it.

    http://shopontheinternet.blogspot.com/

  37. Takumi86 says:

    wow hey, thanks a lot for all of this, i couldn’t agree with you more when i saw point no 1 – 4. I actually have done that several time before i saw this post and it does give me more reader.

  38. Bryan says:

    Thanks for these great tips. I’m a newbie blogger and I am eager to learn.

  39. Roman says:

    I have a new blog too. Great article!

  40. Carmen says:

    This are great and surprisingly simple suggestions (but that tends to be true about the best and most useful advice given). I think my main struggle with blogging tends to come from too many diverse interests and wanting to keep them all separate (e.g. a different blog for every interest…like music, DIY stuff, NYC blog, etc.) and the pressures of keeping up with so many at once…any suggestions on whether it’s better to keep juggling several distinct blogs updated less frequently or to narrow my focus with daily content?

  41. I liked the post, but I’m having a lot of trouble following and posting on other blogs. I have a six-month-old blog on family television and media, and most of my time is spent sorting through press releases to find potential programs to highlight, getting the screeners for those programs, watching the programs, finding and downloading the art for the posts. Plus I do have to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry (Showtime just announced it’ll have the Twilight films – parents want to know about stuff like that). Oh, and make a living until the blog pays off.

    Secondly, I get having a few killer posts in the bank is a good thing before trying to get a guest blogging shot. My problem is that my material is mostly time-sensitive. I can’t run my killer post on saying no to your kids if the big thing on TV that day is A Charlie Brown Christmas.

    Any ideas on how to handle these two situations?

    http://WWW.yourfamilyviewer.com

  42. bigdadgib says:

    We are never too old to learn more.
    These are all great tips. Thanks
    Gib

  43. rollizalove says:

    I am just starting a blogging habit and follow tons of advice here. Thanks for helping. I am still trying to figure out my blog’s personality so I am letting it feel its way by writing and experimenting with several styles initially. I have a feeling it will have a voice of its own. keep up the good tips

  44. Great way to brush up on some old basics.. great post :)

    I read your blog every day and always find in the archives something useful for the day.

    Thanks

  45. john says:

    Thanks for the great tips. I am a new blogger so any tips like these are of great help indeed. I will certainly be keeping an eye out on this site, incase of other great gems like this.

    God bless

  46. Great piece and have picked up some tips I intend to do from now on … starting with commenting on this blog.

    ok other newbies, now please click on my url and comment on mine! lets get cracking by supporting each others bogs,

    cheers, from down-under in New Zealand.

  47. Geoserv says:

    Good post Darren, but let’s not forget that these 7 things are just that, 7.

    There are a number of things that need to be done.

    The trick is finding out what works for you not ProBlogger or anyone else.

    Hard to believe that ProBlogger actually struggled.

  48. Does anybody have any tips on approaching other blog owners with an offer of writing a guest post? I’ve seen a number of these on blogs like this that I follow regularly, but hae never known how to ‘get my foot in the door’…

  49. iW2K says:

    Nice post.
    Would like to share a similar post iW2K recently published.
    Here’s the link:

    http://www.iwrite2know.com/2009/05/monetize-your-blog.html

    Thanks.