This guest post is by Josh Sarz of Sagoyism.
Do you ever feel like it’s high school all over again?
I’m talking about blogging. The whole “turn over a new leaf, do something great, do epic stuff, get famous” sense of it all feels like high school.
You know that feeling. It’s similar to when you’re just starting out, wanting to make a name for yourself, and hoping that some day you’ll become famous and get buckets of cash.
But just like high school, it’s a jungle out there. It’s not completely safe, nor is it any bit as easy as it seems. There are bullies, psycho teachers, cool kids, not-so-cool kids, and geeks.
You need to learn some rules on how to survive, just like in high school. This time around, you don’t just want to get out alive. You want to come out on top of your game.
1. Work hard
In high school, working hard was just about studying for the exams. Nothing more, nothing less. That would be decent effort, and you’d get decent grades.
When you’re blogging, studying is a prerequisite. There are loads of things you need to do to survive.
You need to learn how to multitask. You need to know your trade by heart. You need to sacrifice a lot of your time, and use it for brainstorming, writing, editing, designing your website, marketing yourself and your blog, pitching for guest posts … the list goes on.
2. Get involved
Getting involved in high school meant joining clubs. Lots of clubs, if you had the time and energy. It also included joining school plays, or getting into sports.
In blogging, it’s pretty much the same.
There are loads of clubs/groups/courses/forums where bloggers, writers, business owners and the like can hang out and socialize in their own little space. There’s the Third Tribe, The A-List Blogger Club, The Warrior Forum, and a whole bunch more.
Now when you want to get involved without having to join clubs (and pay for them), there are a lot of other ways to do so.
We’ve all heard of social media, blog commenting, and building relationships. That’s all good, but everyone’s doing it. What else can you do?
Subscribe to newsletters: But not just so you can get on their list. In a way, you’re getting them on your personal list. Not your “making money” email list, but your “talk to this guy about stuff” list.
Usually, the big boys and girls of blogging use their email list to communicate with their readers, right?
Bam! You have their email. Maybe not their personal email, but a contact point nonetheless. Another similar tactic is to use their contact forms, but some don’t really reply to that.
Name-drop: What’s this? It’s when you just talk about the cool kids; you could also opt to step it up by linking to them. If it’s good enough content, and if they notice that you mentioned or linked to them, they’ll think you’re cool and hang out with you.
Does this really work? I don’t know. Ask this guy.
Personal army: This is sort of risky. I’ve gotten permission from Martyn Chamberlin of twohourblogger to talk about it. Martyn had his friends pinged Brian Clark to ask him to retweet a post. Long story short, Brian Clark got annoyed but now they’re buddies.
There are a lot of ways to get someone’s attention; this is one of them. It worked.
3. Be on-time/present
You might be thinking “Not this again.”
You see, in high school, if you were always tardy or even absent during class, you’d get demerits. But those demerits aren’t that deadly.
With your blog, if you’re never showing up when you’re supposed to, it’s deadly for your image.
This does not mean having to post every day. You don’t want to force out below-par blog posts. No. You want high-quality content, with a story to tell.
So what else is being present and on-time about?
A hundred tweets a day isn’t presence. It’s annoying. Like a mosquito flying around near your ears.
Presence is when you reply to readers’ comments on your blog posts. It’s when people send you emails through your contact form, and you actually reply. Not your virtual assistant. Not an automated robot. But you.
4. Do your homework
High school. Homework. Important, although not life-threatening. But you still had to do it if you want to survive all the way through.
When you’re writing great content, you don’t get it by just churning them out like a machine. Do your homework.
There are plenty ways to research for information to put in your content.
Surveys: A common website/tool to use for making surveys is surveymonkey.com. You can sign up for a free account, and it’s a decent tool for getting information from people.
Direct email: You can email anyone: bloggers, writers, journalists, friends, strangers … anyone. Don’t have their email? There’s social media to help you out.
Call interviews: This doesn’t have to be through phone. You can use Skype, Google Voice chat or Google Hangouts.
Split testing: This ranges from writing styles, tone, formatting, blog design/structure and more.
Blogging is hard work. Still with me? Good. Let’s continue.
5. Make a diverse circle of friends
In high school, you could get away with sticking to a single circle of friends. If you wanted to stand out and get recognized, you’d have to reach out to a lot more people.
The same goes for blogging.
Remember the age-old advice that the “veterans” talk about, like making friends with people in your niche? That’s great, but you could make it even better by making friends with people from other niches. Why should you bother doing that?
Think of it this way. If you have ten pals who blog about blogging talk about you, that’s great. If you have 30 people from all sorts of niches and industries willing to vouch for you, that’s massive. Think of them as your personal army.
How do you do this?
- By getting involved with other people’s blogs and activities.
- By replying to people who comment on your posts, reaching out to their blogs. Circling them on Google Plus.
- Talking with people who comment on the A-list blogs, since they’re talking, might as well jump in the conversation. Some might find you intrusive, but if you do this with 100 people you’re bound to make at least ten friends.
- Keeping in mind that one day, they can be your personal army who will vouch for you when you mess up.
6. Keep your locker stacked
We all had lockers back in high school, right? It’s where we put our things just in case we’ll be needing them soon.
In blogging, your locker can be your CMS, whether you use WordPress, Blogger, Hubpages, etc. How do you keep it stacked?
Always have backup posts written, proofread, formatted, and ready for publishing. If you need places to look for ideas, here are some examples that the cool kids don’t preach:
The Bible: A lot of people don’t talk about this as a source of inspiration for their writing because they’re afraid to sound all religious-like.
You’re missing out on a lot.
And if you’re not into the Christian faith, think of this book as the biggest piece of fiction that has inspired countless generations. More than all the Stephen King, John Grisham or Chuck Palahniuk books combined.
Kids’ entertainment: Again, a lot of people don’t talk about getting inspiration from kids’ shows because they don’t want to sound immature.
They’re just scared.
If you want to talk courage, here’s a post from a guy who wrote an amazing, inspiring blog post about courage using a character from the storybooks.
Again, these are stories that had inspired generations. They may be childish, but these stories have enchanted more people than any “mature” show like Mad Men.
7. Be excessively happy
Highschool gives you a lot of stress. Not from classes, but from people.
It’s the same in blogging.
You write your blog post, and expect to get massive traffic, but nothing happens. Why? People will be people. They flock to where the good stuff is. And to top it off, they don’t know you even exist.
Don’t go whining and quit. Hang in there, and smile. Be excessively happy. Crazy happy. Nobody likes to hear people whine all day. Or take out their frustrations on other people.
When someone comments on your posts, be happy. Reply to them in an awesome way. Stop being so uptight. Be more like Ayo Olaniyan. When he replies to comments, it’s like he’s always smiling just like his picture. Crazy happy.
8. Stay focused
Make lots of friends. Get involved. But remember to stay focused on what you’re blogging for.
Write down your goals on a piece of paper, and stick them somewhere in your desk. Someplace where you can see it whenever you’re working. Make your goals specific and tangible. Also, add the element of time restriction.
Here are some goals you can write down:
- guest posts on X
- ebook on X
- interview with X
- email X about X’s post about X
Writing specific goals lets you know what you need to do, and the deadline helps you avoid procrastinating.
9. Go out on dates
If you went out on a lot of dates back in high school (or at least tried to), you’ll know what’s coming when you’re pitching other bloggers for guest post opportunities.
Guest posting is just like dating.
As Sean Platt would say it, you’re going to be wooing other bloggers with your bouquet of words. And unless you already have a solid reputation, it’s going to be hard.
Those who’ve made a name for themselves through guest posting know the feeling of getting dumped. It happens. But you have to be persistent and get better. Get a better bouquet and try again.
People like Leo Babauta, Brian Clark, and Danny Iny all went crazy guest blogging. Jon Morrow teaches a course all about guest blogging. It’s that crucial to success.
10. Get in the yearbook
Getting featured in the yearbook back in highschool meant that you did something great. Something that made other students look up to you.
In blogging, there’s no physical yearbook. But there are blogging roundups, like the ones on ProBlogger, Copyblogger, Write to Done, and a bunch of other sites that give recognition to other bloggers at the end of the year.
It’s not biggest achievement that you could get with blogging, nor does it mean you’re the best out of all the other blogs not featured in them. But if you’re in one, you must have done something fascinating and remarkable, right?
Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion talked about this on his blog:
I’ve written my share of these types of posts in the past simply because I enjoy shedding light on great people who are blessing others through their work. This, in my opinion, is a very good thing and will never grow old.
But it’s also time we all understood and defined our true individual metrics of success, as it’s this vision that will carry us through the good and bad times that come with all the hard work, effort, and deep passion that is blogging.
When asked about what he thinks other bloggers could do to “get noticed” and grow their blog, he says:
I read the a-listers, and if they something I feel strongly about, for or against, I write about it. I’m not a blind follower. And I don’t want others to blindly follow me. I think A-listers respect you more if you disagree with them, but do it tactful. I’m not a jerk. I don’t demean. I think people demean A-listers too much, and that really bothers me. We’re all imperfect.
Keep in mind, I’ve been at this 2 years now. I’ve never written less than 9 articles in a month. I’m extrememly consistent, and show up to work everyday. A-listers notice up and comers, but they don’t necessarily embrace them right away (nor should they) because so many folks come and go in this business. Once they see someone who is talented and consistent, then they’re much more likely to notice.
I also did a quick interview with James Chartrand of Men with Pens, as she was also featured in a roundup at Copyblogger. Here’s what she had to say:
What’s really important to me (beyond having my hard work and efforts recognized) is that by having my name on the list, people can discover my blog and find helpful advice they need.
That’s always been my personal mission. I’ve been writing advice for writers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners for years because I want to help these people earn more money and more clients.
So it’s fulfilling to hear from people who’ve applied my advice and seen positive results. They’re changing their lives for the better and reaching their success goals. I feel good about being part of that!
But she also said this:
I think people should actually stop blogging until they have something to prove that their knowledge helps other people accomplish goals or that they’re achieving important milestones and can share proven techniques with others. Many bloggers don’t actually know what they’re doing—they’re faking it until they make it.
I feel that recognition comes from the ability to show results—and results come from working hard, putting in the effort, being willing to take risks and having a strong drive to succeed.
Getting included in these roundups is great. Your name and your brand gets more exposure to people who haven’t heard of you yet. That being said, getting featured in these roundups at the end of every year shouldn’t be your ultimate goal.
It’s great and all, but achieving your personal goals as a blogger, like getting clients, selling your books, and so on, is way better.
Survival isn’t the end-game
Surviving highschool wasn’t the end-game. Nor is it the same for blogging.
After you’ve established yourself and your blog, there’s a whole new ball game.
It’s going to be about continuously delivering content that inspires people, and helps them in some aspect in their lives.
Are you up to challenge of surviving the blogosphere? What other tips can you add to the list above? Share them in the comments section below.
Josh Sarz is a Freelance Writer, Blogger and the founder of Sagoyism, a blog which talks about Epic Content Marketing and Storytelling . He also likes punk rock and metal, among other things.