Lounge Talk With Laz Recap

Welcome to another exciting episode of Lounge Talk With Laz! For episode 6 I wanted to take a moment to discuss my blog, where I started and some tips that helped me reach thousands of people in the span of a year.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts and episodes, I found my beginnings in my social media course at Eastern Michigan University. Coupled with my passion for social media, I used my writing skills to discuss best practices in digital marketing, social media trends and news in the industry, as well as random experiences in my life that I thought my audience might find interesting to read about.

While my audience was small at first with 80 views in the span of three months, I quickly found a few things that really helped me grow and create the successful blog that you’re currently visiting!

During my time in the digital marketing clinic, our director would always iterate that we needed to figure out who our audience is and create content specific to them. This might seem common sense, but looking back at previous posts my content was scattered everywhere. By figuring out who I wanted to appeal to, it increased engagement while simultaneously enhancing my brand image as a digital marketing and social media expert in the industry.

After the clinic ended, it was up to me to continue managing my blog and posting consistently. Too often beginner bloggers will be passionate, post feverishly and then taper off until they ultimately abandon the blog.  This usually happens because they don’t figure out a posting schedule that works well with the other things that are going on in their lives or they become discouraged by limited engagement.

Like I prefaced, when I first started I didn’t have a lot of readers. I became discouraged, but after doing some research it takes a lot of time for a blog to really hit its stride in terms of daily readers, often requiring years before a significant following is established. A blogger needs to figure out how much they can handle writing a week, posting consistently and sticking with it even if the numbers aren’t where they want them to be.

Speaking of a following, a blogger should also be posting their content onto social media and engaging with the communities that are out there. The 80/20 rule is important here, as social media users don’t want to be promoted or advertised to; a blogger needs to contribute something of value, interact with their community and promote themselves less than they engage their audience.

A common misconception with social media is to also post on as many platforms as physically possible, which is a great way to burn out. There are different rules and practices for different platforms and it’s crucial to become proficient with one or two platforms instead of being mediocre at using many different ones. There are also different audiences that flock to different platforms; my content draws a lot of engagement on photo-centric Instagram, but it rarely resonates with the lurkers of Google Plus or the artsy fanbase on Tumblr. A blogger needs to figure out where their audience is and engage them on that platform or two.

Lastly, a new blogger needs to write or create their content with passion. Users won’t read or watch their work just because they wrote or created it; they need to be passionate, it needs to show in their work and it needs to be original instead of aggregate pieces that will be lost in the sea of other bloggers who all create the same exact content.

I hope you enjoy the latest episode and stay tuned next week for the latest and greatest in digital marketing and social media news!

Lounge Talk With Laz Full Audio Transcript

[00:00:30] Hi there and welcome to another exciting episode of Lounge Talk With Laz. In this week’s episode we’ll be discussing what it takes to be a successful blogger. Let’s just jump right into it. So as you all know I have my own blogging website that kind of focuses on digital marketing and social media as my niche topic that I write about every week. Before we jump to the topic of what it takes to be a successful blogger I just want to give a brief background of where I kind of got into the hobby blogging. As I mentioned in my first episode the first time I really had any experience with blogging was with my journalism class back in 2015 alongside creating a presence on Twitter. We also had to write stories every week and upload them onto a WordPress.com blog that we created. We ended up writing about five stories. Toward the end of the class and after the class ended I never touched the blog again. It wasn’t until about 2 years later where I had my social media class with the public relations program at Eastern Michigan University where we had to create a another blog and create topics and write posts regarding some of the best practices in social media. Not only did I find a lot of intrigue with the social media world and learning about everything that I could but I coupled my writing skills that I gained as a journalist for the Eastern Echo as the news editor with my ability to compile topics of interest regarding social media and what we were learning in the classroom. [00:01:54][1:24.1]

[00:01:55] For that class we had to write a blog post once every week and I kind of took it further beyond the class once it ended. I kind of took it up as a hobby of sorts but I also used it to enhance my portfolio of written work and clips that I could take with me after I graduated from Eastern. So I wrote down a WordPress.com blog for about a year and it wasn’t until I had that digital marketing clinic in the summer that I learned that you could actually self host your own website. The clinic required that we blog once a week as well and we also had to track our analytics using Google Analytics or certain trackers that weren’t available via a WordPress.com site. You could buy plans to utilize those but it would cost anywhere from 15 to 30 dollars a month just to be able to track your analytics which I felt was just kind of a waste of money. I was into it more and I figured out that you could buy your own domain name and have your own self hosted site for as little as 80 dollars a year. And it does seem like a much more opportune decision in order to kind of continue utilizing the blog while also coupling what I was learning in the clinic with the analytics I had to use as part of graduation requirements my passion for blogging continued to grow even as I transition from the topic being around journalism to social media to eventually digital marketing. [00:03:14][1:18.5]

[00:03:14] And now back to digital marketing and social media focus I found it to be a lot of fun compiling topics and writing stories every single week and sharing them with my growing audience on social media. And here we are doing this podcast as part again of my blogging adventure. So in total I would say that I have been blogging for more than two years now and it wasn’t really until this past year that I got more engrossed into it and made it more consistent as a hobby rather than something that I intermittently did. As the seasons came and went I had quite a few peers and friends who were interested in blogging themselves. But they didn’t know how to start and so I’ve had a lot of people asking me you know where should I begin. In terms of blogging what’s the best way to do it. What web host should I use what blogging service should I use. And so I felt like this would be a good episode topic to kind of just go in-depth regarding how to become successful with blogging and where to start. So the first advice that I would give for anyone who is interested in blogging is to figure out where they want to start. Press dot com or blogger are both two very good options. It’s free to sign up. You don’t have to worry about having your own self hosted a Web site or making weird changes on the back end of coding. Any issues that happen on the site and you have your own provided domain name that’s free as well. Obviously utilizing a free service does have its limitations but at the end of the day it’s a good way to see if you’re actually interested in blogging. [00:04:42][1:28.5]

[00:04:43] It is something that you would want to pursue further in the future if you do decide that blogging is more for you and you want to actually own your own website and have your content posted there. Then you can have your own sub hosted site you can use servers or services through site ground or bluehost and you can also utilize content management systems like WordPress or Squarespace in order to post your content onto your site. What I still use is WordPress the content management system not the free WordPress.com that a lot of people commonly associate blogging with and I use site around for my hosting service. Whether you’re using your own website or you’re utilizing a blogging service that’s free. I would say that there is a couple tips that you should you lies when creating content. So after figuring out where to start I found a couple things that helped me to be a successful blogger. The first thing is to figure out who your audience is who do you want to write to. What are you interested in. And once you figure that out you should cater your content or your topics based on your audience and your interest initially. For me it was to be a journalist right. So I would write more news content on my own blog and that quickly transitioned into more social media content as I was going into public relations microbus the blog was to create my own portfolio and to network with potential employers and show that I had relevance and knowledge of the topic interest in terms of any professional career that I was pursuing at that time. [00:06:17][1:34.4]

[00:06:18] So my content was always geared toward trending topics that were occurring in the industry whether it was with social media algorithm changes or new features that were being updated or even with digital marketing. Once I got into that stuff with a B conversion split testing or conversion funnels or sales funnels or just anything in that topic area whatsoever. Now everyone who’s listening is it going to be like me where they’re trying to expand their portfolio and maybe they’re just trying to write something that they’re interested in whether it’s working out or maybe food niche of sorts. Or maybe there’s something technical there that they want to share in terms of Javascript or CSS coding or what have you. So the first step should be figuring out what you’re interested in writing sticking to it and then catering that messaging to a potential audience who would be interested in reading your blog whatever it is you need to be passionate and needs to show in your work. You can’t just write something and expect people to read that just because he wrote it. You have to be passionate. It has to be well written and it has to appeal to their interests and be easy to read. I found that the pieces that I’ve written where I wasn’t passionate didn’t really garnered the audience or the views that I was expecting compared to the ones where I sat out overnight writing for hours and editing every little detail because I was very engaged and interested in the topic itself and having that show to my audience that I was sharing my article with on social media. At the end of the day this is a passion project or it should be initially. [00:07:52][1:34.8]

[00:07:53] And if you’re not passionate then there’s no point in blogging and your audience won’t care what you write. Having said that my next tip would be to be consistent with what you’re writing. Initially a lot of people will go gung ho they’ll push out content at a rapid rate and then they’ll burn themselves out and they’ll slowly kind of drop off that posts to where they were going from five a week to two a month and then you barely even see anything on their blog. After a couple of months of investing time and effort into it I’m no exception to this. And one of my things that I found to be very beneficial in terms of being consistent is to create a kind of content schedule of sorts every week. Initially I would write three times a week Monday Wednesday and Friday. This worked with my work schedule. And then when I started doing my podcast I kind of shrunk down to two blog posts a week as well as the podcast midweek even if you’re only blogging once a week or even twice a week. It’s good to find out what you can tolerate without burning yourself out and becoming dispassionate toward the topic that you’re passionate about again. Find your limits and stick with that whether it’s only writing maybe 300 words per post or maybe writing giant 2000 word posts at the beginning of the week and then not doing anything for the rest of the week. You to figure out what’s good for you and what you can work with with time and consistency. Blogging does get easier. Daunting 2000 word post might become routine later down the road. [00:09:22][1:29.4]

[00:09:23] And one thing that I’ve found with blogging compared to journalistic writing is that the writing laws and the writing rules are a lot more fluid and flexible to really resonate with your voice and kind of have that portrayed in the topics that you’re creating every week for the people who are unaccustomed to writing. It might suck at first to pick up blogging but it does get easier it does get better and it becomes a lot more enjoyable once you put a couple of weeks worth of effort into your writing. The third tip that I would have to give that really helped me was creating more original content so everyone right now is all up in arms regarding organic Osseo being dead and relying strictly on digital marketing efforts or a search engine marketing or social media advertisements to promote the content that they previously had success sharing with their audiences. What these people seem to not understand is that a lot of them share aggregate content where it’s the exact same kind of post being pushed by a bunch of other people in the sea of social media in the digital world social media algorithms have begun smarter. Google has gotten smarter at picking out content that might resonate with people based on their search history and their tracking history and their cookies. Instead of posting aggregate content and then wondering why it’s not resonating. People need to really create their own original pieces to stand out from the sea of competition with a lot of bloggers do first start out. They do focus on creating aggregate content because it’s already there it’s easy to pull information from other pieces and to have their ideas kind of be similar to those that are already published on other sites. [00:11:02][1:38.9]

[00:11:02] That’s perfectly fine in the beginning and I also started with just having aggregate content. When I first started blogging to get my foot in the door get that consistency and see if I liked writing or not in a blog or fashion. But if you want to have any kind of success with blogging your content needs to be original again to stand out from that sea of other people just rewriting the same thing in their aggregate pieces of content. You need to add something of value in your pieces to your audience or they’ll just kind of gloss over the first couple paragraphs and never return again. Be original be unique and shine in the sea of sites and blogs that are populating the Internet. In this digital age my next bit of advice is to utilize social media as much as you can in order to promote your own content. I’ve stated this in previous blog posts but it’s important to utilize a golden rule of sorts when posting on social media. You need to have an 80 20 rule where 8 percent is interacting with your audience and actually engaging with your community and 20 percent is self Roshan even if you’re not spending a boatload of money to promote your posts through advertising efforts on social media is still a great way to grow your own community and engage with an audience while sharing cool ideas and you’re content that might interest them. Again this kind of falls back onto figuring out who your audience is what they’re interested in and then engaging them properly on the proper social media platform. [00:12:32][1:29.7]

[00:12:33] A lot of people seem to get this idea that they should be posting on every social media platform possible and that they can just post the exact same thing and every platform and expect the exact same growth or response. And quite frankly this is the best way to burn yourself out and fail when you’re blogging or creating your own audience and following it should be obvious that every social media platform is different. People use Facebook differently and for different reasons than they might use Instagram or Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest. Every demographic and every psychographic is different and every social media platform. And again it’s important to realize that the other thing that’s important when looking into utilizing more than a couple of social media platforms to again promote your content and to engage with an audience in a form of two asymmetrical communication is that you should get good or great at one or two platforms instead of being mediocre at numerous ones. When I first started blogging I used strictly Twitter and I became really proficient and good at using that platform until I reached out to Facebook and Instagram and then I became good at those platforms. And then I branched off to Google Plus and tumblr and i started using linked in more proficiently. This gradual transition into using multiple platforms at the same time through my content took over the span of about a year and a half to really fully implement. Even then I realized that there were significant differences between the audiences that I was appealing to on each different social media platform. [00:14:07][1:34.5]

[00:14:08] I kind of found that Facebook everyone kind of lurks and no one really engages in my content because it’s focusing strictly on friends and Facebook groups not Facebook pages on Instagram it’s very photo heavy and I get a lot of engagement from both my blogging aspect in terms of my personal life as well as the professional topics that I create for my blog. Tumblr resonates with my photos that I share. But at the same time I get little to no engagement regarding anything professional that I share on that social media platform. Twitter is a bit of a mixed bag but the problem with Twitter is that every tweet is brief and it has a very short shelf life so it’s important to be able to tweet multiple times a day compared to other social media platforms where the golden rule of thumb is to maybe post one or two times a day. These might seem like very small differences but when you are utilizing multiple platforms you also have to factor in best practices in terms of hashtag usage how long your captions should be the size of your photos that you’re sharing on social media as well again as the audience and it’s like graphic on various platforms utilizing them for different reasons whether to interact professionally with others or to just kind of event and complain like on Twitter or something like that. Again it’s important to start small. Figure out who your audience is engages them in that golden rule that I spoke of earlier and to eventually branch out. Once you feel comfortable with who you’re targeting on that specific platform. Now a lot of bloggers might get obsessed regarding optimizing their site to perform best with search engine optimization on Google or maybe trying to put small bids in on keywords and target words or bids. [00:15:55][1:47.1]

[00:15:55] I’m no exception to this where I would spend nights reading articles regarding how to speed up my page load having responsiveness on mobile design on sites removing certain code that was bogging down my site shrinking down certain photos that I was uploading onto the site and a bunch of other small things that at the end of the day a beginner blogger shouldn’t be focusing on so much. Just like I said on social media it’s just a great way to overwhelm yourself and to burn yourself out before you even get started. Regarding getting consistent interacting then with only one or two platforms on social media and to figure out if this is really something that you want to do looking at optimization within the first couple weeks or the first couple of months of starting your blog is a great way to kind of shoot yourself in the foot. Get yourself from pressing forward before you’re even comfortable posting consistently and engaging properly on social media. Once you develop those habits then you can start focusing on optimization and performing best practices via the back end of your site. But until then focus on your niche audience. Figure out how to be consistent. What kind of content that you want to post every week and how to engage with a specific audience or two on a specific social media platform or in the very beginning. My final tip to be a successful blogger is to not become discouraged. [00:17:19][1:23.6]

[00:17:19] It’s easy to become passionate about what you’re writing about and push out content for a couple of weeks and then look on the back end of your analytics and kind of see that you’re not getting the engagement that you wanted either on your social media or on your website through views or click through news or comments. When I first started in the first couple months of writing and my blog I maybe only had about 80 views total in three months. When you’ve been putting hours into your work and publishing it on social media it might seem very discouraging to see those kind of numbers. After a few months of writing but really this is to be expected within the first couple months or even the first year of writing on your blog. It takes time to grow your following. It takes time to create content that interests certain people or certain knishes and people really don’t become successful at blogging until two to three years after doing it consistently on a weekly and even a daily basis. It doesn’t help that Google does penalize your Web site for not being very old beyond a year or two old. So it’s really just kind of a time game. Grow your foaming grow your Audience continue writing. Don’t become discouraged if you don’t see the numbers or the metrics that you were expecting and just do it for fun. Like I mentioned in my previous podcast about YouTube don’t do it with thoughts of monetization or gaining a bunch of money through affiliate links or selling ebooks on your website. Do it because you’re having a good time with it. Do it because you’re having a lot of fun engaging with your audience every single day and thought leaders in your industry. [00:18:54][1:34.8]

[00:18:55] I’m no exception to this where I would become very discouraged for several weeks or several months regarding blogging and not seeing the numbers I was expecting. Often I would kind of wonder to myself If this was worth it or not if I should continue blogging or if I should just hang it up and pursue other hobbies or other interests with the time that I’m allocating toward my social media promotion and my content creation. Even though I’ve been blogging for about two years I again didn’t take it seriously until maybe July of last year and it wasn’t until February of this year where I’m starting to really see those results paying off from all the hours and time and effort and devotion that poured into my website. Again don’t become discouraged and just have fun with it and have a good time with it. Blogging is a really great hobby and it really helps you connect with a bunch of people that you otherwise wouldn’t have if you had never done in the first place. I have met a lot of cool and awesome people through doing this and honestly it’s one of my highlights every week just sit down create my posts engage with my audience on social media and just have a good time every week after a long day of work to sit down and look at my platform and see people engaging and resonating with my content or conversations happening in a bunch of groups that I’m a part of on social media. Hopefully my tips have helped to you. If you are deciding to become a blogger or if you’re in the process of blogging and you’re just not sure how to really go forward at this moment in time that’s all I have for this episode of Lounge Talk With Laz. [00:20:29][1:34.3]

[00:20:29] Stay tuned next week for the next episode on the latest and greatest in social media in digital marketing news. [00:20:34][5.0]