How to Build Your Reputation as a Blogger

You write inspired, amazing content; the kind of stuff that would make Steinbeck himself smash his typewriter to smithereens, resigned to the fact that his work could never live up to your refined, moving prose. You write the kind of stuff that would make the Great Bard gaze upon it and weep, a defeated man, and take up farming instead.

You could be the next David Ogilvy. There’s just one problem: only your mom and your three-legged cat ever gets to read your content.

While it’s imperative that you actually enjoy the process of writing, getting your name out there is pretty much a requirement if you have aspirations of actually making money blogging.

One of the biggest challenges that new bloggers face is building a reputation and establishing credibility.

It’s sort of like that reviled work experience conundrum; most employers want you to have x years’ work experience but, in order to get said experience, you actually need to have a job…but no one will hire you because you don’t have experience. And ‘round and ‘round we go.

So, how does one actually build a reputation and gain experience as a blogger?

It comes down to one word: networking.  And perseverance. And also patience. Okay so, like, three words.

Point is, you’re going to have to work it if you want to get taken seriously as a blogger. Let’s look at some of the ways in which you can improve your blog’s credibility and get some meaningful traffic.

Social proof

It’s the work-experience scenario all over again and, while there isn’t really a substitute for social proof, there is a bit of a workaround.

That workaround is your blog.

Building your reputation as a blogger

Even if you haven’t done any writing work that you can showcase on your site, blogging regularly allows you to give prospective clients a good indication of the quality of your work…so make sure that it’s top notch!

If your content is really great in terms of quality (spelling, grammar, etc.) as well as adding real value, there’s no reason that it can’t be used as an acceptable substitute for social proof.

Guest blogging

One of the best ways to get traffic to your blog and build a reputation, is to win backlinks from reputable sites with a high number of visitors.

It can be a little bit tricky to get your foot in the door, but it’s well worth it if you do. Just be sure that whatever blogs you reach out to allows backlinks so that you can create a traffic conduit to your own site. But, even if they don’t, you can still use the content as social proof and add it to your growing portfolio of work.

Here’s a list of blogs that accept guest posts.

Post your articles on LinkedIn

Because LinkedIn is currently the place where business professionals and influencers (read: the kind of people you’d like to read your stuff) hang out online, it’s a pretty good platform for you to showcase your writing abilities.

Building your reputation as a blogger

The strategy that I use (and it’s worked for me so far) is to perform a people search on LinkedIn using keywords of interest to me, for example “influencer”, “author”, “journalist”, that sort of thing. I then send them invites to connect (which they usually accept). Once these individuals are part of my network, they are exposed to the content that I post on LinkedIn.

Just be sure to post content that is suitable for a business-oriented social media platform, i.e. not a diary of your cat’s daily hairball expulsion and the celebrities that they resemble.

SlideShare

SlideShare is a LinkedIn product that enables you to reach an even wider audience by publishing your blog posts, eBooks, articles and infographics as slideshows.

By making use of relevant hashtags, you increase the chances of your content being found and, ideally, downloaded and shared. You can also add it to your personal LinkedIn profile so that it’s visible to new connections.

Interviews with experts

Sound intimidating? Impossible even?

Building your reputation as a blogger

Photo by stevebustin

It really isn’t. All you need to do is…all together now…ASK!

That’s right, as it turns out, even the most famous among us put their pants on one leg at a time. You just need to put fear – and, more specifically, fear of rejection – out of your mind.

I’ll tell you a little story from my own life.

I’ve always had lofty ambitions of being published on a certain prestigious blog. However, every time I reached out and sent a pitch, my emails were met with stony silence and I started to feel the bitter sting of rejection.

What I did next was so utterly crazy and so completely out of character that it should have scared the crap out of me. But it didn’t. In fact, I felt positively exhilarated.

I did some digging and eventually tracked down the founder of the blog’s email address, and emailed her directly stating my desire to have my work published on her blog. This person who, at the time of writing, is worth about $50 million, undoubtedly gets at least as many emails every single day, so I knew I had to get her attention.

My subject line? It’s me, Charl.

That’s it. No flowery language or nauseating, transparent flattery. Just a simple introduction.

And guess what, it totally worked. Because a mere two days later this millionaire media mogul replied to my email and invited me to contribute to a new project of hers, which I still do on a regular basis.

My point is, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. The more outrageous an idea seems, the greater the need to pursue it.

We have a wonderful little saying in Afrikaans that goes: Wie nie waag nie, wen nie. Roughly translated, it means “a person who doesn’t take risks, never wins”, and it’s become my personal mantra ever since I sent that fateful email.

Blogging Bad: 5 Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

Common blogging mistakes and how to avoid them

The beauty of blogging is how deliciously accessible it is. Virtually anyone can become a blogger and, theoretically at least, become quite well-known from it. It isn’t a craft that’s reserved solely for society’s upper crust with their fancy college degrees and cocktail mixers and agents and publishing houses and pants; blogging is for the masses. If my four year-old nephew, Stellan (named after the Swedish actor, Stellan Skarsgard) wanted to start a blog, very little would stop him from doing so, although I suspect it would just be a series of critical essays about The Good Dinosaur, because he’s watched it about a thousand times.

And really, who can blame him? That shit is fucking awesome. Moving on.

Thing is, the widespread popularity of blogging and its shift from casual pastime to serious marketing effort have meant that many bloggers are looking to be the next big success story in cyber storytelling.

Common blogging mistakes and how to avoid them

Sadly, many of these same bloggers also very often suffer from the delusion that the mere fact that they have a blog means that they can order their yacht from the yacht shop (is that where one gets yachts from? I get seasick so I wouldn’t know) and start practising their autographs in preparation for their inevitable superstardom.

Look, it’s probably easier to get famous from blogging than it is from, say, rose cultivation, but that doesn’t mean your blog’s success is guaranteed.

Firstly, being good at it is pretty much a requirement. If you’ve ever had aspirations of writing a book, and you’ve done some research on getting published you’ll know that many experts warn against self-publishing because, without professional editing, there’s just too much room for error and, ultimately, disgrace.

Well, with blogging, it’s sort of like self-publishing, only no one really looks down on it and you can actually be taken seriously as a writer. But just because you’re technically not required to hire a professional editor, that doesn’t mean that the quality should be sub-par, especially if you hope to make it big in the blogosphere.

Here are some common blogging mistakes, and how you can avoid them.

That’s right: it is actually possible to blog wrong.

Comparing your blog or writing style to others. This is something that I made myself guilty of during the early days of my blogging career. And do you know what ended up happening? That’s right. I became fucking miserable because I was so convinced that I could never live up to the truly great bloggers such as Neil Patel or the folks at Copyblogger.

But now I’m older and, thankfully, much wiser, and I know better than to compare what I do to what others do.

I’m not saying don’t read or even get inspiration from other blogs in your niche – you should totally do that! – but you shouldn’t sell yourself short just because you write in a different style or use a different tone of voice.

I used to really beat myself up because up because Copyblogger writers write in such an easy, fluid, conversational tone and I write like I have a stick jammed up my behind. But, one I made peace with the fact that I am not, in fact, someone else, and that I have my own unique voice and own unique style of writing, I didn’t only become more prolific, I also became a whole lot fucking happier.

Oh, and I sometimes use bad words. That also makes me happy.

Putting no effort into spelling or grammar. Hey, it’s just the Internet, right? Home of Lolcatz and Salad Fingers and a plethora of other disturbing creations that seem to have been dreamed up (nightmared up? Is that a thing?) by people who are on bad acid.

Does proper language and diction really matter?

Why yes. Yes it does.

Virtually every professional blogger will tell you that the key to your blog becoming popular is creating quality content.

Common blogging mistakes and how to avoid them

Now, quality content, as it relates to blogging, has two meanings:

1. It means that the subject matter should be engaging and of such a nature that people would actually want to read and, equally importantly, share your stuff.

2. It means that your content needs to be well-written; in other words using proper sentence construction, punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Because mistakes creep in and, for many of us, high school English is about a million trillion years ago, I recommend downloading the free Grammarly plug-in which will rap you over the knuckles with a steel ruler if you make mistakes in your use of language.

Not doing research or referencing your sources. This point also comes down to creating quality content, and is especially relevant if your niche involves data, facts and statistics. If you make claims or state facts and figures in your blog content, be sure to either reference the source or, most favorably, link directly to it with a hyperlink. If you don’t, your readers may be tempted to call bullshit.

Common blogging mistakes and how to avoid them

Not making your blog visually engaging. It is a common misconception that blogging is a purely textual medium. In fact, some of my favorite blogs rely very little on text and choose to convey their messages through media such as images, infographics and video content.

Break up blocks of text with eye-catching imagery, videos and other multimedia content in order to grab visitors’ attention and keep it.

Being inconsistent. Firstly, blogging regularly keeps your website’s content fresh and can actually help boost SEO which, in turn, can help your site rank better on search engine results pages.

Common blogging mistakes and how to avoid them

40105572 – notepad with word seo concept.

But it’s also important to remember people follow your blog for a reason, whether it is for entertainment, news, gossip, to learn or to read all about The Good Dinosaur is actually, like, a metaphor for capitalism. Or something. Point is, you need to keep your audience engaged by consistently posting quality content and keeping your blog up to date.

The reality is that there is no magic formula for attaining blogging superstardom. Being a successful blogger is a combination of a lot of fucking hard work, a shitload of patience and, perhaps most importantly of all, really good content that’ll make visitors want to come back for more.

Struggling to get traffic to your blog? Check out these ridiculously simple hacks for increasing blog traffic.

How to Build Your First WordPress Blog From Scratch in 4 Easy Steps

There are plenty of blogs and tutorials out there explaining the strategic side of starting your own blog, for example finding your niche, promoting via social media, etc.

Let me be clear, those things are über important and essential to your success as a commercial blogger, but they won’t do you much good if you aren’t au fait with the technical aspects of starting a blog.

Don’t be intimidated, though. When I started out blogging I was virtually clueless with regards to things like hosting and domains; you might as well have asked me to pilot a spaceship!

But I’m being completely sincere when I tell you that I figured it all out (with the help of a tutorial or two) over the course of a single afternoon. By the evening, I felt confident enough to apply for a job in Silicone Valley. Okay, not really, but you get the idea.

In today’s post, I’ll be teaching you step-by-step how to set up your blog from scratch using the most popular blogging platform (and the one that I use myself), WordPress.

There are three ways to go about it:

Option 1

Build a free WordPress blog.

Pro: It’s free. Duh.

Con: It doesn’t look very professional as the URL will be in the following format: yourblogname.wordpress.com. Not ideal for serious bloggers but perfectly acceptable of you don’t want to pay for hosting.

Option 2

Let WordPress host your site.

Pro: Looks more professional since “WordPress” won’t appear in the URL.

Con: Expensive.

Option 3

Find your own web hosting service and just install the WordPress CMS.

Pro: Looks professional and there are some really affordable packages available.

Con: Not entirely free and involves a bit of technical stuff.

Option 3 is, in my opinion, offers the best mix of professionalism and value for money, so that will be the focus of this tutorial.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Step 1: Choose a memorable name for your blog

Try to choose a name that reflects what you do. If you bake cupcakes, try to work that into the name of your blog. You may have a bit of a hard time finding an available domain name (more on that later), but you can try different variations or even work your own name into the domain name, for example www.juliescustomcupcakes.com.

You will need to register your domain name but, since many hosting companies handle the domain name registration process as well, you can proceed straight to step number 2.

Step 2: Decide on a hosting company and package

Once you’ve decided on a name for your blog, you need to decide on a company that will host it on their server for a monthly fee.

The increasingly popular Hostgator offers packages starting from $2.78 per month for a single domain and offers one-click CMS installation (which we’ll cover a bit later on).

Hostgator will also take care of your domain registration, which will cost you around $15 per year.

Whatever hosting service or package you decide on, be sure to choose one that offers a minimum of one MySQL database.

Now, finding a reliable web hosting platform can be daunting since there are literally dozens of these service providers out there, and they vary significantly in terms of what functionality they offer and the level of technical know-how that they require.

Fortunately, my friends over at Reviews.com have taken all the hassle and anxiety out of choosing a web hosting platform by looking at over 200 of the most popular platforms, focusing on options that are reliable, intuitive, knowledgeable and easy to upgrade when the time comes.

Their team’s extensive research led them to create an incredibly valuable resource to help anyone get started and feel comfortable on their own.

Do yourself a favor and go check out their picks of the best hosting platforms here. It’s a must-read for anyone wanting to administer their own website or blog.

Step 3: Install WordPress

Still with me? Good, because this is where things get a little bit technical. But fear not, I’m here to guide you.

Once you’ve registered your domain and signed up for a hosting service, you need to install the content management system (CMS) – in this case WordPress – on the server.

The majority of hosting companies (including Hostgator) offer cPanel as a web hosting control panel.

All you need to do is log in to your hosting service’s client area, and look for the cPanel link. The hosting company (for example Hostgator) will usually email you the login details for the client area as well as the cPanel interface.

How to Build Your First WordPress Blog From Scratch in 4 Easy Steps

Click on the cPanel link, and enter your login credentials.

Once you’re in cPanel, you should see an array of apps and widgets. Don’t panic, though, we’re only interested in installing WordPress at this stage.

If you don’t see the WordPress one-click installer app on your dashboard, don’t worry, you probably just need to access it via the Softaculous Apps Installer (this installer is usually found under the Software heading in cPanel).

How to Build Your First WordPress Blog From Scratch in 4 Easy Steps How to Build Your First WordPress Blog From Scratch in 4 Easy Steps

Once you’ve located the WordPress icon, you can click on it to go to the installation home screen.

Click on Install and just follow the onscreen prompts and the installer will do the rest and populate the MySQL database.

How to Build Your First WordPress Blog From Scratch in 4 Easy Steps

Step 4: Customize your blog and start blogging, for blog’s sake!

That wasn’t so difficult, now was it?

That pretty much takes care of the technical part, and it’s time to have some fun.

You can log into your site’s editor by navigating your browser to yourblogname.com/wp-admin. Enter your credentials and start playing around with the look and feel of your blog, and infuse it with your own voice and personality. WordPress makes use of a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, so it’s really no different from your favorite word processing software.

You don’t need to be a coder in order to have a WordPress blog!

WordPress offers countless fantastic free themes and plug-ins to help you really make your WordPress blog your own, and I’ll be sure to discuss these in a future post.

Happy blogging!