Guest blogger Randa Clay is a designer and marketing consultant providing custom web site design, blog design and customization, and logo design. Randa can be found online at her main site, personal blog, and two other niche blogs.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a mega best seller and has influenced the way many people approach the business of life. I’d like to review these 7 habits and see how they might help us all be a bit more effective in the virtual world. With apologies to Mr. Covey, I’m going to rearrange the order just a bit.
- Begin with the End In Mind.
Before you begin a blog, clearly lay out what your purposes are for it. Having a specific “end” in mind will guide you through the design and implementation of the site, as well as through the planning of posts and categories. Do you intend to build your business? Choose a theme that is clean and uncluttered. Do you intend to monetize it? Design the site so that ads will be optimally placed, while not obscuring your content. One of the most important questions may be who you want your audience to be. Plan your blog with your primary audience in mind.
- Put First Things First.
What are your highest priorities for your blog? To help others? To make extra income? To entertain? Keep your priorities front and center every time you write a new post. It’s very easy to lose focus when blogging, and you find that you’ve gone a month without writing anything that reflects the true intention you had for the site in the first place and your readers start to drop like flies.
- Think Win/Win.
Blogs that are purely self-promotional can quickly fizzle out. Be outwardly focused, rather than self-focused. Think about how you can help your readers. People will come in droves if you help them solve problems, become more successful, or even just regularly make them laugh out loud. They win and then you win by maintaining a loyal readership. Link generously to other bloggers and to those who contribute to your site by commenting . Aiding in the success of your readers and your fellow bloggers will be profitable in the long run.
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.
Seeking to understand what your readers’ needs are and what solutions they’re looking for will help you to provide the most valuable content. If you’ve defined who you want your audience to be, make sure you understand them. For example, if one of your goals is to gain more subscribers to your feed, but your target audience is comprised of those who might be less experienced with the internet and blogs, they may not even know what a feed is. Understanding that, you can easily address the issue by including a “what is this?” link which will provide more information, and maybe even feature an e-mail subscription more prominently than the feed reader option.
Find other bloggers in your niche that you respect and work with them rather than against them. Some might think this sounds a bit counterintuitive â€“ “shouldn’t I be competing with other blogs in my niche for readership?” Let me give you an example: I have a site called FreeStuff4Kids and I met someone a couple of months ago who has a site called Printables4Kids. Both sites provide good content while being heavily monetized, and it would seem at first glance that rather than sharing ideas, we would want to keep them to ourselves in order to come out on top. However, because we collaborate and share ideas, we send traffic back and forth between our sites and hope to sort of “corner the market” in our niche. By helping each other succeed, we are both more successful.
- Sharpen the saw.
Get away from the computer once in a while and do something recreational or creative. This will have a positive effect on your writing as well as your general wellbeing. It will also keep your rear end from becoming permanently flat.
- Be Pro-active.
Being “proactive” means taking responsibility for everything in your life. When you’re reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. I recently read a blog that contained multiple posts complaining about how horrible the A-list bloggers were that they would never link to his blog, and how this circumstance and that person caused him to lose readership â€“ it was all “their” fault. If you choose to believe that others are responsible for your ultimate success or failure, well, that’s unfortunate. If you choose to adopt that tone in your blog, you will probably find a readership of those who also feel that way and you can commiserate together endlessly. The rest of us don’t have time for it.