Guest Post by Allison Barrett Carter of Allison Barrett Carter, Writer
The best blog advice I can give: Know your reason for blogging and have great brand identity.
The biggest confession I can offer: I have never followed this advice.
My blog has been the outlet of my very diverse life. It has been a lot of fun, but also (if I am honest), one hot mess. I started with lifestyle posts, listicles, and participating in all the linky parties I could find, trying to get in with the cool kids at the lunch table. It never worked out; nothing stuck.
Then one blessed day, my writing was published outside of my blog. Then it happened again. And again. And I became addicted.
Suddenly I realized what mattered most to me was creating dialogue on issues that I cared about.
I knew I needed platforms bigger than my little site to make that happen. If what I wanted was to be heard, I needed to think bigger than myself. Being published on other sites became my heart’s goal.
With my passion unveiled, my blog changed. Once I realized I wasn’t trying to capture readers to create affiliate link clicks, bump my Facebook likes, or increase my SEO, my blog became a place of immeasurable freedom. (To be clear: I am not altruistic. Being paid for my writing is also a goal.)
Here is what changed when I decided I wasn’t blogging to blog, but instead, to establish a freelance writing career:
#1 I changed my design.
Instead of menu items that were categories I blogged about, I put my freelance writing front and center. I pared down my menu to what I really wanted people to know: where I was published, where they could read me, and how diverse my writing is (in case they want to hire me).
I pushed my new blog posts to the bottom, especially as content wasn’t as fresh anymore (see more on that in point #3). I wanted people to come to my blog and understand that this was the place they could see what a writer was thinking and doing.
#2 I spent way less time on images.
I still believe that every blog post needs to have an image, and a Pin-able one, too. But I also realized that touchy-feely parenting essays aren’t the best fodder for the Pintermarket. I stopped stressing about making sure the images were long-ways, had red font, all saved in just the right way, etc. Of course, I want to keep all social media options open to my readers, but I also know I am much more about the words.
#3 I changed my content calendar.
It is hard to write heaps of original content for both your own blog and the big places outside of your blog (if you want to be paid by a site, it has to be original content). Even the best writers only have so many words and valuable ideas in their heads; even the most efficient people only have so much time in a day.
I no longer worried about posting “on a consistent schedule” on “consistent topics.” Memes, series, etc., were simply not for me. I began to draft my absolute best work, edit like crazy, then decide the right homes for those essays and pitch them.
From there, I committed to one post a week on my blog as a means to keep practicing connection and my craft.
*I am not recommending this as the way to grow your blog. In fact, if you want more SEO power, regular visitors, and affiliate earnings, this is NOT what you do. Remember: my goals had changed.
#4 I stayed out of my Google Analytics.
I didn’t care what the keywords were or what click path people were following once they arrived at my site. I was practicing my writing. Period.
Of course, I wanted to know what went over well with my friends, family, and devoted readers, but I felt I was getting a better sense for that through social shares and those who cared to comment, versus the wiles of the unseen SEO gods.
#5 I changed my social media plan.
In reference to point #2, I realized that touchy-feely essays played better in some social media markets. Facebook became huge for me, Pinterest not nearly as much. Google+ actually drives a lot of traffic my way, Twitter slowed down considerably without good lifestyle hashtags to hook into.
Knowing my new goals, though, made me realize that this was not a point for me to stress over. I can’t reasonably conquer all social media platforms (perio-who?what?). But since I was no longer hoping to land a huge national sponsorship (although still looking at you ATHLETA) I no longer felt the pressure. I was, instead, compelled to spend more time at my computer typing through tough ideas and mincing my words on round eight of edits.[bctt tweet=”‘I can’t reasonably conquer all social media platforms’ @allisonbarrettc”]
Honestly BYBer’s, my life changes all the time, and I may change back to more lifestyle posts. My personal blog may undergo another transformation to reflect a new phase in my life. But that is the beauty of a blog. It reflects who we are as people behind the screens.
It should also be clear that these 5 points are not for everyone and should probably have some legal disclaimer language attached.
But I will say that, in conclusion, the best advice I have discovered in my new journey: make sure everything about your blog reflects the goals of your heart.[bctt tweet=”‘Make sure everything about your blog reflects the goals of your heart’ @allisonbarrettc”]
Allison Barrett Carter is a freelance writer in North Carolina. She is on a journey to keep learning and finding the best life, documenting it all on her website. Her pieces have appeared in many places such as New York Times’ Motherlode, The Mid, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, and in several print anthologies, as well as various local news outlets. Follow her on Twitter or on her Facebook page.