Not a day passes when I am not thinking of what to write next. It is imbued in my system in such a way that I’m always looking for new topics to write on in the 2 websites I operate (Kolkata Musing is the other one). For a blogger that’s just one hat to wear on. There are other roles of a blogger, and I guess they are no less significant (or demanding, if you may) than writing.
We will go into them shortly. Before that… let’s take a peep into how it all started (in my opinion).
In February 2011 Google made a change in search results ranking algorithm which it called Panda. It acted as a sieve to filter out low-quality or content-thin sites from ranking well in the search results. Panda went through many modifications guided – as many experts suggest – largely by
In late September 2013 Google released the Hummingbird algorithm which it claims will make search more human for the users and provide them direct answers. Steve Masters, an SEO strategist, wrote this about Hummingbird:
In a nutshell, think about why people are looking for something rather than what they are looking for. A content strategy should be designed to answer their needs, not just provide them with facts.
Consequently, Google has let it known that you need to have high-quality content in your website that is helpful and information-rich. It has also revealed its preference for in-depth articles since nearly 10% of people’s daily information needs fit this category.
When you consider the above points it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 93% B2B marketers in the North America now use content marketing for their business. In other words, for any web business, content marketing is the harbinger of growth and influence in the foreseeable future.
With this as the backdrop let’s look at the multiple roles of a blogger.
As a Reader & Watcher
Whoever said, there is no output if there is no input, is right. Look around, you’ll see it is the fact of life. And it is true for blogging as well. In this case if you wish to write something meaningful you need to read a lot and watch events closely as they unfold.
Warren Buffet once said, “I just sit in my office and read all day.” On how to get smarter, Buffet’s formula is to read a lot (500 pages) because that’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.
Stephen King, hailed as one of the most successful writers alive, has a similar take as Buffet’s. On the relationship between reading and writing, he remarked:
“Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
How do reading and watching help in does today’s web scenario?
- You will be in touch with the latest that is happening in your field
- You will know the views of experts in your field and what the fellow watchers like you have to say
- You will know the style of writing and presentation of contents on the web
- You will get first-hand idea of what the viewers want in your field
In short, don the hat of a reader, an observer, a researcher. And of a content hoarder.
Why a content hoarder?
I think the most essential pre-requisite for success in blogging is collecting an abundance of resources which you not only read at leisure but also put to use when writing. To give an example I have referred to at least 14 resources to write this article which I had collected in recent past (just check the outgoing links).
As a Writer
If reading is the input for knowledge, writing is the input for practice. Hardly ever, if at all, will you write something really great in your first attempts. The litany of woes for writers is long. None makes it easier than writing a lot.
In the words of Molly Backes, accomplished teacher and novelist, when asked what a wannabe writer should be doing:
You really do have to write a lot. I mean, that’s mostly it. You write a lot.
I have seen many people avoiding to write much because they think they won’t have many viewers to read them. This is a mistake.
Writing helps you connect your thoughts with words and give them a meaning that people understand and can relate to. Writing forces you to commit your ability, and also make mistakes which you correct and learn not to repeat.
The journey from just-writing to great-writing is a long one. And believe me it will be littered with your repeated attempts to improve upon what you wrote last.
To quote Molly Backes again:
I swear there’s no magic trick, no simple solution, no get-writerly-quick scheme. You have to write a lot of words. You have to write your heart out. And in the end, you discover that the writing’s what matters. Writing is its own reward. I promise.
There is no shortcut really.
As a Marketer
According to Internet Live Stats website, over 466 million blog articles have been posted this year as I write this (May 15). This roughly translates to 3.5 million blog posts every day.
Now that is a massive volume of information spewing out every day in the blogosphere vying for attention (refer image below).
Given the scale of contents being created every day it is clear that the average blog writer faces tremendous odd as to whether his post will at all be read by anyone. This is the reason why you as a blogger need to be a marketer too, because who else other than you will trumpet the post written by you.
Companies market their blog posts by hiring outside agencies or do that in-house by dedicated employees. If you are a standalone blogger you’ll perhaps do the marketing yourself.
How to market your blog?
The best place to market your posts is the social media. The quicker you befriend the social media and use it to your advantage, the better it is for your content marketing.
We all know the major social media destinations but what if you knew some nifty social media tools that give you the best value for your efforts? Here is a list of 60 of them. And while there listen to what AddThis suggests as the best time when you should post your content.
As a Waiter
You have to wait for success to reach you.
And while you await success you have to do everything as a reader, as a writer, as a marketer over and over again… so that people who read your posts come to appreciate your expertise bit by bit.
This takes time. This doesn’t happen in a few days.
Consistency is the key to success. In a study by HubSpot it was found that those who published blog entries on a regular basis (more than once a week) added subscribers over twice as fast as those companies that added content once a month.
Rand Fishkin’s video is succinct on what actually works for content marketing to succeed. Take a look at the following image I have borrowed from the site.
In particular Rand cautions against (1) not properly planning for the time and effort needed, and (2) giving up way on your efforts too early.
What’s more apt than hearing it from someone who struggled her way up to become a Forbes blogger. Here is what Susannah Breslin has to say:
These days, it’s not enough to be a good writer online. You have to be a smart marketer, your own content factory, your own publicist. If you can do it all, you are golden. If you cannot, you are screwed.
Tell us what you think about your role as a blogger. We are all ears to hear you.
Image at the top, courtesy Chrissy Linz at Flickr.