This guest post is by Matthew Setter of The Dreamers Manifesto.
Have you wanted to start a blog, a website or an online business, but you’re not sure where to begin? Are you already putting in the hard yards to build one or the other or both, but you’re not sure if it’s going where you want it to go?Building blogs and online businesses is very exciting, but it’s a very challenging endeavor as well. Whilst the excitement helps, some days it’s never enough to prepare you for just what it takes to be successful, as always there’s so much to do.
Here’s a common list:
- the epic content that you have to write, both for your blog and for the guest posts for other peoples blogs
- the work to build a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, StumbleUpon, and Reddit—amongst others
- the SEO research that you have to perform, from keyword research and analysis to implementing SEO in your post titles, excerpts, links, images, headers, and meta data
- reviewing your site statistics and analytics on a regular basis, so that you know how you’re going
- establishing and building a growing mailing list of people who want to be more actively involved with your community
- the time you need to take reaching out to fellow bloggers and networking with people so they even know you exist
- searching for and getting in touch with affiliates and partners (i.e., checking email).
Even reading this list can leave you feeling a bit exhausted. Whatever happened to “build it and they will come”? Well, I’m sorry to say it, but as exciting as it is to do all this—you have to work to build your dreams and make them come true.
But I’m not going to dissuade you—heck no! Today, I’m going to share four key pointers that will help you build your dream blog sooner than you’d anticipated with less time and effort wasted.
1. Have a dream
The first and most fundamental thing you need is to have a dream. This is something dear to my heart, it’s something very important. You need to know what you’re setting out to achieve. Whether that’s a legacy, an achievement, a journey, to continue a tradition, to gain satisfaction, to leave your job, or whatever. No matter what you do, you need to know why.
Without the why, you may soon find yourself questioning your motivation and your resolve as you have to write yet another post, make a tweak or design change to your blog, search for affiliates, comment in forums, and do solid keyword research.
When you have a clear dream, a clear why, then you are better prepared to handle these times of question and doubt. Without it, you may end up like the majority of blogs with a handful (or less) of posts that eventually get left to wither and die on the scrapheap of the internet super-highway.
2. Have clear goals
After you have your dream firmly formed in your mind, you need to step beyond that and set SMART goals. I stress SMART goals as there’s no time to be general or vague about this. You need to know how you’re going to achieve your dream—your fantastically high-traffic, super-dooper blog using these characteristics:
Through these criteria, you set clear goals so that you know what you’re aiming to achieve, you’ll have a clear action plan and targets to strive for. With clear goals, you’ll know why you want to achieve your dream, what you’ll feel like, think like, act like, and so on as and when you get there.
What’s more, you’ll be able to tell that you’re getting there, you’ll know if you’re getting closer, getting further away or just plain stagnating. And lastly, you can enrol people to help you, to keep you honest and accountable to achieve your stated aims.
3. Focus your time and effort
After you’ve established your dream and your vision, and you’ve set a series of targeted, specific, and measurable goals to guide you to building your dream, you need to get to work to do the day-to-day, week-to-week, activities.
But oh my, there’s so many things to do. What’s that, it’s 6pm and it seems like you’ve gotten nothing done today? But how could that be?! You sat down to work at 8am and you’ve been in a flurry of activity ever since.
How is it that day after day, despite finishing days that stretch between ten and 12 hours, you seem to just end up tired and the traffic’s not growing much? For all that activity, where are the results?
Well, I can’t give you a silver bullet solution to ensure that the action you take will manifest itself in the results you desire? But what I can tell you is that just because you’re taking action and are “busy” all day, that doesn’t mean you’re being effective. That’s right, there’s no clear correlation between busyness and productivity.
Don’t kid yourself that just because you’re doing things, you’re achieving.
Look at the key tasks that you need to do, then work out a regular pattern that you can keep to to achieve them. For example, for me, the key tasks that I need to do are:
- Keyword Research (Google Analytics, Twitter research)
- Content Research and Creation (Writing, writing, writing)
- Content Promotion (Social Media, Blog and Post commenting, telling friends and family)
- Blog Management (Is the design right, is the content linked and described properly)
- Manage email and correspondence
Now, it’s easy to get lost in the latest gadget, service, technology, product, podcast, screencast, and so on. It’s easy to think you have to check your voicemail and emails every 20 minutes—or worse, respond to them the second that they alert you that they’ve arrived.
It’s easy to think that it’s important to be on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter multiple times every day. After all, everyone seems to say they’re the places to be. But stop attempting to multi-task. You may believe that you’re a computer, that you’re so good that you can do multiple things on the go, but I disagree.
So does Douglas Merrill the former Chief Information Officer at Google. In a 2010 post, entitled Getting organised the Google way, Mr. Merrill said,
“…trying to juggle or multi-task is a complete waste of time, not a display of organisational prowess.”
I am probably not unlike a lot of people with two computers on my desk, a tape machine with an interview I am listening to, two landlines, my mobile phone, a TV in the background, and a radio on low. Then there are Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn beeping in every time a status update drops. And depending on what time of day or night it is, I have my four-year-old and partner vying for attention.
“Multi-tasking is a waste of time and effort. It just doesn’t work,” says Mr. Merrill.
“When you multi-task, you’re interfering with your brain’s efforts to put information into short-term memory—a process that is fragile enough to begin with. And if the information doesn’t make it into short-term memory, you won’t be able to recall it later.”
When you cut between so many tasks, frequently, you break your concentration, you break your attention and make it harder to do a few or even one thing well. So I suggest, as does Darren in his book 31 Days to Building a Better Blog, to get an action calendar.
Determine a pattern for how and when you’re going to do the essential tasks. For example, I:
- check email twice a day; once in the morning, once in the evening
- review Google Analytics once a week in my regular Monday morning house-keeping session
- have a plan for post production
- have regular times each week that I check in on and participate in social media
- and so on…
4. Take a break
We’re almost there, so it’s only right that the last point is the least intense. You can only work for so many hours—productively—every day. Yes, you can eat super-foods, do meditation, and take power naps; but you’re only really productive for a limited time each day.
What’s more, your blog, whilst being very important to you, is not all of you. Don’t neglect your health, friends, family, relationships, and balance in your life, no matter how much importance you place on your work.
Your brain is similar to your muscles,so perhaps it’s best to sum up it up as my old gym instructor did:
“It’s not when you’re working out that you’re growing, that’s just preparing you for growth. It’s when you’re resting (in this case—sleeping) that your body has the opportunity to act on the investment you’ve made and build up your body’s muscle content.”
So it is with your mind in so many ways. You can sit there and do a lot of work, do research, talk with people, and email, but often, it’s only when you’re away from it all, from all the noise, attention and distractions, that you get your best inspirations, ideas and thoughts.
So remember, take time out, disconnect from it all, and recharge.
I hope that this helps you tighten up your approach to successfully building a great blog, whilst maintaining your creativity and perspective. I wish you all the very best in the pursuit of your dream blog. Set goals, be focused and go create your beautiful blog. I hope you’ll tell me about it soon.
Matthew Setter is a passionate goal-setter, writer, educator and solopreneur. He’s also the founder of The Dreamers Manifesto, dedicated to helping you learn how to define and achieve your goals in a fun, engaging and informative way.You can connect with him anytime on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ anytime.