this blog simply out of an obsession with my son and a passion for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. I spend hours every week just testing out tools and cool, innovative new ways to grow businesses online. I blog and provide technical marketing consulting when I’m not Dad’ing.
Like you, I’ve toyed with the idea for a while. Not weeks, not months, YEARS! And even though I’ve set up the infrastructure for others more times than I can remember, I just never got around to putting pen to paper, (or finger to keyboard?) But here it is, my journey starts today, and hopefully, my sincere attempt at defining all of my conflicting strengths and weaknesses will help you decide to take the same actions to move forward, and show the world who you are, what you can do and why your voice needs to be heard.
Don’t worry, it’s safe to continue reading, the rest won’t be as soppy. It gets better and more practical, promise.
Let’s go through some the reasons why I’ve started this blog and see if you relate to any of these:
I’ve got a message that the world needs to hear, I believe I can help people establish who they really are and want to provide a platform and guidance to becoming all they can be, starting with writing.
Make some extra money. Even though this is the reason most of you are here, this is not the primary motivator here, but it’s a really awesome side benefit as you’ll see in my income reports as they roll-out from October 2017. (Starting with ZERO btw, just to show you how real this is to me, and how doable it will be for you)
Provide exposure to different opportunities. Having an established, or up and coming blog bodes very well for peripheral business opportunities you may have, it speaks to an entrepreneurial character trait you have and also a network under your influence. People will speak to you and think one thing $CHA-CHING$!
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty stuff:
Step 1: What are you going to blog about?
Here’s hoping you’d take a page out of my book and do a quick (or long, long is better, much better) introspection on what you’re passionate about, what piques your interest and what you can do really well.
Very recently, I was having this very same discussion with a close friend who also wanted(and now has) to start his own blog, but was unsure as to the core theme of the blog. We went round and round in circles, discussing niches, doing Google Trends searches for hot topics, using Google AdWords Keyword Planner to establish search volumes using Facebook’s’ Audience Insights Tool to establish the number of people interested in a topic that would make it financially feasible and a number of others. This can, and did take a while. We eventually decided to just start a Social Media Agency for consultants and anyone who exchanges time for money, chiropractors, physiotherapists, lawyers etc. We figured if we could do research that well on topics we’re not interested in, we might as well get paid for doing it for other people. We circled back. We still don’t have a blog idea.
We met up one week later. He screamed! “I’m so stupid! I love cooking! I love weird food, and I love poking fun at vegans!” It was decided. It would be a food blog, with a bit of a twist. We both realized instantaneously, no research had gone into the idea. He didn’t care much about the stats or the search volumes, just that he came alive when he entered his arena(the kitchen), and he wanted to tell the whole world about it. At the risk of sounding philosophical, he did an internal search, which was merely observational. He only observed himself, it took a few days, (as it does for most guys) but he got there and knew he hit the jackpot, the worst part was over, the rest is just plug ‘n play, formalities and some semi-technical things that techies don’t really want you to know. But, that’s why I’m here, to guide you through every step.
Step 2: Writing Style
This will be short.
Be yourself! I’ve decided to do nothing less than 100% Bruce. My writing will sound like I speak, convey the tone and emotion I would as if I were speaking in person and do this regardless of the outcome, or the annoyance some people. Get the Grammarly plugin (free)to make sure you’ve got the basics covered, but other than that. JUST. BE. YOU.
Step 3: Blogging Infrastructure
That’s just a fancy way of saying, let’s get all the pieces of the puzzle together and start building this thing.
There are a few to choose from here, I’ve listed only the most popular.
Hosted WordPress, or commonly referred to as “wordpress.com” blogs
Medium.com, a fairly recent platform compared to WordPress
I’ve tried to arrange the above in order of popularity, but opinions on this may differ.
You could literally, start your blog for free. Money (or lack thereof) can no longer be an excuse for you not starting your blog.
That being said, the limitations are severe with these “free” platforms:
You won’t be able to add a custom domain name for free
You won’t be able to serve your own advertisements.
Limited customization options
You may not actually own your blog with these “free” versions even you have mapped a personalized domain name to it. There have many cases where blogs have just been deleted by the company that runs it.
OK, so what’s the point if I can’t start for free and I’m at risk of losing many hours of hard work and a reputation I’ve built up?
The point simply, is that it’s possible to start with nothing, but perhaps not advisable, as it would be almost impossible to monetize and scaling would provide very little benefit to you, if at all.
The first thing to understand here is the concept of hosting. In essence, hosting provides a piece of internet real estate for your blog or website and when someone searches or goes to your “address”, they are essentially calling up your hosting address and being served your website through the browser. With the free options as listed above, the hosting is provided for you, this carries a cost to the company and must be off-set against other means of monetization. Eg, they will serve their own ads on your free blog or charge excessively to add your own domain.
Back to Paid Options, and we have 1000’s, if not 10’s of thousands of options here. I’ll list the most popular, most trusted and easy to use, but also the most cost effective.
BlueHost – Starting a $3.49 a month, you’ll have a hard time outgrowing this package. If you do, you’re already making big bucks. This is probably the most user friendly platform out there. It also offers a free domain name to go with your hosting. Whether you’re a techie, or a complete luddite, you’ll have no issues here, if you do, BlueHost offers a guarantee, if you decide it’s not for you, there’s not much to lose here.
HostGator – Starting at $3.95 a month, priced similarly to BlueHost, but somewhat harder to navigate. The platform takes some getting used to, but you’re sure to receive tremendous value for money. With great support and consultants ready to walk you through the platform and set-up. Drop a comment if you’re considering this option, we may be able to get you started with $0.01 for the first month, if the special is running at the time.
NameCheap – Starting at $8.88 a year for the first year, or 74 cents a month for the first 12 months, (paid up-front, of course), this is probably the easiest way to get started with a great blogging platform, with little to no cost involved. NameCheap has a super-friendly user-interface, with a gorgeous looking dashboard and the probably the best support I’ve ever seen. Depending on your needs, toggle between these 3, you’re sure to find something you need.
OK, OK, we skipped a step. How did we decide that WordPress is the way to go? Well, other than being easy to use, WordPress powers just north of 20% of all the sites on the net, has more than 2600 themes and more than 31000 plugins, is wonderful for search engine marketing and used and trusted by the likes of Google, Linkedin, Time Magazine, this is a pretty good resource if you’re still not convinced why you should be using WordPress.
Step 1: Do a quick (or long) internal search for what you love to do. Whether it’s football or raising kids, architecture or life hacks.
Step 2: Do You! Just You!
Step 3: Blogging Infrastructure: WordPress is the best blogging platform in the world, you could start for free if you wanted to, but there are some really well priced paid options to give you maximum value for literal cents on the dollar.
If you liked this article, feel free to share and subscribe, alternatively, let me know your thoughts below.
Now that you’ve covered the basics by setting up your blogging infrastructure, hopefully through WordPress as a CMS and BlueHost as a host for your blog and figured out what content form and type and length your target audience enjoys engaging with, it’s time to look at keeping them hooked with a series. This is the first step in building blog momentum.
But first, let’s do a quick recap
“Time to do it for myself” was my introductory blog post on how to get started as a blogger, if you haven’t gotten started yet, you can find it here.
Next, we had a quick look at how to structure your posts by using Epictions Epicbeat, or if you have the budget, BuzzSumo can provide similar results, you can find that post here.
Great, let’s jump straight into building momentum for your new blog. The first and most effective way being to create series that span anything from 1 week to 12 months.
We’ll break this up into 3 different types of series:
Short Term Series
Medium Term Series
Long Term Series or Continuity Series
Let’s define Short-Term Series:
A series that does not necessarily constitute blog posts but provides similar value with content being spread over 1-4 weeks. The introductory series for EntrepreneurDad is an email series of 7 emails, spread over one week. Short, concise, actionable, value-packed points to get your subscribers going and to earn your trust. Try not to sell anything, just provide value, this will create a platform for long-term ‘stickiness’.
Believe it or not, ’stickiness’ has officially become a buzzword in Customer Success circles and subscription services.
How to structure your short-term email series:
Let’s go through this by showing you the introductory email series for EntrepreneurDad, feel free to copy the bare bones and add your own meat.
Email 1 and 2: Basically, an introduction and a recap of Time to do it for myself (shortened version, of course, most people don’t read extensively long emails)
Email 3 and 4: How to monetize your blog
Email 5: My resources for staying abreast of everything that makes me ‘appy’ and technologically relevant.
Email 6: Using technology to scale growth as opposed to additional employees.
Email 7: Recap the previous 6 days and drop your favourite tips for your related field.
Remember to make this FREE! Free is a magical word that will bring you subscribers, value is what will keep them as subscribers.
Medium Term Series:
Most blogs or businesses will have short-term goals or accomplishments they gunning for. For instance. Right now, the medium-term goal is to get EntrepreneurDad 50 000 subscribers. Telling the story of how I get there, the tools and strategies I’m employing to do this as well as the progress I’m making, switching up things that don’t work and how I research paid or unpaid tools as alternatives to help me achieve the medium-term goals could constitute a large number of posts and an even larger number of emails. Typically, we’re looking at a 2-12-month period for Medium Term Series. The important thing to note is that you need an “Attractive Character”. This character should either be you, as the founder of your blog, or you’ll need to create one. An “attractive character” is a protagonist who your target audience can relate to. With EntrepreneurDads’ audience, I endeavour to inspire readers to take the same actions as I do, to appeal to what is seemingly difficult, complicated or even impossible to achieve, and show them that even an average jo(k)e like me could do it. And if I can, so can you. Russell Brunson calls this the Reluctant Hero, which is my favourite character. I suspect that it will become many of yours’ too.
Short Term and Medium Term combined:
There will be a number of tactics you employ to achieve a medium-term goal. As you explore these individual strategies you’ll most likely become astute at using certain tools, develop certain revelations and epiphany moments (it’s really ok to admit that in public btw) and begin to develop a reputation in your chosen field. These skills, assets you possess, can easily be deconstructed and reconstituted into a short-term series. E.g. “How implementing Sumo.com got me to 20 000” subscribers- Free 10-part Email Series on Conversion Rate Optimization”
The longer you go at this, the more content you’ll have to reconstitute and the more consistent and relevant your communications with your local readers can become.
The Long-Term Series or Continuity Series is really just that. A concept that your readers or looky-loos can grasp instantly and know exactly what it’s about and even if they don’t subscribe, they’ll come back to check on its status. This also gives your loyal readers a soap-opera-like concept to hang on the edge of their seats about, waiting in anticipation to see if your newest short-term series contributed at all to the bigger picture, the continuity series, and if it works for you, it can work for them, and they celebrate the joint victory with you.
To bring this back home, for EntrepreneurDad, the Monthly Income Reports will show how we’ve scaled from zero (still zero at the time of writing this, 20 September 2017) to where it is now. This is the overarching goal of your business or blog and the reason why you’re here in the first place. The metrics should usually be easily quantified, if not, find some form of easily relatable and trackable yardstick to measure growth and progress.
If you’re in the health and fitness niche it could be an additional 100kgs to getting to 1 million kgs lost through your program, or 100 000 hours of video recordings if you’re a videographer. This is a concept called gamification and it’s one of the reasons why we can’t stay away from sports and become emotionally attached to players who may break world records and follow their stats even if we’re not really that interested in the sport. There’s also the other form of gamification for the marketing nerds shaking your heads right now but that’s a post for another day.
Let’s put this back together and wrap it in a bow.
Gaining momentum with your blog is all about keeping readers engaged. You can do this in the short term with a mini-series of value-added emails or a free course based on your experience with a strategy or based on your experience as a professional in your niche.
We use the strategies, tools and experiences in short-term series’ to document progress in Medium term goals. These strategies adapt as we grow with technology and our readers’ attention evolves with it. Document the successes, failures, annoyances and points of praise in your experience with software, consultants or devices as this will serve as a trusted review of the product or service you’re engaging with.
Continuity Series leverages an almost unattainable but worthy goal to win the heart of every onlooker to root for you, to subscribe to your service or product and to run the race with you. Combine these three in an intertwining, recurring loop and you’ll always have content for your growing base.
Getting Started With Blogging. Part 2
How to Structure a Blog Post- Blog Post Framework
Before we talk about Blog Post Framework and how to structure your blog posts, you should have at this time already have hosting covered and hopefully decided on a blogging platform, I highly recommend WordPress. If you haven’t gotten around to it yet remember you can grab it from:
NameCheap – Starting at74 cents a month for the first 12 months
You may have also gotten around to what you’re going to blog about. If you haven’t yet, you probably have a similar problem to the one I had. It’s not that I didn’t know what to write about, its that I wanted to write about too many things. But as I delved deeper, I instead thought about the people I want to serve. Who are they? Where are they? Do they relate to me? Do they believe what I believe? Those are broad questions for when you’re attempting to flesh out a customer avatar. You can find more information on customer avatars here, this is an affiliate marketing training program with tremendous value, totally free!
Let’s circle back. With the blog post framework, you want to be in a position to decide what the ideal length of an article would be, would your readers prefer an infographic instead? Or maybe they don’t even like reading and prefer a video.The aim is always to acquire traffic and then maintain and grow that traffic with readable, engaging, easy to digest content.
Because of an obsession I have with web-apps, I’m going to show you my number one method for determining the framework for your blog posts.
With a 14 day trial and a really moderate price tag, you’re sure to dig up some really awesome data on your target audience on how to effectively structure your blog posts for maximum engagement. Epictions EpicBeat crawls sites and their related social networks to monitor their engagement then serves you with the most current and engaging topics.
Here’s a quick search I did on “blogging”:
Now we’ve magically got the best articles with regards to engagement, relevance, time span and geography if you have a look at the left sidebar of the image.
Click on Content Insights, (next to content),
select “Top Formats and Content-Type” and
you should come up with something akin to this:
I know, right? Clearly, the interest in blogging centres around “Why” articles, eg, “why you should start blogging” and “How” eg, “How to start a blog” or “How to make money blogging”.
Part 1 Figured Out, we know the format that will attract the most engagement.
Part 2, How long Should my blog post be?
It’s either going to be long, or it’s going to be short(er). First, longer articles tend to contain more value and tend to rank better in terms of SEO. But they’re hard work and require a tremendous amount of research. The downside, you need to be really engaged and interested to finish some of these article types.
85 Ways to Grow Your Email List is one of the best articles I’ve read, but to be honest, I’ve tried several times but could never finish it in one go, it IS after all, around 12000 words long. There is an array of freebies, beautiful, content-rich infographics and value-adding content to keep you busy for weeks on end. If you prefer this type of long-form writing, you’re probably already a content marketing rockstar and you’ll definitely reap the rewards.
Second, shorter more concise articles, get straight to point and give the reader time to read, process and more importantly, ENGAGE with your content. You always want your readers to comment on your article, positive, positive or negative comments may also drive SEO rankings.
Quick SEO Tip: Google scours the internet for value to provide for its searches, more engagement on an article will tick Google’s algorithm in your favour in terms of SEO.
We’ll click on Text Analysis and out will pop this beauty:
Here it’s easy to that we’re hitting the mark with around 500-1K words for the search term “blogging”,
but we’re also heading into the high content difficulty region, probably because there are so many blog posts about starting a blog, the value and insight level would need to increase.
Finally, and most importantly, Epictions EpicBeat can be used as a resource for sourcing and curating the most current, engaging and most prominent blog resources for your chosen niche, with a WordPress plugin that allows you to curate content directly into your site.
Post Type: Article
Article Length: 500-1000 words with relative difficulty.
Now that we’ve got some of the framework, let’s run through the content structure.
Introduction and Pre-Frame, set your reader up for a great read and sell what you’re going to write a bit, let the anticipation build for a bit, they are, after all, giving you their most precious resource, their time. 50-100 words should do here
Body(Good Stuff), really good content goes here.
The body should consist of around 60-70% of the article. The better researched you are, the more you include relevant images(don’t forget your “alt” tags) and can explain away complex issues in layman’s terms, the better you’ll do.
Remember to follow a flow of information as one step sets the stage for the next chunk of info you’re throwing at your reader.
Recap or conclusion.
Quick concise summary of what you just told them, make this about 10-20% of your article length.
With that being said, let’s do a quick recap of this article.
Get your hosting setup, if you haven’t done so, click here to get started.
Write about something you’re passionate about and if you’re not exactly sure what that is, write to and for the people you want to serve, find them by creating a customer avatar using the free affiliate marketing training tools, quite literally the best in the industry.
Run the trial version of Epictions EpicBeat, then research your writing topic see which articles are ‘trending”, then do an analysis on the content type and text analysis to see which post format is best engaged with as well as ideal length for maximum engagement.
See also, BuzzSumo and implement similar strategies for optimum results, BuzzSumo does offer a free trial, but the paid version comes at a much higher price tag.