I was a little bit nervous about writing this post.
First off, because there are no actual step-by-step rules for bloggers. And second, because there are so many possibles rules that could be included.
Could I really narrow it down to ten of the most important?
From the crucial rules like publishing social content at optimal times to truly getting to know your target audience and creating content around their values, this post could have gone in a variety of directions.
But then I realised, bloggers aren’t just determined by one thing. Our entire careers are based around serving others, through sharing, writing, commenting, measuring, solving, creating. This idea governs the rules for bloggers and helps us come across amazing opportunities.
So, let’s get into it. Here are ten golden rules for bloggers, explained by some of the roles that are most important to our industry.
#1 | Be a Communicator
Communication. Communicate. Community. These are all essential to a blogger’s daily tasks. Why? Because it helps you to build a loyal audience who trust you.
The key to the golden rule of communication is to actually communicate with your audience. Note how I used the word with, not at. Be transparent, honest and genuine with every blog post, newsletter and response on social media.
You need to be patient, but the more you do this, the more you will build trust with your audience. They will look to you as a source of inspiration, knowledge - and as a friend.
Your action - get your audience involved
One way to work on improving your communication today is to get your audience involved. Give them a voice. Allow them to share things openly with you.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with the content I share to my Twitter, mixing it up so instead of just sharing article, I ask questions and share tips and inspiration. Since I’ve started doing this, my engagement has increased so much, as well as my following - and I’m enjoying using the platform more too!
How can you get your audience more involved with your online presence?
#2 | Be a Sharer
Sharing is the thing that keeps this industry going. Sharing other people’s content across social media as a blogger is important for two reasons. First, because you’re providing value to your current audience as well as your potential audience. Second, because you’re building relationships with people through sharing their content.
But sharing your own content means you’re boosting the presence of your own brand that you’ve worked so hard to create.
The key to the golden rule of sharing is to make sure you’re creating content for each of the different social platforms. Don’t just share the headline. Each social media post should be tailored to each specific channel.
Your action - create different content
Spend some time researching and experimenting with what types of content work best on each social platform. With Instagram you can go mad with hashtags, whereas with Twitter it’s the opposite.
I’ve found that by writing different types of social content to promote the same blog post gets me way more results. By spending a bit of extra time customising the content for platform, your marketing efforts will definitely pay off.
#3 | Be a Measurer
When I first started as a blogger three and a half years ago, I never used to monitor my social analytics. I know. It was a case of not knowing what to track combined with not knowing what to do when I found out the results. What if I wasn’t meeting my goals? Did that mean I was a bad blogger?
Now I know that I was thinking about this in the complete wrong way.
Measuring your blog and social media analytics isn’t scary - it’s necessary.
Keeping a track of your analytics allows you to get better as a blogger. It allows you to experiment. It allows you to reevaluate to know what the best path forward is, based on what’s working and what isn’t.
Your action - start tracking your blog and social analytics
Here are the things you should start with:
- How people arrived at your site (referrals)
- Time on page
If you’re not sure where to start with any of these things, head to this post I wrote - it’s a great place to start. Numbers don’t have to be a challenge - trust me!
#4 | Be a Creator
Content doesn’t just have to mean text - images are video are where it’s at. Especially since 65% of the popular are visual learners. This means that if you include images in your articles, you’re going to have a much bigger impact on your audience. Plus, consumers are much more likely to buy something from a brand if they see a video first.
Creating engaging images and video has got to be a vital part of your strategy as a blogger. Video is where it’s at right now and you need to figure out some way to fit it into your online presence, whether it’s through a big step in the form of YouTube or a smaller step through Instagram. If you’re waiting for the right time, this is it.
Your action - pay more attention to images and video
Get out of your comfort zone. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and have a go at Instagram Stories or Facebook Live. Don’t worry about being perfect - it’s not about that. Experiment with different formats like a Q&A, walk people through a part of your process or share a mini tutorial. And the best bit if you’re doing it through social - all you need is your phone!
Adding video to your strategy is going to make you stand out as a blogger and grow your community even faster.
#5 | Be Original
The air is full of ideas. They are knocking you in the head all the time. You only have to know what you want, then forget it, and go about your business. Suddenly, the idea will come through. It was there all the time.
– Henry Ford
Idea generation has got to be in there when it comes to golden rules for bloggers. Many times, you come up with an idea, but you realise it’s definitely been covered before and you give up on it. This is wrong. Any idea that is told with your voice is an original idea.
You don’t always feel like you have to come up with the next best thing to keep enticing your audience. All you need to do is make it a little better.
Your action - get reading
You need to become the master of content curation. However you like to read blog posts, through Bloglovin’, Feedly or through Twitter or Facebook, get reading, get some ideas down and see how you can make them better. What topic can you cover in more detail? If someone has written five ways to do something, you can write ten. When you think about it, the possibilities are endless.
#6 | Be an Encourager
What’s one of the first things you think about when it comes to blogging and social media? I think about community. Relationships. Connecting. Building and encouraging relationships is one of the key rules for bloggers - but it’s not as simple as that, right?
Here’s what it’s all about: providing a fantastic experience.
I don’t just mean customer service here. It doesn’t just come down to businesses. As a blogger, you’re putting yourself online almost 24/7 so you need to make yourself available. The main way people get in touch with me now? Twitter. That’s a BIG deal. And as my community grows, that will just become more true.
Your action - make an effort with your audience
There’s a formula that works really well when it comes to building relationships on social media - listen and respond. In that order. Keep an eye on your mentions, take part in Twitter chats, create lists. What questions are your audience asking? What are they struggling with What do they want to know? Make a note of them. Cover every aspect, every angle, every question and every problem. Help them. Show them that there is a real person behind your brand. It’ll grow your relationships even more.
#7 | Be a Solver
As a blogger, you have the power to solve things for your audience through your words. You can solve your audience’s questions and problems with great content. Are they struggling with something? You can solve that through engaging with them. Do you want your audience to become more aware of your brand? You can solve that through strategic targeting.
You get the picture.
If you’re thinking to yourself, I don’t know what my ideal reader is struggling with - the answer is right in front of you on a daily basis. You just need to look for it. Put your audience first. Ask them questions. Analyse your most popular content. This will help you to identify the topic areas that you can expand on.
Your action - identify opportunities
I used to be afraid of numbers and data, but over time I’ve come to love it all. Google Analytics and social media analytics are both key tools to help you identify problems to solve through your blog and social content.
No matter how many pageviews and comments you get, or how many posts you’ve published, you can always identify your most popular posts. Even if there’s just one. And don’t just guess! You might be very surprised.
Take a look at the data. Go to your Google Analytics dashboard >> Behaviour >> Site Content and see what comes top over time. How long was your copy? Did you include other multimedia content? What day was it published on? What made it different? What made it more engaging? How did you promote it? Take the answers to these questions and use them to create an even better piece of content.
#8 | Be Open
Honestly is one of the most powerful tools you can have as a blogger. Open up to your audience. How?
- Take them behind-the-scenes into your processes
- Take them behind-the-scenes of your workspace
- Take them behind-the-scenes of your team (even if it’s just you and your dog!)
This is truly something that I credit towards my success. By being transparent and open, I humanise my brand and that attracts more people.
Does being transparent feel you leaving overwhelmed? That’s OK! It’s perfectly normal to not know where to start. My advice would be to pick just one blogger that you love and take some inspiration from them. How do they mix personal and promotional content? What’s the balance? Look at their blog posts and their social channels. You want to be able to get a good grasp not just of what their blog and brand is all about, but what kind of a person they are too. Aim to achieve that.
Your task - be transparent
Starting out is the hardest. But when you’ve done it once, you’ll realise there’s nothing to be nervous about. People want to get to know you! Let them into everything that makes you the blogger and person you are. Funny moments, your working routine, a day in the life - these are all great things to share. And remember - video is where it’s at right now.
#9 | Be a Reflector
After everything you do on social media, you want to make sure you reflect on how you’re performing. It’s not just about you. It’s called social media for a reason - because behind the screen, you need to remember you’re talking to an actual person.
With every single piece of content you create, whether it’s text, videos or social updates, your job is to deliver. But you want to make sure your delivery is performing well, which is why you need to reflect. Whatever works best, whatever your reflection shows, it’s important to keep this in mind as you go forward to develop content and engage with your audience through your blog and social channels.
Your task - Look at what’s working
Do this not just for yourself, but for other bloggers and brands do. The best way to get results from your blog and social media is to take inspiration from others. You’ll get so many ideas! See what works really well for other bloggers and brands you admire, and make them fit right for your own online presence.
Don’t be afraid to look outside of your industry. I get some great ideas from clothing brands such as Topshop and ASOS. So many people do marketing well - it’s your job to find out what that actually involves.
#10 | Be a Giver
This is by far one of the most powerful rules for every single blogger out there.
However you do it, through giveaways, a chance to guest post or arranging a meet-up, giving is one of the best marketing tools out there.
Give back to your audience. Show them how much they’re appreciated. There are loads of brands and bloggers who run fantastic campaigns like this that you can take advantage of. I’ve experienced this through offering the chance for my readers to guest post on my blog, and I get loads of emails in my inbox with requests.
Your task - Follow the giving rule
Give more than you receive. You need to make sure you’re being fair. It’s like with selling products. You give, give, give and keep on giving information away for free, and only then do you offer the paid product. The user has got to be benefitted always.
A FINAL NOTE
Hopefully these golden rules will not only spark some inspiration in your own creation process, but they’ll also make you feel better about being a blogger too. You are powerful. Here’s a quick recap for you:
- Be a communicator
- Be a sharer
- Be a measurer
- Be a creator
- Be original
- Be an encourager
- Be a solver
- Be open
- Be a reflector
- Be a giver
Do you think I missed any rules off this list for bloggers? Which one of these do you think is the most important?
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