It’s getting hot in here.
Day 1: You were SUPER gung-ho to start blogging. “Yay, a way to make money!” you said to yourself as you began clicking away at your keyboard. “Connect with new friends!” “Sell my stuff!” “Get the word out!” “Yee-haw!”
You thought to yourself, “No other dentist in [insert your town/city here] is going to be blogging like ME. I am so ahead of the curve.” You thought to yourself, “What other wedding cake company in [insert your town/city here] is going to have such a stellar blog? No one!”
Day 1 (later that day): Wow. You were wrong!
Whoops. Turns out that everyone (it seems) is doing it (it, being… blogging). There goes your notoriety, eh?!
Don’t sweat it. We all face it. Every day, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of blogs and micro-blogs are launched. Some, like sweet, buttery cream, rise to the top and snatch up 80-90% of the hungry readership. How can you make yours do that?
#1: Don’t Panic, Plan
Probably the worst thing you can do as a blogger is get into the “why me?” rut. I’ve been there, and it isn’t any fun, is it? It can be frustrating as you literally hear the swooshing sound of other bloggers whizzing past you in terms of traffic and ranking, and as a result, popularity.
This plan can be living; it can change over the life of your blog. That’s fine. The idea is to just make one and adapt it as necessary.
#2: Learn to listen and learn to learn
Probably the two best things you can do when first starting your blog is to listen to the buzz and learn how other bloggers are making their way through it and around it.
- Who are the big contributors in your niche?
- What do they write about?
- Who are their readers?
- How do they interact with them on the blog and outside of the blog as well?
You can even listen without participating in the conversation in the beginning. Many blogs give you the option to subscribe to comments without leaving a comment yourself, and this is a good opportunity for you to understand how people are interacting with your top blogger’s content (although if you’re not shy, go ahead and jump into the conversation, if even to ask a question).
#3: Carve out for yourself a niche within a niche.
The nice thing about this step is that you can test the waters and change direction as needed. Your primary niche is set – let’s say you are a wedding planner. Wedding planning is your niche. But perhaps in your business you typically work as a day-of wedding coordinator, and so you know a little bit more about day-of planning than others in your area. You can write about that a little more than the other stuff, effectively creating a niche within a niche. This will help you get used to adding your own somethin-somethin to the mix, and become known for your expert knowledge of a specific topic.
#4: Make the best of local search engine marketing
In the beginning, when your following in many of the social media channels is still small, you can really maximize search engine marketing, especially for local keyword phrases. Not everyone in the world is looking for a San Diego dry cleaner but people in San Diego are looking for just that! Be sure to use your location liberally – in your blog title, in your posts, in your comments, and pretty much wherever you go. And you really should list your blog in Google Places if you are local, too, to gain a bit of an unfair advantage and high ranking in search results (after all, you should rank higher for San Diego dry cleaner than one outside of the area).
Focus on making friends with other bloggers in your area and joining forums and communities that are local as well (that’s extra; beyond search engine marketing). When you guest post and share content, share it there, and leverage the search engine marketing that those sites are already doing.
#5: Meet people
Dare I say it? Can blogging be successful in a vacuum? Let all the people say… no. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. Again, long ago I tried it that way, too, and came up dry. Forums, blogging networks, comment support groups, Twitter, Facebook, and the like, are all really good ways to get out and show your face (er, avatar) so that people start getting to know you. Bloggers are people, too. It’s human nature to hang out with people we know and like, so make sure that people know you.
Ask any blogger you admire and she or he will tell you that it is entirely possible to blog successfully in a crowded niche. That’s one of the nice benefits of blogging and producing great content for people to use and pass on to others. Don’t be afraid of the crowd and the rising tidal waves – jump in! Leverage the pathways that have been laid and start laying some of your own.