The Art of Professional Blogging Series:
- Mentally Blogging Like A Pro
- Technically Blogging Like A Pro
First, let me get the credentials out of the way so you understand where I am coming from.
I am James Mowery, and I was formally a contributing writer and social media analyst for Mashable.com—it is currently the #1 ranked social media blog on the internet today. I left Mashable last year to pursue my own technology blog appropriately named Tech In Demand. It covers topics including technology, gadgets, web 2.0, and games. It is where I often express my insights and provide analysis about tech industry.
Before getting into blogging I worked as a proprietary financial trader. I primarily traded stocks and futures. It is during this time when I really got a sense for managing risk, as having millions of dollars under my control (without even having that much money to lose) could shake even the most mentally stable men and women on this planet.
After that, I took some time to join a gamer site called Total Gamer Zone. It was there where I finally understood what I wanted to do with my life. My ability to write amazing articles that people appreciated motivated me to write, and write I did.
I wrote articles that probably would have taken the average person days to write, and I did it in a matter of a few hours. The words simply came to me, and having fast fingers helped as well.
All that was my into Mashable, which solidified my status as an authority on the topics I am so determined to write about. I hope this article proves useful and inspirational to all aspiring professional bloggers everywhere.
Part 1: Mentally Blogging Like A Pro
Let’s Get Busy
Blogging is an art form—no question about it. While many of us might lack the ability to rock on a guitar, paint a masterpiece, avoid destroying someone’s ear drums, or get jiggy with it—writing a great article is something that most people can do with some motivation and a willingness to learn.
I am only 21 years old, and even though I have only recently started blogging professionally (within the past two years), writing has been a part of my life since the first day I was able to spell my full name.
This is a guide for helping those that are looking to get a head start or get some new insight on blogging like the professionals.
The Essential Blogging Skills
The way I would sum this up comes out to two simple skills. The first, and maybe most important skill, is the ability to inform your audience. You are giving knowledge to all your readers in some way. In my particular case, I inform people with facts, but my opinions—in many cases—serve a different purpose.
Entertainment. You also must be able to entertain your readers. The ability to entertain your audience is a crucial part in blogging, and while you might be able to get away with only informing your audience, it would be beneficial if you could entertain them as well.
With my blog, Tech In Demand, I voice my opinion on what I am discussing as a way to entertain my readers, and leave the facts to do the informing. My most popular articles are those when I voice my opinion in a passionate manner. Both of these skills are valuable, and you should make every attempt to use both in all your future writings.
Read other blogs that inform and entertain you. Take notes and learn from those who are more experienced than yourself
Know Your Audience
Understanding your audience is a valuable way to influence new and current readers into coming back. This will make it easier on you for targeting your content—you want people to actually read your content. You don’t want to blog about physics if your audience is primarily female teenagers, and you don’t want to blog about video games if your audience is primarily working moms. Makes sense right?
Here are a few things to learn about the majority of your reader base so you can properly target your content:
You might be asking yourself, how do you find out this information? It is simple really—communicate with your readers! Use polls, comments, or emails to talk communicate. I am also sure that some of your readers will have blogs, and that means you should read them to understand your audience better.
I know that the majority of my readers have gone to or are currently attending college and are also very tech savvy. That works for me—after-all, I do blog about technology. It is not difficult to figure this stuff out with a few days of getting to know your readers on a more personal level.
Interestingly enough, when you first start blogging, you should be attracting users to the topics you want to write about. As long as you stay on topic, people which are interested in the topics you write about should flow to you.
Also, if you share more personal information about yourself, you are likely to encourage those who are reading about you to subscribe. It creates a level of trust that people appreciate. Make yourself accessible (safely) to the public and your readers.
Find Your Niche
There are some exceptions to this, but in nearly all cases, it is better to blog about one specific thing instead of many. The more specific you are, the better chance you have to become the most popular authority for any particular subject.
Blogging about technology is a tough task. Chances of becoming popular are very low. It is by hard work and determination that I have been able to get Tech In Demand to where it is at.
Everyone should hammer down on something more specific to find your niche. Consider blogging about Nokia cell phones, PlayStation 3 action games, PHP programming, or Mac OS X software. These specific niche topics will result in more traffic.
Researching your niche is also extremely important, but it requires more than a paragraph to explain how to do this. I will cover that topic in another article at a later time.
Voice Your Own Opinion, Not Someone Else’s
You have a blog—so voice your own opinion on the topics you write about. Simply posting a link to another article stating that “you should read this great article on [whatever site] about [whatever topic]” is somewhat counter productive. While some bloggers get away with this, it would make much more sense—in the long term—to have people visiting your site for your content, not other people’s content.
If you are going to link people to other content, the least you could do is share your thoughts on what the author wrote. This way, when the person who went to view the other article comes back, your readers will understand your opinions and find value in the time invested visiting your site.
Not shockingly, from personal experience, I notice that the articles I write where my opinion is prevalent throughout are the most popular. These articles are the ones that gain you subscribers. I might even land a few subscribers as a result of this article alone, and while that wasn’t the intent, it is simply an after-effect. That is what you want to happen.
Do the work for your readers so they don’t have to. I would never read a blog that only sent me to other places to do the reading. I went to that person’s blog to read what they had to say. Don’t make this mistake. It could become a bad habit.
Last but not least, have fun with your blog. When readers see that you are having fun and passionate about your writing, it will keep them interested in following what you have to say. Make a connection with your readers. Relate things to your readers. If you can’t have fun, then it is not worth it.
To Be Continued…
I focused primarily on the mental aspects of blogging in this first part. The next article in the series will focus on the technical side.
I hope you will consider leaving some feedback. Subscribing also couldn’t hurt. I also hope this article will serve as a great resource and inspiration to those of you who are trying to take your blogging to the next level.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!