Monday August 10, 2015
When LinkedIn opened up its publishing program, I was quick to apply for early access. A month later, I got my pencil, and my blogger journey began. Many of my friends and family were discouraging me from "putting yourself out there like that." I ignored their cautions, dove in head first, and 99 blogs later here I am.
It's been mostly all good! The professional opportunities that have resulted from my blogging efforts have been incredible, which I will discuss in this post. However, I've had some potholes in the road along my journey. To provide an authentic account, which is the goal of this post, I need to talk about what didn't go so well, and the one truth I have learned about blogging.
First and foremost, the best thing to come out of blogging for me has been the relationships I've been able to cultivate with other professionals on a global level. In addition to writing my own blogs, I do a lot of reading of other writer's work and engage on as many posts of their posts as possible. The result has been authentic relationships that have enabled me to take my career to the next level!
So long Corporate America! I liked blogging so much; I decided to make it my business. I left my job and started my own social marketing firm based on original content creation, branding via storytelling, and social media optimization. Having my company has been professionally invigorating. Had I not written that first blog, I'd probably still be sitting in some stuffy cubicle spinning in the corporate hamster wheel.
Blogging has made me smarter, and my writing has improved. Often when writing my blogs, I need to additional research to avoid sounding like an idiot. This process has enabled me to improve upon certain critical areas of subject matter expertise, much of which I now apply daily in my job. I read a ton of other writer's work. To get better at blogging, I identified several key writers and diligently followed their work.
Don't be afraid to tell your professional story. Doing so makes you a little vurnable. However, readers love a little vulnerability from the author. In my most viewed post ever that received 624,000+ views, "7 Management Traits That Will Make All your Employees Quit," I told the story of a brutal micro-manager and honest account of the lowest moments in my career. Readers related well because they had also been there before. They were glad for the opportunity to vent their frustrations, and participate in a viral conversation with close to 2000 comments.
While numbers aren't everything, stats matter in blogging. Especially if you want to guest blog or make an income doing it. I've been fortunate enough to wrack up some good numbers. Here are a few of my key stats as a result of my efforts to publish 100 blogs:
- Article views: 1,608,399
- Number of new followers: 23,000
- Times featured on Pulse: 72
Despite achieving better results than I could have ever imagined, there are plenty of areas for improvement. Self-evaluation is a critical part of improving our skills in any medium. Here are a few areas that I have identified that I could have done better, and will strive to improve in my next 100 posts. Hopefully, you can learn from them too.
Respond to every single reader's comment. The reader comment is the highest level of engagement a writer can receive. While, this can be impossible on some articles (one of my posts received 1911 comments). Are regular non-viral posts responding to each commenter should be doable. There are writers that I see do this. Brett Berhoff is a great example of a writer that does this exceptionally well (he even responds to everyone on viral posts).
Responding to every reader's comment will endear you to your readers. While I can clearly improve in this area, don't get me wrong, I engaged with my readers. In fact, I read every single comment I've ever received, pushed the like button on most of them, and replied personally to many of them. It's not like I was as bad as some of the official LinkedIn Influencers that I've read that NEVER respond to a reader. What's up with that?
Send a personalized connection request to every person that likes or comments on your articles. While I have used this strategy to build my network, too many times I left it up to the reader to connect with me. Thus, I left thousands of potential readers and leads on the table. Don't rely on the reader to follow you or send you a connection request. What was I thinking?
Instead, send each one a personalized connection request to them thanking them for engaging on your post. If they have liked or commented on your post, the likelihood of them accepting your connection request is very high. If you don't, you run the risk of them never finding your content again. Then they become a "one like wonder" of your blog. That person continues to like blogs it's just on someone else's.
When blogging you must develop thick skin. Not everyone will agree with you or like what you have to say. This is not a secret. The fact is that no matter how good of a writer you may be there will always be detractors of your work that disagree with you. Some people will engage in a professional debate and challenge you based on their expertise and factual information. Others will use it as an opportunity to publicly trash you.
Writing as many blogs as I have, I thought I had developed some pretty thick skin. That is until I recently wrote a political blog about Donald Trump's remarks on Latinos. Many people disagreed with me. They put words into my mouth, made assumptions about me on a personal level, and started chucking some explosive grenades my way in the comment section. The insults got personal quickly, and the heat in the kitchen was too much for me! Don't expect to see me writing on politics again anytime soon. Going forward, I think I will stick to my happy little marketing and business blogs!
I'm not saying you shouldn't blog about politics. If it's your thing and you have something to say, by all means make your voice heard. However, if you do, make sure to go in wearing a fireproof suit.
I get regular inquiries from people about how to get more views on their blog. Some people see the numbers I get on my blogs and expect me to have some sort of magic potion or a shortcut to a million views. So much so that I have written a few blogs about the topic, developed strategies that have been highly successful in doing so, and even made it a significant portion of my business. However, if you want to know the truth, the one thing that has been the biggest difference maker? The reason I've had success in blogging is because I WORKED DAMN HARD AT IT. That's it. That's the simple truth.
To get results from blogging, you have to be prepared to put some serious effort into it. If not, none of the well thought out strategies to gain viewership matter, as they all require doing work. If there is a true shortcut to the top of the Pulse charts, I certainly haven't found it yet.
About the Author: John White is the Chief Marketing Officer at Social Marketing Solutions, the LinkedIn group owner of Publishers and Bloggers, contributor to Dice Tech News, Linked Into Business, and more. In June of 2015, John completed his MBA with a specialization in Marketing.