I promise this isn’t going to be a “bait-and-switch” post — I truly believe that this technique is one of the most difficult there is. However, there is going to be a certain element of “hmm, that’s obvious” when you see what it is.
Let me back up though.
I started blogging in 2007, and like most new bloggers I had to figure things out the hard way — what should I write about? How long should my posts be? What can I do to make money from blogging? How can I generate traffic?
These questions led to a foundation for blogging that eventually became my fundamental beliefs, philosophy, and principles for the subject.
For example, there’s a particular way I generate leads. There’s a certain way I set up social media profiles and a certain way I use them. There are the good references for how to monetize your blog, and there are certainly the things you should try to avoid at all costs.
The problem is, for each and every blogger, these “things” are different. You might prefer Chitika over AdSense, and have the stats to back it up. Blogger A might swear by Facebook and Twitter, while Blogger B might think it’s all about LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Basically, there are as many ways to “do it” as there are bloggers and blogs. Since all of them are different, it’s hard to provide a strategy that works for each one: blogging 101.
I believe there is one, though.
Again, it’s obvious, but if you stop and think about it for a moment, you’ll probably realize that it’s something you’ve neglected, at least a little.
The “magical” (quotes because it’s not magical at all…) strategy for blogging that every one of us should master is:
Mastering the fundamentals.
Period. That’s it. As professionals, we should be striving to maximize every ounce of input to create as much output as possible.
We should allow our words to work for us, and the best way to do that is not by studying an advanced “guaranteed traffic system” or learning a new programming language to tap into the power of mobile devices — it’s to master the fundamentals of our craft.
Two caveats here:
1. When I say “master,” I’m talking about becoming the absolute best blogger we can possibly be, and mastering not only our unique writing styles, but also the specific type of content we’re providing readers.
The fundamentals of your blog might look different than mine — you might prefer video to text, or long posts to shorter snippets of content. Whatever the case may be, “mastering the fundamentals” of your own blog is a strategy that can take you to the next level of success.
However, “mastering” the fundamentals doesn’t mean becoming the best writer, blogger, profit-generator, traffic-finder, or whatever. It CAN mean that — but again, it’s going to depend on your own niche and topic.
2. Just because you focused on the fundamentals at one point in time (probably the beginning of your blog’s life) doesn’t mean you’ve mastered them.
Case in point: my own blog. I launched the blog with the intention of offering marketing advice, blog writing tips, and information for people who wanted to sell their books online.
At the outset, I had a few goals in mind:
- blog every week, at least 2-3 times
- blog in a way that was engaging (meaning, offer valuable and actionable advice)
- write posts that were more in-depth and conclusive than other blogs offered
These were the goals, and I stuck to them. This “fundamental” approach worked well. After awhile, though, I either got bored, greedy, or just thought there could be more out there, and I started drifting from the fundamentals.
I began creating video content, writing more snappy “opinion pieces,” and abandoning the original posting frequency.
If I’d done this from the standpoint of using statistical measurements and analytics to prove that one or all of these changes should be beneficial, I could back that up.
That wasn’t the case, though. I made those changes on a whim, and my traffic increases slowed, plateaued, and even declined.
I forgot my fundamentals.
Thankfully, I’m back on track — I’m certainly no “master” of my blog’s fundamentals, but I’m in a much healthier and stronger place than I was six months ago. I have a handle on what’s happening under the hood — who’s visiting the site, what they’re consuming, and where they’re coming from, among other things.
This data allows me to create a detailed analysis of my blog to uncover possible areas of improvement (again, this is Analytics 101 and a testament to the power of sticking to fundamentals!). If I find such an area, I can decide to ADD to the existing fundamentals or slightly CHANGE my approach in some way.
I won’t completely abandon the fundamentals, for fear that my readers will completely abandon me. By making minor tweaks and adjustments in comparison to the original fundamental goals, I’m able to measure each and every tweak I make in a way that adds value to my blog.
What this means
Let’s hone in on this a little more: what does it mean for bloggers as a whole?
For starters, sticking to the “fundamentals” of your blog implies that you’ll need to know the fundamentals first. That’s why I call this the ultimate advanced strategy. If you’re just getting started, there’s not really any way to see what your fundamentals are — you don’t know what’s worked well in the past few years and what didn’t.
To figure out your fundamentals:
- Figure out which posts/content worked the best. This can be measured in traffic, comments, shares, or whatever — that’s up to you.
- Figure out if these things were replicable actions or based on viral (read: basically random) activity. Can you reproduce this kind of content over and over again?
- Figure out if all of this aligns with your interests. You probably started a blog for a reason, and it most likely wasn’t just to make money. If this stuff you’re analyzing isn’t something you’d want to keep doing for the indefinite future, you can certainly rethink your fundamental strategy and “start over” with it.
Once you have a good grasp of your fundamentals, the next step is crucial:
Dedicate yourself to it.
You can still experiment, and you can still explore different revenue streams/models/etc.
But knowing that your fundamentals are what got you here in the first place, you need to be ready to “fall back” on them when things aren’t going as well as you’d like.
Mastering your fundamentals in blogging is all about mastering the things that work — figuring out WHY they work, whether or not they’re things you can continue, and then doing them over and over again until they’re second nature.
I believe that in most areas of personal growth, mastering fundamentals is the TRUE path to becoming a completely FREE creator in that particular area. Specifically, not knowing and understanding the fundamentals is much more of a hindrance than actually mastering and trying to stick to them.
Take this post however you’d like — it’s meant to be more of a conceptual analysis of blogging, taken from the perspective of the importance of fundamentals (I have a music degree on trombone, so I have always had a love-hate relationship with fundamentals!).
I’m interested in hearing your take on it, so leave a comment below, and/or come visit me on my blog!