Commit to these five steps before you take the leap into blogging

by Craig McBreen · 33 comments · Beginning blogger series


Do you want to start a blog?

Ready to make the jump?

If so, may I ask why?

Business? Pleasure? A creative outlet?

Maybe you dream about working in your underwear. Don’t worry, I won’t judge.

Regardless, it might be best to test the waters first.

Genius, right? I know, thanks master of the obvious.

It sounds like common sense, but I think many start blogging without focusing on those first critical steps.

Before we go any further, I have a confession to make. As recently as April, 2011, I had zero interest in blogging and thought it was an empty pursuit.

But I did start for one reason. As a member of Toastmasters I wanted to improve my speech writing. I figured no mortal would pay attention and my speechcraft would improve.

Yet this soon turned into a full-blown pursuit. So, here I am, blogging my little heart out.

But I want to focus on those first 3-4 months before I hit “publish.”

That slow build-up to the big launch. Weeks spent researching, commenting and being social.

So how did I get rolling? And how would I suggest you start?

1.) Do your homework.
I sought out the cream of the crop by reading every blog I could find.

I focused on finding the best and brightest AND fleshing out my own little plan.

I lasered in on the usual suspects, from Chris Brogan to Leo Babauta, but hit ‘em all.

Blogs on marketing, self-help and writing. Travel, minimalism and, um, blogging. Sites on SEO, video, graphic design and more.

Even the scrappy kids who drop more F-bombs than Joan Rivers at a Donald Trump roast.

I read Gini Dietrich, I watched Gary Vaynerchuk. I listened to Srinivas Rao.

I studied The Scotsman, was entertained by The Redhead and had more than a few exchanges with a very social Floridian.

Almost a process of self-discovery, I soon found flavors that jibed with my sensibilities.

From Zen-masters to potty mouths, I studied, learned and enjoyed.

2.) Tweet till your fingers turn blue.
I re-booted my Twitter account, so I could spread the word and just get social.

Twitter was my weapon of choice, and a fine addition to any greenhorn’s arsenal. If you have doubts about the blue bird’s power, check with this guy. He wrote a book on Twitter that just might show you the way.

3.) Comment like there’s no tomorrow.
I’ll be honest. This was a big step and sent shivers up my spine. Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration, yet I WAS a bit shaky about dropping my two cents into any conversation, but when comments were answered, I felt like the star pupil and replies were like little gold stars.

They key is to find posts that resonate and leave a thoughtful, detailed comment, which might just morph into your very first post.

4.) Find your why, purpose and flavor.

Because truly defining your online mission starts with a bare bones plan that will constantly evolve, but it will help you discover your core reason for doing this, honest.

From May to September I basically did all four of the steps listed above.

Again, common sense prevails:

Research, comment, tweet, and discover a little more about your bad self along the way.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I met more than a few cool cats and was inspired by many.

And during this crafty venture, I started building the foundations of a humble little blog.

5.) Write. Write. Write.

That Brain Clark has a way with words.

Need I say more?

When I clicked “Publish” in September, I had spent 1-2 months writing a mix of posts.

Most hit the trash bin, but I started to learn about my why, purpose and flavor. And had posts queued up and ready to roll.

So, if you’re interested in blogging away, why not spend a few months up front:
1. Reading anything and everything;
2. Tweeting to you heart’s content;
3. Commenting as if your life depended on it;
4. You will soon discover your reasons for being here;
5. And you might just have a nice little backlog of posts ready to go.

For me, blogging went from schwiggity schwag to diggity dank.

It’s become an accountability platform; a motivational compass; a place for creativity and exploration; a networking village; a new business model; Oh, and it basically altered the course of my life.

I’m not saying this most basic of roadmaps will work for you, but if you plan to enter our little Blogtopia, the blog can wait, honestly.

So, before you hit publish, practice some due diligence and put in those hours up front.

Research, plan, discover, write, and just get social. The rest will come, trust me.

1. Do you want to start a blog?

2. If you’re already blogging, what’s your recipe for success?

3. What social media platform works for you?

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack@TheJackB April 23, 2012 at 4:07 am

It feels like you have been around forever now. Are you sure you aren’t one of the old timers. I love the passion you bring and your consistency in posting.

I am biased about that kind of thing, but I really do enjoy regular updates.
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Craig McBreen April 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Hi Jack,

So you think I’m an old pro in disguise? (I guess that means I’m doing something right.)

Thanks! I do want to motivate a few and am doing my best to post twice a week.

Thank you for the kind words, Sir, and for the visit. Always great to see you here.

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Jens P. Berget April 23, 2012 at 10:40 am

Hi Craig,

I agree with Jack. It feels like you’ve been around forever (and that’s a compliment) :)

I absolutely agree with what you said, and to me it has been a long journey, to understand that blogging involves a lot of work. If you’re looking for success, you need to hustle every single day. And that’s why you should be passionate about it. I could never have done this if I didn’t love it. I might end up getting paid, but it’s not why I started :)

Great post.
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Craig McBreen April 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Hi Jens,

Thanks for the compliment. I guess it means people are kinda warming up to me, huh?

Blogging is a crapload of work, that’s for sure and you also have to really, really want to be here, then the hustle is way more enjoyable.

Thanks, Mr. Berget. Any pizza this weekend?

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Jens P. Berget April 23, 2012 at 7:32 pm

It’s pizza every weekend :-)
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Craig McBreen April 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I like that plan!

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Ralph April 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Ha, you are the clever one, aren’t you.

Answers: Yes, work really hard and I use twitter, tumblr, google+ and facebook but am not sure what you mean by “work for you”. As a social connector? To drive traffic? If so, twitter has been most successful for me.

Here’s the difference between us (and not the only one, I’m sure). I dove in feet first into blogging and NOW am going back to reading, commenting and hooking up with the blogs that are influential (to me). But, that’s me. Dive in, work your ass off, and hopefully get somewhere. Blind Faith is one of my favourite bands.

I applaud your approach and agree that it is logical and safe and hey, it seems to have worked well. You get some heavy hitters commenting here which certainly helps your traffic. My next challenge will be going from the free wordpress platform to self-hosting. Sigh. I feel like I will be starting over……..but I am up for the challenge. Bring it!

So, Craig, the one thing that goes with your plan that you didn’t mention is the ability to write in an interesting, thought provoking and entertaining way. You certainly have that skill nailed, my friend.

Geez, I could write a book here but alas will keep my comments to a limit. I’m sure you have another post or 10 to come on this subject. We should talk.

Brilliantly written and exceptional advise. Thanks bro.
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Craig McBreen April 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Hi Ralph,

I’m an average guy trying to do my best in this space and dish out some humble bits of common sense advice when I can. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to map this stuff out of course, but I do believe many stall out due to a lack of planning or jumping in and expecting too much and then losing faith and motivation. I don’t like to see blogs die, but many I knew a few short months ago are already gone.

I just think Twitter is the most effective social platform for me. I’ve not fully embraced Google Plus, but am gearing up to see how I can really make a go of it and have that platform work just as well. We shall see.

Nothing wrong with jumping in. I only waited because I wasn’t sure what my flavor would be. I wanted to start with a fairly clear direction, knowing that it would of course evolve over time. And any plan is a constant fleshing out process. This was just my own way of developing solid footing.

I don’t think making the self-hosted transfer is the headache it used to be, but that is certainly the right way to go forward. What WP framework are you considering for your transition?

Well, thanks for the kind words. I really do appreciate that, but I am indeed a work-in-progress ;)

Always appreciate your thoughtful posts (you kind of have that nailed) and of course your presence livens up the joint.

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Bill Dorman April 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Thanks for the info; I’ve been hesitant to get started but this post has given me the confidence to give it a go. I will be afraid no more…………..

Thanks for the mention; I’ll be bahhhhkkkkk………

The Swamp Thing
Bill Dorman recently posted..The big do-over, wiping the social slate cleanMy Profile

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Craig McBreen April 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Hi Bill,

That’s good to know, rook ;)

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Bill Dorman April 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I’m hoping your next post is commit to these 5 steps if you want to be rich and famous. Give me something with some meat on it, will ya? And don’t make one of the choices be buying a lottery ticket……..or robbing a bank…….

It’s funny, I got into blogging because I thought it was a prerequisite to play; I thought you had to have something to drag around with you when you visited other places. What I didn’t realize is how much I would actually like ‘doing’ it.

Cool beans is all I can say; if I can be ‘social’ with someone, then it’s a good day for me.
Bill Dorman recently posted..The big do-over, wiping the social slate cleanMy Profile

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Craig McBreen April 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm

You again, huh?

I need to become rich and famous first … Can you wait a year? ;)

I found I didn’t need to have something to drag around with me, but there were a few people ;) who were starting to really bust my chops when I was commenting without a blog of my own.

Cool beans is right! Thanks, Bill.

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Gini Dietrich April 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I have nothing to add to this list…it’s very thorough. And, as you well know, if people follow this formula, they will be successful. The problem is, it’s a lot of hard work so you’ll likely scare away those who will end up abandoning their blogs in the long run…not a bad thing at all!
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Craig McBreen April 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Hi Gini,

What can I say, I’ve learned from the best ;)

The thing that now has me more excited than anything is the fact that I have my own production studio at my fingertips. There are so many options (beyond writing) and I really will start getting more into video, put in the work and see what happens. It’s pretty raw now, but I’ll experiment and see where it takes this place.

Oh, yeah, the ton of work part ;) You have to really, really, really want to be here otherwise you will stall out. Another reason why I waited until I dove in.

Hopefully I won’t scare away too many budding bloggers :)

Thanks for stopping by!

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Srinivas April 24, 2012 at 4:50 am

Craig

It all makes sense now. You came out of the gate strong since you created a solid foundation before you even launched your blog. I remember Scott Stratten telling me he tweeted 25,000 times before he ever launched his blog, and as a result the traffic was solid.
Srinivas recently posted..5 Signs That You are Truly in the ZoneMy Profile

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Craig McBreen April 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Hey Srini,

I just wanted to make sure everything was ready to go with a strategy and theme in place, but 25,000 tweets … well that’s another realm ;)

Thanks for stopping by.

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Laura Click April 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Great list, Craig! And, you definitely practice what you preach. You are a great case study for someone to follow!

The only thing I would add is that people need to be willing to not only put in the hours up front, but be willing to stick with it for the long haul. Blogging success doesn’t come after a month or two. It really takes time for you to gain traction with it.

Well done, friend!
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Craig McBreen April 26, 2012 at 1:15 am

Hi Laura,

Thank you and glad you think so. I guess I have gone from Freshman to Sophomore, huh?

Very good point! This is a ton of work as you know, but sticking with it is the really tough part. I feel safe now that I’m a few months past the six month stage ;)

Thank you and appreciate you stopping in!

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James Howe April 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Excellent advice! I like it so much I’ll use it to inspire my own post.

On the other hand, when I began my personal blog I literally just dove in without any research or preparation. I knew enough to use it as a forum to share my perspectives on how to make the world a better place starting with where I lived. I’ve never looked back and have never regretted that approach. I think it’s valid to use either your approach or mine depending upon what suits an individual best.

My advice: Write about what you’re passionate about. My best writing comes when I care about my topic–even if it’s how to use Twitter. And only write when you care enough about something to write a post.

I like that you emphasize commenting. Every time I get a comment it’s like receiving a prize. I’m slowly starting to comment more regularly on other people’s blogs and I’m finding that rewarding too.

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Craig McBreen April 26, 2012 at 1:27 am

Hi James,

Thank you for the comments and the kind mention in your post.

Nothing wrong with diving in if that’s your style. This is just how I operate, but my style certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s probably from my years of managing creative projects, really. Study, study, study, and have a blueprint ready to go.

Your advice is GREAT advice. Yes, you need to love what you’re writing about or you will stall and things will just get stale.

Yes, commenting can be fun and it will help if done the right way, as you are doing here :)

Thanks so much for coming by, and the mention.

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Adrienne April 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

You’re an old pro now Craig, it does seem like you’ve been around forever.

This is good advice, some I wish I had taken when I started. Heck, I had no idea who the heck I was even suppose to listen to. I just started blogging because I was told it was the thing to do. No direction, no idea what I was doing but I eventually found my way. Thank goodness.

Great advice Craig and hope all those just now venturing into this arena will take these necessary steps.

~Adrienne
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Craig McBreen April 26, 2012 at 1:33 am

Hi Adrienne,

Thank you! I am really amazed that people feel this rookie, um sophomore has been around for a while. I guess I am a true graybeard ;)

It comes from years of managning projects, really. I tend to reserch the heck out of anything before I make the leap. It’s just the way I operate, but it certainly worked out okay.

Thanks so much for stopping in. Always great to see you here.

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Julie | A Clear Sign April 26, 2012 at 1:52 am

Hi Craig,

That is some great advice. I wonder why it is that so many people don’t stick with it? They seem to have something good going, and then Poof! Too much hard work, maybe?

I have always been a commenter – even before I knew what a blog was and that I was actually commenting on one :) I guess I cannot keep my opinions to myself.

My blog has been around a little over a year I guess, and it has been easy to keep up steam. I sell a service, so every time I interact with a client it gives me more ideas of why people come to me and what they want to learn about. I also naturally found my voice so I guess that helps. If you want to be a stickler for perfection that has to make it harder.
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Craig McBreen April 26, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Hi Julie,

Thank you!

I believe many just don’t understand HOW much work is involved and also, if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll flame out quickly.

“I guess I cannot keep my opinions to myself.”
–Well, that’s what we need. Keep those opinions coming.

If you’ve made it over a year, that is a true sign of success in this online realm. Congrats! It’s great you’re rolling along and I do agree that this is a continually evolving process, especially once you start interacting with clients.

Thanks for stopping in!

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Jeevanjacobjohn May 11, 2012 at 1:21 am

Hey Craig,

I wish I had done all this before I started a blog. I did waste about 2 years learning what blogging was, building up my first blog. But, I guess, every success has its own sweetness. I did learn everything on my own – my doing, listening to others, doing etc – and so did I make many mistakes. Right now, I am grateful that I did commit all those mistakes, just helps me to be a better blogger.

But, the plan is great. Learn before you even jump to action.

Jeevan
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Craig McBreen May 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I certainly wouldn’t say that two years was a waste. Like you said you did learn a lot: by listending, doing and learning from your mistakes.

And learning from your mistakes one of the most important things. So many forget this. Don’t treat them as failures, treat them as learning opportunities … so, thank you for that message!!

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Jeevanjacobjohn May 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Yes, of course, Craig. I did learn a lot, and I hope to use that knowledge to build my current blogs.

Back then, I used to hate my mistakes with blogging. It reduced my motivation to try even further. But, as time passed, I realized that it happens and those failures will really help in the future (Nowadays, those failures just motivate me to try more and more, so that I can achieve what I want to achieve).

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Craig McBreen May 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Well, you have the right attitude and could certainly teach people a thing or two!

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Ricardo Bueno May 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I think this process is smart… Doing the research I mean. And absorbing everything that you can. Learning from others – what works, what doesn’t, how people engage and interact in different communities, et cetera.

It’s a smart way to begin to find your own way. After all, you can’t grow (nearly fast enough) if you aren’t learning from others :-)

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Craig McBreen May 22, 2012 at 3:06 am

Hi Ricardo,

I just laid out this blueprint because it worked great for me. I honestly didn’t want to jump in until I had a fairly developed idea of what I was going to stand for in this online realm.

And you’re so right, Ricardo. You’ll stagnate if you’re not learning and getting creative inspiration from others. And there are some great people to learn from.

I really appreciate you coming by and adding to the conversation. Thanks!

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