Close
Close

What Blogging for Fun Taught Me About Blogging for Profit

This guest post is by Becky Canary-King of Direct Incorporation.

There’s really too much to say about the benefit of a good blog for your business. A well done blog can bring in new customers, establish yourself as an expert in your field, open up communication with your clients, and support your SEO and marketing.

Recently I discovered that the blog I write for fun about body image issues has a higher Google page rank than my company’s blog! Of course, we get a fraction of the web views, but without pointed effort, I managed to make my personal blog keyword rich, get lots of backlinks, and ranked high in Google’s page rankings. Now that I’m writing for my company’s blog, here are the lessons I’m taking with me:

Pick a specific topic

Be specific. Want to be a catch-all related to everything about your industry? Great. But you’re going to have a lot of competition, and major competitors with more resources and established viewers. Instead, focus on what you do best, the niche area that you have a unique perspective. What is the blog that only your company could write?

Establish your credentials. Let your readers know why they would want to hear from you about the topic. Just the fact that you are selling the product or service is not necessarily enough to gain your reader’s trust. Sharing your education or career path is a quick way to add credibility; but it’s not the only one. I never got a degree in “Body Image Sciences”, but my genuine interest in the topic makes me a credible source to readers.

Collaborate with other blogs

Know your part in the blogosphere. Read other blogs on your topic! Getting to know what’s already out there helps you establish where your niche will be. You also get a feel for what readers on the topic are interested in and can borrow some tricks on what works.

Comment and share. Guest post, link back, comment on other blogs. All these actions convey your interest in the topic and establish your unique point of view. Blogs can act as a community of learners, experts and interested parties. Join in enthusiastically!

Interact with readers

Let your readers know what they can expect. Doing a series is a great way to get readers coming back for more. Or pick a day when you write on a certain topic, or have a certain type of post. Personally, I do a body positive music post every Friday, featuring a song or two I enjoy. I have been linked back to as a place where you can consistently check out body positive music.

Encourage and ask for feedback. Trying to get commenters on your blog can be really frustrating at first—it normally doesn’t happen automatically, but keep at it! At the end of every post ask questions or encourage them to give you feedback on the topic. Respond to comments right away with a real response, rather than just a thank you. Readers are a great resource for your blog, so let them know they are valued.

Now get writing!

Becky Canary-King is an Account Manager and Press Contact at Direct Incorporation, a company focused on providing a more economical and efficient alternative to using a law firm for common legal/entrepreneurial issues. She is passionate about women’s empowerment and blogs for personally for Happy Bodies, and professionally for Direct Incorporation’s Blog, offering tips for the first 6 months of your small business.

Don’t Ever Write Without this Writer’s Warm-up

This guest post is by Karol K of Online Business Design blog.

What is a writer’s warm-up? I hear you ask.

I’m going to answer this question in a minute, but first let me get an initial “yes” from you.

Did you ever notice that your initial piece of writing on a given day is not the best you can do, and you’re actually aware of that? Is that a “yes”?

Of course, there can be many reasons for this, but the main one might be simpler than you think. First of all, just because you don’t like what you’ve written doesn’t mean you have a plumber’s writer’s block. Nor does it mean that apparently it’s not your most creative day, nor that the topic doesn’t seem particularly comfortable for you, nor anything else like this.

What if, maybe, you’ve just been writing without warming up first?

Why a warm-up is important

Writer's warm-ups

Image copyright Robert Kneschke - Fotolia.com

I’m sure you know the value (actually, necessity seems to be a better word here) of warming up when it comes to any kind of physical exercise or sport.

You can’t lift heavy weights without starting with very small dumbbells to get you going. And you can’t run a marathon without some prior stretching (and probably a lot of other stuff I know nothing about since I’ve never run a marathon).

Well, it’s not just sports. What was interesting to me when I first went to a vocal class was that it always started with a warm-up too. This lets your voice prepare for the upcoming effort. Staying on the mouth—related topics, warm-ups are also nothing unusual for competitive eating professionals. From what I know they start their “training” by eating a modest one kilo of grapes…

Why is it, then, that most bloggers start writing their posts without any kind of warm-up?

I see four reasons:

  • Up until today they didn’t know about such a thing.
  • They feel warmed-up enough.
  • They don’t see the value.
  • They don’t realize the risks.

Let’s tackle them all at once, starting with the last one.

The risks of not warming up before writing

We all know the risks of not warming up before sports. Lack of a warm-up is the fastest way to an injury or a serious muscle pain that could take away the whole joy of doing sports. On a professional level, lack of a warm-up significantly lowers the performance and can even lead to a career-ending injury.

What about blogging? Well, you’re not going to break any bones, so the risks are not that obvious, but they are still there.

For instance, the most common result of writing without a warm-up is the amount of time you’ll spend staring at a blank screen. Everybody knows that getting started is the most difficult part, and many people struggle to get the words rolling.

Even though you have your post’s topic well researched, and you know what message you want to convey, getting those ideas to a digital piece of paper can be hard.

Thankfully, this whole process can be sped up a lot if you just take care of some basic warm-ups.

You see, no matter the activity, warm-ups are all about getting started. A warm-up is always a set of the most basic, simple and easy movements possible for a given activity.

Therefore, due to its simplicity, no one ever has problems with getting the warm-up done. No one is ever stuck on the warm-up because, practically, that’s impossible.

At first it seems counterintuitive, but warming up actually saves you time. You do begin writing later, that’s true, but you are more likely to finish earlier and create a better post along the way.

To be honest with you, I had my share of can’t-get-started problems in my short blogging career. There were times when I was sitting in front of a blank screen for up to an hour. I felt I couldn’t start writing anything decent even though I had the topic researched.

For me, the cause was simple: writing the mysterious “quality content” is not easy, just like doing a 300-pound bench press is not easy. Even when you posses the necessary skills, both these challenges require some warming up.

How to do a writer’s warm-up

Okay, so what’s the most basic thing you can write, one that doesn’t require any preparation whatsoever, and is impossible to get stuck on?

Writing an essay on the meaning of life is one thing, but I’d advise something different—a personal journal.

It fits the description perfectly. Everyone can write about how their day was, or what they have in plan for the evening, or what they think about other people and situations, and so on. Just like everyone can talk about these things to a friend.

So, every day (or whenever you’re doing your writing), start your writing session by firing up your personal journal (Penzu, for example is a great online journal tool) and jotting down whatever is in your mind.

There are no rules to writing a journal. Whatever you do, you’ll be doing it well. Besides, a personal journal, like the name indicates, is a purely private thing, so no one will ever see it.

I, personally, always write at least one journal entry before starting to work on an article. It takes me five to ten minutes to put down 300-800 words (I wish I could write some decent posts at this rate).

After I have my entry done I immediately switch to writing a post. And since I already have the right mindset, I can usually start without any hesitation lasting longer than two minutes or so.

You know what? I guess the “writer’s training program” is straightforward after all: five minutes of warm-up with a proper writing session afterwards.

I’m only asking for one thing here—have a little faith and try this yourself. Everyone who I’ve ever given this advice to has agreed that it’s one of the most effective things you can do to improve your writing. And for me, it’s been a true game changer.

What do you think about this whole idea? Are you using a similar technique? Maybe you’ve been doing this sort of writer’s warm-up without even knowing it? Feel free to speak up in the comments.

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland and a grad student at the Silesian University of Technology. He hates to do traditional business but loves to train capoeira. Tune in to get his blogging advice and tips on starting an online business.

The Technical Setup Behind My Videos on ProBlogger

In my last video post I spoke about the benefits of using talking head video posts on a blog. Today in this video I want to respond to many questions I get about the technical setup that I use for my videos here on ProBlogger.

My set up is very basic (and I’m sure it can be improved), but the results seem to work well. I get a lot of comments on them, and questions about factors like which camera I use, what lighting I have, whether I use a microphone, and so on. As I say, I’m no tech-head so I go with the basics, but I hope you find it useful.

I’d love to hear what setup you use for your talking head videos too!

Related video: What Camera Am I Using for My Videos?

Why You Should Write 20 Posts Before You Launch Your Blog

This guest post is by Aman Basanti of ageofmarketing.com.

If you have not yet started a blog, stop. Write 20 to 30 posts before you launch.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but this strategy may just be the thing to help you succeed as a blogger.
Why?

It stops you from quitting

Here is the number one reason most bloggers fail: they lose the will to continue.

Anyone who has ever started a blog will tell you that it is downright demoralizing to start a blog. When no one visits your blog, no one accepts your guest posts, and advertising proves too expensive to make a viable traffic generation strategy, you feel lost and destroyed.

Unfortunately for most people, that is the end of their blogging journey. Within months, if not weeks the blog is abandoned and another number is added to the failed blogs hall of fame.

But the very mind that loses hope can be made to maintain it if you invest a lot of effort into your blog upfront. It is human tendency to try harder at and stick longer to something that you have already devoted effort to.

It helps you build and maintain momentum on your blog

Guest posting is one of the most powerful ways to build your blog. It allows you to get your name on established blogs, and gives you a taste of what it would be like to have a popular blog—not to mention attracting high-converting traffic to your own blog.

The thing with guest blogging is that you need to do it often to make it a viable brand building and traffic generation strategy. You cannot do that when you barely have enough posts to keep your own blog going. Having 20 posts in reserve can help keep your blog going while you are concentrating on pitching and writing guest posts.

Plus, once you get a few guest posts on big blogs you will get requests to write guest posts on even more blogs. And you need to be able to maintain the momentum. So the post reserves will come in handy.

It helps you get paying gigs

Finally, posting on your blog and writing guest posts for other blogs may even bring you paying gigs.

When someone is paying you good money to write posts, you need to able to deliver high quality content under tight deadlines. This means you need a lot of practise before you start. Writing 20 or 30 posts helps you build your writing ability.

This means that when you get a request for guest post or get a paying gig you can deliver high quality content quickly.

This is what happened to me. Impressed with the quality and originality of my guest posts and the posts on my blog, a company contacted me to write for them. The only catch was they needed content quickly. Luckily, I had a few posts in reserve, some of which they liked. That weekend I earned my first ever pay-check from blogging, netting around $2,000 for several posts. It was such a thrill.

So if you have not yet started blogging, wait till you have 20 to 30 posts before you launch.

Aman Basanti writes about the psychology of buying and teaches you how you can use the principles of consumer psychology to boost your sales. Visit www.Ageofmarketing.com/free-ebook to get his new e-book – Marketing to the Pre-Historic Mind: How the Hot New Science of Behavioural Economics Can Help You Boost Your Sales – for FREE.

Charles Darwin’s 12 Rules of Blogging Survival

This guest post is by Tom Treanor of the Business Blogging Telesummit.

Blog readers have a myriad of reading options for almost every topic you can think of. In fact, within your niche, potential customers may be enjoying blog posts written by your competitors while they ignore your blog like the plague.

So what do you do about this dire situation? Do you hire ghost writers to create more content? Do you promote your content more via social media? Do you get better at SEO so you can attract more search traffic?

Well. These may work to a degree. You may see some minor bumps with more Tweeting, Facebooking and catching more long tail keywords in Google. But, it’s a long and slow process if you’re using these brute-force tactics.

There has to be a better way. And there is.

Like Darwin’s finches, which evolved different beak sizes over the generations to better suit their differing environmental conditions and to survive, your blog has to become better suited for your audience’s needs over time. You need to develop more “evolved” blogging strategies that are more effective at differentiating your blog and attracting and keeping the readers that you target.

You don’t want your blog to end up on the wrong end of Natural Selection, do you?

Here are 12 ways for your blog to survive and thrive.

1. Be the best teacher in your niche

Explain the things that most people in your niche assume don’t need to be explained. Answer all of your potential customers’ frequently asked questions in writing, with pictures and (or) in video. Do detailed tutorials on fundamental as well as on in-demand advanced topics.

Keep the quality high and listen closely to your audience when you pick topics and develop the content. When competitors start sending customers to your site to understand a complex topic, then you’ll know you’ve won!

2. Be more personal than the others

Getting personal can lead to a deeper connection with your audience and pay dividends in terms of allegiance to your blog and brand.

Many business bloggers put up a barrier between their personal lives and what they share on their blog. Including aspects of your personal life is one way to differentiate yourself from your “plain vanilla” competitors.

3. Be funnier than the others

People love to laugh. Using humor well is hard, but can separate your blog from the pack. if you can successfully pull off inoffensive humor (depending on your industry), you’ll bring a lot of readers back again and again. You’ll also likely increase the amount of social media shares that your blog gets.

4. Say what everyone else thinks

It’s uncomfortable to do. Saying what everyone else thinks is really hard. If you can be the “voice of reason” without upsetting everyone around you, you can gather a tribe of people who say “Yes!” to every post.

5. Be the expert on a specific sub-niche

Don’t focus on widgets: focus only on the custom-designed, high-end widgets from Alaska.

If you can focus on a specific, but important sub-niche within your industry and become the authoritative source, you can develop a big advantage against your competitors in that area. Once successful, you can extend from this beachhead into the broader widget market.

6. Have a bigger vision

Tie your blog to a bigger goal. What far-reaching vision can you use to inspire people to join you in your mission? Can you align your company and blog with a bigger movement that is out there? Can you create your own far-reaching vision that aligns with your passions as well as with your company goals?

7. Be more extreme than the others

Go much further than the other blogs in terms of topics, challenges, transparency or risks. It doesn’t have to be dangerous, just extremely different. You’ll get noticed.

8. Be more creative than the rest

If everyone’s writing articles, why don’t you mix in video? How about being the first infographic producer in your industry?

Try new topics, writing styles, media or blog post structures. Think of other ideas that will provide value while separating your from the rest. Give yourself permission to try something unique.

9. Cross-pollinate better than the others

Do you only work with other real estate-related blogs or influencers? How about looking at the lending, architecture, finance and relocation industries?

Spread your tentacles where your competitors never dreamed of going by guest posting, blog commenting or connecting with other bloggers in those industries. If the target audience is the same, you can gain some great benefits from this kind of cross-pollination.

10. Be the best curator of meaningful content

Find the best information that others have written and posted online—the best articles, charts, tables, infographics, videos, or pictures. Collect it in a logical, easy-to-use navigational structure on your blog.

Make sure you link to and give credit to your sources and only summarize (or take small portions of) the articles you link to. Content curation is a way to share great information that is already available and to become seen as a key source of great information.

11. Be the news source for your industry

Focus on being the source of timely news and analysis for your industry. To be able to keep up with the news cycle, this often means a combination of curated content mixed with some original content or analysis.

Niche or industry news blogs can do very well because they get lots of shares, links, SEO benefits and subscribers. Just have a plan for getting regular, high-quality updates onto your site.

12. Work harder than the rest

Sometimes all the right things are in place but you don’t have the results yet. Working hard can pay off, but pace yourself and don’t burn out! Grab more virtual land than the competitors to create a barrier to entry for “lazier” niche-mates.

Come up with your own unique variation

Just like nature’s many variations (which we never could have predicted), come up with your own unique way to differentiate your blog. The blogs that thrive in a given niche will be the ones who evolve in ways that allow them to meet the needs of their audience better than the competitors’ blogs.

Avoid finding yourself on the wrong side of Natural Selection by using one of the strategies above, combining a couple or by developing your own differentiated strategy.

Tom Treanor is the founder of the Business Blogging Telesummit, designed to help SMBs succeed with their blogging and social media efforts. Visit his blog at RightMixMarketing.com.

5 Ways I Kill Two Birds With One Stone and Generate Ideas for Blog Posts

I love making the one piece of work pay off multiple times. One of the ways I do this is by turning other activities that I do into blog posts. Here’s five ways I’ve done it recently.

1. Live streaming video sessions

If I find myself with a spare half hour to fill in, one of the activities that I’ll sometimes engage in is a live video streaming session on Ustream.

I log into my Ustream account, start a broadcast, and then announce it on Twitter that I’m on and happy to answer questions. The sessions are fun and also deepen reader engagement for those who join in. But I’m also constantly taking note of what I’m being asked and will often turn those questions and answers into posts.

ProBlogger Training Day

Answering questions at the ProBlogger Training Day

2. Being interviewed

From time to time I’m asked by another blogger, journalist, or author to do some kind of interview with them. Some are live webinars or on radio, others are email-based interviews, others are on the phone.

Being interviewed in this way is great for bringing new readers into your blog, but I’m also usually asked at least one question during the interview which is the stimulus for a post.

3. Interviewing someone else

On the flip side of things, I also love to interview other people.

Many times as I’m preparing for an interview and researching the subject to work out what questions to ask I’m stimulated to write a post. Other times it is the answer that they give that gets me writing something new.

4. Public speaking

I’m fortunate enough to be asked to speak at conferences both here in Australia and around the world. While I love this type of presenting, I always get a little nervous in the lead up to doing it, and tend to put in quite a bit of time for preparation.

This often unearths post ideas. In fact, last time I spoke at a conference, I turned my slides into a series of blog posts. The Q&A times at the end of presentations and speaking one-on-one to attendees afterwards also gives me great ideas for posts.

5. Answering reader emails and comments

Not a day goes by when I don’t either get an email from a reader asking a question or see at least one question in blog comments.

While I try to respond to as many as I can, I also quite often turn those email or comment answers into blog posts in and of themselves. When one person has a question, it’s likely that others are thinking the same thing—so I turn that one on one answer into something others can benefit from, too.

How do you kill two birds with one stone and use other actives to generate blog post ideas?

5 Ways to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas

This guest post is by Katy Farber of Non-Toxic Kids.

When I started Non-Toxic Kids four years ago, I had no idea I would never run out of things to write about. In all those four years of posting between three and seven times I week, I never struggled for more than a few minutes with a topic to post about.

Why?

Maybe it has to do with my tech-savvy mom who is constantly sending me interesting links to articles about current parenting and health issues.  Seriously, how lucky am I?

But I’d like to think it has to do with the fact that I need to know about these topics. They are common sense issues and concerns that I face as a parent, and a human being on this planet.

I offer these ways to find continual and unending sources of blog material, and they are all right in front of you.

Write about what keeps you up at night

I call it the common-sense blogging approach.  Just think about what matters to you.  What can you not stop thinking about as you fall asleep, or worse, when you wake up in the middle of the night? I can’t be the only one who does this.  What are issues that your colleagues, or people in your blog niche, are worrying about right now?

For me, one topic lately is what mattress we should buy for my youngest.  A conventional one, although cheaper, may contain harmful chemicals, but the safer ones are twice as much.  I’ve put off this decision for years. Clearly, this would be a great topic to explore and write up as a post, or series of posts.

Find your flow

You may need to find your source for perpetual ideas.  It’s a different place for each of us, but we can all find it.  For me it’s running. Once my feet fall into that repetitive pattern, my mind lifts.  The steady drumbeat of my heart, the calmness of being alone, the soft sounds of the woods slow my thinking.  Sometimes it’s only then I can access a place of creative ideas and problem solving.

I like to think of it as a river right above my head.  Flowing in it is every place I’ve ever lived, my childhood, dreams, fears, loves and ideas, all flying around at electrifying speeds.  If I don’t grab ideas, pull them down into the here and now, and onto paper or the computer, they are gone until next time.  Or some I might never find again.

That is where many of my ideas are born.  On a long dirt road in Vermont, the idea for my blog was born this way (can you hear the song?).

Where is your flow? Whatever it is—sewing, walking, rocking in a hammock, gardening—find where your ideas live and grab them before they get away like birds scattering in the sky.  Then grab your computer and write, bird by bird (to borrow an expression from one of my favorite authors, Annie Lemott).

What do you and your friends talk about?

Before I started blogging, I was constantly talking with my friends about parenting issues, and we eagerly shared ideas and troubling questions about the safety of products, and what we had success with. These early conversations and questions became the foundation of my blog, Non-Toxic Kids. I was doing the research anyway, in trying to find out what was healthy for my infant daughter.  All it meant was getting these ideas into posts and sharing them with other parents in my blog.

So consider, what topics do you discuss regularly with your friends? What do you need to know about, or want to know the opinions of others you trust?  This is gold blog post material, and it is usually right in front of you.

What makes your blood boil?

There are some topics that outrage us into action.  Some of my best posts were written after I learned about a new piece of legislation, action, or inaction, about an environmental issue.  These posts usually do well sitting at least over night—or even for a few hours—for a re-read. 

Posts written hastily in anger can have troubling effects but a post written from the heart about a current issue can make a difference and strike a chord with people. Here is one example of that; it’s a post I wrote after President Obama told the EPA to withhold new ozone (smog) air quality standards that would have saved thousands of lives.  It felt good to put that negative energy into something that could make a difference.

Write about how you wish the world to be

This is a bit harder, especially in our current economic and political climate. But we have to as Gandhi said, “Be the change we wish to see in the world.” Write about your dreams.  What do you see as how we can solve our most vexxing problems? What do you want to see in terms of our environment, local communities, human communication, education, etc.?

Write about it. Describe your vision. We need to hear from each other about how we might solve the complex problems facing the world.  Take on any issue, and describe the change you dream of seeing in your lifetime.  Or describe a small moment in your life that showcased how this change is possible. This is beautiful, optimistic blog material.

These are our ever-flowing sources of blogging material, because we are all constantly exploring what it means to be alive in this world, how we can live better, and help others and ourselves more fully.

How do you generate your blog post ideas?  Please share these in the comments. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Katy Farber blogs at Non-Toxic Kids.  She’s a teacher, author, and blogger who just released a new ebook, Eat Non-Toxic: A manual for busy parents and is the author of two education books, Why Great Teachers Quit and Change the World with Service Learning.

Act Like a Pro

This guest post is by Jean Compton of jeancompton.com.

What would you do if you knew you were going to get paid a large chunk of cash—up front, without any pre-conditions—to do something?

What would you do? How would you act? If it was something totally in the realm of your capabilities you’d get to work on it right away, right? You’d put in your best effort showcasing your greatest skills knowing that you were fluent in the information being asked for and sure that you would deliver a top notch product.

In other words, you would act like a pro.

So, what’s stopping you?

What’s stopping you, right now, from acting like an expert in your field? Everyone has something they can talk about naturally and authoritatively. Your gifts that only you possess is your uniqueness. Since you’re not like any other and no one else can be you; you have singular talents that you can share with the world that other people can benefit from.

If you’re an authority in an area you can start acting like one now. Your knowledge is desired by your community—or your tribe—even if you haven’t been acknowledged or paid for it yet.

I’m not talking of going around acting all cocky like a know-it-all. I’m telling you to hone in on what it is about you that, for instance, makes your friends be your friends. What keeps them coming back? What is it about you that makes you stand out?

That is your mojo—your gift that is golden. Tap into that, work it, develop it, and it can be your lifeblood, your golden ticket. That’s your genius spot, not like any one else’s, and you’re crazily selfish not to use it to your advantage to help yourself and, in turn, to help others.

Because I guarantee you, there are people out there that would kill for your particular gift. They’re waiting to hear from you. Oh, and they will also pay you for it.

So, let’s re-cap:

  1. Act like a pro now.
  2. Ask your friends what it is about you that brings them back for more.
  3. Develop that and market that in yourself.
  4. Help yourself.
  5. And by helping yourself, help others as well.
  6. Become a PAID expert in your field.

So … what is your unique gift that you’ve been hiding under a bushel basket? Have you dug deep to find it out? Ask your friends. They may have a surprising answer for you. And, leave me a comment below to tell me what it is!

Jean Compton is a writer and blogger who specializes in articles on meditation, de-stressing and changing your life. She has appeared on Problogger and Feelgooder, among other sites. You can find more of her inspiring posts on her blog at the above link.

3 Secrets to Not Getting Discouraged as a Blogger

This is a guest post by Jeff Goins of Goinswriter.com.

The other night, I was catching up with a writer friend who is taking his first steps towards becoming a professional blogger.

He was frustrated and upset, wanting to quit.

Listening to him, I realized something: writing is discouraging work. It’s a time-consuming, underpaid, solitary activity. No wonder so many authors turn into drunks and most bloggers don’t receive their due appreciation.

If you’re feeling discouraged, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Relax. This is normal.

For most of the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve felt like my friend. Frustrated and discouraged, I’ve often wanted to quit. But recently, things have started turning around. And it’s all because of three very important secrets.

1. Automation is key

Step away from Twitter, Facebook, and any other online distractions long enough to actually get something done. You need time to concentrate and create.

If you spend all your time on maintaining your community, you’ll never able to grow it. You have to create margin in your schedule to do things like write guest posts.

I do this by writing weeks in advance for my blog and scheduling posts well ahead of time. I also use tools like Timely.is and Bufferapp.com to schedule tweets without having to think much about it. And lastly, I turn off most email notifications and alerts (including Twitter follows and unfollows and Facebook messages).

Don’t get me wrong. I still spend time on social media, but I don’t allow myself to be interrupted every minute of the day. Automating these practices helps me focus on what I need to spend most of my time doing: writing.

2. A bias towards creating keeps you focused

There are a hundred ways you could make money online. Why blogging? Probably because you enjoy creating.

This may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but you should not be spending most of your time promoting your blog.

You should spend most of your time creating.

Writing comes first. Everything else (including marketing and promotion) comes second. If I’m not delivering the very best content I can every time I hit “Publish,” I don’t have any reason to promote my work. Similarly, if you’re not finding ways to add value to your readers, customers, etc., then you have no business trying to sell anything.

In this world of tweets and texts and blog comments, it’s easy to get distracted. To focus merely on the platform you’ve built, instead of on expanding its reach. The way that you do this is by creating compelling content, day after day.

You only have a limited number of hours in the day. Make them count.

Doing this will also keep you busy enough to ignore the jabs of critics, keeping you caught up in what you love.

3. Stop checking stats

In my experience, checking blog stats is a pointless exercise. These numbers can be a subtle form of procrastination, tempting you to “check in” multiple times per day, without actually doing any real work.

Of course, analytics are helpful. They allow you to identify overall growth trends of your blog, as well as keywords readers are interested in. But on a regular basis (i.e. hourly or even daily), they can be discouraging.

If someone doesn’t immediately read your writing, it may lead you to false conclusions. You may convince yourself that no one cares about what you have to say. Your inner critic might take over before you give your work time to make an impact.

Remember: if you’re writing posts that are optimized for search engines, then you’re not writing for today. You’re writing for the long haul. Constantly checking stats can undermine that purpose.

When someone asked Seth Godin how many blog subscribers he had, he responded, “I don’t know.” And neither should you.

Of course, you need to be available to your audience and to know how your blog is performing. But before any of that, you need to just write.

There are forces out there that would discourage you. I hope you don’t let them.

Because we need your voice.

We need your words.

Jeff Goins is a writer and marketing consultant. On his blog, he shares writing tips for new and aspiring writers. For a limited time, you can download his free e-book The Writer’s Manifesto. You can also follow him on Twitter @jeffgoins.