By Hannah Ross
This post is part of the Conference Series, where 2016 PRSSA National Conference attendees from AU PRSSA reflect on the lessons they learned from the conference’s events and panels. Click here for more conference blogs.
At the 2016 PRSSA National Conference in Indianapolis I had the opportunity to hear from two blogging experts on how to craft a successful blog. One of the panelists was Anne Waddington, who works full-time at a startup while also managing her beauty blog, As Seen on Anne. Waddington created her blog as a way to express her creativity and contribute to the beauty blogging community. The other speaker was Ron Culp, a veteran in the public relations industry, current Professional Director of the Graduate PR and Advertising Program at DePaul University, and author of the Culpwrit blog. The idea for Culpwrit was pitched by interns and created by Culp as a way to mentor young professionals through a virtual, wide-reaching platform. Waddington and Culp had largely different motivations for creating their blogs and their site content reflects that. In terms of advice for successful blogging, however, their methods were very similar. These are the specific suggestions the two gave on creating a successful blog.
1. Plan ahead
Map out the overall concept of the blog and plan out your content and social media involvement. Thoroughly research your ideas and shop around to find hosting companies to secure your URL.
2. Seek inspiration
Make sure you have a topic you want to talk about on a regular basis and figure out how you’ll use your own voice on it.
3. Become an expert
This takes a lot of time and extensive research. Create an “inspiration binder” to help you plan the overall direction of your blog. Create a Google Analytics account early on to observe site traffic and track which topics get more viewers.
4. Test ideas
Write down 150 ideas. Sounds like a lot, right? If you don’t have a ton of ideas and different angles to take on your topic, you might not be able to sustain a blog.
5. Invest Time
Understand the full time commitment required to make a solid blog. Anne spends 15 to 20 hours a week on her’s but people who make a living solely from their blogs spend more time on them. You could also invest in coding and SEO (search engine optimization) lessons.
6. Personal Branding
Market yourself and your blog using your personal and social networks. You may want to make new social media accounts specifically for your blog if you think it will improve your overall messaging.
7. Be Authentic
Not to discourage anyone interested in starting a blog, but the blogging community is so saturated. While your content can be influenced by other blogs, being original and having your own unique voice will set you apart.
8. Connect and engage
Respond to reader’s comments and questions. Build a community with readers and other bloggers and do your share of outreach. Publishing guest posts from other well-known bloggers is a great way to bring in new readers and build a following.
Try new things. Your blogs can take on variations of your main topic. This keeps the conversation fresh and prevents you from getting bored.
10. Avoid “haters”
Don’t second-guess yourself. People may question your ideas, but if you throw yourself into the process and fully commit to the content, there will be pay-off.
Overall, both speakers put repeated emphasis on the commitment a blog takes. You’re ready to make a blog when you’re prepared to invest time and money and have a topic you fully understand and are ready to approach from many angles. They also encouraged anyone in the process of developing a blog not to get discouraged when viewership starts out low. There are a lot of blogs already out there but if you follow the steps needed and combine hard work, strategy, and personal creativity, people will pay attention.