If you are like me, you started blogging because you viewed it as a way to further your career, your business and/or increase your income.
While blogging to further your career or increase your income is certainly a worthwhile motive, it’s not enough.
Blogging successfully requires readers and readership doesn’t come easy.
I believe success in online publishing or blogging has three fundamental requirements. But before I get into those, I like to share some of my background for context.
I have spent the last decade leveraging the internet to help both patients and healthcare professionals make better healthcare decisions through high quality education. As CEO of an internet health publisher focused on chronic diseases such as diabetes and chronic back pain, I publish content for very specific audiences who are thirsty for information. These are people whose lives depend upon making smart decisions every single day about what they eat, the medications they take and how they exercise their bodies. Because of this high level of engagement and interest, our patients interact with us frequently via Facebook, Twitter and our proprietary health websites. These interactions provide a tremendous amount of data about what interests them and what queries they use to find answers to their questions. As a result, we know their frustrations and where they have gaps in knowledge. All this information led us to launch a series of company blogs designed to help patients develop the right questions and find the right answers to those questions.
But beyond working in online health, I also suffer from several chronic autoimmune diseases, which give me additional perspective and life experience related to health blogging.
Ultimately the combination of my work and life experience drove me to become a health blogger in addition to the blogs we launched on our business sites. While my company certainly benefits from the additional exposure, it all serves to further my personal brand in the online health industry. This effort to launch both a company and personal blog got me thinking about the common characteristics every blogger needs to be successful: Unmet Need, Expertise, and Distribution.
Whether you are looking to launch a blog or have already started, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions related to those three key components.
Unmet Need: Is there an unmet information need in the market?
Through my work, it became apparent that Americans lack unbiased health information and the wherewithal to use it to good effect when they do. I started blogging to help meet that need, and I did it by writing posts on how patients can become more empowered.
Unless you have something to say that solves someone else’s problem, you will never build a sustainable blog. Chris Brogan is a superstar blogger because thousands of people are leveraging blogging to further their careers. Same goes for Michael Hyatt on leadership and building a platform. These men are successful because they found a niche where a large audience of committed individuals are looking for advice.
What market need are you satisfying? If you don’t know, take the time to define it. Once you define it, then write to it. That means focus like a laser on the issues that matter to that community.
- My role as CEO of a health information publisher coupled with my experience as a patient with chronic disease gave me the opportunity to help others navigate our healthcare environment and make better healthcare decisions. (Expertise)
- While a platform can be built from scratch (see MichaelHyatt.com) it is a heck of a lot easier to leverage your current network. Twitter, Linked-in, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and other social networking tools are incredible amplifiers for your message. I built my Linked-in and Twitter communities knowing they would help distribute my content. (Distribution)
What information or life experience do you have that other people would benefit from?
Need alone is not what makes Michael Hyatt and Chris Brogan successful. We are all travelling down the path they trail blazed. Their life experience AND their business experience give them an expertise in the need they are meeting. It’s this combination of Need and Experience that makes them compelling to hundreds of thousands of their followers.
I often hear people say “write what you love.” I am not sure I buy this. I love my wife and kids; I’m not going to start blogging about family and parenting. I have nothing to offer that is any better than what anyone else is writing out there and it has NOTHING to do with my business or desired career path. Write about what you know AND where there is an audience seeking information. This is different from “write what you love.” Passion is great, but unless that passion is accompanied by useful information for your audience that adds to the dialogue in your field, why bother?
Do you have an effective platform for getting your message out?
The beauty of living in today’s environment is that any individual can create a brand and build a platform specific to a tribe, to borrow a phrase from Seth Godin. It has never been easier for everyday people to leverage their life and business experience to create a voice for themselves among the masses. Twitter, Google +, Facebook, Pinterest among others provide the tools and “loud speakers” to introduce your message to the masses. Identify who the thought leaders are in your space and start connecting with them in social media then leverage those connections to amplify your message. The key to success here is to be generous yourself. The more you share and promote others material, the more others will share and promote your material. Blogging certainly takes commitment, but your commitment needs to include a willingness to build your own distribution network by engaging with others online and offline.
These are the keys to becoming a successful blogger. Identify and write to an unmet need, leverage your life and business experience and finally build a platform for distributing your message to interested readers. It takes work and thoughtfulness, but once you find your voice you will see visitor counts in Google Analytics start to rise.