I have been speaking to a lot of “young” (really they are just new bloggers) lately. Each of them is addressing the gap that exists between the amount of good, practical leadership principles and the availability of the same. There is no shortage of leadership advice to be had on the internet these days. But, each of these new bloggers that I am speaking with are addressing a vital niche market.
If you have some experience or passion for leadership, then start a blog. There is room for more. There is room for you to join us.
Therefore, I am offering up a bit of a brain dump that I wished someone had provided to me when I started my first blog in 2006. I have learned by trial and error over these last 9 years.
Many start out with one of the hosted blogging platforms such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com. I began with Blogger and used it for almost 6 years. And it served me well. But, I have chosen to move on and I now have a very different “web presence” in 2015 than I did in 2006.
Here are some thoughts for any new blogger to consider:
- Control your own destiny — By that I mean get yourself on a self-hosted platform as quickly as you can. It increases your credibility immediately if you own your own domain.
- Narrow your focus — The more clear you are and the more focused you are on your message, the quicker you will build an audience that resonates with your message. You can’t be an expert on everything. Try to accept that fact. However, I still struggle with this on many levels.
- Pick your poison — Decide what content management system (CMS) you will use and stick with it. I have chosen WordPress as my CMS and I self-host on webhostinghub.com They are not necessarily the best, but they are more than adequate. Many bloggers use Drupal, Joomla or Concrete5. But, I have found them each to be too unwieldy for my purposes. Perhaps if I had a professional staff to manage my website, my opinion would be different. Many large corporate sites use each of the content solutions above and I have not found a singular and obvious solution. I guess I would say that there is no one size that fits all.
- Build your brand — You already have a “brand” based upon your current social media interactions. Is this the brand that you want to put forward based upon your new venture? If not, then this is a chance to “rebrand” yourself. As for me, I am very protective of my brand.
Simplify Social Media — Again, here is an area that is troublesome for me and many others. You cannot be a master of all social media outlets and you cannot be fully present and engaged on all of them. Pick one as your prime and then pick a mother one or two as adjuncts or supplementary. Here is what I am doing:
- LinkedIn – This is my primary outlet. I also have a small Group that I manage and there are some additional folks there who follow what we do. And some of my articles that I post directly to LinkedIn have gotten pretty great response. One has been read and verified 1760 times.
- Facebook – This is my secondary outlet and I have a Facebook Fan Page that is automatically populated with anything that I post on my site. I am not ego driven by the number of Facebook friends. But I am pleased with the response across all platforms.
- Twitter – I have not yet fully embraced Twitter. But I am not after a “big” following. Instead, I am looking for a deeper level of interaction among those with similar passions.
- Pinterest – I am still experimenting here. And I see real growth and increased website traffic from Pinterest. I just don’t have the time to explore or “mine” Pinterest for followers.
- Instagram – This is my newest foray into this social media outlet and I really am not sure what I want to do with Instagram yet. How is that for honesty?
- Get professional help — From time to time, spend the money for professional help. My logo was designed by a guy who was the “evangelist” from Adobe for InDesign. This guys knows what he is doing. He is one of the most creative persons that I know. Buy a well-designed and versatile theme that will allow your message to be seen across a wide array of content consumption devices such as PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, Android phones, Android tablets, Kindles, and Nooks. Like many folks who are looking to take a huge step forward in blogging, I have purchased Michael Hyatt’s GetNoticed theme.
- Get semi-professional help — From time to time you can get help for very little cash outlay. I have used “fiver.com” for book jacket design services and for some ebook formatting. There are other sites out there offering similar services. You can probably find what you need on fiver.com.
- Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate — Take full advantage of the network and brain trust that already surrounds you. Collaborate with folks such as your immediate family as well as other folks who share your vision and passion.
- Jot, jot, jot — Always be working on an idea and a message or article. Keep a notebook at your fingertips day and night and jot down ideas as they come to you. If you don’t, that brilliant tidbit of insight or humor will evaporate in the fog of busyness.
- Write, write, write — Set aside time on a regular basis (daily if possible) to write. It will not be easy at first. But it will get easier as you develop the habit. Blogging is very different than academic pursuits, creative writing, or sermon development for those who are in ministry.
- Read, read, read — There are a lot of guys (generic and not gender biased) out there that are saying some creative stuff that will spark your creativity. Read what they write. Read some of classics as well.
- Tools, tools, tools — There are a lot of productivity tools that I use on a daily basis. Here are some:
- Office365 and Exchange Server – Although you can do some sort of email through your website host, if you want full access to email, calendaring, tasks and contacts across all devices that you will use to access it, you will need to be running Exchange Server. And the easiest way to do that is via an Office365 subscription from Microsoft.
- Evernote – This is my digital brain or virtual filing cabinet. I have an affiliate link on my site to a great resource for learning Evernote (it is actually very easy) and incorporating it into your workflow. I will be happy to show my Evernote process to you. I am still just using the free version and have not needed to pay for the advanced features.
- Nozbe – This is my project management tool. It is based around David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology. It is free for up to 5 projects. Beyond that you will need a subscription.
- Scrivener – This is my creative writing tool. I have used it also to develop and prepare my first 2 books for distribution via Amazon. I have both the PC version from before I switched to Mac and I also own the Mac version. I think it is less than $50.
- It’s all about the Email list — At the end of the day, it is all about building the email list. This is the thing that you want to grow so that you will have a following who is open to your message.
- Give something away — One of the ways to build a list is to give something away for free in exchange from someone’s email address. I have chosen to give away a book on being a Legacy Leader. It has been a great boost and brought in many new readers.
- Use what you already have developed — One of the toughest things when you are starting out is to have new content to post on a regular basis. Michael Hyatt says to “Mine the content that you have already created.” I used that advice and that became my first book entitled “Moving from Vision to Action” for local churches to utilize to get them from the vision stage, through the intermediate steps and onto completion.
- Folks whose work (related to blogging) I follow:
- Blogs I read:
There is so much more that is still rattling around inside my head. And if you want to open a dialog with me on this and take advantage of the experience that I have gained from falling down and failing so many times. But, someone has said that the single greatest success factor is getting back up each time we fall. My goal is to get up at least one more time than I fall down.
I invite any experienced bloggers to weigh in with your experiences developing your blog and keeping the content fresh and relevant to your audience.
Photo credit: JD Hancock / Foter / CC BY
Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.