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Blogging 101: The Most Important Blogging Technique You Can Master

Get Back to BasicsI 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:

  1. Figure out which posts/content worked the best. This can be measured in traffic, comments, shares, or whatever — that’s up to you.
  2. 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?
  3. 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!

About Nick Thacker

Nick Thacker is an author of fiction (thrillers, action/adventure, etc.) novels and nonfiction books. He lives in a cabin on a mountain in Colorado with his wife, three dogs, and a tortoise, and enjoys skiing, brewing beer, golfing, and writing. Read more about Nick (and learn about the writing and self-publishing world) at his blog, www.writehacked.com, and his business site, www.turtleshellpress.com!

36 comments

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Often times we look for “the most advanced methods” of doing this and that, while neglecting the most important thing: Basics.

    This was a crucial reminder to me because I think I was also beginning to go astray a bit. So thanks for putting me in check.

  2. Well done, Matt! .. and well written, too…

    I was guilty of the same thing at one point, trying to ‘expand’ from what was proven to work for me, into unknown yet areas, experimental stuff and the likes.
    It is exciting to do so, but more often than not, it usually chips a dent in one’s income.
    I have switched back now; I am even dumping some projects that didn’t do that bad, after all – but now I have one goal in mind = focus.

    If people could be efficient at multitasking as machines are, it would be a different story; but we aren’t. I rest my case.
    Next week, I’ll have a domain with a PR3 and its blog/content expire. It has some value (maybe I could’ve even sold it, rather) but I just wanted to get it off my plate and move on.

    I’m sure, on the long run, it would prove to be beneficial, although right now it hurts a bit…

    Cheers,
    Steve ✉ Master eMailSmith ✉ Lorenzo
    Chief Editor # eMail Tips Daily Newsletter

  3. Content is King and Engagement is Queen… Write epic Sheet and ask questions, have an opinion one way or another and stand by your word and you will create posts worth sharing

  4. Yay, Nick! Love this. Experts are people who never leave the basics behind. I expect I’ll be sending my blogging students to read this post often. 🙂

    P.S. I haven’t finished The Golden Crystal yet, but I’ll be sure to leave an Amazon review when I get to the end!

  5. When compared to hiring someone full time and in-house—or working extra hours to do the work yourself—it’s clear that hiring a virtual assistant can be the most cost-effective option. And while the potential low costs of hiring a virtual assistant are very real, it’s easy to get caught up in cost savings and try to pinch every penny.

  6. Hi Nick,

    Great reminder to get back to basics. In my case I overlook basics trying to learn something else. What I started doing recently was to schedule everything and learn to say ‘no’ to the latest and greatest information/courses that doesn’t help achieve my goals.
    Thanks so much for this great post.

    Damayanthi

    1. I do the same thing! At any given time, I’ve got way too many projects I’m wanting to tackle, books to read, and stuff that stacks up.

      Writing this post helped reiterate it for me as well!

  7. Great article, Nick. I think I’ve lost my way a bit and need to be more thoughtful and intentional about what I’m doing with/what’s the purpose of my blog. It might be time to step away from the technology and think…sometimes just trying to participate in all the tech and social media stuff can take us away from the fundamentals.

  8. Good reminders!

    When I started blogging in 2008, I listened to ‘blog experts’ who said:

    1. You can make a living from blogging.

    Focusing solely on the money doesn’t work, at least it didn’t for me. I think it creates a paradigm that pushes money away from you. Don’t start a blog because you’re desperate to earn a living. Get a temporary full-time and/or part-time job and work on your blog on the side.

    2. YOU have to blog 2-3 times per week.

    I don’t do this anymore. I focus on producing quality content, at least once and/or twice a month. I also guest blog.

    Think twice before starting a blog. Believe it or not, you don’t have to have one. If you’re concerned from ‘job’ viewpoint. Join LinkedIn/groups and participate. 🙂

    1. Right on — however, I still believe there’s a lot to be said for “owning” your platform. LinkedIn and other social sites are never going to be yours — they’re just link farms that you can send back to your platform.

      You certainly don’t have to blog, but it’s important to own your own niche of online real estate!

      1. I agree, but unless you’re a ‘die-hard’ blogger, or a professional with a slight interest in blogging, you can at least take advantage of LinkedIn. Most people recognize it as a social network for professionals.

        If you don’t have any interest in blogging, why waste your time? Of course, you could always create a website and upload articles, Power Point presentations, videos, etc. to your website. At least you would be adding something of value to your audience.

        I don’t believe in “One-size fits all.”

  9. Nick, thanks for this. Sometimes as an entrepreneur I feel like I’m wearing so many hats I can’t really “master” anything. This is a nice reminder to stay focused and remember my overall goal(s).

    1. Yes, I’ve often felt like that. I have to get better at compartmentalizing, separating out different business tasks from creative ones, and generally stay productive at all of them. It’s WAY easier said than done!

  10. Well, thanks. You have helped me understand a “fundamental” problem I have with blogging, which is that it often becomes repetitive blather. Following fundamentals to produce interesting content is always going to be at odds with both the requirement to post several times per week, and the requirement to track readership. If one article happens to be interesting, there is no reason to believe that a hundred articles just like it will continue to be interesting. If you write a certain number of words several times per week, even when you have nothing to say, that is likely to quickly become formulaic and uninteresting, too. And yet, who can argue with the fact that repetitive blather is often popular and lucrative?

    That said, there is no substitute for practice — for putting words on the page, for picking up the brush, or the trombone. Skill is built by daily doing.
    Once you let your work out in the world… There will be praise or criticism or thundering silence. Who knows?

    There is another fundamental that is easily overlooked. You have to have some faith in the process. Faith that when you set aside the statistics, marketing and targeting long enough to practice, that you will produce something interesting that will be worth posting. Faith that whatever it is that you have to share will eventually resonate with someone.

    1. Hi Catherine!

      You’re right; there’s no substitute for practice. That’s why my comment above regarding the “spaghetti approach” (throw it at the wall and see what sticks) is accurate. No matter what kind of writing we’re doing, if we’re doing it purposefully, it’s practice!

  11. I agree with you about mastering the fundamentals, but I’d add that it’s a gradual process of growth that’s different for every blogger. When I started, what was fundamental for me was purchasing a clean, professional theme, setting up my domain name, and hitting the ground running. Now that it’s been a few months, fundamental is expanding to include basic SEO tactics and playing with creating images that are “Pinterest worthy.” As this growth continues, eventually we will become master bloggers!

    Mostly, I’m just glad this post wasn’t all about certain plug-ins I NEED to be using, or else! So many articles that promise strategies for bloggers turn out to be all about the technology with little to no focus on the person behind the blog.

    1. Oooo GREAT thoughts. YES — it’s a different process for everyone. I would bet that no matter what your “current fundamental” looks like, it’s ALWAYS going to be writing and producing great, actionable, and value-adding content!

  12. This is so true, and I didn’t realize I am doing these things right now–trying to figure out what floats my boat besides tidal waves of viral activity, which can be so disorientating although a fun ride, eh?
    After much thought, I realized I need two sites and am building the second one, now. I had so much “why do we do this” content, that seemed off topic in the “how-to” thrust of my first site. Even the theme, colors, etc., needed to be different for the philosophy site, than for the “grit your teeth and just do it this way” site.
    It’s sure a relief to have both outlets and to know how it fits together!
    And it’s great to read this confirmation. Thanks!

  13. Nick,

    Thank you for this wonderful post! It’s cool to see you over here on Firepole, but it doesn’t surprise me in the least that you are here. 🙂

    I am still in the early days of building my platform and my blog, still trying to find my voice for the blog. I have no mission statement, yet, and I don’t really know if I need one for a ‘getting to know you’-type blog to build connections with readers.

    Thanks again for a great post, and for your own blog, too. I go there often!

    Tammy

    1. No problem — thanks for the nice comment! One thing that helped me was to just write/blog every day. Eventually I found out what I did and didn’t like, and THEN I was able to craft a great mission statement (“On living and writing well”).

      I call it the spaghetti approach.

  14. Hi Susan!

    Glad you liked it, and GREAT idea about the blogging mission statement — wonderful way to keep your mind in gear and push forward to avoid “shiny object” syndrome.

  15. Hi Nick,

    With so many people jumping up and down over the latest and greatest strategies for promoting content and converting visitors to leads and sales, it’s nice to read a post about getting back to the basics.

    I personally have a blogging mission statement that I refer back to in order to stay focused on my main goals. This helps me to decide if a new strategy is worth pursuing.

    I think that being able to experiment and try new techniques or content ideas out is not only a must, it will happen naturally because the Internet, media, and all associated technology are constantly changing.

    But, you can’t ever lose site of where you are trying to go.

    1. I like Susan’s “I personally have a blogging mission statement that I refer back to in order to stay focused on my main goals. This helps me to decide if a new strategy is worth pursuing.”

      Great idea!

      This all gets back making a plan and sticking to it!!

      Consistency and focus rules!

      ~darlene 🙂

  16. Great post, it definitely has some ideas that I will definitely implement. When I started out with no clue, with this post I can definitely make some improvements. Thanks for sharing.

  17. This is a good reminder. People often lose sight of the content when they start selling stuff on their sites. I don’t pay a lot of attention to analytics (I should) but for me, it’s always about the content. My blog posts vary in length, but they are always text based. This is my style, and this is also what my readers are used to. I think sticking to fundamentals also means you remain true to yourself, sticking to why you started the blog in the first place.

    1. Thanks Dolly — I definitely lost sight a few times, and it can be difficult to get back on track.

      Analytics are important only with an objective goal/metric: year over year bounce rate decrease, monthly new visits increase, etc.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Nick

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