I’ve been blogging since 2012. It’s changed my life and, more importantly, my mindset in ways I can never fully convey to others who don’t blog. Only those of you who do blog truly know what I mean.
For those of you who don’t blog, I know what you’re going through. I’ve been where you are, I’ve been at this over three years now.
I’ve come to realize over those three years that we all go through what I refer to as the 3 stages of blogging. Some people do it right. They start at step one, move to step two and finally arrive at step 3.
Others like to jump ahead. Get right to the end game. These people fade fast. Don't let that be you. Follow the steps in order.
Identify, which stage you are currently in and you’ll know where you need to go next.
Stage one – Realizing that you need a blog
Perceive – To become aware or conscious of (something); come to realize or understand.
The first stage of blogging is reaching an understanding that you actually need one. For most, this is not a quick process. Some may never get there, others will eventually.
My personal goal is that everyone just starts. But beware. Once you start, it’s possible that great things will happen.
Maybe you start because something happens and you finally realize that the world has changed and you need to change with it. Maybe you read an article, attended a conference or maybe your annoying cube mate who has been prattling on and on about the importance of having a website finally sunk in.
Whatever your inciting incident may be, you finally understand that you need a website. This is stage one. Perceiving. If you’re already here and you have a website, you may skip ahead to stage 2.
If you’ve not yet reached perceive, take a look at these stats.
- 93% of recruiter today review your online profile before they ever give you a call.
- 70% of employers have rejected a candidate because of information they found about them online.
- 85% of employers have stated that a good online reputation influences their hiring decisions.
Not convinced yet? That’s ok. You will be someday. In the meantime, get comfortable with the notion that you may be missing opportunities.
Missing opportunities? What’chu talkin' 'bout Wills?
Follow me for a minute. It used to be if you wanted to meet someone, you'd do it face-to-face.
The face-to-face meeting allowed you to control your message and to a certain extent the impression you made on the individual. This is still true if you meet someone face-to-face for the first time.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
However, in today’s always-on age of the internet, more likely than not your first impression is going to be made online.
Think about that for a minute. It’s now completely possible for your first impression to be made while you are asleep. Are you ready for that? Most aren’t.
People rely on Google for information on everything, from what cars to buy to vacation spots to visit. There are even people out there who want to find information about you. That’s right you.
Do you know what people find when they Google your name today? Whatever they find forms an impression in their mind. That impression becomes their reality and this reality could cost you opportunities.
On the flip side, if you’re actively managing your online profile you could be gaining opportunities based on what people find.
If you own your domain, congratulations. You are now ready for stage two.
Stage Two – Become the Google of your niche
Believe – accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of.
As I mentioned above we rely on Google for, dare I say, everything. In stage two of blogging, you’ll begin to use your blog to become the Google of your niche. This happens in two steps; Creation and Curation.
[Tweet “Become the Google of your niche!”]
No, not the “create the world kind” of creation. I’m talking about creating content that will go on your site in the form of a blog post. It’s a sad reality that a website doesn’t do much good if there’s no content on it.
It also doesn’t do you much good if the content is unstructured or unfocused so before you start your blog, you really need to understand what your blog will be about.
This is usually what stops people from moving forward in stage two. What to write about. Here are three suggestions to get you started.
What do you like?
What do you do on the weekends, what books or magazines do your read, what websites do you visit frequently? Use these questions as a starting point. Pick one and start. You can refine and revise later.
What do people ask you about?
This one requires some effort on your part. For the next week pay attention to what people ask you for advice about; the latest technology, woodworking, knitting, or whatever. If people are asking you for advice, this could be a great place to start.
What do you want to be known for?
This one requires the most effort on your part. You need to assess where you are today and where you want to go. Identify the gaps in between. It’s the journey to achieve what you want to be known for that you can write about. To get here, you may need a little help. Which is why I created the personal branding blueprint.
Curation is the act of gathering, organizing and displaying information on a topic or area of interest. This is exactly what Google does. It curates content from all over the internet, organizes and displays it for you to see.
So in addition, to creating content, you’ll also curate content. Find people with common interests and share their content with others. Over time, you will be looked to as a thought leader and authority in your niche.
There are tools you can use to automate this process but I’ll cover that in another post. When you’re starting out you need to do this without an automated system.
After you’ve been creating and curating content for awhile, you’ll gain an audience or a group of followers who look to you for advice and insights. Once you reach this stage you’re ready for stage three.
Stage Three – Monetization
Achieve – reach or attain (a desired objective, level, or result) by effort, skill, or courage.
Some new bloggers try to jump directly to this step, skipping the first two. Those who do usually fail. Why? Because they skipped the first two. How do I know? Because I tried and I failed.
Without knowing the purpose of your site and without being the google of your niche, monetization will fail to meet your (unrealistic) expectations.
While this post is not meant to go into depth on the various ways you can monetize your website, after completing stages one and two here are a few ways it’s possible.
– Affiliate sales
– Google AdWords
– Online courses
– Membership sites
I’ve listed these methods in the order in which they are typically implemented. Each one requires additional knowledge and in most cases are incremental to one another.
The further up the monetization ladder you go, your expenses will also increase. Products may require special software, courses require a camera and video editing software, memberships require plugins or other software.
Regardless of which stage you are currently in, my advice to you is to keep going. If you haven’t started, go buy your domain name. If you have website, pick your area of interest, create and curate. Become the Google of your niche.
For those who find themselves in stage three, my advice to you is to join a mastermind group. I’m in two and I'm not sure where I’d be with them.
QUESTION: What stage are you in? Tweet your answer to me @RyanRhoten. Do you think there are other stages? Let me know that as well.