When I finished reading the last page of Blog Inc last month I felt both inspired and at the same time overwhelmed.
Author and blogger Joy Deeangdelert Cho lays it all out there in a way that’s easy to understand and personal. Whether you’re just thinking about starting a blog or have been blogging for awhile and are wondering how to take your blog to the next level, this book is a blogger’s bible.
Through step by step guides, interviews with other successful bloggers and personal insight, Joy breaks down everything from what to call your blog, how to create unique content, and how to attract readers and eventually monetize your blog. All bloggers at some point contemplate the idea of making money off of your blog and why not? Sure the initial growth of any personal blog should be organic and gradual but after some time if you really want your blog to take off you have to work for it. And that’s exactly what Joy reiterates throughout the book: It’s time to put yourself out there.
Joy covers so much ground in Blog Inc that I am sure different bloggers will take away different things from the book. But here are some things I personally took away from Blog Inc.
1. Ask yourself: Who is your target audience? When I started ashly & monkey, I did it to create a place where I could share funny moments and funny stories with far away friends and family. I wanted something that was a little more personal than facebook and a blog proved to be a perfect space for me to do this. But as I started to make new friends through the blogosphere and read other blogs that peaked me interest I started to ask: Who are these people reading my blog? Why do they enjoy my content? How old are they? Am I writing for them? Or am I writing for me? And can I accomplish both simultaneously?
After mulling it over, I believe I am writing a blog for several groups of people, like other newlyweds, people in their twenties and perhaps people who just want a good laugh. At the heart of it all, I want to show that newlyweds can still be fun. I may have settled down but that doesn’t mean I’m boring or our relationship is boring. I want to document this time in our lives where we’re still trying to figure everything out… together. Andrew and I may be perfect for each other, but we are far from perfect human beings… and I like it that way… makes life more interesting.
2. Create a community: Connect with other bloggers online and face to face. In order to gain a readership you shouldn’t rely on your unique content alone to be picked up. Your mom make think your Yoda but no one else will know your wisdom unless you actively start to share it! You’re insightful comments on a fellow blogger’s blog post can lead them to check out your blog too. But its not enough to simply create an online community of bloggers you talk to, relate to or admire. Its also important to meet with bloggers face to face. Whether its at a social media conference or for a coffee date, its another way to make your connections stronger.
Joy says this is a hard step for bloggers because we’re so used to hiding behind our computer screen, blogging away about whatever we like. Making that face to face connection is crucial to building those relationships that will not only build your community of followers but also allows you to share and learn tips and strategies to blog better.
3. Building a media kit. This is part about blogging I admit, I know the least about. I’ve ear-marked page 138 in Blog Inc because it outlines (with check boxes I might add) what should be included in a media kit. I have every intention of re-reading it over and over again until it really sticks. The whole reason one would create a media kit is to get some sponsors. The fact that I could make money from doing something I love is a pretty incredible thought.
But how do I get those potential sponsors to notice my blog? Joy points out that you need to present a one or two page pdf that explains who you are, what you blog about and who reads your blog in detail.To get to this step you need to do your research and compare your blog to similar blogs out there. It begs the question, what makes your blog different from the rest? In a polite world where we’re taught to be humble, bragging about your own work can be hard to do. But as a blogger I need to learn to toot my own horn in order to get some recognition!
And this is the part that seems overwhelming. What if I try one day to get sponsors and no one bites? What if I never get 100,000 readers every month? Or on the flip side what if my blog gets picked up by a local newspaper or even a national magazine? It seems anything is possible in the blogosphere these days and as a result the path forward seems a little foggy. At least Joy gives us a road map that she’s created from personal experience. But its up to you to start the journey and see where it takes you… with any luck the fog will start to clear.
Like Joy says: it’s time to put yourself out there! So GO!